My thoughts on Running Shoes and Building Up Base Mileage

I’ve been back on the treadmill for almost 2 months now, and have reestablished a 20 mile per week base. I’m taking a cautious and uber-conservative approach to recovery. At times I wonder if I’m being TOO conservative, with the three stress fractures in my right foot being the first major injury I’ve ever (*knock on wood*) had to deal with as a runner.  Finding that balance is definitely tough, but I’m getting there! I’m determined to make it through 2015 injury free, and in order to achieve that goal I’ve been doing some serious analysis of how I landed myself in an air cast in the first place.  I don’t think it’s possible to point out one single thing and say “This is why I ended up injured”.  It could be a combination of poor training decesions or it could have been a totally unlucky, freak accident.  One of the things that I’ve taken a long hard look at is the shoes I was running in….

Shoes

I mentioned in a previous post that I think that the “minimalists” shoes that I was running in contributed to my injury.  This is not something that I REALLY wanted to admit because…#1 I was 100% on the barefoot running bandwagon, #2 I felt like I was “flying” in my feather light Kinvaras, and #3 Because I was logging some of my fastest training runs and race times ever in my snazzy “minimal” running shoes!  Now I know this is a hot topic in the running community, and there are plenty of advocates out there that swear “barefoot running” or “minimalists running” will improve your running form/mechanics and ultimately lead to fewer injuries.  I don’t disagree with this…however, I think that “minimalists” running shoes work best for light weight runners with impeccable running form.  I am neither light-weight nor do I have impeccable running form.  I have super high arches and over-pronate when I run.

I also did not heed warnings to “ease” into minimal running shoes. That overdoing it could lead to increased risk of metatarsal stress fractures.  While I started out wearing my Kinvaras only for speed work, training runs under 5 miles, and races….I loved them so much I decided to run all my runs in my Kinvaras (About 40 miles a week).  I ignored my incredibly sore calves, then the dull ache on the outside of my right foot that gradually got worse after each run….for several weeks….until it got to the point that running even one mile was pure misery and I “begrudgingly” made an appointment to go see a poditrists.  An MRI confirmed that I had stress fractures in my 2nd metatarsal, 5th metatarsal, and my cuboid (All in the right foot, which definitely points to some lopsided running mechanics!). Treatment=8 weeks in an air cast, 2 more weeks restricted activity, now about 2 months rebuilding my base mileage. I’m wearing more supportive Asic Gel DS Trainers, doing plenty of cross training, and other than being slapped in the face with a harsh reminder of how much it sucks to be out of shape, I’m almost done “recovering” and ready to start “training” again. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that “minamalists” running shoes aren’t great for some people or that the Kinvaras are a bad shoe. I still am in love with my Kinvaras, but have realized that I have a long way to go with my running form before they become an every day shoe for me. I’ll be reserving them for the occasional track workout or 5K for a very long while, and spend a lot more time in running shoes with a little extra support.

lightupshoes


 

At some point, either as a new runner or when returning to running after an injury, everyone has gone through the base building phase.  Anyone else totally overwhelmed by the bazillion contradicting approaches and tips out there? I’ve spent hours reading articles on “Mileage Base Building” and have figured out that there is no “one size fits” all approach so I am listening to my body and doing what seems to work best for me. Here are the general guidelines I’m going by while increasing mileage:

