Friday, December 6, 2013

Wanted: Half Mary Training Plan

I want to find a training plan for my next goal race (March 9, San Diego Half). So far, I've been generally base building and increasing mileage slowly, preparing for harder workouts in late December, January, and February.

Last half I trained for, I followed Jeff Galloway's half marathon plan. But I can't really evaluate the results because of bad weather conditions at that race (epic winds). The cornerstone of the Galloway plan was lots of speed work (weekly). Also weekly long runs, and less emphasis on tempos. I think the plan got me into great shape. But given my recent injury, doing all that speed work would put me at too high of risk for re-injury.

Anyone have a reco for a half marathon training plan???

As I already reported, I had a pretty good showing in the 3 mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving! Last time I ran a race, back in April at the Carlsbad 5000, I remember my joints aching beforehand and my body generally complaining afterwards. And then I ran another 5 miles.

{{{shuddering}}} at the foolishness.

A few weeks later, to my great surprise (at the time), I sprained my ankle. Likely because my joints were not recovering from my 55 mile weeks, but I pressed on with 10 mile tempos, epic speed workouts, etc.

I learned from my mistake, the hard way (as usual): I cut back in mileage for the race. I ran only three days, but they were all outdoor runs. No treadmill! This is my highest outdoor mileage so far this training cycle.

Still base building - race week/cut back week: 18.5 miles

Monday – 11/25
     Legs/core weights

Tuesday – 11/26
     Stuck at work all day/night.

Wednesday – 11/27
     Travel to Illinois.

Thursday – 11/28 THANKSGIVING!
     Ran a 3 mile race in 19:19.  + warm up and cool down for 5 miles total

Friday – 11/29
     Bowling with my fam, does that count as exercise?

Saturday – 11/30
     5.5 miles easy with 10 strides of about 100 m. Strides made me sore!! 

Sunday – 12/1
     8.0 miles easy.

two little runners

Thursday, December 5, 2013

City of Bloomington 3 Mile Turkey Trot at Miller Park

I went back to my hometown (Bloomington-Normal, IL) to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my parents, brothers, sister-in-law, nephew, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. And their seven dogs. My family has been taken over by members of the canine variety.

Otis and Roy

Post-turkey naps with Emma and Pa
(Not pictured - Jo, Hannah, Daphne, and Daisy.)

I was very thankful to spend the day with my family. I haven’t seen them enough in the last few years. Especially this crazy guy!

Nephew Nilo
The only time he holds still for a picture is in his car seat!
In keeping with my Thanksgiving racing tradition, I ran a turkey trot for the third year in a row on Thursday. I was very excited about this race because my dad ran too! And because it was my first race in costume! And because it was my first race since spraining my ankle (however, I still can’t go an entire post without mentioning that)!

It was cold!!!
This was my dad’s first race since his days as a track and cross country star in college. He trained for the race by completing the Runkeeper beginner 5K training plan.

Our race was a 3 miler. There were a lot of turns, but none of them very sharp, so they didn’t slow us down at all. The course was, for the most part flat, and on wide streets in and around the park. It was a great course, although it measured a little bit short, which I ended up being grateful for in the end…

We experienced a little bit of wind, and it was pretty cold.  The lake in the park was partially frozen.

The race was untimed – but free – so no places were given out. A lot of very fast runners showed anyway (the first person crossed in 14:10, I heard). My impression was that a lot of cross country runners were home for the holidays. I saw a lot of cross country team sweatshirts from nearby colleges and high schools.

I went out very, very fast (having lined up near the front with all the cross country runners). But then settled into a rhythm by about the half mile mark.

By about end of the first mile, I had formed a nice little group with about a half a dozen other runners – a few high school cross country runners and a few thirtysomething old farts. I stayed in the back of the pack, using them to block the wind. The pack was going a little bit faster than I had planned, but I decided to stay with them.

The group broke up in the last half mile of the race when a few runners started to kick. I kicked with them and crossed the finish line – dying – in 19:19. The course was a little bit short, so it was an average pace of 6:51.

