Back in the Game

So happy to write that my neck/shoulder pain is no worse than it was yesterday! I’m still in some discomfort but I was able to make it to work just fine and only used my heat wrap once. Tonight I think I am going to skip the muscle relaxer and hopefully in another day or two I can cut back on the dosage of my regular pain killers. I think/hope I am making progress!

I downloaded the Map My Run app and ended up paying for a month of the premium service, just to see what it was like. I’d read that some of the data points get a little loopy when the GPS signal isn’t too strong, and definitely experienced it myself – within 4 minutes my pace had evidently swung from an over 12-minute mile (I am slow…but not that slow!) to just over 8 minutes (I don’t even know what that looks like on the treadmill, it’s way beyond my capability!). But for the most part, when there weren’t trees in the way, I think it was accurate enough. I only had to run 3 miles and I was so happy that my shoulder was acquiescing so I really pushed myself – I ran the whole thing at an average of 10-minute miles – which I do think is true and which is really, really good for me. I don’t think I will continue to pay for the premium service though – I have my eye on a Garmin watch and that’ll show a more accurate picture of my mile pace, splits, and distance. It’s pricey, but I know how I am with data – I’d rather pay a lot for accuracy than a little for a fuzzier picture.

Tomorrow morning is the same gym class where I initially hurt myself last week – it’s a great class, almost all strength-training (with some very short bursts of cardio here and there) – and it’s good for me. I’m just not quite sure I’m strong enough to go. I think I will set my alarm and see how I feel in the AM, and if I do decide to go, I’ll let the instructor know ahead of time that I’ll take anything upper-body at a slower and lighter pace. And if I skip class tomorrow and just do my sanctioned run, that’s okay too – as soon as I’m feeling 100%, I’ll be back in action fo’realz.

Back on the Trail…Tentatively!

I am finally starting to feel better over this weird neck/shoulder pain situation, but it’s been slow-going. Last night I took the muscle relaxer my doctor prescribed and still woke up a bunch of times in pain. I was supposed to fly to DC for the day but I had to cancel the trip – I just thought a few hours in the air and several hours staring at briefing materials during the meeting probably wasn’t going to help – I knew I needed more time at home. I was really bummed to miss the meeting but I know it was the right call.

Today I took full doses of the medication prescribed (initially my doctor suggested a half dose and to increase it if needed…I decided it was very much needed) and I think it really paid off – by mid-afternoon I was feeling so much better. I’m still in discomfort but it’s manageable…so much so, in fact, that I took a leap and went for my training run this evening.

It’s possible I made a huge mistake by doing this and that I set back my recovery, but I just felt like I HAD TO MOVE and get out of my house and off my couch. Initially my plan was to just walk the requisite 3 miles, but once I got on the trail I decided to run and just see how I felt – and I felt fine, more or less. We’ll see how tonight goes – if the pain comes back with a vengeance, I have no one to blame but myself.

If I weren’t training for the marathon there’s no way I would have run…it just killed me to think that I was missing two workouts (Sunday’s cross-training session and then today’s run – Monday was a sanctioned rest day). That’s where I know I am a little too Type A for comfort…but then again, I really was feeling better and I really did need to move a bit. Tonight I will take the muscle relaxer again and another dose of the regular painkiller and we’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

If anything it was a gorgeous night for a run – we had really gross weather yesterday (humid and with some crazy storms) but today was beautiful and sunny and cool – I think the weather improved my mood just as much as the pain killers!

Really hoping I didn’t make a huge mistake…really hoping I am actually recovering and this pain isn’t just getting masked by the pills. I’m feeling guilty for the run but also relieved that I was able to do it…we’ll see how I do tonight. Fingers crossed I am almost back to my regular self!

