Ups and Downs

I’ve started and stopped several posts with training updates and whatnot, but they tended to be rambling affairs that I lost interest in, so perhaps I can be more concise and actually post something.

So, knees and running. In a bit of last ditch effort, I made an appointment to meet with an Active Release therapist. In some corners of the internet, runners claimed ART allowed them to move beyond various IT band issues and continue their training. I thought it would be worth at least talking to a therapist to see what he could do. Worst case, he would tell me to stop running, and best case, I would be able to continue to train for the Glacier Ridge Trail race. After six sessions (some of which were slightly painful), I am closer to best case than worst case. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Despite the overall improvements in my knees and IT bands, pain still rears its ugly head sometimes, and each week brings its own set of mental challenges. A brief overview of the last three weeks:

Three weeks ago, I had a fairly average week of training during the weekdays–mostly shorter runs that would include either hill work or speed work (“speed” being a relative term in my case). I made plans to run with a few friends in Raccoon Creek State Park for Saturday, and that run was mostly pretty good. We covered a little over 11 miles in a reasonable amount of time, and aside from some long descents in the closing miles, my knees felt good. More importantly, I recovered quickly, and didn’t need to stump around for a day with sore knees.

Two weeks ago, I decided to squeeze in my long Thursday run by simply running home from work. This was, in short, terrible. My knees felt bad, and the long, flat stretches of pavement crushed me mentally. We were traveling to Blacksburg, VA that weekend, and I was supposed to a long trail run in the ridges above town, but I was pessimistic that I could even manage half my allotted distance given how bad I felt. The Saturday run, despite being a mental train wreck (I forgot nearly all my food, and spent most of the run in a hypoglycemic daze) was generally pleasant physically. Yes, I dealt with the usual pain on a long descent, but I fought through my mid-run pangs and felt strong through the finish.

Last week, I decided to do yet another run home from work, and this felt good. Really good. No soreness. Reasonable speed. Mentally on top of the monotony of the roads. Then the next day brought sore hamstrings and glutes, with only one day before what was supposed to be a three hour run. As expected, this run was disaster. After only about 90 minutes, my knees were very unhappy, and once I reached the edge of Frick Park, I decided to cut the run short and head home. Of course, without the van, this meant running, and within a few blocks, this turned into a long walk. A very long walk. It was, though, good, because it gave me plenty of time to put the run into perspective. Yes, it was my last long effort before my taper (yay!), but last weekend felt good enough that I was (mostly) confident that I could tack another 45 minutes of running in the race without too much of a problem.

So, here I am, with two weeks to go. I am tapering, hard, over the next two weeks. I think my body needs it (and, really, deserves it). I’ve often had trouble with resting in other athletic pursuits, but I think this time, it will be a bit easier. I suppose I still sometimes have doubts about my ability to cover 30k, but I figure if I can cover 15 miles in a reasonable amount of time (say, three or so hours), I would still have nearly 90 minutes to stagger the last four or so.