Rainy day thoughts – recovery & pre-hab

This week is all about recovery. And the never-ending quest to avoid too-much-too-soon syndrome (after flat-lining at 25 miles a week in college, it’s crazy to think I still haven’t broken the 30-mile barrier safely).

Rainy day rollin'

Rainy day rollin’

Today’s warm-up:

  • cat/camel breathing
  • calf circles/ABC’s for my shins
  • Around the World (a variation on single-leg dead lifts)
  • heel walks
  • 1:00 pelvic tilt
  • 1:00 bridge
  • 30-sec pigeon
  • Physical therapy (3 exercises)
  • arm swings, to open my back

Many of these exercises, particularly the physical therapy ones, are intended to help me fire my glutes before I set out running. Glute strength has been my focus since I fractured a metatarsal in 2010, and learning how to “run from behind” may be the underlying principle in preventing almost all common running injuries.

11 physical therapists and exercise physiologists … named inactive glutes as the top weakness they see in runners (with weak lower abdominals as a close second). – Runners World article, linked above

My problem has always been executing my physical therapy. It’s very easy to go, learn the causes of your injury and the exercises for future prevention, and think “yeah yeah I got dis,” knowing full well that while the intention might be there, the likelihood of actually doing the exercises is … minimal.

In college, once or twice a week I spent the hour before practice in the athletic training room doing my “drills.” These were a compilation of exercises I had been given over the years to help prevent shin splints, Achilles tendinosis, IT band syndrome, and plantar fasciitis. But they became static exercises, and while I maintained a basic level of injury-free-ness, I don’t think I was actually learning any new skills.

In the last year, I have added more “big muscle” exercises (as opposed to simply lower leg and hip) to better recruit my core, hamstrings, and glutes. I’ve learned some new things (and done a few things incorrectly), but ultimately I have been less injured recently than in my eight (ten) seasons of track.

My bible: Jay Dicharry’s book, Anatomy for Runners. It blew my freaking mind to discover that I – and most runners! – have weak extensors and essentially no idea how to activate the most powerful set of muscles in our bodies: glutes. Tragic.

Post-run exercises:

  • eccentric calf raises
  • firehydrants (3 directions)
  • clamshells
  • hip hikes
  • double-leg squats
  • core session

This is my 20% Down Week, so I am aiming for a whopping 19 miles. My goal for next week is to increase my mileage 10% to 26.5 miles. Repeat for 3 weeks total, and take another 20% down week. And I’m opting out of the Jackson Hole Marathon half marathon in favor of returning to Old Bill’s the following week for either a debut 10k or an attempt at repeat champ-ing the 5k.

What can go wrong?

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Chugging coffee on a Saturday morning

As much as I love cross-training on Mondays after a long run, and then taking Tuesdays off, it does feel like it takes a long time for the week to get rolling. This week sort of flew lazily by, even once Tuesday had come and gone.

7/21 – A ten-mile hike counts as easy cross-training, right?

7/22 – Off, and I am omitting the hour-long easy bike ride I took with sliz and the aunt.

7/23 – 30 min run

Not a bad view, even when obscured by a butte

Not a bad view, even when obscured by a butte

AM: OK OK so the aunt and I actually went on a 25-mile ride in the morning. We crossed the highway and headed towards the small town of Kelly, WY. I had never been there before, but she raves about their sandwich/coffee/post-office place. Most of the way there I was anxious re: the bison herd that tends to play along the road (and which ruined the first bike ride I ever took in this direction 5 years ago), but the only offenders we saw were wading below us in the Gros Ventre River and couldn’t have cared less about passers-by. Still, I prefer never to ride this stretch alone.

Intermission: aunt-sponsored pamper sesh. I haven’t gotten a manicure or pedicure in years, mostly because I ain’t dat kinda gal, but also because my feet and hands are usually too offensive even for a professional cosmetologist (thanks, three summers in the corral and 10+ years of running). Sidenote: the first time I visited this salon, I accompanied some fellow lady wranglers who spent the entire experience hooting and hollering about the condition of their feet, especially when the “illegal” razor blade came into the mix.

