#BuildDontBreak. I've seen this hashtag often from Coach MK lately. I'm reminded that even when training is tough and I have to miss workouts, I have long-term goals. In taking a longer view, I can see how a few missed (or shortened) runs are no big deal compared to the risk of a major injury. My summer training has been bumpy, but what would you expect with a baby who just turned one and two older boys in the house? The last 2-3 weeks have been a particular challenge. The sunset run above was my last "good" workout, which included a hybrid of 2x1 intervals and hills sprints. That was a few weeks ago...
As you can see from my Training Peaks log below, there is a lot of red in September from missed runs, and yellow from those cut short. At least I nailed the rest days!
(Training Peaks is a program that some of our top coaches use in coaching their clients. They are not a sponsor of Life Time Run or this blog).
In my earlier days, this would have driven me crazy, especially when viewing my training logs. While keeping a training log has so many benefits, one of my college coaches actually recommend I STOP logging runs (about 15 years ago) because I hated seeing zeros on the missed days. I might squeeze in a run when it was a bad idea, just to avoid missing a workout. For years I didn't keep a log, and though I wish I had record of those workouts, it was the right choice for me at the time. Now it's easy to keep a log via my watch that syncs to Training Peaks, and I have more perspective to realize that a few missed runs don't define or ruin a season, while a major injury certain can.
Why have I missed runs? The reasons are varied. I don't like to make excuses, but I'll be real about the challenges of training as a mom of 3, and someone who has a history of running (and non-running) related injuries. Even in college I was in the "fragile crew", as I didn't have the durability that many of my teammates enjoyed. I'm working to get stronger and more durable, but it's a work in progress.
Sleep deprivation: The struggle is real! When my baby isn't sleeping, my body can't recover. One short night isn't a big deal, but if there are a few rough nights in a row of sleep in a row, my workouts struggle. If I'm so tired all I want to do is walk or lay down and rest on a bench, it's a good sign I need to cut the workout short and/or sleep in the next day instead of getting up for an early run. I can fuel my day with coffee, but that only goes so far on a run. We've been working on setting a consistent bedtime routine and "sleep training" with the baby, as every little bit of order and sleep helps!
Side ache & core "fatigue": This one was hard to define, but I skipped the pickups and shortened one run because I had a nasty side ache and my core was really feeling off. Normally I would have pushed through that, but post-babies, I know that's usually a sign of more trouble in the core or back to come. It wasn't worth the risk, and in this case I think it was the right call.
Back pain: This really hit about two weeks ago. I've been working hard to strengthen my core, but I think I was overzealous with my new core exercises. I should have started with one set (not two!) and tested things out first before going more intense. My psoas (hip flexors) flared and a couple of days later my back locked up. The first day of back pain I thought it might improve with running, and it actually felt OK for about 30 minutes of easy running. Then the pain really settled in. I walked back for an additional 30 minutes, but then took the next couple of days off and scheduled an appointment at Life Clinic Chiropractic. I've dealt with enough back pain over the last 10 years to know when it's not worth pushing through. I have skipped a number of runs and cut others short because my back wasn't ready for the pounding, and there are few cross-training options that work for me when my back flares up. It is coming around and I'm back to some easy running now, along with a focus on recovery.
Here is what my recovery plan entails:
- Extra foam-rolling focused on hip flexors & glutes
- Changing up my core exercise routine to reduce the psoas activation
- Soaking in the hot tub or taking epsom salt baths to reduce inflammation
- Using peppermint, lemongrass, wintergreen and other essential oils topically
It is hard to believe I have just over two weeks until the TC 10 Mile, my "A" race of the season. I'm trying not to stress about it, even though my training hasn't gone quite as planned. I know I have made a lot of progress in the last 6 months despite some setbacks, and each mile is one "step" along the path back to fitness. My big goals are for next year and beyond, and I want to be able to enjoy the journey without adding too much stress to a busy life as a working mom of three! I'll keep working with Coach MK on building up my fitness carefully as my body gets stronger, and will share updates along the way. Hopefully my next post will have more upward progress to share!
Last blog post: "Metabolic Assessment 1"