Saturday, September 11, 2010

Running Smart

Hello Rain City Runners and Global readers.
I have been waiting patiently for the day to come where I can cancel my day because it's stunning outside and head down to the beach and unroll my blanket for one last lounge in the sun. The dark nights draw near and fall has claimed hold to this time and settled until winter wanders in to ring in the new year. For many this time can mean any variety of events are about to take place. Instinctively, especially being born and raised in the harsher Ontario climate, I usually take this time to hunker down, find more work, and generally slack off quite a bit in terms of training. This year will be different. I made a commitment to myself and to running on January 4th 2009. I promised to give it everything I've got because running is something I can naturally do well and I really wanted to make my Father proud of me. After so many years of tormenting the poor guy, I figured it was the least I could do to smarten my act up and do well by my parents. Not to mention, I really enjoy competing and now that I have some direction in my life, my true desire for self improvement has greatly increased. Sometimes this desire can be an overpowering experience.

When I first started training, I had my Nike plus wrist band with the compatible Nike shoes and a burning desire to kick some ass. (primarily my own) Other than that, I had the knowledge I gained from my high school cross country running experience. Our team coach was obviously at the school for the football and rugby team and didn't really know the first thing about running. Not that I would have cared or listened to him with my know it all at 16 attitude.
My father was and still is (at the age of 63 next month) an amazing runner and at times would try to offer me help. I needed to move across the country and become serious about running before I would realise how valuable his help would have been. So in any event, I came out of the running box blazing. I was running every day. Rain or shine, ice and sleet couldn't stop me. I was setting records and competing on-line with Nike plus users from around the world. It was so much fun. I was still naive and only just starting to research about proper diet and living choices. My massage business was making me learn more and more about the body each day as well. I could feel myself getting faster and fitter. I remember being out on a long run with some local runners from the White Rock area when my right knee got injured. More specifically my Lateral Collateral Ligament had a slight tear in it from over use. What this means is that I hadn't given myself adequate time between workouts for recovery and also that my muscles and tendons were not yet strong enough to be doing such a heavy workload this early in my running career. This injury plagued me for a couple weeks before I was able to research how that tendon works and what was causing the extra stress on it. It turns out that most injuries of this type are directly related to muscle imbalances or an increased workload. More often in women than men for some reason. For me, my outer quad was stronger than my inner quad and that was creating an uneven pull on my knee and eventually led to a small tear in the LCL. Ligaments and tendons are some of the most difficult injuries to repair as they take so much time and attention. I have found a wonderful website here which lists the 5 most common running injuries, why they occur and how to cure/prevent them. I seriously recommend this site for any runner. It is this type of awareness and strengthening which will keep you running safely and injury free. There is no happier runner than a healthy runner.

It is now 24 days and 20 hours until the The Royal Victoria Marathon. My training has been going very well and I am on my last heavy week of training before it's taper time. My next long run will be my longest run ever at 38km. I am looking forward to my long runs now that I have a few great routes and know that my body will put up with the long distance. I have learned how to nourish myself along the way by choosing a bar and fluid which agrees with my stomach and will give me the sustained energy I need to complete the last part of my workout with quality. I have been doing a lot of reading and listening to a lot of talented and accomplished runners talk about their marathon training and experiences. I have found a common topic always arising. This being that the last few miles of the marathon is what makes or breaks a persons goals. I have been giving the last third of my workouts and quarter of my long runs a bit more effort than the rest to train my body to perform better even or especially when it's tired. I'm hoping this will enable me to push through any of the pain I'm told to expect by then. Another thing which enables me to do this is focus. Yesterday I had one of my longest and fastest tempo runs since I started training. I did 21.5km in 1:15. In order to reach my goal in Victoria, I will have to perform this feat twice. I am nervous thinking about it, but certainly up for the challenge. I know I have given my body all the right tools it needs to perform this task efficiently. Efficiency is key over this distance. I focus 85% of my thoughts in the last part of my run on form and technique. This is what enables me to run smoothly and pain free. I know there will be pain in the marathon, but I am now able to relax, embrace and refine in order to make it tolerable.

I have been hearing and feeling a lot more support between team members recently as we all endure the extreme highs and lows of marathon preparation. One of these things which has really helped me to dig deeper or hang in there has been from dear ole' Gramps. This wise and talented member of our team has sparked inspiration and desire into us all this season by his undying efforts to improve and his dedication to our team. It seems as though no matter what life throws his way, he still manages to be at all the practices and has remaines injury free. If our team had a captain, This man would be voted in unanimously. One thing Gramps often says is "We are VFAC!" When he says that, I think of all of the hard work we all put in out on the trails and track, and all of the times that we keel over gasping for air. I also think of the genuine quality of the people who make up our team. This instantly makes me feel very strong and the feeling of belonging that I get as a VFAC member is a proud one. To all who are lining up this fall on the front lines to battle the marathon, half or 8k, (whether Victoria, Toronto or other) remember who you are and know that we are VFAC and are all in this together as friends, team mates and runners.

Things I hate: Bad energy at home
Things I love: Embracing the challenge

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