I was very happy with an average pace that began with a ‘6.’ I was projecting a little bit slower pace, since it was colder than I’m used to, and I didn’t do a proper warm up. I also think I’m in a little better shape than I thought I was. What a nice surprise! The ankle held up very well. No pain during the race, or after.

two little runners

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Life Update: Two Little Runners Go Multinational

So I promised some news.  Well, after 5 years of living as an immigrant in, and finally becoming a citizen of, the United States, my husband and I have decided to return back to my native land, Australia. We both fortuitously found jobs there at the same time, and it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. We will be leaving in less than two weeks time, and will be home with my family in Melbourne for Christmas. In the New Year, we will be setting up shop in Sydney, where we'll be living (when Im not sneaking down to Melbourne to cuddle my new nephew and drink good coffee with my dad)...

I'm really grateful to be able to live closer to my family and friends for the first time in a long time. But I am also very sad to be leaving my American friends and family, and even my work. And of course, it is especially tough to leave Kristen, my co-worker, fellow little runner, and my dearest friend here! [I have spent my recovery time concocting a devious plan to trick her into moving to Sydney with me... all for the continuity and cohesiveness of the blog, of course...]

Does that count as a subliminal message? I may need to work on the subtleties and finer nuances of this scheme...
As for this here blog? Well, you may get blog postings at all hours of the night (US time), but Im not going anywhere from the etherwebs! Two Little Runners will now just be a multinational venture! And you all get to see pictures of the marvelous runs, trails and races you will get to do if you come visit the greatest country in the world [that means you kristen]!

I'll leave you with some pictures of some of my favorite parts of NYC that we have been visiting recently through the Fall and Thanksgiving:

Jazz Festival and Fall leaves in Central Park...

The NYC skyline from the top of the Statue of Liberty...

Climbing Lady Lib, herself...

 (Not as good a workout as you'd think)

 The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree (being lit tonight!)

 My favorite building (and workplace) in New York...Mr. Chrysler:

And its lobby...

My train station, Grand Central...

 My favorite person, and my favorite NYC Bridge, the Brooklyn...


NYC lights from the top of Rockefeller Center ....this is the Empire State Building (obvs)...

 Central Park and Uptown...

 Empire State, Chrysler Building and the Lower East Side

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Injury Update: Femoral Neck Stress Reaction

Hey ho... so as it seems to be customary on this blog, I went underground while healing from my femoral neck stress reaction.

Im now back to running, but wanted to fill in the gaps of what I've done in the last 10 weeks by way of cross-training and rehab.

Bullet points work best when you have tons of thoughts and are a shitty blogger. So here is the run (HAR HAR) down of my injury.
  • SYMPTOMS: very very minor groin pain, prior to racing a half marathon. During race, I experienced no pain, but could not warm down afterwards. Pain was in the front of the hip and was at about an 8-9 on the pain scale (with weight bearing). I could not hop or climb stairs and hip had a "giving out" feeling. No aches at night, like a traditional stress fracture, however.
  • DIAGNOSIS: stress reaction, precursor to a stress fracture in the femoral neck. Via MRI.
  • CAUSE: Diet, mostly. Low to moderate bone density due to too low calorie intake and not enough calcium/Vitamin D, coupled with high mileage (55+ pw).
  • TREATMENT PLAN: 8 weeks no running. 3 weeks completely off, with only 2 short elliptical and 3 swim sessions, when I was still undiagnosed.
  • CROSS-TRAINING: 5 weeks of cross training and LIGHT leg strength. I cross-trained mostly on the ProCore ellipticals; the ones where you can crank up the incline so you're only using your gluts. It took all the impact off my hip and I experienced no pain using them. 
  •  STRENGTH: I managed about one leg strength (pain/discomfort dependent) session per week, with either light weights or body weight. I also did about one core session (plus random planks) and one upper body session per week.
  • REHAB: Stretching, lots of hip flexor, glut and ITB stretches. Foam rolling, especially ITB and quads.
  • DIET CHANGES: in addition to more overall calories, I added, daily, a cup of greek yogurt, a chocolate milk, a cup of plain almond milk and a Vitamin D/Calcium supplement at night.
  • RETURN TO RUNNING:I am using this plan, by Pfizinger, for returning to running after a stress fracture. I am presently on week 3, and am running every second or third day, depending entirely on how my hip feels. If Im feeling any discomfort (which only ever is about a 1 on the pain scale) or weakness in the injured area, Im NOT running. 
That last bullet point identifies the hardest part of recovery for me, and probably most runners. When you're aaaaaalmost 100% but not quite. But as I told a friend recently, recovery is not a race with a finish line. Its a process that takes time; and is frequently two steps forward, one step back. Its important to be in touch with your OWN body, and adapt to ITS healing schedule; rather than the advertised "healing time" for your injury... or even what your doctor has projected. I think we're all guilty of just deciding "Ok, its been 8 weeks! Should be recovered now, so off to run!", regardless of how the injury actually feels. Frequently our bodies just dont adhere to anyone else's schedule but their own.

