Last year, when I ran the Loveland Half Marathon, one of the things I ran into training was shin splints. Not long after I had a debilitating knee injury, I had to restart training. With three weeks to go before the race, I suddenly found myself bailing on short runs because my shins would be on fire within the first 2 miles. As a result, I ended up walking miles two and three in the half marathon.
Two weeks ago, I got hit with what people around here are calling “the crunk.” A little more than a cold, but not quite the flu. I actually didn’t get all that stuffy, but I felt horrible. I did some volunteer work on Saturday night, and had to bail out about half an hour early and go home. I felt horrible. On the upside, I got to watch a couple movies on DVD. But that doesn’t really help with training, does it?
The problem was that when I got back into training, a simple 3 miles on the treadmill became agony. I could only do about a mile or a mile and a half. Late last week, I started to worry. I’m just now getting into longer workouts training for the Flying Pig Marathon. And here I was, unable to go more than a mile and a half.
Saturday, I had hoped I’d gotten past it. I did an easy 3 miles along Reading Road. Came back to my apartment, and I felt pretty good. The only real aches I had were in my bad knee. That I’ve been able to manage with knee braces, and I’m almost to the point where I can do short runs without the knee brace. But then Sunday morning, I was supposed to do a 10 mile workout. I even had a course mapped out so I wouldn’t have to drive down to Lunken Airport’s hiking trail. I was looking forward to it. The new course would take me to Sharon Woods Park, one of my favorite places in Cincinnati.
And a mile into the run, my shins decided the run was over. Worse, I ended up having to walk a mile and a quarter back to my apartment on shins that burned. This is not good. I don’t want to walk part of the Flying Paying as it’s over 26 miles. That’s a long time to be out on a course. It occurs to me that I’m going to have to rethink how I approach my runs. After all, race day is not the day you want to figure out how best to keep yourself in the race. So here are a few things I’m contemplating.
- Warming up – The stretching routine I use before works well for short runs. It might even carry me through another half marathon. But I have to start running more consistently. When I was in high school, our coach, the great Todd Clark, had us run a mile before every race and every workout. I remember one Saturday when he made us run 9 miles. And yes, we had to start that with a mile run. We also had to finish it with a mile cooldown, which believe it or not was quite so bad. So I may have to start going for a power walk, maybe do some aerobics in the apartment before I go out, or even do a mile before I do those long workouts. Thank God football season is over. That’s going to make as long Sunday workouts take up half the day. Well, if you want to do something, you have to put the time in.
- Stretching – I do what’s called dynamic stretching before a run. These are stretches that require you to move. The static stretches your gym teacher made you do really don’t work before a workout. In fact when I started running, I didn’t stretch at all. I also didn’t warm-up. But then I was also only running about a mile or two. But now, 3 to 7 miles is a part of my life. I’ll probably only run one marathon, certainly no marathons for a while after the Flying Pig. I’ll still do half marathons, however, as it’s a great way to keep in shape. My doctor likes what I’ve been doing. So with long workouts a part of my regular exercise routine, I’m going to have to change the way I warm-up and cooldown. I probably should start dating runners.
- Hydration – This is one I’m really bad at. I pretty much live on Coke Zero and coffee. It’s Sunday morning as I dictate this, and I’ve got my third cup of Starbucks sitting next to me. No I’m not dictating this in Starbucks. I’ve got a big bag of coffee and a French press. And I’m not afraid to use it. What this means though as I’m probably not drinking enough water. There is debate over whether cola and coffee dehydrate you. The most recent Mrs. Hottle believed that soda hydrates you, and I’ve heard the same about coffee. I’ve also heard, from doctors no less, that as long as it contains water, you’re getting water. I’m not looking to settle the argument, and I really don’t want to. I love my coffee, and I love my Coke Zero. But I need to be drinking more water, pure, boring, out-of-the-tap water. Why shouldn’t I? It’s 70% of the body. I also need to time when I drink my water. The Sunday morning fiasco with the 10 mile workout was probably the result of me not drinking a lot of water the day before. In fact I was kind of thirsty before I left the house. So I probably did more to cause my own shin splints that any bad stretching, lack of a warm-up, or lack of sleep could cause.
- Diet – I really need to pay closer attention to what I’m eating. Theoretically, I’m supposed to be avoiding carbs. I suffer from what I have dubbed “fat-ass” diabetes. My weight goes up, my sugar goes up. My weight is down, well… Do the math. I’ve seen this happen before. I got down to 250 pounds, and I was completely off medication. I’d like to get there again. Unfortunately, I’ve been eating too good for a guy who’s only living on a single income now. Which is funny, because I don’t drink as much as I used to. But I love sweets, and I love my pop tarts, and I really need to cut back on all that stuff. I’ve been trying. My breakfast is mostly fruit, I’m trying to work as many veggies in my diet as I can. Still needs work. But I’m getting better.
- Rest – This is the hardest for anybody. If you have kids, or you own a business, or you have a lot going on in your life, when do you sleep? Sleep usually get sacrificed before anything else. I function best when I get seven hours of sleep. That doesn’t happen very often. Lately not even on the weekends. Part of it is some rental property I am trying to transition over. One tenant is leaving, and I’m trying to get someone new in there. That means a lot of evenings, I have to drive forty-five minutes one way to show the house to someone. Then drive back. If I work out in the evenings, it means I’m not over at my rental property until about 7:30. That means I don’t get home until 9 o’clock sometimes or even later. But I still have to do revisions on my writing, do technical training, and ramp up my web design business. So, instead of going to bed at 10 or 10: 30, I get to bed at eleven or later. I get about six to six and a half hours of sleep a night during the week. That’s okay, but probably not ideal, especially with everything I’m putting my body through the moment.
Like anything else, my workout routine is a work in progress. It needs to be constantly adjusted. What I’m telling you now may change in a month. After all, by the end of February, I will be running my first 20 mile workout. That’s most of a marathon.
And then the following Monday, they will call me the mummy at work. Because I will be walking like one.
As for the day after the Flying Pig,that’s a vacation day. I’ve already warned them. Actually, I think they’d be pretty upset if I showed up for work the day after running 26 miles. Or at least ask me if I’m insane.
But then they don’t want the answer to that, do they?