Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Common running mistake......

There are lots of common running mistakes when it comes to form but one of the biggest is over striding. Over striding can cause of so many injuries, patella tendinitis, IT band stuff, major hip stress and calf problems. That pretty much covers it all. Over striding is not the only poor habit that brings on these types of overuse injuries but it's a bad habit that most runners touch on at one point during their running life.

I would consider myself a runner with pretty good form but I have definitely developed an over striding habit and didn't really know it. After my knee injuring last summer I have semi battled hip (mostly glute medius) strain and some knee pain. About 3 weeks ago my knee started acting up again. With a good memory of last summer I was pretty dialed in to the particular pain and the feelings in my leg. Being so aware I took all the appropriate precautions, stretching, icing, resting, isometric flexation, blah, blah, blah. I worked with Dr. T to dig out my balled up glute medius and make sure my pelvis was aligned but the one thing I didn't do was have someone take a look at my stride. In order to run the last couple of weeks I had to sort of bring my left leg along for the ride. I focused on getting it turn properly but my knee and muscles were not getting any better. It wasn't until Sunday when Micheal and I hit Lief for our 15 mile run where I warned him I may need to turn back early that all my problems would unfold. I am pretty sure I can bank on this now after giving it a couple of test drives so I will share the story in hopes others may benefit.

As we ran along I again made my left (injured) leg the focus of my stride. Working on all the stuff Scott told me to think about while running. His list includes, quick paw-back, knee drive, dorsey flextion of the foot upon landing, leading with hips or pelvis and a tall stature with quick turnover. I know that's a big list but each piece comes naturally for some. I my case a couple are no brainers like a tall stature. I have good lower abs and stand fairly erect anyway. Knee drive also comes easy for me. The ones I struggle with are paw-back (lifting the foot as if you were kicking your butt) instead of a lengthened push back. I also have an anterior tilt to my pelvis that comes naturally (like a duck butt) so leading with hips can always use work. All the while I am working on left leg form my right leg is just doing it's job. But is it???????? The lack of good form on my left side forced my right side to do a fair amount of compensating. Did I realize this?? NO! But Micheal saw it clearly. As we made our way to the around the 5 mile mark he said. "You are really over striding with your right leg, bring it in to match your left instead of trying to get your left to match your right". I thought for moment, took stock in my right leg and immediately noticed my over striding. I brought it in and instead of dwelling on my injured leg my mind shifted to the healthy one. I body immediately made the adjustment. Within about 2 miles all my knee pain lifted and I could feel my left quad start to fire properly. My speed increased and I reported a miracle. Could it really be this simple? Scott says, yes! As we continued on my hips began to square and the strain in my hip (glute medius) sort of vanished as well. Skeptical....most definitely. I needed more data and I got it. 2 more runs with no hip or knee strain. But.....my atrophied left rectus femoris (frontal quad) is super sore. It's firing like crazy when I run. See this guy's back leg? That is essentially what I do with my back leg. This straight paw back forces me to really use my hip to get my leg back in front of me plus extra energy. Now all of this was very subtle so the correction is subtle but has a huge impact on my body.

How do you know if your over striding. First count your strides and they need to be a minimum of 90 per minute but 95 is even better. Have someone watch you run! I don't care how long you have been running you can benefit from an outside view. Be open to suggestions! When we have any injury our minds go to the injury but maybe we need to go direction opposite and focus on NOT over compensating. Stop trying to favor or make the other leg do extra.

Every time I have had an ache or pain Scott's rehab has always included stride management. He will have you shorten that puppy up tight when injured. I am fortunate to have a few friends have almost textbook strides. Micheal's stride is almost perfect along with Darin's. Jim Rudig's stride is absolutely effortless. Beast had me shorten my stride during my hill climbs at AC100M one year and I gained speed during the climbs. He can out climb most on steep terrain for long periods of time. His uphill stride is perfect. Check out your stride. Do you reach in front of your pelvis.? Do you have a straighter leg on your kickback? Do you dorsey flex your foot? If you over stride it's really hard to naturally dorsey flex so if you don't you might want to check it out. Check out this video.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hagg Lake Trail Runs!

