Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gait Analysis Feedback

On Monday I had a full on gait analysis done. I've been having some calf tightness (again) and random foot aches. The calf is managable, I'm stretching like it's my religion! The foot ache is bugging me though. It's both feet and it's very off/on so we've pretty much ruled out plantar fasciitis and think it's biomechanics. It's completely fine today but on Tuesday they were achy. I keep thinking this is in my head! Ha ha!

So, I decided to have a gait analysis to kind of check in with what's up. It's tough because the gait analysis my coach did was on a treadmill. I hadn't run on a treadmill in well over two years and it felt incredibly awkward. I ran with both shoes on, with the superfeet (that I'm returning!) and barefoot. I tried to run just like I run outside though and here are the things my coach and I found when we slowed down the video:

1) My right hip has issues. It's likely weak and can be "fixed" with a lot of focal hip work. I've been slacking on it so it makes sense that this is something that is bothering me. It's also usually common that the right hip presents as a problem and then the left lower leg has issues too - this is what's going on with me as it's my left calf.

2) I shuffle. From race photos I knew that I didn't pick up my heel enough, but apparently it's causing some problems. What's happening is both of my feet turn out at the top of my kick back in order to clear the ground on the way through, then they don't have enough time to fully straighten so I can land supinated and pronate, like I learned is the correct way to land. I land completely flat. Talk about impact!

I overpronate, but not as horribly as I thought. My neutral shoes seem to be okay enough for correcting it. My arch doesn't collapse or anything so I don't need the superfeet. They were starting to really bug me too.

3) My upper body moves too much. It moves a bit more side to side (with a minor rotation to shoulders and hip) instead of back and forward. This one is easy for me to fix. I noticed at the track last night that when I run faster it's something that isn't an issue at all. I just have to be a little more conscious of it on slower runs, but this issue is minor compared to the others. Right now I've decided to mostly focus on hip rehab and strengthening while not running and heel pick up while running for now.

My coach was convinced I was a heel striker too. Some great runners are still heel strikers so really I wasn't too concerned because I knew at the very least I wasn't a massive heel striker. When we slowed down the video and saw the point of impact though, I strike mid-foot. This made me happy because I had been working on shifting my balance and trying to land mid-foot, but I'm happy to have confirmed it. But since I just thud down flat, it's not doing me any favors!

(This is proof that it is really tough to see a lot of gait abnormalities, unless glaring, until you record then slow it down a lot. While you can generally tell if someone is striking more mid than heel, it's not always so black and white and easy to tell from the naked eye. A lot of what my coach 'saw' turned out to be a bit different once on video!)

Changing something like how I land takes a lot of time. I can't really focus on that so I'm focusing on picking up my heels. It feels weird to pick them up higher but I'm working on incorporating it for a minute every 10 minutes or so. Hopefully it'll become more of a second nature after a few months, but it's certainly something I have to be conscious of. Will it correct my foot so I land correctly? I have no clue. We'd like to think so... but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

All in all it was a helpful analysis, though I have to admit I was a little bummed that my coach only scheduled an hour because we were only finishing up watching the videos at that point. I was rushed out of there because he had a personal training session. He sent a follow up email with some pointers but I'm waiting to hear back on a couple other questions I had. I know that we don't pay much for the training sessions, but the cost of this analysis was $100, and that was tough for me to come up with, so I'm trying to get the most out of it!

PS - I have been collecting random pictures, but nothing I want to squeeze in here. I do have some fun stories to tell about my experiences recently in a sensory deprivation float tank though! I've been LOVING it and at some point it'll get a post. Work and working out has taken up a lot of my time recently so I hope to get back to posting more regularly soon. Here's one happy post-float picture at 3am!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Big Sur excitement (and plans!) plus, a promise!

These past few weeks it's been nice taking 3 running rest days a week! There's a few reasons for this (general time off, under the weather) but overall things have been positive in my world.

One thing that's developed is achy feet/ankles. I'm not really used to this and trying not to get too concerned. I have a sneaking suspicion it's linked to my tight calves and limited ROM, so for the past week I've been doing at least an hour's work of focal stretching and strengthening every day. Heel raises, calf extensions, foot massages! Lots of goodies. It's tedious but it feels good. My feet feel more relaxed.

Most of the aching started up around the beach run I did, which would make a lot of sense, as you use quite a few more muscles running on the sand! I'm not in any pain, it's just a presence. I plan to talk to my coach about this tomorrow, but I think I'm set in terms of really solid routines on correcting this. I've also been loving eposom salt foot baths! It looks a bit sad but I don't have a bathtub, just a big pot.

Another thing I did was buy insoles. I have a huge aversion to insoles. In fact, I don't even really love that I'm in a neutral shoe and would prefer to be in a more minimalist style, but until I get my legs and feet into shape with the regular strength/stretching I have no business even thinking about transitioning. I bought some blue Superfeet because I over-pronate and these insoles provide arch support and correct this. Since our Saturday runs start at a running store I'm going to have them check out my gait with the insoles in/out to get some quick feedback. The insoles are so hard but I've run quick intervals and a 4 mile run in them so far and haven't had any issues. For my 12 miles tomorrow I won't be wearing them though as I've been told to ease into them.

Yesterday I booked my ticket to San Jose for Big Sur! I found a great deal for $158 RT for the flight times on Southwest that I was looking at already so I jumped on it. I was considering the drive, but I'm happier to fly. Once I get to San Jose I am taking an Airbus ($80 RT) that will deliver me to the Marriott in Monterey mid-afternoon. Yep, I'm staying at a fancy hotel and I'm certainly paying the price for it! $550. This whole trip will be brought to you by my tax return!