PM: My 30-minute run later was a joke. I stopped in every patch of shade to let my heart rate return to resting, and I decided about five minutes in that I was only going out to the stop sign and back, and at a deliberate snail’s pace. Too damn hot to run here after 10 am. I wish I was a better morning runner. 

7/24 – 30 min run

On some level, I am bored to exhaustion of 30-minute runs; on the other, I don’t yet have the desire to do anything more.

The aunt and I went kayaking in the afternoon. It was super windy, and despite our best efforts to rack the kayak properly, it kept twisting dangerously atop the S.S. Lexus. I was following in my car, keeping a pretty generous distance and hoping for their own safety that no cars tried to get in between us. A particularly violent lurch on the way home required an emergency pull-over, in case you thought my fears were unfounded. The actual kayaking trip was peaceful.

Yes I do have a pair of FiveFingers, and no I do not plan on suing them.

Yes I do have a pair of FiveFingers, and no I do not plan on suing them.

7/25 – 30 min run

After I took the aunt to the airport, I went back to bed. For. A. Very. Long. Time. Ass = thoroughly kicked.

7/26 – Today, I am refusing to run. I biked sluggishly into town in search of coffee (victory!), and I don’t even feel like Strava-ing my ride home. [Just kidding, I did. Addicted.]

Tomorrow will be a 12-mile long run, to cap out the week at 24 miles. I think next week will be a Down Week (yes, it requires proper noun-ification).

I’m kind of over summer running….

…..hardly over summer. Here are some pictures from the Teton County Fair live music event:

Snake River Lager + live country music is a pretty worthwhile

Snake River Lager + live country music –> nuthin’ better

Craig Campbell live in Jackson Hole was a much needed excuse to get my boots a little dusty

Craig Campbell live in Jackson Hole provided a much needed opportunity to get my boots a little dusty

Kitchen Sink Summer Smoothie:

  • 1 wrinkly peach
  • 2 handfuls shriveled blueberries
  • 1 spoonful week-old plain yogurt (or whatever remains in the tub)
  • half-cup orange juice to empty the container
  • honey
  • ice, because none of my “fruit” was frozen
I am a pretty awful food photographer

I am a pretty awful food photographer

Enjoy!

Next up:

  1. a fat nap this afternoon
  2. a decision about the Jackson Hole marathon events next month
  3. a week to myself
  4. return to ranch life Aug. 1

 

We’ve got a long slog yet, dear

slizard and I at the Jackson Peak summit, rock tower and all.

slizard and I at the Jackson Peak summit, rock tower and all. Photo cred to the aunt and sliz’s phone.

7/14 – XT, 16 mile bike ride to Moose

Stopped at Dornan’s to grab a sandwich for lunch at halfway. I was a bit QUITE distressed because the opening date for The Ranch may end up being a month away, and I was having trouble getting in touch with the manager (nothing unexpected). Sixteen miles is a lot of time to stare blankly down a long stretch of highway and debate what options I can pursue in the meantime. Anxiety is an incredible fuel source (especially coupled with avocado and sprouts).

7/15 – OFF. TGIT (Thank God it’s Tuesday)

7/16 – 30 minute run

I got up early to run because I heard the plan was to head out early with the aunt and uncle’s Montana friends and hike at Phelps Lake. Well, at scheduled departure time we were just sitting down to breakfast, so you can only imagine what became of the hike. Late start = no  f%&#@$ parking = DUH park on the side of the road! = risk life schlepping up narrowly winding road with high traffic just to outscore those surly park rangers. Five bathroom trips and one romp around the Lawrence Rockefeller visitor center later, and we were finally on a roll, folks! (Three hours later than intended, I might add.)

Serenity at Phelps Lake

Serenity at Phelps Lake

We lunched at The Phelps Lake Lunch Spot (literally the only view of Phelps Lake I’ve ever experienced) and set out again to conquer the wilderness + quarter mile of asphalt.