Whew...a sigh of relief. Hagg Lake is now part of yesterday and Stacey and I can fill our spare time with what else but....training. Saturday was absolutely perfect in every way. The race went off perfectly. The weather was sunny and dry and therefore the trails were in great conditions keeping the injuries to a bare minimum. We were home and done by 6:30 p.m. Every year in mid February my mind and spare time is consumed with Hagg Lake activities. It's not really that overwhelming since we everything well lined out. But, since we are both perfectionist we worry about every little detail and want to be sure we put on a great event where folks have good fun. Since it's the opening race of the Oregon Trail Series we get to see a lot of trail running friends from all over. All eager to get the party started for the year so the feelings of enthusiasm are most definitely contagious. In the past there has sort of been a tradition of "Hagg in Drag" or men in skirts. But this year Sean took the costumes to a whole new level. He walked up dressed like Richard Simmons and I swear the likeness was too much. Good thing I was dehydrated or I would have wet my pants laughing so hard. It was hysterical! The best part is he runs fast and that outfit didn't get in the way of another great run for him.

Now that Hagg is over it's time to focus. Oh....just in time to taper for Coyote. Well not so fast. One more week of hard training then a taper. Last week was a planned recovery and I needed it. My body was having all sorts of squeaks, twinges and just plain fatigue. I milked the recovery runs for all they were worth and my M-Pace and T-Pace run both got cut short. My body was just not in the game. I listened and felt it would be best to go with the fatigue and bring it this week. Yesterday I had a KPR run and Micheal joined me. I was ready to cut it short if I felt any overly fatigued muscles scream as my left leg, hip and knee were not in good working condition. It all ended up awesome....Thanks Micheal who suggested I make some subtle but effective changes to my stride. I will write more on this later as I gather more data. Anyway we ran the 15 miles on Lief at 7:40 pace, nice! I am back in action so that full week of serious recovery paid off.

This Saturday Steve is putting on a Fat Ass run at Powell Butte. Details to come. I have my 2009 race schedule done! I will post my plans soon but I am excited about all the races coming in the near future. I am leading the run clinic at Lululemon Athletica in the month of March. The run starts at 6 p.m. from the store in the Pearl District. Please come out. More on this later too.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My toes have bones!

Since this was last Black Saturday before Coyote I thought it would be good to have my toes in the game. Black paint with skulls and crossbones were in order. Trisha and I spent an afternoon soaking our feet, having them scrubbed, trimmed and painted. Trisha drew up a lovely skull and the pedicurist copied it perfectly. Later that night I was walking around at home and completely forgot about my tough looking artwork when Bill looked down and said, "What on earth is on your toes"? Oh, that's for Black Saturday I said with complete casualness. He replied with only an "Oh my, then I guess you better get rested up"! Right after Alex pipes up to let me know that if I was volunteering for the Valentines Party that I could not come to school with black toes. That is against the dress code for sure! I am not sure what kind of example I set when I told him I would be sure to wear shoes.

We never do 3 repeats on Black Saturday. Why? Because it's really hard! About 2 years ago while training for WS100M I inquired about triples during my consult with Scott. He said he only recommends 3 if you are a very top athlete and going for a win and even then he doesn't recommend it often. I said I wanted to try it. During the early months when the repeats were less than 40 minutes per ascent he put 3X30 on my schedule. Determined to make it happen I set out for a BS, dug deep and had 2 super 30 minute ascents. We tore down the technical trail in the gorge, turned and headed up for #3. I was sure I was going to prove to him I could do it. Well.......the brick wall came after about 15 minutes of the 3rd ascent. My legs were done, zip, zap, dead...nothing left. That was my last time at attempting 3. Since we are limited by snow and won't be doing anything above 30 minutes right now Scott put 3 in again. I was pumped to give it another whirl. Since we are normally at the 45-60 minutes of ascent on each repeat at this phase before a race we needed a good 90 minutes at threshold on an incline. Hamilton Mountain was going to be are destination but it snowed this week so we had to do them on Saltzman Road. Not nearly as steep as anything in the gorge but certainly not easy. We all set out for 3X30 minutes. We were joined by folks from Trailfactor and it was awesome to have more athletes pushing up the hill. They showed up in all black ready to kick some butt. If you haven't checked it out go to Trailfactor and see what they do. They do a lot of group runs on some awesome trails. Shawn and Jesse are great people and great runners too. I hope they come out again. Their group runs are open to all levels and sound super fun. Today their fast pace helped keep us focused and on our game.

