Negotiation, Disappointment, Optimism

Kids, the last 2 weeks or so have been somewhat frustrating. Lemme break it down for you.

Over the last few years I've racked up about 475 miles running. Yet I've somehow managed to be the perennial beginner. The cycle goes something like this: start running 3 milers, averaging 6 to 10 miles a week; sign up for a race; jump into the training program for the race; get shin splints; half-ass the training program; run the race, do somewhat poorly; take time off from running.

Soak, wash, rinse, repeat.

I'm realizing that not being "good" at running has become a low-level frustration for me. Let me clarify: I was always good at sports, but I'm not a hyper-competitive guy. In baseball or football or whatever, I always tried to do my best, but I never really cared what the final score was. Not winning doesn't really bother me, but I've realized that not being good myself is in and of itself frustrating.

The few weeks I was chasing the sub-30:00 5k crystallized this for me: running felt good, I didn't get shin splints, and I made great progress. I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment.

So now I'm in a 10k and a half marathon, and I have to prepare. And preparation has not gone great. The week I started adding on miles, I immediately started getting wonky shins. Fnck.

Soak, wash, rinse, repeat.

In order to try to break the cycle, I've backed off on the original Hal Higdon half marathon plan (intermediate) and am going for the Higdon novice one. The mileage is less, there's more cross-training possibilities, and it should be more gradual for me.

I just gotta put on miles slower and not get over-ambitious. Total rookie mistake on my part, done over and over again.

Today was a 4 miler, and it was a little weird. First, right out of the gate I had this exceptionally weird feeling that I couldn't get a deep breath. I have no idea why this happened. But it really felt like I couldn't inhale completely. This psyched me out a bit so I paused the Nike+ and did some torso stretches. My lungs felt fine, it just felt like my diaphragm was being uncooperative for some reason. Weird, huh?

My left leg started feeling splinty at about the 2 mile mark, and didn't get better until I stopped at about 3 miles. I am running in new shoes, so for all I know that's a contributing factor. What I did do is pause my Nike+ and remove the shim I wear in my right shoe. It actually helped, and I was able to finish the 4 miles as planned.

Alas, it was 4 somewhat uncomfortable miles with 2 stops. Not ideal. But I'll keep working. And keep R.I.C.E.ing. I want to get good at this.

In other news, the new Nike+ site is up. I had no idea they were whipping up a new version, but that might explain why they had some funkiness the other day—they must have been rolling out some backend stuff and something probably went kablooie. While some folks on Twitter had some initial poo-poos on the new site, I'm down with whatever whatever and will see how it goes as they roll it out (it's still in Beta). Connect with me! My username is (surprise surprise) HellaSound.

8 Brilliant Remarks:

  1. your running career sounds like mine, including the rinse and repeat. First time I had shin splints, they developed into stress fractures. Start over again, things go well during training, until marathon day, calf tightened up ridiculously, and yep, another stress fracture, so here I am starting over again, with a HM planned in San Fran in Oct. No idea how this will go.... but regardless, it'll be a fun 'girls' trip for 10 of us :) Hang in there, listen to your body. I know that mine doesn't tolerate 5 days of running/week, so I'm going to stick to 3 days, and have fallen in love with cycling and swimming during my recovery. Hoping this will end my cycle. Good luck! (btw, I only saw the new Nike+ site yesterday... I'm 2ndchances)

  2. Kayla J. said...

    Shin Splints=you are running too fast too soon! I'm slow as hell because if not, I'd never make it through my mileage- and I did 20 miles on Saturday with minimal problems.

    My husband always tries to run too fast because, cardio-wise, he can. Then a few miles in he has to walk because of his shins. He's followed my guidance and is now slowly increasing mileage to run the SJ 1/2 in Oct.

    Trust me :).

  3. Ali said...

    I'm right there with ya, John. Lifetime of being the perennial beginner- which is why I have a running coach now. No more. Like you, I'm DONE being the forever n00b. You are rocking out... keep pushing, dude. I'm proud of ya. (on a side note, my word verification word is 'sucked'... wtf?? lol)

  4. Mel,
    I really don't want to mess with fractures or long-term damage. I try to listen and not push through pain. So, basically, you're a whole lot tougher than me ;)

    I went looking for you on Nike+ but it couldn't find you. I had to take an extra step with the permissions--I think you have to click the "expose my soul to the universe" button (or something to that extent) for folks to be able to hook up with you. It's a Privacy Policy thing.

  5. Kayla,
    I'm sure you're right, but I'm not totally convinced it's a speed thing in my case. The factors that I think contribute to shin splints are:
    1. distance increase
    2. speed increase
    3. addition of hills
    4. running surface (concrete anyone?)

    My speed increase is a result of a faster running cadence and a subsequent shortened stride length. Honestly, I feel like these 2 things have helped *keep* me from getting injured--especially the shorter stride length. If I run at a slower cadence now I actually feel a lot more impact (and more pain) than if I'm doing quick, short, light strides.

    But yeah, I do agree that if you try to go out and push the pace too much too soon you'll end up injured. Sebastian Tocchet made a comment about how your body has to ease into and acclimate to both increases in distance *and* speed. Both of them are stressful on the body.

  6. Ali,
    let's do this together, kid--me and you. Except, you know, in different parts of the country. And, like, you have a coach and I don't.
    But seriously, let's do this. Let's leave Noobland and never come back.

    Maybe they took a cue from my post when they served up your word verification. I'd say that's an accurate description of my run. :)

  7. I've got the same deal too.. run, build up lots of mileage, itb issue, sidelined. rinse, repeat.

    I'm going about it differently this time and trying out the Galloway approach. So far, so good. (My 'long' run is at 4 miles now, so I've got a ways to go).

    I'm hoping to get all in shape enough to bang out a half marathon this year. We shall see.

    Hang in there. You're definitely not alone

  8. Adam said...

    Don’t get yourself down. When training for my first marathon, I had crazy bad shin splints. RICE is def the way to go. In fact, I still ice them off and on. Just recently (we’re talking 4 weeks here) I’ve been rolling them and that seems to help – even though it is a bit masochistic. (Is that the pain loving one?)

    For that matter, when training for my first and second marathons, I used the Higdon Novice I plan. I did no more miles than he prescribed and ran 3:59 and 3:47.