Closed out the day at Q Roadhouse. They brew their own beer, you know.

7/17 – 32 mi bike ride

YES, thirty-two.

And no one else was to be seen on the bike paths until my return trip. It was a little spooky. Bear???!!? where?!

I will say this: no amount of duck butt padding can relieve the NUMBNUTS (if I had nuts, that is, but I am convinced this must be how the phrase originated) that occurs during a 32-mile ride. HOLY FUCK how the eff do you prevent that?!!? Is that something you build up stamina for eventually? Is there a butt-robics exercise for that? I was alarmingly close to tears for those last 8 miles.

In other news, my Nathan reservoir succumbed to a puncture wound, and I do not yet have the courage to offer it a proper burial (or the activism to replace it).

7/18 – ~35 min run, easy, slow, did some foam rolling (calves)

Like…. Very slow. And I didn’t even keep a running timer.

In the afternoon, slizard arrived and the aunt immediately elected to go hiking. Take a look and make a wild guess as to what happened. Need a hint? The aunt will blame her outdated map, but we all know that when we finally found the trail we were looking for, she blatantly opted to go in the opposite direction despite our second-guessings. Well we proved her wrong! And if it wasn’t already obvious, we never made it to Ski Lake.

Fam Jam on the Hike to Nowhere, Teton Pass, Idaho.

Fam Jam on the Hike to Nowhere, Teton Pass, Idaho. photo cred: slizard

 7/19 – 30 minute run. Recovery from previous night’s dinner at Snake River Grill. Holy eskimo bars.

7/20Long Run, 12 miles

I mean... WHO GETS TO RUN HERE?!! Yes I stopped twice.

I mean… WHO GETS TO RUN HERE?!! Yes I stopped twice for pics.

Boyf came along on his day off, because he hasn’t had a chance to ride his bike much lately. We set out a little later than I would have liked for a long run, and by the end I was excruciatingly overheated and dehydrated (yes, I drained 20 oz. of water). Not to mention the headwind got to me around mile 8. I urgently texted the Mobile Aid Station (Boyf) to swing back around with more water.

I ran in my new Brooks Glycerins – quite satisfied. But 12 miles was a little much, and both my R Achilles and PTT were inflamed by the end. They still feel springy, but I am anticipating the dreaded Achilles crunch any day now.

[P.S. I almost puked up my post-run breakfast burrito, because too much too soon is never a recipe for success]

Totals for Week 2:

24 miles + 2 hikes and 2 bikes

BONUS MONDAY

Slizard, the aunt, and I hiked up to Jackson Peak today. It was a 10-ish mile roundtrip, and delivered stunning views of the Tetons at the top and a lot of other stuff along the way. We just beat a lightning infused storm as soon as we made it to the car. Niiiiiice. We stopped in town for ice cream at Moo’s (fuck duh!!) and I paid $10 for a milkshake – that I finished before we even made it back to the house. Then we ate cheese and crackers and cracked a beer or two. mmmm luxury.

Bears for days (just kidding... THANK GOD)

Bears for days (just kidding… THANK GOD)

20140721_133110

View from 10,700′ and some cute lil rock pile constructed by hiking hippies

Today is also the day that my bird box from Oiselle arrived.

Off tomorrow. Thank the powers that be. I need a foam roll sesh like nobody’s business.

 

 

7/12 & 7/13

7/12 – 33:16 minutes, 4+ miles, out and back on Sagebrush.

Everything was clicking along perfectly; I think that bonus day off helped. Maybe I should always do my PT before running (ohheywhattaconcept).

Added an hour-long bike ride in the afternoon. My Strava app failed me completely, so my data was lost. Biked from the house into town. Return journey required tackling a grunter of a hill, but I crushed some lady on a road bike (HA!) Super windy.

7/13Long Run, 10 miles, 1:14, avg. pace under 7:30/mile.

Set out at 9:45 am, much later than I wanted to get moving. It was a little warm, and the shade was long gone. Legs oscillated between feeling spry and brisk/heavy and trashed. When I eventually glanced at a mile split and saw 7:21, I decided to pick it up for the last mile.

