Tuesday, March 29, 2016

On a Not So Bright Note – Katie

Slogging along at this running thing, this is the time where I should be fit and fast and to be honest...I’m struggling. I want to be a whine baby and feel sorry for myself for ever agreeing to this madness of running another marathon. I’m tired of it all, tired of seeing all of the runners on Washington Street who used to make me so happy. Now they just make me feel inadequate and slow. And underprepared.  And tired.  I’m so tired.  And I want to curl up on the couch and NOT RUN EVER.

On a brighter note there is a 17 mile run coming up on Saturday.

Wait.  That’s not a bright note at all.

The end.

Taper Time – Drew

I could not be more excited to say that I am finally entering my taper in advance of this Marathon which, incredibly, is now just a few weeks away. I was on call for my practice this weekend, which made the logistics of a 20 mile run difficult; however I was able to devise repeatable loops that would tally 20 miles while never being more than two miles away from my house in case I received a call from a patient. Needless to say it was not my most picturesque nor exhilarating run, however I felt great throughout and was able to complete it averaging 8:07/ mile. With this being my eighth marathon, I’ve done around 15 20 mile runs over the course of my life, and have never done one at this pace making me hopeful that I might put up a time I would be proud of come April 18.  My only concern is that my feet were generally tender last night in a way I don’t often experience, and I’m concerned that my Saucony Iso 2’s (which are a departure from my usual Asics) may not be up for Marathon Monday. Time will tell.

The next step is allowing my body to heal through a gradual taper, and I consulted Hal Hidgon’s website (http://www.halhigdon.com/) this morning to devise a program for this. I used Mr. Hidgon’s plans for my first few marathons and would strongly recommend one of his novice plans for anyone that is thinking about running their first half- or full-marathon. It looks like a light week this week, and while he recommends eight miles the weekend before the marathon, I have traditionally done six before marathons and felt good so I believe I will do that.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Dog Days of Marathon Training - Drew

When I went out at lunch today for a three mile run in the sunny 70 degree weather it served as a brutally effective antidote for the running doldrums with which I have been afflicted. I would say that I’m right where I should be, which is to say that I have been consistently doing 20 midweek miles every week with a progressively longer long runs on the weekends, culminating with a 20 mile run a few weeks ago that in hindsight I recall as being a breeze (though I may have had a different opinion of it that day.) I also say that I’m right where I should be because, having run something like 300 miles so far in training, I absolutely abhor running. It’s normal for this point of training, kind of like the dog days of summer in the baseball season, where I have come a long way in my training but still have a considerable amount of time before my goal is accomplished. If this is spring, and it certainly seems to be the season’s initial volley, the easy joy of temperate outdoor runs is something that I can look forward to freeing me from these dog days of my marathon training.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Advice from the Newton-Wellesley Experts – Jackie

Question: I am facing a rest vs training moment myself. Maybe they could address how to assess if you ought to push it when feeling fatigued or rest instead and have a better next run. 

‘Less is More’ With six short weeks until the big day, the final stretch is coming! As some of you have mentioned in earlier posts, you’re in the midst of incorporating longer runs and increasing mileage. With this in mind, preparation and staying healthy is key in setting yourself up for success at the starting line. Just as important as it is to get in the long runs, your body also needs time to rest. Rest allows your body to adapt to the longer miles, heal and recover to ultimately become stronger and faster throughout your training. Recovery also gives your body the opportunity to restock glycogen stores, build strength, reduce fatigue and also provide you a little mental break from all the running you’ve been doing. Sticking to your training plan can certainly help with this but how do you decide if it’s better to rest or try pushing through fatigue?