Stiff Upper Lip (Well…Neck, in my Case)

Sadly the pain that kept me glued to my couch yesterday has not abated; in fact, it’s actually worse. I slept fitfully again last night and pretty much shouted obscenities every time I had to change positions (thankfully the sounds were muffled by my air conditioner). This morning I knew I couldn’t make it to work and, after some gentle prodding from my BFF (thanks again, K!), made an appointment with my doctor. In my head I just assumed nothing could really be done, but I’m so glad I went – she was able to prescribe a muscle relaxer for nighttime (which hopefully means a night of steady, pain-free sleep) and a higher-dosage of ibuprofen for during the day. I’m back on my couch now, this time with a fancy dual-action hot/cold press wrapped around my neck, just waiting to start feeling better!

I asked my doctor how much longer I’d feel this way, and she said probably another week or so – that was probably the most painful moment of these past few days! I know that you can’t rush a recovery and I’d never actually start exercising again and risk further injuring myself…but still. I feel like a dope that I’m one week into training and I’m already temporarily sidelined! On the other hand…better one week in than one week out, I suppose.

So that’s where I’m at  – nowhere fun! But hopefully the more potent pills will kick in soon and I’ll start feeling like my normal self. Until then…back to Netflix. 🙂

Down for the Count…

I had nothing but the best intentions for making a great Sunday, starting with back-to-back classes at the gym. I was going to take a spin class for fun cardio and my favorite interval class for strength training and endurance. Instead I have spent the better part of the day on the couch with an ice pack and a steady stream of ibuprofen!

On Thursday I was doing a really simple sit-up at the gym and immediately felt my lower neck/upper shoulder area tweak. This has happened to me before so I knew what I was in for – a few days of mild but annoying discomfort and the inability to turn my head quickly. No big deal. Well Friday was my rest day and I felt fine, then yesterday I kinda forgot all about it during my group run – evidently this little flare-up did not forget about me! I felt it creep up towards the end of the night so I applied some sports cream before bed – at first that seemed to do the trick and I fell right asleep, but at one point I woke up to change positions and the pain was really intense. I don’t think I’m terribly sensitive to pain (I broke my pinky toe last winter and went at least 3 months before getting it checked out), so I feel like if it’s really hurting, it’s probably bad. And I love sleep more than anything else in the world (well…except for ice cream), so if something is disrupting my slumber, I know it’s REALLY bad.

I woke up and called my best friend, who has a history of…ummm…physical accidents (one might say she’s a tad clumsy) and she suggested going to a minute-clinic to see if I could get a muscle relaxer prescribed. At that point I remembered that through my health insurance we have access to a doctor-on-call service. I had my consultation and was told this is something that can only be treated by ice, ibuprofen, and rest.

Ice and Advil – I’m down with that. The rest part…not so much. Technically tomorrow is a rest day for my training program, so I’m okay with swapping out my cross-training today for tomorrow. That’s fine. But if I don’t get back on track PRONTO, I’m going to freak out. I know me. If I make a plan, I stick to it – if someone else (like my marathon training group) puts one in place for me, I’m even more stubborn about it. I am crossing my fingers that I get through the rest of today and tonight in good enough shape to get to the gym tomorrow, and more importantly, to get back to my scheduled run on Tuesday. I know the importance of resting during an injury – well, I get the concept at least – but I also know that, for me, it’s important to get back on the horse ASAP.

By now I’ve had two rounds of Advil and a few ice packs and I felt well enough to cook my lunches for the week and clean up my kitchen a bit, which is a dramatic improvement from this morning. Hoping to continue down this recovery path and be back in action tomorrow, but also hoping that if I truly am not up for it, I let myself take it easy. I read somewhere that you know you love exercise when you have to force yourself to take a rest day…so true!

Hopefully will write with happier news tomorrow. In the meantime…Go Hawks!!

First Group Run: Done!