The best part about Long Run Sunday? Eating. All day. This morning’s post-run buffet: day-old croissant with Nutella; coffee and iced Nuun; and oatmeal with molasses (mmm dat potassium!) and overflowing berries. An hour later, I followed up with cheesy scrambled eggs and toast, topped with guac and salsa. Boyf and I ripped into the growler of Deschutes Twilight Ale this afternoon and went to town for dive bar pizza slices. Not too shabby.

The second-best part about Long Run Sunday: the two days of recovery and non-running that follow. Yes please.

Week in review:

Mon – XT

Tues – Off

Weds – 6 mi

Thurs – 4 mi

Fri – Off

Sat – 4 mi

Sun – 10 mi

Total: 24 mi, 4 hr of activity including bike ride

First weekend in GTNP:

Saturday farmer's market on the town square. It took me 5 years to discover this.

Saturday farmer’s market on the town square. It took me 5 years to discover this.

 

Wyoming dinner. A little lacking in carbs and overzealous in beet relish but delicious farmer's market fresh fare!

Wyoming dinner. Delicious farmers’ market fare! A little overzealous in beet relish.

 

Sunset by the Snake River. This is why I can't leave this place behind.

Sunset by the Snake River. Is it possible to be jealous of myself?

My Loose Ends

This week was all about an end, a beginning, a continuing journey. I said goodbye to new friends and a killer job in Fort Collins to follow my heart back to Grand Teton for several weeks before an eventual relocation in Laramie for cheap school.

I move a lot, and it must be hard for family to keep up with me. If I weren’t having such a good time, I’d accuse myself of having no backbone and being incapable of make lasting decisions for myself. After all, this is a person who once quit school to go to New Zealand for a month and then decided school wasn’t so unbearable and went straight back.

Queenstown, NZ. No, that's not me, but how I wish!

Queenstown, NZ. And no, that’s not me.

But that’s exactly it. I am bold, I am adventurous, and sometimes my choices may seem ill-advised. I have made many homes in the last three years, and those places have left incredible marks on my life – the experiences have exposed the next best version of myself. Biking home the other evening, I was feeling a little sad to leave Fort Collins, but that means I succeeded. I made a tough decision to move there by myself and many people would have failed. But I built an experience worth missing.

I never know where to begin when faced with the question: so where are you from? Well, that depends… do you have time to go grab a drink while we talk about it? Anyway, here’s to my last week in Fort Collins:

7/7 – recovery XT, 30 min elliptical, a.m. Added 8 minute abs and firehydrants

7/8 – OFF

7/9 – Roost group run. Did about 6 miles, 45:13 minutes.

More than I planned, but I headed out with the dudes at a comfortable pace and floated along enjoying the company. Partnered up with a lady teammate for the return trip and talked about half marathons and jogging strollers. SO stinking humid that evening. Is this Ohio? It was awful.

We took over BJ’s Brewhouse after the run for (overpriced) beers and pizza. A bittersweet end to my journey in Fort Collins and my time with the Roost teammates, whom I was just now getting to know.

7/10 – 30 minute a.m. run. My last run in Fort Collins *this isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later*

7/11 – Off, because I just drove 7 hours to get to Grand Teton and pounded some crackers and Nutella as soon as I got here. Shit happens. Shortly after settling in here at the aunt & uncle’s in Jackson, I headed to town with the boyf for Thai food and beer. Are we that predictable?

Brewskies for twoskies

Brewskies for twoskies

I guess this is the next stage of life.

KH and I grabbed donuts this morning before my departure. It feels like an abrupt end to my time in Fort Collins. I just got there, right?

This is called "I used to live in California"

A post shared by Claire Larson (@clairelar14) on

Maybe not.

My time in Fort Collins taught me a lot about myself (ughgghhhhgg cliché). I navigated a half-year through a new town BY MYSELF and made friends, got a job…. The relocation demonstrated to me that things truly do work out if you want them to – the choice is yours. If nothing else, follow your strengths and passions – running, in my case – and opportunities abound. What looks like a recreational hobby to outsiders is a lifestyle, a society, a conversation starter, a common ground, a way to see eye-to-eye with complete strangers who later become irreplaceable friends.

