"People who avoid the brick walls --
all power to ya but we all have to hit them sometimes in order to push through to the next level." -- Jennifer Aniston
At this point, I've talked ad nauseam about my upcoming half marathon. I know a lot of you are sick of hearing about it. I get it - I'm sick of thinking about it myself. It shouldn't be a big deal. Plenty of people have told me how "chill" the RunDisney races are - several friends have walked them! And I've done a half marathon before (12 years ago... when I weighed less than 130 lbs and ran an average of 4-6 miles/day). I'm doing everything right, supposedly... I'm training pretty regularly, and I never skip my long runs. So why am I freaking out?
My first "long" run in this training program was just over 6 miles. I completed the run the week before my birthday. The picture above says 6.10, but it was actually 6.5 - my phone died as I was running back to my car to cool down and stretch. This was the longest I had ran in over 12 years, and I couldn't believe I finished it. It wasn't the easiest run, but it wasn't the hardest. It definitely proved to me that I could conquer my 10K race in January... shame I scheduled a half marathon before it!
My next scheduled long run was supposed to be 7.5 miles, but I did just over 8. This was my favorite run to date. I felt good throughout my run, paced myself (and kept below the race pace that I am aiming to keep), and wasn't sore the next day. Sure, I was tired, but that's to be expected. Could 8 miles be my sweet spot?
Just two weeks after my favorite run, I was scheduled to complete a 9 mile long run. I recently discovered Hogwarts Running Club, and committed to dedicating this run as a virtual race with a friend from out of town. We picked the Platform 9 3/4K, which is roughly 6.05 miles. I knew my 9 mile run would be far in excess of the requirements, so I decided to push myself and see if I could best my previous pacing. While I met my pace and distance goal, I certainly paid for it. My feet were k-i-l-l-i-n-g me after I finished. I could hardly walk, nearly stumbling as I tried to make it from my car to my house (about 5 feet) when I returned home. Does this mean I can't do further than 9 miles? Do I need to stop? Is this my brick wall?
As most idiots do, I turned to Dr. Google for answers. Plantar Fasciitis, maybe? No, that's not it. I never have heel pain, and I'm good about making sure any shoe I run in has good arch support. Lactic acid buildup? Possibly. I have a bad habit of not doing much of a cool down walk - I walk a bit, stretch a lot, and jump in the car to go home. I also don't have the best race nutrition. Bad shoes? Definitely possible. Despite only having my shoes since August, I had put approximately 300 miles on them. They felt fine when I walked, however, so I didn't worry about it. I checked out the tread and insole after my 9 miler, however, and was shocked to find that the mid foot was nearly worn through!
Shortly after doing my unscientific research, I headed to my local running store to be re-fitted for a new shoe. A friend recommended the Hoka One One, so I decided to try it since my foot pain was so severe. The Hoka was a dream in the store! So cushy and soft! Surely this, in addition to ensuring that I do a proper cool down and adding magnesium and potassium to my diet, would be my solution... right?
The week after my 9 mile run was Thanksgiving. I headed home to New Mexico to visit my family, and took a couple of my nieces out for a short run to test out the new kicks. The results were disastrous. Not only did the shoe not provide enough stability support, but the Hoka's felt like I was running with boxes tied to my feet. I sadly retired them until I returned to California, committing to doing two more runs (one long, one short) before I would waive the white flag and return them to the store.
I took my arch support insoles out of my old shoes to put them in the Hoka's. My next short run was better, but oh-so-slow. I was so frustrated. Gone was my foot pain, but hello knee pain! I injured my knee twice in my twenties, and now have DJD, but my knee has given me surprisingly little difficulty since I started running in June. Ugh - is this worth it?
Sunday morning, I hit the trail in the Hoka's to attempt a minimum 10 mile run. I made sure to have my insoles in the shoes before leaving, and also taped up my knee with pretty-in-pink KT tape. Let's see if this works! The first two miles were miserable. The shoe's cushion made it feel like I was running on a mattress, and it seemed like an eternity before I hit the 5K mark. By mile 5, I really wanted to give up. My knee pain was manageable (dull but present) but my ankles were in horrible pain. I attempted to do my run/walk intervals at various points on the run, but I just couldn't find a stride/gait that didn't make me want to cut my feet off at the ankle bone.
I finished my 10 mile "run" with my slowest pace to date (since I started tracking in August). Shoot - who am I kidding? I walked far more than I ran. The foot pain was less severe but still present (thanks to proper hydration and overly cushioned shoes, possibly?), but my knee was starting to throb for the first time since I started running and my ankles were burning. I was miserable.
I attempted every trick in the book to relieve the pain - an Epson salt bath with ice, tennis ball stretches, foam rolling, stretching, etc. After messing around with these for a few hours, I decided to head promptly back to my running store to exchange the shoes. Hoka One One - you're so done done. The gal at the running store kept insisting that I move from Asics to Brooks, but the Brooks felt too similar to the Hokas for me to consider them. I tried about 5 pairs of shoes before returning to my tried and true Asics. I'm hoping this works out.
No long runs for this girl this week... My week will consist of two or three short runs (2-3 miles) and one a bit longer (5-7 miles). I tried the new shoes on the treadmill tonight. I loathe treadmill running, but it's getting too dark too early to do otherwise. The shoes worked out pretty well overall, but I think I'll have to play with the laces a bit to get the right fit. So hoping that my outdoor runs fare better.
Here's to a better finish to the last month of the year. Let's break down those brick walls, and show life we mean business! I can't believe we're here. It's been exactly a year since I started this more consistent fitness journey, and I'm proud to say I've mostly done it. I am so encouraged by the others who have joined me in this effort. It's great to see so many people committing to healthier lifestyles!
Well, I better hit the hay if I'm going to be productive at all the rest of this week. Hope you have a great week too!