So happy and relieved to write that, yes, I finished my first group run and apparently was all worked up for nothing – in fact, it was kind of anticlimactic! But I think those pre-anything jitters can be a good thing – I know in my professional life, for example, I give presentations all the time and I love public speaking. But no matter how prepared I am, I always get just a little nervous right beforehand, and I calm myself down by reminding myself how much I’ve practiced and how much I’m ready for whatever is coming next. Afterwards I always feel silly for getting worked up ahead of time – but it’s my style and I think if I didn’t, I’d start taking things for granted. So in the end – the pre-run tummy ache and general nervousness – I guess it just works for me!

I got to the meet-up spot and as soon as I got out of my car there was another girl asking if I was there for the marathon training and whether I was bringing my phone – she was really nervous too. That actually made me relax pronto – as soon as I found someone else who was worried, I felt much better! I had decided in advance not to bring my phone because I wasn’t sure what others were doing, and if no one had phones/headphones, I didn’t want to look aloof. Plus it was only 6 miles and I knew I didn’t need music to keep me going for that short of a duration – 10 miles, absolutely, but 6 – no sweat.

Anyway, my new little nervous friend and I walked over to the gathering spot together and I was just really amazed – there were SO many people! The last time I trained for a marathon I think there may have been 20 of us; I think there were more than double that number today. And there were little signs for your pace group so you knew where to stand and get ready. And there was a guy on a microphone kind of directing foot traffic – the whole thing was just bigger and more professional than I’d expected – all really good!

The only snafu was that I signed up for the 11:30-minute mile pace group, doing a run/walk of 5 mins running to 1 min walking. I was worried that I wasn’t going to be fast enough, so my plan all along was to default to the one slower group than mine – a 12-minute mile group, also at a 5:1 ratio. Well that particular leader was doing another event so we kind of blended together, and our pace leader tried to keep us going at a blend of the two paces. The whole thing was haphazard – I think it’ll be better once both pace leaders are out there.

What I liked: the woman who led my group (not officially a group leader but she was experienced and jumped right in so that our actual leader could hang back with the slightly slower crowd) actually ran faster than the 11:30 pace and I DID keep up, so that was good.

What I didn’t like: the woman wasn’t great with her watch, so there were multiple times where we ran beyond 5 mins or walked more than a minute, plus I felt like we stopped at every water station. Great for an actual marathon, not so necessary for a 6-mile run. And the actual walking breaks were dramatically slower than what I do when I’m on my own.

That being said: I made a running friend, so that was nice, and I probably wouldn’t have if we were actually keeping a more rigid pace, since it’s hard for me to run and talk at the same time!

In all the whole thing was just way more relaxed than I’d anticipated, for better or for worse. At the very end of the course is a hill (the only hill I’ve seen since I moved to Chicago!!) and our leader said we can run up it to get a bit of an incline experience but that it actually deducts from the total distance of the run. I loved the hill (it reminded me of an incline on my favorite trail in Washington) but it felt kind of weird to end the run before actually going the 6 miles.

I’m curious to see how it goes in the coming weeks. Hopefully once both pace leaders are active it’ll be a better organized run – I think the straight-up running groups were much more disciplined. This is where I get a little Type A – knowing that we should be going faster, going longer, but wanting to fit in with the group; I know for certain that if this were one of my regular solo weekend runs I would have finished faster and I sure as hell would have completed 6 full miles. But the way I see it, the training season is long and there’s plenty of time to tackle the distances – if anything it was better for me to have a more relaxed first run than to be overwhelmed and scared at the get-go.

Later today I’m getting my hair cut at a place about a mile and a half from my house, so that’ll be a nice 3-mile walking loop, and tomorrow I’ll do some cross training. And then it’s on to Week 2!


‘Twas the Night Before my First Group Run…

…and cue my inevitable stomach ache.  I know that tomorrow is just 6 miles so in theory it should be fine – but I do have a cute little habit of psyching myself out so much that running anything beyond a minute or two feels like death.  I know what I’m most nervous about is the group running factor – I am just afraid I won’t be able to keep up. Even though in my head I know that a. who cares; it’s about finishing the race, not winning it; b. there is still a slower pace group than the one I’m joining on Saturday, so I have a default; and c. all of my outdoor runs are faster than the pace group I’m joining.