It ties together all my loose ends. Thank God for running.

The future is bright.

The future is bright. Welcome back to JH.

 

 

 

FireKracker 5k Race Report

I ran the 4th of July FireKracker 5k – in the elite race. Why? BECAUSE with entry standards at 21 minutes for women I COULD. No, I wasn’t setting out for the race of a lifetime, especially since my runs for the last four (er, no, 7) weeks have consisted only of easy efforts, and I haven’t done a lactate threshold workout since mid-May. I thought (naively) maybe I could take a stab at 5th place and win $100 and, in a perfect world, also get pulled along to a new PR (sub-19?). As soon as the gun went off it was clear I had no chance at either.

It was a super humid (for Colorado) morning. The elite course was four laps so spectatorship was probably awesome. Coworker C and Coworker M also decided to sign up, and there were plenty of Roosters around taking pictures and rallying with cow bells. I even heard my name hollered by a customer I sold some shoes to the other day (she really likes them).

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Post-race Rooster guns. Photo cred to the Team Mum/Social [Media] Chair MDW.

When the race got underway, I realized that my intent to run a “smart” race and avoid going out too fast was going to be blown to bits, because I got left in the fucking dust. I apparently clocked my first mile in under 6:00 in a vague attempt to stick-with, and even that didn’t leave me in a competitive position. I was on my own from the start (not far from last). My second mile wasn’t too awful – under 6:10 – but by the time the third lap came around, I was honestly considering a DNF. Chugging along the back stretches where there weren’t any spectators made it very tempting to pull over and quit, or at least jog. But I think I’d be a moron to actually DNF a 5k. Let’s not take it so seriously.

The fourth lap was abysmal. I narrowly avoided M-pace, but somehow managed to pull off a 6:25 mile (the downhill bits just before the end of each lap helped). It was so hot I wanted to rip off my stupid singlet ugly gray tank and jump into Sheldon Lake. I crossed the finish just as 19:30 ticked by, and that actually was a relief. I kept thinking through lap 4 that I might not even beat my Laramie time (aka 7000ft PR). It’s pretty hard to run a 5k on no specific training and expect anything epic. That fucking hurt.

My 5k shoe of choice

My 5k shoe of choice

Here are the official results. You can find me at 52/60. Note that the top 5 women all ran under 18 minutes. Turns out if I had run the citizens’ race I would have won easily, but it’s not every day I get to run in an elite race.

I celebrated the Fourth by meeting Coworker M to lament and indulge heavily at a newer brewery in town called Horse and Dragon. It was started by a chick (!) who used to work at Odell, sooooo obviously it was going to be good. I also closed out the night by wolfing down a whole pizza at Beau Jo’s. It is what it is.

End of the week:

7/4FireKracker 5k. Wait was that really a 3.2-mile 5k?

7/5 – Recovery run, 30 min. Sore, and my left shin is aching.

RockTape stays on during all activities for up to five days! ** **Excludes aqua jogging

RockTape stays on during all activities for up to five days! **
**Excludes aqua jogging

7/6 – 40 min run + 30 min aqua jog. Supposed to be a 70-minute long run, but by 8 am it was just too damn hot, and I was really over it. I don’t tolerate heat well. It makes me want to stomp my lil pink hat into the ground while throwing a massive crying fit about how unfair everything is. So I quit early because I was grumpy and my shins were hurting and my tank top was plastered in snot, and I figured I’d enjoy the pool more anyway. Dear Sunbathing Man with Giant Ribcage: did my unnecessarily heavy breathing, splashing, and spluttering disturb your morning nap? Pardon me for getting in a little marathon training.

Hahaha joke’s on me, that marathon is never going to happen……this year.

6/30 – 7/3

Probably the only reason I went to run club this week.

