I was off work Wednesday through Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Work has been crazy busy since summer, so I was looking forward to a few days away from things. I set the out-of-office on my email on Wednesday morning and save for a few quick emails, tuned out from then on.
I also went in for acupuncture and some massage therapy at AHG, where they did work on the glute/hamstring that’s been bothering me. Turns out my neck and upper back are all out of whack as well, so they spent a lot of time poking and prodding my neck and back too. While it feels good afterward, this definitely was not one of those relaxing sessions where you can zone out and let your muscles decompress. The needles force you to just breathe through some of the tension and pressure you feel, but that massage was also a strong one. I needed it, obviously. Crashing during cyclocross couldn’t have been helping my neck and back, it seems. I also got some Chinese herbal powder to make tea with, which is supposed to help clear my system of much of the internal inflammation that Yogi Tim (owns AHG) said was the root cause of the issue. His diagnoses are always funny but hit home.
“Have you been drinking a lot of beer lately? Not eating great?”
“Yeah, actually I have Tim.”
“I can tell. Your system is retaining a lot of dampness, leading to inflammation which you can see both on your skin (on my back) and in how your muscles feel. Drink this tea 3x per day til this powder is gone and see how you feel.”
Funky Chinese tea? Check. While I did yoga Monday and swam on Tuesday, I took Wednesday off.
Thursday morning was the Turkey Trot here in Chicago, situated in Lincoln Park near the lakefront. It was chilly and windy, but at least clear with no rain on the way. I hopped in a cab to the race site, dropped off my stuff at gear check and ran for about 15 mins to warm up. A few strides and some muscle activation drills and I was ready to go, though not quite sure how my glute/hammy would hold up during an 8K race.
My goal was to average 6:30′s, which I figured would be fine since I had not been training to go much faster than that anyway. A few 5K’s this fall have been good for me just to help keep a feel for race pace, as well as leg speed. However my training has almost all been more aerobic and not nearly at race effort.
While I wore my Garmin 310xt, was determined not to look at it and instead go by feel for the first mile. I knew it would hurt but I figured I’d go out and see how it felt. The clock was slow, because it said 5:50 when I passed it and I knew from looking at my watch I’d run the first mile in more like 6:05. Still, much faster than necessary. Mile 2 was 6:30, so I had banked some time but my right leg was starting to ache pretty badly in the upper hamstring area. Not to mention that my lungs were a bit inside out from not running at this intensity much since summer. In any case, I hung on as best I could but ended up being passed by a fair number of runners the last 2 miles. My finish time was 33:47, which amounted to a 6:45 min/mile pace. Not what I had hoped for, but given my leg and lack of intensity in training, I am okay with it. Not happy, not completely pissed…just “meh.”
So Friday I hopped into the endless pool at Well-Fit for an hour of technique work, along with kicking, to help clear the lactic buildup from my legs. I actually was supposed to take Friday through Sunday completely off, but couldn’t sit around the way my legs felt. I’m REALLY not a fan of endless pool swimming, except in the case of video analysis I guess, but I didn’t have access to another pool that day. I went home, took a nap and shifted into full-on relaxation mode.
Saturday I slept in, walked Haley and took her to the dog park, napped and did almost nothing. That night a friend threw a dinner party for one of his buddies visiting from Canada with his wife and kid, so there was even more eating and drinking that night. And tonight (Sunday) I wrapped up my weekend/time off with a “Core Restore” yoga class at CorePower Yoga. It was just what I needed, aside from not being a heated class which I was hoping for. Lots of stretches and holding poses for up to 5 minutes each, to release muscles, fascia and connective tissues throughout the body. This felt pretty good on my glute/hammy, though per Tim I’ll need to spend some time stretching in half-pigeon every day to address it.
Something else I noticed was that a week of very light training, combined with the indulgence that comes with Thanksgiving, resulted in me absolutely CRAVING a chance to go run. I can’t wait to throw on running shoes and get outside, cold be damned, if only to avoid feeling like such a lazyass. When you’re used to training, even at lower volumes during the offseason, such a light week is a weird feeling. So getting back at it and really focusing in on my run in the next 8 weeks leading up to the Miami half-marathon on Jan 29th will be great. I definitely have some turkey, sweet potatoes, dessert and booze to run off starting tomorrow!