But I’m telling myself I am prepared and ready to go. The group run meet-up location is maybe a mile and a half from my house, so after work tonight I got in my car and drove to the spot, just to make sure I knew precisely where it was. And I totally timed the ride so I knew approximately how long it’d take to drive over tomorrow. I know theoretically it’s a perfect warm-up (and later cool-down) distance, but I just want things to be as simple as possible tomorrow.  Never mind the fact that it’s supposed to rain ALL day and it’ll be chilly, so much so that I might need to dig out my long-sleeved running t shirt from storage!

Today was my sanctioned rest day from training; I considered going to my favorite dance class at my gym but decided to really stick to my schedule – there will be plenty of time to play around in the weeks ahead.  And with that I am off to bed since I have to be up just as early tomorrow as I usually am during the week!

Thursday Thoughts

After being out late on Tuesday night and getting up super early yesterday, today was a bit of a struggle on the energy spectrum!  I planned my workouts this week as an experiment and already know I’ll have to adjust – waking up extra early on Wednesdays to fit in a run and a yoga class before work probably isn’t going to be sustainable.  So I think instead I’ll just run and I’ll take a yoga class at my gym’s franchise closer to my office during my lunch break – that way I’m still done with working out before I head home but I’m not getting up before dawn (well, technically I am but 5:45 is much more reasonable than 4:45!).

This morning I went to my gym for a strength training class.  I always play a game when I set my alarm at night – I tell myself that if I happen to wake up earlier than my alarm, I’ll take it as a sign and will sneak in an earlier workout.  Never in my life has this actually happened, today being no exception!  So I took the class and had to get in one last quick training run tonight.

I was tired at work and flirted with the idea of skipping the run, but hello, this is my first week of training – I don’t think that sets the stage for much success! So instead I played around online and found a challenging interval treadmill run to try.  It was GREAT.  This particular workout called for 8 minutes of jogging, 4 of fast running, and then combinations of sprints and walking.  It only takes you through 20 minutes and since I had to run 3 miles I just improvised the rest.  I read somewhere in Runner’s World that part of the reason beginner runners don’t typically feel the runner’s high is because they’re not really challenging themselves speed-wise (because they’re still getting used to regular running) – this definitely rings true for me.  It’s the one thing I love about running on a treadmill – the ability to set the stage with your speeds and let the machine force you to keep pace.  The other thing I like is being able to watch sports while I run…otherwise I’m definitely an outdoor runner girl!

It occurred to me that the title of my blog is inaccurate…it should probably read LaniRunsTheLakefrontTrailAndTreadmillsWhenNecessary…since my “Chicago” running is pretty much variations along beautiful Lake Michigan…but that seems a bit wordy!


Making the Ultimate Sacrifice: Sleep!

Like I said in my last post, last night my office went to a Sox game and I didn’t get back until late, and wasn’t in bed until close to 11. I like going to a yoga class at my gym on Wednesday mornings at 6, but I knew I needed to get in a training run too. I don’t mind doing a morning and evening workout, but I knew I’d be especially tired tonight, so instead I just got up at 4:45 and made it to the gym with plenty of time to get in another 3 miles and still make it to yoga on time.