There are a few signs/markers that may suggest overtraining and indicate that you may benefit from a day off or substituting some runs for cross training sessions:

• Elevated Resting Heart Rate An elevated resting heart is a good indicator of stress – both physical and psychological (both hard days of running and at work call for recovery!). Try to take your pulse before you get out of bed and monitor any changes or fluctuations throughout your training regimen. • Sleep and Energy Levels Sleep pattern and energy level changes may be other signs of overtraining. Sleep is very important particularly after exercise when the body can metabolize glucose that muscles need for recovery. Furthermore, sleep plays a big part in immune, motor and cognitive functions that influence energy levels. Feeling run down may be a sign you need a bit of break. This may even affect your mood as well – irritability and anxiety are common signs of a stress hormone, cortisol that the body releases when we feel overwhelmed.
 • Not Feeling Well As mentioned earlier, inadequate sleep/rest can affect immune responses and may put you at greater risk for illness. Whether you’re fighting a cold or simply not feeling well, your body needs to work overtime to refuel your immune system. This means fewer resources to help you recover from training.
 • Ongoing aches or pains No doubt, there will be muscle soreness and aches after workouts. However, if this persists, you may benefit from resting overworked joints and muscles. Again, your body will need more energy to allocate for repair that could lengthen recovery time. Cross training is a great way to maintain the great aerobic conditioning that you’ve accomplished thus far without overworking some of the same muscles used during running. The elliptical, rowing machine, biking and swimming are great ways to exercise your aerobic symptom and using other muscles to promote overall fitness.

 Bottom Line? If you’re feeling any of the signs of overtraining, you may benefit from rest or incorporating a few cross training sessions throughout the week. The goal is to continue the progress you’ve made while keeping yourself healthy for the starting line – sometimes, less is more!

Half Marathon Recap – Katie

As part of our ongoing training and in an effort to get more miles in (there *may* have been an incident last week where I bailed on Erin and there was pizza and a couch involved). Erin and I decided to head to Hyannis for the half marathon this past weekend. The weather was sunny and bright and temperatures were mild. We made the port-a-potty line with minutes to spare before the race start. The race felt great and I was surprised at the kick I had for the last few miles. Neither of us had problems with injuries! It feels good to be getting in the zone where runs mostly feel good and to have done a race where I am reminded anybody can run- old, young, big or small. It is in this zone where the work gets done and the miles get logged and the routine and habit of running come before all of life’s other distractions – which are plenty. It is in this zone that I pay attention to how my breathing feels and how my body feels. It is usually good. Unusually good. Way better than the creaking stooped old lady that gets out of my bed every morning.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Savoring It As I Go – Jennifer

Training has been a lot of fun the past few weeks. We have been getting very lucky with the weather. I love the snow but this certainly works out for my training! I did get the chance to go for some beautiful snowy trail runs, one during the storm and one the next day when the sun was shining on the fresh snow on the trails. It was truly beautiful. My longest run has been 14.25 and that felt great! With only 7.5 weeks left until the big day, I have to work on getting my long runs longer. Next week, 16 miles! Getting the long runs in has been a matter of time as much as endurance. Overall I am feeling good. Yoga and HIIT training are keeping me feeling flexible and strong. My friends and family who are coming along with me and encouraging me are keeping me motivated. I am really enjoying this. I'm looking forward to the race but trying to remember to savor it all as I go along.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The 18 Miler – Drew

There are many aspects of distance training that are challenging, but perhaps the most significant hurdle to overcome is distracting one’s self from the tedium of running. I have probably run somewhere around 200 miles so far in training and I am pretty much flush out of original thoughts with which to distract myself. I find myself hoarding media to consume while running, whether it’s tackling a series on Netflix while on the treadmill or podcasts to listen to while running outside, however I have yet to find anything that is sufficiently engrossing to allow me to completely remove myself from the myriad steps of running. On President’s Day, following three days of skiing at Killington, I loaded up a couple hours of podcasts and embarked upon what was sure to be 18 jelly-legged miles. 

