Failure and Success
I barely made it through the first week. Sometime during the final miles of my very first long run I noticed that my left knee was whining. I had slightly twisted the same knee on the Thursday run; however, it took me a few more days until I finally put my knee trouble in the context of possible injury, since the pain didn’t start until two days later.
The first long run in Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 program is six miles, but I did a little over seven instead, because I wanted a 10K time on the books for me to aspire to beat later. I also ran my fastest average pace yet and set a new PR for fastest 5K.
I don’t learn squat from nothing. I set out to do something, promise myself that I will take it easy, slow and deliberate, just as I am told, and then go head over heels, balls to the wall, fire lit under posterior, all-out, do or die. But that’s me. I can’t help myself. And most of the time, that is exactly the sort of behavior that holds me back over the — pardon the pun, long run. I am stubborn and deeply competitive with myself (when I lack proper competition). Did I mention perfectionistic tendencies and the gentle touch of OCD, perhaps a smallish dose of insanity? Yes? I thought so.
I don’t like to “live and learn”, the way I roll is “crash and burn”.
Research online and self-diagnosis led me to conclude that the MCL (medial collateral ligament) of my left knee is acting up. Time for some RICE, which is some needful knowledge I also picked up by traversing an eclectic selection of reputable medical sites and runner’s forums. RICE stands for Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Personally, I like to get RICED and add drugs to the mix, because someone has to support the pharmaceutical industry or else those poor bastids go broke (note: heavy sarcasm).
Ditched: Two Runs & A Race Weekend
I skipped two runs, including the long run, and stopped lifting weights (or the bar the weights would go on, if I had any). I didn’t go to Talladega to race either. The promised rain and thunderstorms for the weekend gave me plenty of excuses to stay home and “rice around”. Sitting under a canopy in the rain all day, peeling myself out of wet leathers and freezing my tush off, because the mercury is so lazy it won’t even climb into the 60s, is not my idea of a good time. Windy, cold, AND wet? Tempting, but I’ll pass. You’ll have to pay me to race in that shit. Seriously. Not to mention that if (when?) I wipe out, I get to fix my own crap, too. I have no sponsors, I really don’t have to show up if I don’t feel like it. That’s just one of the perks of being a member of #TeamBrokeAssRacing. I know those missing points are going to come back to haunt me, because that’s the way it works. If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all. I’m not one of those people who catch breaks. I have to earn every glossy leaf on my puny laurels. “We want… [dramatic pause] …a shrubbery!”
High Performance Rubber
I went to Fleet Feet in North Augusta, SC and had my final drive and suspension analyzed. Seems that everybody looks to the shoes first when encountering knee and foot problems. I had guessed, after reading up on the subject, that I was a mild over-pronator. WRONG! I am what the extremely helpful sales dude called a “supinator”, I under-pronate. He said it was mild, so he opted to put me in a “Neutral” shoe. He’s probably right, since I spend a lot of my time standing around bored on the outsides of my ankles.
He asked me what features I was looking for in a shoe or if I had a brand preference. I shrugged, I really didn’t know enough to be picky. He also asked me if weight was an issue, and I blurted out: “Yes. Lighter means faster!” Another guy, who was helping the lady next to me, looked up and grinned like the Cheshire Cat. I felt totally stupid at this point and added: “Not that it matters, that was the racer in me talking.” I feel myself turning a nice shade of blush. Dude smiles and nods appreciatively. We are all mad here. I’m mad, you’re mad. It’s all good.
My guy disappears to fetch his first two selections of specialized foot rubber. After trying on several pairs, I ended up with the Montrail Bajada in construction-worker orange trimmed with can-you-see-me-now neon yellow. They are the ugliest set of athletic footwear I have ever laid eyes on. But I promised myself not to be a girl about it and choose based on color or style. Function over form, please. This is, after all, a performance upgrade, not a fashion statement.
Fleet Feet Gets My Vote
I really enjoyed my shopping experience at Fleet Feet. I felt so out of my league walking in there carrying an old pair of sneakers of known make but unknown model, feeling like a complete poser hanging out in Running World. They made me feel welcome, listened, and wished me the best for the Palmetto Half-Marathon in April. They also didn’t flinch when I mentioned that I hate running, but jumped into it solely for enhancing my endurance. “That’s a common occurrence for athletes who are made to run or are into team sports; they tend to look at running as punishment.” He just called me an athlete, didn’t he?
Their return policy also took the stress out of the decision making process. I can bring them back, no matter, if something turns out to be less than ideal after putting some mileage on those soles. Their prices are the same as can be found online. I’m out of 7% tax by shopping locally. A markup I am more than happy to pay for this kind of service. And here I thought excellent customer service was dead in this country. They’ve earned a new customer.
I will re-start the Squatter’s Challenge after I have determined that the shoes have remedied the knee problem. If it’s something else, I better go see the Medicine Man and stick my leg in an MRI machine before I continue. For the time being, I have sworn abstinence from Overhead Squats and Snatch Lifts, but have taken it upon myself to knock out the occasional push-up and maybe an inverted sit-up or two.