Anyway, enough of that preachyness. I'll be back in a day or two to give you a much more important life update! 

~ Penny

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Running . . Flossing . . Running . . Flossing

Last week I wrote that I was thinking about running the San Diego Half Marathon in March. I instantaneously became intense about training. In fact, this feeling of intensity has been building since I racked up a couple of 20 mile weeks in a row back in October. I poured over the pages of Raceplace Magazine, writing down in my training journal many exciting race possibilities.

My first race is going to be this week! A Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning back in my hometown in Illinois. My dad and I are running it together! Forecast is in the 30s, but sunny. Brrrrrrr! And I've registered for the Carlsbad Half - as a training run ONLY. I am pretty confident I'll be able to easily cover the distance by then. 

A big part of my recovery from my sprained ankle has been lots and lots of stretching, balancing work, and voodoo floss. 

You read that right - voodoo floss. It's a rubberized wrap that you can place around a joint (or muscle). Then you do range of motion exercises. The theory behind voodoo floss is similar to foam rolling - but on a smaller scale. As I understand it, the wrap is supposed to break apart scar tissue, which ultimately allows for greater range of motion. It's working for me!! I wrap my ankles up really tight and point, flex, point, flex for about 90 seconds and then write the alphabet with my toes. This takes about two minutes, and my shins are absolutely on fire at the end. 

Trying to hold back on training has been hard, but I started off my ~16 week training cycle for the SD Half with a great week of base training. 4 running days, equal amounts of treadmill and outside miles, for 25 total miles. And lots of rolling, yoga, and flossing. 

Base building - 25 miles

Monday - 11/18 
     Legs/core workout. 

Tuesday - 11/19
     6 mile progression run on treadmill. 9:00-8:00 with last 0.5 at 7:00. 

Wednesday - 11/20 
     6 mile threshold run on treadmill. 3.1 threshold miles at 7:24 pace. That's a 22:12 5k! Very excited about this workout. The 7:24 pace felt challenging at the end, but I definitely could have gone faster. 

Thursday - 11/21
     Yoga class

Friday - 11/22
     Rest (or, more accurately, chained to desk day)

Saturday - 11/23
     4.5 mile easy run on Embarcadero at about 8:30.

Sunday - 11/24
     8.5 mile long run on Ocean Beach bike path at about 9:00. Longest outdoor run so far!

two little runners 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Progress Progresses

Wow, I last reported in late October. Now it’s late November…where does the time go? Of late mine’s gone into the deep black, soul crushing hole of work. 

I spent a week in New York, which was made better by a weekend hanging out with Penny!

We spent an entire day shopping and neither of us bought ANYTHING! 

Except brunch at Serafina's, where we both ordered poached eggs on brioche. It was a gorgeous afternoon, so warm that we even sat outside!

I flew home on the day of the New York Marathon and watched the entirety of ESPN’s marathon broadcast on the plane. I really enjoyed the coverage, especially the exciting chase in the women’s race!