Leaving from my house in Southborough, I decided to head north towards Marlborough with no particular route in mind, intending to rely on small loops and my GPS watch to accomplish the mileage. The first couple miles had rolling hills until I got to the Southborough city center (a generous description to say the least), at which point I realized that I had never run to Marlborough and decided to run north for a mile and a half just to cross over into Marlborough simply as a means of passing the time. Once I got to Marlborough at mile 5, I started thinking about the most towns I had ever passed through on a run and arrived at three. I figured that if I retraced my steps heading south I could pass through Ashland and dip into Hopkinton, thus making this a run that spanned four separate towns. While mulling this over and before heading back south I took a picture of the “Southborough/Marlborough” border sign for absolutely no reason except that running 18 miles is, logically speaking, quite a stupid thing to do and can lead to a chain reaction of other stupid behaviors. Running back south through Southborough I started noticing a change in the street signs around mile 10, which upon closer inspection revealed that I was in Ashland. I stopped to take a picture of a street sign, which again was an action without logical motivation. I drive through Ashland on my way home daily and never once have I ever felt whatsoever compelled to photo document the towns street signs, but I digress. I know from experience that the border between Hopkinton and Ashland is somewhere within Hopkinton State Park so through backroads I ran into the park. I happened to look backwards after a couple of miles at mile 12 and saw a sign that said “Town of Ashland Mandatory Water Ban” behind me that told me I was in Hopkinton. I ran a couple hundred yards extra to be sure, and on my way back I took a picture of the “Mandatory Water Ban” sign.  From there I worked my way back to Southborough and did loops around my neighborhood until I hit mile 18.

I often have thought that while the 20 mile run gets all the fanfare, the 18 mile run is often the more difficult run if only because of the absence of that fanfare. It’s hard to get revved up for the penultimate run relative to the way an impending 20 mile run dominates your psyche in the days leading up to it. You don’t tend to hydrate as well leading up to the 18 mile run, your organization is less prepared, and on and on. Having said that, when you see your watch click over to 18 miles and you don’t have to run any further, it’s hard to argue that 18 miles isn’t the easier run.  Either way, the 18 mile run is a tremendous step along the way and having completed it I feel ready to tackle 20 miles of solitude and podcasts this weekend.

Getting Into the Flow – Katie

I am continuing to happily plod along with my training. The snow does not put much of a crimp in things because the towns do a pretty decent job of keeping the sidewalks cleaned off.  And when they aren’t, runners take over Washington Street in my neck of the woods as if there is a race each weekend morning.  I love the friendly “good mornings” and waves knowing each runner is doing exactly what I am doing. I live on Washington Street in Wellesley (on the Marathon route - a bonus when I found the apartment) and enjoy observing this weekend morning parade as much as I do participating in it.

I took advantage of seeing NWH Physical Therapist Corey McGrath and she got me and my bum hip all fixed up. I have certain stretches to do and literally the pain has gone from nagging to occasional.  So I am psyched about that because it simply is not fun to train in pain and having the fear of further more permanent injury. I am supposed to be adding strength training, which requires a gym membership that NWH has so generously offered the runners at Shipley and I’ve yet to take advantage of. One small miracle at a time.

This weekend a long run is planned and I’m actually looking forward to it.  It is a chunk of time where I can get lost in a book. I listen to books instead of music when I run. Currently it is The Revenant by Michael Punke and if that dude can lose a fight with a grizzly bear and still survive I can certainly suck it up in my new sneakers and runny nose. The midweek runs are getting easier because the daylight hours are beginning to stretch longer.  So all in all training is good and the days are getting longer and the injury has healed and I think I may actually be getting into the flow of training and that is the most important thing of all.  Do. The. Work.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Advice from the Newton-Wellesley Experts - Becky