  • Gradual mileage increases each week. Some articles recommend not increasing your mileage by more than 10% per week. I don’t think that’s a hard and fast rule, but I think some common sense should apply. Don’t go from running 10 miles a week one week to running 40 miles a week the next week! And if you feel like your pushing yourself too hard, you probabally are. Don’t ignore real pain, especially when recovering from an injury.
  • Build up using Equilibrium approach and include “back off” weeks in training plan.  There are articles that will recommend using either a equilibrium approach to building base mileage or implementing a “back off week”. An example of a 6 week schedule using equilibrium approach: WK1: 10 Miles, WK2: 10 Miles, WK3: 10 Miles, WK4:12 Miles, WK5: 12 Miles, WK6: 12 Miles. While 6 week schedule utilizing a “back off” week would look like this; WK1: 10 miles, WK2: 12 miles, WK3: 14 Miles, WK4: 8 miles, WK5:14 Miles, WK6: 16 miles.  I’m using a combination of both, maintaining “equilibrium” for 2-3 weeks, then doing a “back off” week every 6 weeks with extra cross training to maintain my endurance.
  • Focus on one goal per week; increase total mileage, number of running days, OR speed. Don’t crank up everything all at once. I’ve been using my “equilibrium” weeks to focus on getting faster and one week I added a running day.  This week I am plan on doing my first official “speed” work-out.
  • Don’t neglect cross-training, stretching, and foam rolling. This one is tough for me, because once I got back up to running 5 miles at a time, it was soooo tempting to throw the cross training out the window. But I’ve been diligent about doing some cardio cross training (Mostly the stairmill and jump rope), strength training (Mostly Kettlebells and TRX), and have been stretching/foam rolling for about 10 minutes after each workout.
  • Be patient. The most basic and most difficult thing to do. Getting back “in shape” has been a frustrating process for me. There are some workouts where my calves are sore, I feel winded 1.5 miles into an easy run, and I can’t maintain my pre-injury “easy” pace of 8:30 min miles to save my own life. (Not to mention the sensitive topic of “chub rub” where my thighs have somehow migrated closer together over the last few months!)
  • Set Goals and Give myself something to look forward to. I signed up for my first line-up of races in 2015….I’m doing two 5Ks in March, Ragnar Trail in West Virginia in June, and the “Maryland King Crab Challenge” (Frederick Half, Baltimore 10 Miler, and Baltimore Half). Plus, I have the Wineglass Marathon defered from 2014 in October, which seems FOREVER away but it’s definitely not. I want to stay focused and make sure it doesn’t sneak up on me! I plan on returning to full “training” mode the first week of March, and I think being registered for races will help keep me honest.
Now there is some motivation! ;-)

Now there is some motivation! 😉


I’ve had a very modest start to running in 2015, but I’ve managed to run 76 miles so far. My sister-in-law and mom joined my team for the Run the Edge 2015 miles in 2015 Challenge. We’re keeping each other motivated and consistent, and having a good time! Hopefully it will warm up soon so I can get outside for some of my runs (7 degrees and windy as hell yesterday, no thank you!!)!

I work out! (Attempting to work it at least!)

I work out! (Attempting to work it at least!)

What is your opinion on “minimalists” running shoes? Do you have any tips for rebuilding running base mileage? Do you brave the cold weather for your runs? Or are you more of a “fair weather” runner who’d rather jump on a treadmill than freeze your buns off like me?  

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Another Week of Recovery and Other Happy Things!

Last week seemed to fly by! I was happy to get in a few runs and some cross training. I’m still happily pain free, but was experiencing some stiffness in my right foot on Saturday and decided to take a day off. From what I read online, a little stiffness is normal when you first resume running after a stress fracture, and it’s nothing to worry about as long as 1) You’re not experiencing pain, 2) It is not getting worse, and 3) It is gradually getting better as you (slowly) increase mileage. I put my inner drama queen in time out and am continuing to progress with my training! This week will be a week of 3 mile runs! 🙂

whatyoucando


Weekly Work-Out Log:

  • Monday: 20 min stair-mill, 2 mile run, 20 min elliptical trainer
  • Tuesday: 55 min spinner, TRX Work-Out (Squats, Biceps, Triceps, Low-Row, Chest Press, Planks, Atomic Crunches)
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: 20 min row, 2 mile run, Kettlebell Workout (Swings, Goblet Squat, Russian Twists)
  • Friday: 12.5 miles walking in NYC
  • Saturday Rest
  • Sunday: 3 mile run, 30 minutes Yoga

Total 2015 Miles: 9

Blurry work-out pics!

Blurry work-out pics!


I’m putting my best foot forward and trying to remain positive through the whole recovery process. There are definitely days when it is frustrating but I consider every day I am able to make a little progress without re injuring myself a success. I’m also finding amazing support in some unexpected places….like on the 2015 in 2015 Challenge FB page where I’ve been connecting with and getting advice from other runners.  I know I’m totally biased, but I think the running community is the coolest!!