Just thought I’d record my impressions of my first prescribed workout of what I have come to call the Squatters Challenge.
Overhead Squats: Holy crap on a stick! These babies have most of my back, shoulder blades and everything working. I can still feel muscles back there I didn’t know I had, like (brace for Anatomy 101 Google style) upper- and mid-trapezius, that neck tendon in there (levator scapulae), and deltoids, too. And my upper thighs (quadriceps) are on fire like they are after about 9 laps at Barber! Good grief. Dude Who Runs Downhill wasn’t lying about the effectiveness of this exercise.
Snatch Lifts: These really didn’t do anything for me, other than make me sweat and bring my heart rate up, but maybe that’s the point. What made me feel silly was the “snatching” of just a bar without added weights. This thing weighs only (*goes to bathroom to step on the scale with it*) sixteen pounds. Sorry, they were all out of Olympic bars (those 7-foot 45-pound jobs) unless I wanted a stack of weights to go with them. 😦 Makes me think if I wasn’t supposed to make up the difference with plates on the ends… Hmmmm, Dude Who Runs Downhill never specified. I’m sure a nice, slightly bent out of true, one-incher is just what was ordered, not to mention in my price range. 😉
High Pulls: Same as the snatch lifts, I felt a little “underpowered” if you will. Gets the heart pumping, but I did feel the la petite burn in the shoulders (anterior deltoids) and the back of the upper arms (triceps), extending slightly into the forearms.
Good Morning Exercise: Just like Michelle said in the video. Lower back, glutes and ham strings. Bum and thighs all the way around. I actually liked this exercise the best; but it seems that out of these four, the overhead squats are probably the most beneficial to me.
And what in the world is happening with my ankle?!? I haven’t run in two days and at some point today, while parked on the couch no less, I notice that my right ankle is hurting. I haven’t done anything to it. Oh well, it’s not my shift foot, so I’ll wrap that puppy up in an ace bandage tomorrow and put about three miles on it. I’m not starting my scheduled marathon training skipping out or doing less. End of story.
How does my friend Margie put it? “Racers play hurt.” Or maybe it’s just us, being old and frail and slow, with no choice but to play hurt or otherwise we don’t get to play at all. A midlife crisis is such a terrible thing to waste. =D We make up for our lack of youthful springiness with a sick sense of humor, massive horsepower, and in my friend’s case, brutal amounts of low-end torque.
The story starts something like this: Miss Busa is caught complaining on Facebook that her ass is pretty big. Her sister in speed, Margie “Crashy” Lee, wastes no time pointing out that this is a serious overstatement and just a matter of simple German Girl’s Butt. She further suggests doing a few squats and shutting up, because her “big old black butt” could take both of the German girls’ butts any time and concurrently. Miss Busa’s understanding of Badonkadonk needs revision, obviously. The beautiful JLo is also being dragged into this classy conversation with posterior motives.
Miss Busa (thinks she) has a big butt. Well, how big is it? Her ass is so big, that if she ran up a flight of stairs using the hand rail to slingshot herself around each landing onto the next flight, the ass could be seen taking the outside line to go for the pass.
A KTM-riding rubber-burning maniac from Cali chimes in by posting squatter’s advice on Miss Busa’s wall, for the world (of 70+ friends) to see. A few YouTube links are posted in the form of people being tortured on camera in various undisclosed locations. This is definitely borderline snuff. Aversion quickly turns into sincere interest as the wall tagger, let’s call him Dude Who Runs Downhill, explains this will make the Busa wicked fast. You don’t say?!? Really.
Dude Who Runs Downhill, who is a California State Champion weightlifter and canyon-carving throttle jockey, quickly lays out…
1. Overhead Squats
2. Snatch Lifts
3. High Pulls
4. Good Morning Exercise
I am to do 5 sets of 5 reps each, with a maximum break of 30 seconds in between sets; and a maximum break of 3 minutes in between exercises. I am to do these bare with the bar only. No wait, I am to do these with the bare bar only, no weights. I am to torture myself accordingly on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I get to take Thursday off and lay around under my bike, or ride around on the one that works. I am to report back for more on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is a rest day. I am to do this for two weeks and then add 5 pounds of weight to the bar (I really wonder if Dude Who Runs Downhill meant on EACH side. I think he meant 5 pounds total. Yeah!).
I have now added strength training to my running. This better pay off in a nice lap time reduction… or I’m going to go to Cali and chase the Dude Who Runs Downhill all the way up the hill to Alice’s Restaurant and make him buy me a vegetarian dinner and a cold brew.
Let the games begin! I have until Monday to procure a bar off of Craigslist, the classifieds or steal one from a gym, or I’m going to have to use a forkleg or a broom stick with bricks tied to either end.
16 days to race day.