I ran 20 miles that week, 17 of which were on the treadmill. I upped my frequency of runs, even running three days in a row with no pain.

10/29 – 4.5 miles (treadmill)
10/30 – 4.5 miles (treadmill)
10/31 – 4.0 miles (treadmill)
11/2 – 4.5 miles (treadmill)
11/3 – 3.75 miles (outside, back in San Diego)

Next week was 15 miles with two runs outside. Outdoor runs are much harder on my ankle than the treadmill. So I was really pleased to get in two outside without any damage.

11/5 – 4.5 miles (treadmill)
11/6 – 5.0 miles (outside)
11/9 – 5.5miles (outside)

Last week, I spent a good chunk of time in Omaha where it was seriously cold! 9 degrees people! I managed to get 17 miles total, with two medium-long runs. INCLUDING ONE 8 MILE RUN! I am almost a runner again!

11/12 – 3.0 miles (treadmill)
11/14 – 8.0 miles (treadmill)
11/16 – 6.3 miles (outside)

So I've managed to continue steady progress in building back my running. I've had nearly two solid months of 12-20 mile weeks, and I'm ready to train for something! I'm thinking of putting the San Diego Half Marathon on my 2014 agenda. It's March 9 - almost 16 weeks away - and very conveniently located in downtown San Diego. 

One thing I've learned from previous training cycles is that it's best to allow for a long training period. This, I think, is especially applicable now as I will be simultaneously building back my strength and training for the race.

two little runners

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hiking in the Hudson Highlands [The Upside of Injury]

The upside of injury, is that you get to spend the time you would've been dedicating to your weekend long runs, on things like hiking on 8 miles of trails in the Hudson Highlands during Fall.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Being A Responsible Injury Owner

Eventually, we hope to get off this depressing injury loop but for the moment…

Hello, and welcome back to two little runners injuries!! This post brought to you by

Left Ankle Sprain


So you’re injured…you’ve been through the five stages of runner’s grief…and you’ve accepted your injury fate. Now, no matter if the injury:

(a) was the result of stupid training decisions,
(b) was a freak accident,
(c) was inherited from a prior life/sport, or
(d) wasn’t your fault because your training was perfect and you shouldn’t have gotten injured (we all fall into this category, right?)

…it’s your injury now. And you have to deal with it! You are in charge of your recovery.

Here’s some advice on how to be a responsible injury owner. We want you back in your running shoes, stat!

First, get a diagnosis.

Not only will a diagnosis from a qualified medical professional give you a timetable as to when you might be recovered, it will give you an idea about what cross training, if any, you can safely do. Having a diagnosis will also help you to determine when to back off during your cross training so that you do not re-injure or further injure yourself.

For my ankle sprain, this meant learning the difference between a sharp—but mild—pain versus generalized stiffness. Sharp pain, even if minor on the pain scale (1 or 2 out of 10) meant to stop. With stiffness/achiness, it was okay to press forward on.

Second, check your priorities.

When we are training, our priority is to improve our speed and/or distance. When we are taking a break from formal training, our priority is to maintain an acceptable amount of fitness. When we are injured, our priority is to rehab our injury; we can try to maintain our fitness too, but it is secondary to rehabbing that injury. One thing that helps here is break up workouts into segments for rehab and fitness.

For me, that means doing balancing, stability, and flexibility exercises for the ankle in first part of my workout, sort of a warmup. This warmup reminds me that I am injured. And then I do my general workouts—elliptical, weights, etc.—all while keeping in mind that I am not at 100%. (And stopping if I feel any pain, see above.)

It also helps to do something new or fun as part of your cross training. In my time away from running, I’ve done spinning classes, kayaking, paddle board surfing, and tons of yoga. All things I’ve really enjoyed but probably wouldn’t have had the time for if I was running 50 miles per week.

Third, be extra conservative when you build back your running.