These days, you walk into a running store looking for new shoes and there are way too many choices...how do you even begin to find the right shoe? First things first, there are lots of flashy shoes out there, but don’t select your running shoe based on the color. Types of shoes are based on the support that is needed in the foot of each person. The spectrum of sneakers ranges from motion control (most supportive) to minimalist (no support or cushioning). The type of shoe is different from the BRAND of the shoe. The top brands Runner’s World Magazine recommends are Brooks, New Balance, Mizuno, Saucony and Asics, but each of those brands manufacture different types of shoes for each foot type. Runner’s World has a helpful tool to find the right shoe for you at http://www.runnersworld.com/shoeadvisor.
The most supportive type of shoe is motion control, and created for the person with very flat feet who overpronates. Do you notice when you run if it feels like your feet just slap down each step with no control? The sole of the shoe should be a straight line (all those ridges and lines on the bottom of a shoe are functional and not just fashionable!). Looking at the inner side of the shoe, the foam layer will be thick and you should see two to three colors of the material (usually shades of white/gray), indicating there are different densities where you need more or less support. It will be a heavier shoe because of the necessary buildup for support that is all directed at locking your heel in place to provide less wiggle room in the shoe. Stability shoes are similar but to a lesser degree. You may have semi flat feet or a little lack of control of the foot when you run, but nothing extreme.
If you do not overpronate or if you have high, rigid arches, you should look for a neutral or cushioning shoe. The bottom of these shoes should have a line from the base of the heel that starts straight then curves toward your big toe. It will be a less bulky shoe compared to the stability or motion control models. Rather than a multi-colored foam on the inside arch, in a neutral shoe you should look for air or gel pockets or shocks that will provide cushioning and shock absorption mostly in the heel.
Another shoe type is minimalist, and it’s rising in popularity. I recommend this only for a neutral foot type because it has no midsole for either cushioning or support. It requires you to run on the middle of your foot and not hit first with the heel, since there is no cushioning in the heel like other shoes. The belief is that without the artificial support that traditional sneakers provide, the small foot muscles will not get too weak and that your running stride will be more natural without such a hard initial heel strike. Some foot types will not tolerate the minimalist shoe at all and could be equally detrimental if you pronate or supinate excessively. It is very important that if you start using minimalist shoes that you gradually build up your training all over again. Since it requires a change in running technique, I recommend your first run be no more than 10 minutes and gradually build up as tolerated. The benefits are that without the cushioning or support, the shoe is much lighter in weight and may be the weight a person needs for higher performance speed and achievement. Be careful with how you train and be sure that your foot is appropriate for a minimalist shoe before trying this shoe type.
See if these guidelines help you next time you are shoe shopping, and if you’re not sure, any of our physical therapists at Newton-Wellesley Hospital can analyze your gait and advise further. Happy running!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Get Out There and Run - Jennifer

I am very excited to run the Boston Marathon with my fellow NWH employees. I have been running for most of my adult life. I started running in my mid 20s, so close to 20 years ago.  I finished nursing school rather out of shape. In an effort to get fit, I started running and was lucky enough to live very close to a trail around a lake. It is still my favorite place to run, though now, rather than solely for fitness, I run because I love it. I ran many years before ever deciding to run a race. My first race was a half marathon in 2014. Training was fun. After the race I was hooked! I ran several 5Ks, a 10K and another half marathon that year. I even earned a few medals. I signed up for my first marathon that fall but I was unable to run it due to an injury. My goal at that time was to finish. But I was secretly hoping to get a qualifying time so I could run Boston just once! My biggest motivation to run Boston is just to accomplish a goal. For many years I felt like it was a goal that was not even within reach, not even worth training for. But as I have accomplished other goals, like running the half marathon and winning a 5K and a few age group awards, I have started on a fun journey of challenging the limits I set for myself. So, while so many people have run Boston before me, it was never something I envisioned myself doing, and now I am training for it.

I have decided to follow the World Running full marathon intermediate training guide. The main reason I chose that one is because it advises the runs in time rather than distance. I was elated when I first heard that I was lucky enough to be selected to run with NWH. It was not long before reality set in and I wondered “how am I going to run for four hours or more??”  I realized it was the length of time rather than the distance that seemed daunting to me. In following this plan, I have found that I like my training runs planned in time rather than distance. It has changed my attitude towards my running. I enjoy going out knowing how long I will be running and not trying to finish up quickly to get on with my day.  