This is a peak week for me and I happy to say the 3X30 minutes went way better than I expected. Everyone was on today. When I can be this close to a taper and finish out a peak week with strength I know everything is coming together. It tells me my body is adapting to the heavy workloads, recovery quickly and not fatigueing out. I hope I got all that fatigue out of my system a couple of weeks ago and stay strong. Now that I have conquered the triple repeat I have to go back to the gorge and try it again. I actually know I can do it now! To finish off this peak week we are running 5 hours in Forest Park tomorrow. I think we will do a couple of different loops to get the full time needed and that will make it easy to fuel.

In other news I won ORRC Female Runner of The Year award. They had a banquet on Thursday night to give out all the 2008 awards. I was really surprised to have won because I didn't run that many races last year. The award is performance based and I finished well in the races I did do so that scored me a lot of points. I got a neat plaque for a prize and it was really cool.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

You can feel it!

Spring is around the corner and the ultra running season is getting underway here in the PNW. The excitement is contagious! Lottery's are being drawn, races are commencing and it seems everyone is talking about training and racing. Maybe it's all in my head but that's okay I will work with it.

Last week was the beginning of my last training cycle for Coyote. With tempo runs and m-pace runs followed by hill repeats on Friday I felt like it was a peak week but it's not. Since we had Hagg Lake trail work on Saturday I had to do my hill repeats on Friday. I was lucky enough to have some friends join me which made it much more fun but most of all it kept me out there. Susan, Tom and I headed out together and found Beast hiding on the hillside snapping photos. Just after our first summit we got to see Anna, Stan and Kia (Anna's husky) heading up. I was working with a pretty tired body especially my legs. Seems my leg workout on Tuesday lingered in my muscles. I was fine with the fatigue and did the best I could on the climbs. My first repeat was my fastest time ever up Hamilton but still not good enough to beat Steve's sub 27:3ish time. Most all of the snow drifts were gone so I had no excuses. Even the temperature was good and it actually felt balmy. Seems like Hamilton has been my hill repeat of choice this winter. I feel pretty lucky to have any parts of the gorge open for running this time of year. During the summer months I never go to Hamilton Mountain because the hikers love this trail and it's full of people but during the winter it's almost people free.

Since Saturday was spent out working on Hagg we opted for 5 hours on Dog Mountain for Sunday's run. With Steve running the death valley marathon it was only Micheal, Dr. T and I for the 5 hours of quad busting fun. We weren't sure what the top of Dog would unveil so we planned on teeter tottering the mountain if we couldn't make full loops. We haven't had much snow fall since our last visit but whatever snow had fallen most likely stuck since it has been bitter cold with the east winds. We started up the steep side with a vigorous pace. I knew it was going to be a good day and I was really looking forward to testing my fitness. I think all three of us were excited to be out. Making our way up the steepest side quickly we ran into a few snow drifts. By now they were mostly ice drifts but not super slick. As we made it to the clearing about .4 miles from the summit it was a sea of ice crystals covering everything. The wind was really blowing and it was cold. It's summer in my mind so I was in shorts.....right....good move. The trail was rock hard from being frozen but the ice wasn't bad until we hit the top. Wasting no time at the summit we headed down the other side to see how much snow lingered. It was dicey as we made our way along the ridge. Micheal was an ice skater in a previous life as he showed us his finest triple lutz and sow cows with grace. With Micheal leading Dr. T. followed closely while I was left for dead along the ridge. Grasping for every blade of grass or stick I could find to hold myself up I only took one fall and did a not so graceful version of the splits. Remember it's summer in my mind so I have on shorts. The ice scrape on my butt is sweet! The splits were super neat on my oh so flexible legs...NOT! It took me about 25 minutes to go a mile which is about how much ice stuff we had to maneuver through. When I arrived at the junction Micheal was all smiles as if he just received a 10 from the judges while I on the other hand got thrown out of the competition. Once we got off the ridge it was smooth sailing to the bottom.