I’m hopeful this will be my last “30 Minute” week. During the 3 weeks before Jackson Hole, I completed 6 days of 15 minute runs supplemented by half-hour cross-training sessions like aqua jog or bike, and 10 days out I jumped to 30 minute runs. Pretty minimal preparation for a half marathon, but it was all thanks to a severe calf strain that occurred during a VERY early tempo run on May 14 (a reminder to myself of why I hate a.m. workouts). The incident was followed by about a week of frustrated elliptical-ing and, finally, aqua jogging, my new favorite summertime activity. Then I sought out PT and learned I should be fine to run. Welp.

After Jackson Hole, I have had two full weeks following the recovery week to do more 30 Minute bouts. I refer to them as such because my goal has been to keep the runs short and consistent for several weeks before adding more mileage. The only exceptions have been the last two Sundays when I did two-a-days to make a “long run.”

Thanks to PT, I have been prescribed a new way to run that should help individuals like me who are unfortunately shin splint prone because we are built with bowed tibias (fuck that! But PT Craig is an empathetic man and assures me this makes me a very efficient runner, so y’all should actually be jealous). The first day I attempted this new posture (lots of torso rotation to diffuse torque up and out through the top of my body rather than settling in my shins + a flat-footed strike), I was irritated. I felt like I was running with two left feet, like none of my momentum was going forwards. It made my legs feel heavy and fatigued, because I was basically running without using my calves (which I have been told is what has caused a lot of the injuries I have sustained – too much calf dominance).

After a few runs I got used to the new stride, and it feels less awkward now. I also have to focus on relaxing my back and not running so upright and rigid “like a mid-distance runner”. Time to learn how to run like a LONG distance runner. OK. Got it.

To be honest, I think this is what saved me at Jackson Hole. For what was otherwise completed on zero training, I never felt like I was trashing my legs or doing more than I could manage. I have done a lot of work in the last year to incorporate my glutes better, but I think I got lost in the forefoot-strike literature somewhere and was overusing my calves. So I am figuring out how to not just strengthen my butt muscles at the gym, but uh actually use them to run. Whoa, what? Weirdly, aqua jogging has helped me make sense out of it.

After this week ends, I will evaluate the number of runs and add that number to the minutes I can add to my base runs for the next 2-3 weeks. So, if I ran 5 times, next week I will start 35-minute runs. This is good housekeeping that I learned from Jack Daniels (not the one you’re thinking). He’s a wise man, but his marathon training plan is not for me (yet). And I still refuse to use my Garmin. I’m all about running for time and roughly estimating mileage based on 8:00 pace.

This week in review:

6/30 – XT elliptical, 30 min, before work. L shin a little inflamed.

20140701_111901

Oh thank God, because I ran out of coffee this week.

7/1 – OFF. It’s Tuesday, bitches.

7/2 – 30 min run, Roost run club with Altra. Gym work – before run, kept it short so I am not too sore for the 5k on Friday

7/3 – Pre-race routine: 10 min. jog, drills (A/B skips, high knees for turnover, high skips, carioca, ballerinas, backwards run) and strides. Followed up with 8 Min Abs/plank/bridge, hip mobility. Some things never change. I still incorporate this crap because it helps me focus and gets me excited, honestly.

I have spent much of today cleaning and packing. I suddenly realized I move out in one week, and this is my last full day off from work. I am fairly certain I can fit everything in my car, but my futon will stay here for a few weeks. I also finally researched how to hook John’s bike rack up to my car, and it turns out I need an additional part. Rush delivery, don’t let me down! Can’t say I am sad to rid The Solutionator from my life, but I have really come to like Fort Collins. I’ll be back.

Here are some visual aids from the week.

Cred to KH for this shot with Altra

Cred to KH for this shot with Altra

Altra Torin is not a smart choice for my biomechanics, but I survived a 30 minute run with no calf pulls.

It's almost the same as a chocolate milk, right?

It’s almost the same as a chocolate milk, right?

And somewhere in the fray, my first Twitter happened. Blame the above beverage.

Don’t follow me.