January 5, 2013

My back is back: group speedwork and 20 miles

Great news -- although there is still a little soreness, my back is operational again. Wow, I bet you're super relieved because now I can get on with the business of writing about almost soiling myself on long runs. 

During my visit to the physical therapist on Thursday, she gave me a very simple back strengthening exercise to try. Stand with you back against the wall and feet angled a few inches away from the wall for balance. Then try to press all parts of your spine against the wall and hold. You can also lift your arms up for extra work. It sounds so easy, but I swear it is tough to hold. 

Here's an example, with arm raises added.


I just wish that guy were more fit before he tried to show us that exercise.

Right now, I'm sitting in bed typing and doing a seated version of this. So flippin' hard -- not an exaggeration. Bonus, I feel cool for multi-tasking.

On to the business of this week's training.

Workout wrap-up

Monday: 6 miles at the Resolution Run (trail run), 1:01 (10:17 pace). Felt a little hard on the healing low back, so I went to the track afterwards to complete 6 miles on a flat surface, 46:27 (7:45 pace). I wanted to try for 20 to make up for my missed long run, but I felt like stopping at 12 was smarter for my back.
Tuesday: rest, not planned. Again, just trying to give my back a little extra healing time.
Wednesday: 8 in 1:14 (9:17 pace) on the treadmill. Slow, easy run. Took a few breaks to stretch my back. Also did some planks and lots of stretching post run.
Thursday: group speedwork with my running coach! Really looking forward to this day. We did 12x200 (200 rest interval). My times for the 200 sprint ranged from :43 to :47, just a hair shy of Usain Bolt's 19.19. Ran 2.5 miles for warm-up and cool down, so the total mileage was somewhere around 8.5. We also did a series of warm-up exercises. A little bit of something like this. These feel much cooler when done with a group than solo. Also, PT appointment that morning.
Friday: 2 slow miles (forgot to write down the time) and 30 minutes on the bike. Plus a series of hip-strengthening exercises and lots of stretching.
Saturday: 20.21 miles in 2:54 (8:38 pace, faster than my coach prescribed, oops), ice bath, lots of stretching and eating.

I was supposed to run on Tuesday when I rested, but because my run on Monday (which I was trying to use to make up mileage) was longer, the mileage for this week equals out to about what I was supposed to have for the week. I was kind of hoping to make up some from last week. That was a no-go. The good news is that I traded a scrapped week of training for no permanent or long-lasting (hopefully) back damage, and I've got some new back-strengthening moves to add to the arsenal.

All day every day, I'll be singing "cause I'm out here plankin'to the tune of this song (in case you want to join in).

Here's a peek into what our track workouts looked like this week. That's lacrosse practice in the background, and, yes, you really want to avoid getting hit by a lacrosse ball during speedwork. Those things are surprisingly heavy. Have you every held one?


Get ready to see happy. Post-workout giddiness in full effect, Exhibit A. 


Exhibit B, halfway through today's 20 miler. I was so giddy that I couldn't even fit my face into the picture. Plus short arms, ya know.


The lady in the back in black (no, not this back in black) was visiting from Mississippi for the BBVA Compass Bowl, and she found our group online and joined us for 17 miles. Wow, I should do that more when I travel. Smart move! There was another guy there (not pictured) doing the same thing. So if you're in Birmingham, let me know, and I'll hook you up with some friendly runners.

Post 20 miler, I got in the ice bath, which is much harder to do on cold days. Also, I should not call it an ice bath because I didn't have to actually add any ice. It was frigid without any additional help. Thanks, winter.

I survived it with a towel shawl.


Do you ice in the winter? I know I like to complain about how hard this is, but once again, it's really tough to get into icy water when you already feel like a polar bear minus the fur.

Ever tried hooking up with a running group while out of town? If yes, I give you an internet high five because you are one smart and sassy runner.

Did you try the wall angel exercise up there? Did you feel it?