Now that we have the information we needed I announced I would not be going to the top nor would I be skating on any ice. They both agreed. We took the not so steep side up for round 2. Our destination was the Ausberger junction. I felt super strong and wanted to see if I could run up the whole way. Off we went with me in the lead. I had a good strong run going and my heart rate hovering around 160. That simply rocks! Running up Dog Mountain pretty darn comfortably is definitely a new level for me. I was on fire except my left knee was pretty pissed from my not so graceful splits. I knew it wasn't really bad but it was talking to me. We made it to the junction fast, turned around and headed down. Micheal and Dr. T flew. I brought up the rear but still made good time. Now with 5,800 feet under our belt in 12 miles we had one more round to go. Up the steep side again.

Besides showing off his triple lutz and sow cow on the ice Micheal is simply on a rocky mountain high and we are not even in Colorado! The guy was gone, out of sight and not looking back. He is mister mountain with this years line up of Coyote, Hardrock then Wasatch and you can certainly see the fire in his eyes. No more mister nice guy....it's all business. I am not bitter or jealous..... I tried to keep up but NOPE he decided to set a record to the summit. I turned around with .4 miles to go to avoid the ice rink, Dr. T turned before that while Micheal flew all the way up. As I was making my way down here comes mister happy showing me his summit time. Sure enough it's a record for anyone we know. Nice work Micheal!

What an awesome training day with just under 8,000 feet of climbing and descending. Thanks guys! I came home and jumped straight into an ice bath. I might not be able to skate but I can swim!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Lucky #13!

I am lucky number 13 on the Hardrock waiting list. I am told to simply plan on running since in the past at least the top 15 get in. 13 is pretty close to 15 but I am not complaining. Micheal got in along with Olga and Bushwhacker. Steve is #50 on the list but still plans on showing up for some Hardrock fun and maybe get a bid last minute. Either way I will be at Hardrock if not running then supporting so Colorado here we come. I am going to train like I am in and if not then I will be in great shape for Bighorn. This is going to be really fun especially since my training buddies are planning on running so that means some serious training sessions.

Last Sunday's half was the end of another training cycle so last week was recovery. I still had a good M-Pace run on Tuesday that went well but the rest of the week was just okay. My T-Pace on Thursday was hard and I couldn't make my pace of 7:17 on one of the miles. My legs were super tired. I did the T-Pace run at my favorite Fitness Trail. :) That is what it is called, "Fitness Trail". That cracks me up. The killer squirrels were out in force but that didn't help me run any faster. Steve kicked my sorry butt and that helped me get a couple of good times. That guy can simply run fast if he wants to!

We headed up to Hamilton on Friday for 2X30 minute hill repeats. Steve set the record of under 27 minutes to the summit from the trail junction. Micheal was right on his heels but Steve was first. That's the time to beat and I am going after it on Friday when I do repeats again. Sunday we did a great 3 hour run in Forest Park. I actually felt better on Sunday than Saturday. For whatever reason I was darn wiped out last week with most of my training. Even my lifting was fatiguing. I hope to have a bounce back for this week.

Not much longer before we head to Coyote. We got our start times and Micheal and I got in the last start slot for the 100M. We are lining up with some fast folks and only have 28 hours to find the finish line. I thinks that's going to be a big push. Since I haven't put the kind of training in I would for a serious hard effort I am nervous. After conversations with Scott about how to approach Coyote I decided to scale back on training compared to other events. Why? To save myself for later. I know how gruelling the big Black Saturday's and long Sunday's can be and I don't want to burn myself out this early. With this late start group I don't know how well that plan is going to work, yikes! Whatever the outcome Micheal and I are getting a lot of laughs from it. Frankly I am planning on peaking for bowling night. I have been practicing my slide.......

Congrats to Darin for breaking 3 hours at Surf City Marathon! Read about it on his blog here. Also check out Trisha and Darins new endevour....reasontorun.com. Sign up to race a fast one.