My run was on the treadmill, so unlike my little free for all yesterday, this time I couldn’t help but stare at the numbers. That’s definitely going to be one of my challenges – for a girl who hates math, I am a lunatic about tracking my stats!  The training group that I signed up for has me running at a 5:1 ratio and 11:30-minute miles.  Last week I ran on the treadmill and started off fine but ended up going slower than 11:30. And I definitely panicked.  I know me and I know how I run and typically I’m much better outdoors, but still – it was enough to make me second-guess the 11:30 pace group (there’s another run/walk option with my training group but they’re doing 12-minute miles. Which is fine…but with my half marathon I averaged just over 11, so I know I’m CAPABLE of going a little faster…just need to actually do it!).  This morning, though, I ended up coming in under 11:30, so that was a huge relief.  I’m still not at all confident as a runner so it’s important to me that I have solid training runs before my long group run this weekend – I already get a stomach ache when I think about it but focusing on what I’ve already done helps to calm me down…mostly. 🙂

After the run I did get to the yoga class and I felt like I was more flexible than usual because I was already so warmed up, though that could be in my head.  I always laugh…my yoga instructor starts every session with having us set an intention for our practice…every time, mine is “do not fall asleep in class. Do not fall asleep in class.” Not that I really am ever in danger of doing that, but sometimes those stretchy poses just feel so good you want to stay like that forever, esp when your eyes are closed!  Happy to report I did stay awake the entire time. 🙂

One kinda cool thing – as we were starting off, my instructor told us to inwardly reflect on how our bodies were feeling – my gut reaction to myself was “pretty damn good.” It is VERY rare for me to feel anything positive about my body (I’m sure I’ll get to more about that in subsequent posts…), so for that to be my go-to response felt kind of great.

And with that I am off to bed at 6:06 pm…kidding…mostly….but a 4:45 wake-up is definitely not for me. Once in a blue moon, okay, but not after going to bed the night before! I do want to keep up with yoga throughout my marathon training and I do love this class, so I guess on the mornings when I feel up to it it’s something I’ll stick with; otherwise I’ll just bookend my Wednesdays at the gym, which is also fine.

Good evening!

First Official Training Run

Last night I had a work function and didn’t get a chance to write, but I’m so happy to report that I had a lovely first official training run yesterday morning! I only had to get 3 miles in, so I was able to sleep just a little longer than I usually do before a workout, and with such beautiful weather I was able to run outside.

I have to listen to music when I run and I’m always stealing from other people’s playlists. Yesterday, though, I took a departure from my normal songs and just listened to the Rent soundtrack. Growing up in Connecticut, we used to go to the city all the time to see Broadway shows, so I definitely have a thing for showtunes. I made a mental note of which track I stopped on and will pick it up there the next time I’m in the mood for a musical!

Instead of keeping up with my run/walk ratio (normally I like a 6:1 but for the marathon I’ll be doing a 5:1 with my training group), I just ran without stopping and without tracking my splits. I know the distance was right because I’ve run along the Lake so often, so all I had to worry about was turning around at the right time and making sure I didn’t slow down on the return trip – had to get to work, after all! It’s so liberating to run without looking at my watch every few minutes to track where I am – but that being said, it’s easy to do it for 3 miles; with longer distances I’m pretty much glued to my ratio.

Anyway, a great training run and more to come!

First Day of Training!

Today was my first official training day for the marathon!  Per the schedule I’m following, I actually didn’t run today; I did a cross-training session via a high-intensity interval class, which is one of my favorites at the gym.  I especially love this class because the exercises involved alternate between strength training and cardio blasts, so you get the best of both worlds, and since strength training isn’t exactly my forte, it’s always really beneficial.

That will actually be a bit of a challenge for me over the next few months – staying away from all the other classes I usually take in favor of runs.  Right now, per CARA, my plan is to run 4 days a week (that includes my long run on Saturdays), rest for two, and cross-train for one.  The way I’m hoping to work it out, I’ll rest on either Sunday or Monday and take a HIIT class on the other day, then run on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, rest on Friday, and take my long run on Saturday.  I’m hoping to squeeze in a yoga class on Wednesday mornings (and run in the evening) and a solid strength-training class on Thursdays (again with an evening run).  It looks ambitious on the screen but I’ve doubled up before…I just need to be mindful of when it might become too much.

Really glad I’m not running outside tonight – it is hot and stormy in Chicago!