Other things that made me happy last week:

  • My new running shoes that I ordered on Amazon came in the mail! I tried on the Asic Gel DS Trainers at Road Runner at the beginning of the summer but went against “Shoe Dogs” recommendation of buying these “Performance Support” shoes because I was dead set on wearing a “minimalist” shoe.  (A topic for another post, I believe those minimalists shoes contributed to my stress fractures).  I wore them for all three runs last week and they felt amazing! Comfortable, supportive, but still very light weight! I love the fun, bright colors too!

asics-ds-trainer-19-womens-emerald-main

  • I found a cool new fitness app for my smart phone, Rock My Run, and enjoyed jamming to a 30 minute “Twerk Out” playlist during Sunday’s run! You can search for playlist based on genre, bpm, and workout length and either download or stream the playlist on your phone.  The app was free, and you can get playlists up to 45 minutes long without having to upgrade to a paid membership. And in case you were curious about how to select BPMs for your run (I was!), I found this article, 150 BPM is about a 10 minute mile.

music

  • I got to see my youngest brother for the first time in 2 and a half years! He lives overseas and had an overnight layover in JFK on Friday. I got off work early and took the train up to NYC to meet up with him. We walked around Time Square, grabbed a bite to eat at Hard Rock Cafe, then spent the whole night drinking coffee and catching up in a little greasy spoon diner until it was time for him to head back to the airport. Then I got back on a train home at 6 am! That was my first time pulling an all nighter since my 30th birthday and I was HURTING on Saturday! I’m such an old lady now! Lol 100% worth it though to catch up with my bro!

nyny

What made you happy this week?

❤ Betty

Training Recap-1st Week of Running Post Injury!

This week was week 9 of recovery, week 1 of running again! This was my first (and hopefully last) major injury, so I while I was super excited about getting the go ahead from my doctor to start running again, I was still incredibly nervous.  I wrote out a running schedule, with gradual mileage build-up, for the next two months to help keep me focused and mentally strong during my recovery.  I still have that stubborn, internal desire to run “ALL THE MILES”! At the same time I am experiencing something new….feelings of self-doubt, anxiety, and fear of being reinjured.  This stress fracture was a major wake-up call for me…”Hello, I’m NOT invincible!” My training plan is helping me balance the crazy, reckless side with the new insecure, cautious side.  And so far so good! My first week of post-injury training went way better than expected!!!  4×1 pain-free mile runs + lots of cross training=One Happy Running Betty!!

startoverrunning


 

Weekly Training Summary:

  • Monday-20 min stairmill, 1 mile run (10:49), 20 Min elliptical trainer
  • Tuesday-30 min spinner, 20 min TRX and Kettlebell workout (Below)
  • Wednesday-15 min stairmill, 15 min row, 1 mile run (10:14)
  • Thursday- 30 min crunch Pilates/Yoga DVD
  • Friday-1 mile run (10:05), 40 min elliptical trainer
  • Saturday-20 min stairmill, 1 mile run (9:50), 30 min spinner, 20 min strength/circuit (Below)
  • Sunday-Active Rest (6 miles of walking and chopping/stacking wood with Danny…and no, that is not code…we were literally playing lumber jack today! Haha)
Running and my foot feels GREAT!!!!

Running and my foot feels GREAT!!!!

  • TRX/KB Work-Out:
    • 3×15 TRX Low-Row
    • 3×15 TRX Push-Ups
    • 3×30 second TRX Plank
    • 3×15 Kettlebell Swing
    • 3×15 Kettlebell goblet squat
  • Circuit Work-out (Repeated 6x):
    • 5 pull-ups (Assisted/Resistance Band)
    • 5 push-ups
    • 5 hanging crunches
    • 5 bench tricep dips
    • 5 medicine ball squats
Getting Tired!

Getting Tired!


A few of my take-aways from this weeks training:

  • Cross training is awesome, I was able to work-out 9 straight days without any major soreness.
  • Warming up before running is super important! The one day I ran first, my legs hurt for the first 1/4 mile! The days I did other cardio first, I was able to run easier and faster!
  • Stretching is key! I’ve was religious about my stretching this week and my body was grateful!

Overall, a great week of work-outs.  Now that I’m able to actually run again, I finally feel like I am recovering.  My runs were short this week and much slower than my “normal pace”, but I didn’t mind that at all.  I was so happy just to be running again that I mentally was in a very good place.  I’m looking forward to another week of training coming up, with 4 x 2 mile runs planned!

Anyone else experience anxiety when coming back from an injury? Any tips for recovery, building base mileage, and staying injury free?

~Betty