The Marriott has a few good things going for it. First, it's across from street from the Expo. I'll be getting to the Expo towards the end of it but all I want is my timing chip, bib, and shirt. The hotel is completely booked, and it's booked with runners so I can enjoy the energy of others but still head back to my room. They also offer a pre-race pasta dinner. It's pricey at $20, and I'm opting to bring foods that I'm used to, but it's a nice option. I also like to carb up two days out, not much the night before. Certainly the choice to stay here was about convenience. When I signed up for everything I didn't realize I was capable of driving through a rain storm for 90 minutes after a marathon, but I'm okay with not testing my toughness this time. Luxury is a hot tub (even though they say that's a no-no) and I'll be jumping in!

If you can't tell I'm really excited about this trip!! It's a big reason why I'm taking extra time off right now and precautions on all fronts. My mileage is still in the 25 - 30 mile per week range I want it to be, I'm just running a little longer. As the season progresses I want to stay about 30mpw with a max of 40 in peak training. This is where I'm comfortable and healthy. And happy!

Finally - reader's, I've failed you. I have been reading quite a few running blogs recently and while I've known all along that pictures make a blog more interesting, I have realized that every blog I regularly follow usually has a decent amount of pictures. So I've made it a resolution to *start* making an effort to take pictures of things I'm doing. Usually I feel like reader's aren't going to be interested in my running outfit for the day, but I think it's fun to see what other people wear! I like seeing the track they run at. I like looking at dirty running shoes. So, why not? I don't run with a phone (and camera) but I'll do my best to capture some moments and hopefully the next blog will have a little more pizazz!

Here is one before/after picture of my haircut. It's not exactly new news since it's been two weeks, but not everyone has seen it! Mostly it was a trim and style as my hair is growing out but I do like it! I wear my hair back so often though that it's rare that you'll see it like this so it was important to take the picture :-)

And before I forget - my coach had us run the mile at our max effort! I wasn't expecting this and have absolutely no idea what my max effort is. I started conservative and finished at a 6:50 pace. It was awesome! Below is my first two warm up of two laps each then the mile time. Sub 8 minute mile!

I'm really proud of this time because this is without any speedwork recently at all. I also felt that I could have sustained that effort for longer, especially where my HR was at. I have my foot pod calibrated for the track so while GPS still tracks I set it to pull foot pod data for accuracy. My foot pod is neat. It also tracks your steps per minute (spm), which is called your cadence. My average cadence on that mile was 93 spm. The "goal" cadence is 90.

We proceeded to do speed intervals and I kicked it up a lot faster than last season at a comfortably hard effort. While it felt nice to run so quick, I'm going to give it a couple more Wednesdays before I start to give myself a goal time for each interval. When it warms up I have a feeling I'll be slower too. I'm really enjoying the cooler weather.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Season - New Year!

Alright, it's been quite awhile since I've posted anything so this one will be a quick update.

I quit the running streak after 22 days of running (and 31 days of activity!) because I got bored of it. I was pretty darn proud of myself for lasting that long.

I spent a lot of time in November and December doing yoga. I discovered I really love yoga, which is helpful since I have always had a tough time wanting to regularly stick to anything other than running. I haven't been to a yoga class though since the second to last week of December. That's quite a bit of time. It's mostly due to holiday scheduling (my Monday classes were canceled) and then feeling under the weather this week. I'm in a Monday Hatha Flow class and a Yin Yoga Friday class that I really like, but coming up is a month of unlimited yoga so I may go a little nuts.

There was a race in December that I was absolutely positive that I was going to nail a PR but I didn't. I did set a PR but nothing glorious. I'm over the disappointment. I can do better and I will next time!

My official season started back up last Saturday! We started with a 6 mile run, which was cake. I'm used to fun 10+ weekend milers, so I ran 6 miles on Sunday too (though I had hoped for more, but wasn't feeling too great). This weekend is another 6, but I'm planning on 12. I think Shannon is running it with me, so yay for company!

BIG SUR!! 108 days! Excited and getting my butt in gear for the race. It feels really different training with a race in mind - especially one that sounds so spectacular. The Gorge marathon was beautiful, but I've never been to Big Sur, and the Pacific coast is always lovely, so I imagine 26.2 miles of it is going to be pretty fabulous!

I'll check in here and there along the way. Right now my main goal is to get my mileage base comfortably up to the 15 - 16 range over the next few weeks. I'm being overly cautious about injuries and cut one of the long runs (the 20 miler) out of my schedule, but I'll see how I feel in March. I'm working a lot more on focal strengthening and focusing on my feet (for once). I hope it makes a difference.

Tonight is our first track workout since last October! I've not even touched a track workout since then and really only ran a few quick intervals haphazardly here and there. We have our mile time trial, which I'm still not sure what to do with 7 months later. I know my training pace (10:30's for the marathon distance) and with that darn running calculator my coach likes to use that says my mile equivalent should be 8:07. I'll tell you right now that I'm likely not feeling an 8:07 mile tonight! The whole race time equivalent thing is helpful, but not the way I seem to interpret what my coach says about it. Whatever!
I'm just excited to hit the track :-)

I've got some other goals that I'll touch upon over the next few entries too. I hope everyone had a Happy New Year!!