It seems urgent to get back to our former running form. But actually, it isn’t. Really. We have years and years and years of running ahead of us. So a couple of extra weeks building back slowly won’t matter in the scheme of our running careers. But it could set you back further.

This is what I’m working on now. I’ve run 12 miles per week for the last 3 weeks, all at very easy paces, and all on treadmill. Now I’m adding one outdoor run per week, and adding no more than 10% to my mileage on a weekly basis.

A big thank you to our sponsors…

two little runners ~Kristen

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On The Road Again

Last time I saw Penny (mid-September), I, rather dramatically, told her that I might be done running, perhaps I would go back to tennis or get into yoga more, and she should think about what she wants to do with the blog. 

That really was the path I was on. But saying those things out loud sounded funny to my own ears, even though I had been thinking them for a long time. I decided to fully open my mind to the possibility of running again and ask (the universe?) for running back.

Now (mid-October), I’ve had three weeks of solid progress. I’m making a comeback. 
  1. Week one – I ran three times on the treadmill for a total of 12 miles. Plus, workouts with weights, yoga, elliptical, and paddle board surfing.
  2. Week two – Was basically a repeat. Staying at three very easy treadmill runs for a total of 12 miles. Plus, workouts with weights, yoga, elliptical, and kayaking.
  3. Week three – Two easy treadmill runs plus my first outdoor run since May! For a total, again, of 12 miles. Plus, workouts with weights, yoga, elliptical, and kayaking. 
Re paddle board surfing and kayaking. I've been spending a lot of time this summer in the water in Mission Bay. It's something fun to do that occupies my weekend time formerly spent on long runs around Mission Bay.

On the agenda for this week is ~13 miles, that is +10% of last week's mileage. Doing it by the book! With one outdoor run again. 

I need to reintroduce road running very slowly. I may have maintained some of my cardio fitness, but my shins were on fire from my first outdoor run. The impact! There is a huge difference between impact on the treadmill (soft as a cloud) versus the road (hard as a rock)!

Any advice for building back to my former running self?

two little runners ~Kristen 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Diagnosis: Femoral Neck Stress Reaction

ETA: A lot of people have been finding this page by search and might be interested in my other FNSR posts:

Ever since I ran the Philly half marathon, and wound up injured and unable to run, I've been sort of avoiding el-Blog-land. Partly because I didn't know what my injury was (and wanted to wait to blog until I found out how long I would be out of action) and partly because, well, writing a running blog when you can't run can be downright depressing.

But don't worry! I'm much happier now!

Ok, so first, a diagnosis. I went to the doctor with pain in the front of my hip, which was exponentially worse when hopping on that leg. I heard that pain on impact tends to be related to bone-injuries, while pain on push off tends to relate to muscle-stuff (technical term). This was definitely pain on impact. Not good.

I saw my doctor  and he didn't like the sound of my symptoms at all (off topic, but funny story: apparently the good Doc has a few admirers. When I googled his name to get the office address, Google search options suggested "Dr Jordan Metzl married?"]

Dr. Metzl ordered an MRI, and the results revealed a stress reaction in the femoral neck. A stress reaction is a precursor to a stress fracture, and is an inflammation of the bone. A stress fracture in the femoral neck looks a bit like this:

Youch, looks nasty. Well actually, it could've been a lot worse. I only had the inflammation, with no cracks in the bone. A stress reaction takes about 8 weeks to heal. An actual stress fracture in the femoral neck (as opposed to, e.g., the shaft of the femur, which is more common) can take up to 5 months to heal. And usually about 6-8 weeks of those are on crutches with little to no activity. Wowza.

It seems the reaction probably started the week before my taper week for Philly when I was running my highest mileage and did my 6x1 mile repeats. The three days before my race, I felt a little pain in my groin, that felt like a minor strain. I definitely would not have run the race, if I'd known it was a stress reaction. But in retrospect, as I said to my dad, I'm actually really glad I ran the race on it. The discomfort I felt before the race was SO minor, if I had just been training, I would've run through it and probably would've ended up with a real stress fracture. The race just aggravated it enough and pushed it to the edge that I had to stop running in the days after (and would've anyway to recover from the race) but not quite over the edge.

