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?

30 comments:

  1. YAY for your back being on the mend! I do ice baths year round. It gets downright FRIGID in Canada but I'll still get in a tub full of ice and sit there till I stop shaking!
    Haven't hooked up with a run group while out of town but I'd definitely consider doing that!

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  2. So glad to hear that your back feels better! It's like these physical therapists expect us to strengthen our entire bodies or something...

    I would ice bath if I were running long distances because my apartment is out of control hot and we don't control the heat. So more fun in winter than Fall or maybe even summer!

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    1. It is weird. Every time they think of new exercises for me to do. Is there no end to the fitness?!:)

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  3. I cannot get up the nerve to try an ice bath. I know I need to suck it up, but hot showers are far more appealing in the winter.

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  4. Glad to hear your back is feeling better! I can't believe you can get in a cold bath. I won't even ice my shins I am such a weenie. When I used to run with a group in Tucson we had a few people join our group for runs on the weekend. I always thought that was so cool and a fun way to meet people. :)

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  5. Glad you are feeling better. Looks like you had a great week. Nice Work!

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  6. That wall angle exercise feels great - I,m going to give it a go:)

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  7. You look cute in your towel. I've never tried the wall exercise, but I know how uncomfortable sitting up straight for more than a minute can be so I can only imagine how hard it is. I'm too shy to show up to a run club in my own city let alone a different one! LOL Glad that you're feeling better. Oh, and my son used to play lacrosse so I know all about those balls! Ouch!

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    1. Seriously, sitting up straight is exhausting!

      That was actually my first experience with a lacrosse ball up close (no it didn't hit me!). Not a lot of people play it around here.

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  8. Ice baths......brrrr!!!! I can hardly do them in the summer, come winter there is no way!! I know I should, but after running in below 20 degrees temps (which most my runs are) I just wanna crawl under my heated blanket and lay in front of the fireplace. Heat therapy is good too, right? I was in OR last year and hooked up with an area running group to do some trails. that was so fun - I don't know that I would have found those trails without them! Or found my way off of them!!!

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    1. That is a cold run! I'm shivering just thinking about it.

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  9. So happy to hear that your back is doing better!! Yay!! And I'm thinking you should do a demo video of the back exercise yourself but could you say "buttocks" the same way?? LOL LOL
    Have a great week and happy running!!

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  10. Yay for your back being on the mend. Boo for having to wrap up in a towel to ice yourself! LOL I've started thinking about finding a running group but I'm super slow and don't want to hold anyone back.

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  11. Glad to hear your back is feeling better!! I have chronic back problems and I know all about how much it sucks :( BTW you are AMAZING (seriously) for hammering out a 20 miler on a week when your back was bad! When mine gets bad, I'm lucky to make it from the couch to the bathroom... haha seriously though, 20 miles is tough when you're feeling great - you are my hero!!

    I'm with you on the ice bath - winter is so freakin cold where I live I can't bring myself to do the ice bath thingeven when I know I should. I ran for 2 hours outside today (up a mountain and back down again) and I KNOW I should have taken an ice bath, and I'll pay for it tomorrow, but it took me 2 hours to thaw out after the run, no way I was putting ice in my bathtub!!

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    1. I think I'm paying the price today.

      Up a mountain and back? That sounds like an awesome run!

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  12. i will be heading to bham for work soon! i would LOVE to run together once i start my job and get settled in. :) i’ve met up with other bloggers-but never found running groups.

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    1. What?!!! Does that mean temporarily working here or permanently? Either way, we definitely have to hook up for some running.

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    2. well, AL will be part of my territory-so i will be coming fairly often for years, and years and years! :) at least i hope! so definitely hooking up for running. i'll keep you posted on my first trip!

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  13. I am so glad your back is feeling better.
    I have to admit I have never done icing or ice baths or any of that.
    I am such an always freezing wuss, it terrifies me!

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  14. I'm so glad your back is better! And simple, effective exercises are the best kind.
    Aren't group speed sessions the best? I finally found a group here to train with- looking forward to more track workouts this spring!

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  15. I think I'll try your wall angel right after this comment!

    Would LOVE to have some group run action, especially for the long run. Gets kinda lonely here in small town.

    Your 20 was very speedy!! Nice work! I would love to know what else you are doing to get ready for your 50k. - and if you reviewed your camelbak :)

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  16. Yeah, that guy is just pure flab trying to demo that back workout!

    I have actually run w/ other groups when out of town and loved it. Great way to get to know a new area and make some new friends.

    My son is a lax player, so yes, you want to avoid getting hit--they are hard especially when thrown by a strong arm!

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  17. ok this makes me super jealous I'm not in this thursday sprint group. I'm guessing I would have to sign up and pay, right?

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    1. You should come! Kathleen visited this week. I think visitors are welcome. I'll ask, but in the meantime, you should come this week.

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  18. I would never have thought about running with other groups when I'm out of town. Perhaps I should have done that this past summer when I was gone for three weeks.

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