Anyway, now I'm in recovery/rehab/cross-training land. Week 1 after the race had no running or cross training, Week 2 consisted of two days of elliptical and some random arm-weights. Week three, I did two days of swimming/pool running, after which I saw the doctor and got the MRI.

Week 4, I would've been about to start climbing the walls, but after my diagnosis was thankfully  given the go-ahead to begin consistently strength/cross-training. I'm allowed to do anything that doesn't "hurt". Its ok if its a little achey, but I have to stay away from "impact pain."

I guess the mind-numbing, wrist-slashing boredom of pool running and elliptical don't fall into that category of discomfort.

But I should be thankful. I can finally keep up my fitness, and continue to heal properly. In two weeks I will see the doctor again and hopefully will be able to very slowly begin reintroducing running to my hip. Here's how I'm hoping that will go down:

"Running? Meet Hip. Hip, meet running. Please don't spaz out. You two will be the very best of friends."

I'll keep you updated :o)


Monday, September 30, 2013

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all

Hello, I’m Kristen. I used to blog here regularly and then sporadically after I sprained my ankle in April. And then I went radio silent in May when my ankle didn’t heal as fast as I wanted it to (in time for a spring marathon). So now it’s October. I’ve been injured this whole time, not running, at times barely exercising, and I’m now back with my first post. We are all caught up!

It’s NOT just a sprain.

I didn’t think my ankle sprain was a big deal because it never swelled and there was no twist, trauma, or point when I knew I injured it during that fateful run back in April.

But a sprain can be a 6 to 18 month injury. That’s a major injury. It took me all summer to learn this lesson. And before I did . . .

A series of setbacks plagued my recovery: 
  1. I did a trail run 2 weeks after the initial sprain caused re-sprain. Genius!
  2. My physical therapist burned (froze?) me with ultrasound massage on my ankle.
  3. I allowed myself to carry a bad attitude for a long time. I stopped stretching, rolling, and doing stability exercises. I was also streaky with cardio and weights.  
  4. I ran 2 days in a row, 6 miles then 4 miles. Running only 1 or 2 miles was pissing me off, and I had decided it was time to be fully recovery. Ankle was not on board.
  5. I lifted too heavy during weight training workouts for legs.
  6. I ran 3 miles and then did 60 minutes of stair climber for (7 miles of stairs) on consecutive days. Too much impact.
  7. I continued to use the stair climber.
After learning the very hard way, I’m finally back on track to recovery and taking my recovery seriously. I’m not getting pissed off about lifting light weights, or running only a few miles at a time, or at doing ridiculously easy balancing exercises. I’m stretching, rolling, and doing stability exercises daily. And I’m finally making some progress.

And, more importantly, I’m excited to run again, even if it is only 2 or 3 miles at a time, every other day, only on the treadmill, at a gym without air conditioning.

So after all this time, I finally said something nice about running.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Things I Have and Have Not Been Doing

(1) Not running. I am on day 6 of my hip flexor strain recovery. It is much better, but not 100% and I do not want to start running on it until I'm confident it won't make it worse. First cross-training day is today!

(2) Trying new stuff and taking pictures of it. Below is me trying a Twinkie for the first time.

 Not sure what I expected, but I wasn't super blown away by them.

(3) Not running. Giving me the sadz.

(4) Getting my citizenship on! I took my oath this week to become a brand spankin' new American!

Does this mean I have to like twinkies now?

(6) Traveling to fancy places for work, and enjoying the view of downtown Manhattan upon flying "home" to NYC

(6) Seriously if I don't get to run soon I might clobber someone.

(7) Having lovely citizenship-celebratory dinners with my hubbo.

(8) Realizing that I've almost been through all five stages of a runner's injury grief in the span of 1 week, and I probably just need to chill out. I'll be running soon, so I can stop being quite so dramatic. In the meantime, I might take up knitting. Or baking. Something better than a Twinkie.