Training has definitely affected my daily life in a very positive way. I enjoy running and now I have more motivation to do it. I am also incorporating some HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, stretching videos and yoga. I am going to physical therapy also, which is helping me to work on my areas of weakness. I have my training plan in my calendar all the way until April 18th!  I have some friends coming along with me on some of my runs, which is great.  I help to motivate some, and others motivate me to work harder than I otherwise would (you know who you are). I am looking forward to seeing some of my friends along the route. It’s a great feeling to know that I have people out there who are planning to cheer me on. It is very motivating for me. It really encourages me to get out and train.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous to do this. I wondered if I would be ready. I wondered if I would be able to do the training. I was concerned about injuries. But now that I am on my way I realize that those fears should not keep me from doing something I am so excited to try.  When I start to feel discouraged, I just look to the people I know who have done it before me and reflect on how impressed and inspired I was by their accomplishment.  This gives me the motivation to overcome the fear and get out there and run.

The More You Sweat - Drew

So far, so good and I think I’m on track. Starting somewhere around New Year’s I started completing a weekend long run that began with 10 miles and increased by two-mile increments weekly. I’ve done this in the past with good results, and I’m happy to say that I recently completed my 16-mile run that was a bit faster than my comparable outing for my most recent marathon. I used this past weekend, during which I was busy with a drill weekend for the Massachusetts National Guard, as a light weekend with a scaled down 10-mile run (which I did on the treadmill in my basement during yesterday’s snow storm while watching Spotlight on my iPad.) My weekends are getting heavy with other activities, such as skiing at Killington this weekend, so it’s going to take some inventiveness to complete this week’s planned 18-mile run. My tentative plan is to run 18 miles along the Charles on President’s Day, though I’m nervous that I’ll be a bit jelly-legged after 4 days of skiing. I absolutely love running along the Charles for the views and commiserating in shared misery with fellow runners, though I always feel somewhat guilty as it is flatter than Nebraska and I don’t want to depend too heavily on flat land running before a marathon with such a reputation for hills. I’ve always subscribed to the old adage that “the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in war” and as such it’s important to consume a robust diet of hills leading up to April.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Endorphins - Katie

The day I discovered what an endorphin felt like changed nothing on the outside but it was like an extreme makeover to my inside. For days I walked around with a stupid smile. I may have hummed a bit. I was kind, patient and happy. The moment the realization hit me I immediately signed up for another marathon. After the next marathon I was a little quicker to realize the good cheer was not a fluke. It was indeed endorphins. To date (actually over the past 15 months) I have run four marathons and attempted number five but it ended in a DNF (did not finish). Thankfully they gave out the tee shirts before the run so it’s all good. I’ve almost let it go. 

I started running when I turned 30-ish and it became too easy to put on pounds and keep them on despite a fairly healthy diet. I dabbled in half marathons and road races as I became a two-time divorcee and needed to find an outlet for the anger and disappointment. I continued to run as my child grew into an angsty teenager and needed less and less of me. I set my sights on a marathon when I was settled into my Monday through Friday job in the PACU and had weekends free for long runs. I continue to run because endorphins. ENDORPHINS! But also because I have a network of running friends and partners that kick my butt and whose butts I kick on a regular basis. They are the people who get excited about gear and new sneakers and eyelash icicles and race dates. They are my people. 

My plan for training is written in my day planner in red ink (thanks Hal Higdon). It, however, is not a foolproof plan. It only becomes a workable and reliable training plan when I DO. THE. WORK. That means setting the alarm, checking the weather, setting out the clothes, committing to the miles ahead of time, packing the tissues, queuing up a good book to listen to and not hitting the snooze button. These days I’m mostly running to and from work and have a long run scheduled for the weekend. I’m rebuilding my base of endurance and am getting back into the swing of winter running. I’m trying to follow the plan and do the work. I’m trying not to aggravate the injury that kept me from finishing marathon number five (hip bursitis/IT band nonsense). 

I’m thrilled to be running Boston for the second year in a row. Last year despite the rain and puddles I enjoyed an amazing experience that I look back on with fond memories. From the expo to the pictures of my parents in the grandstands it was an opportunity to be proud of myself and my discipline. With this year’s Boston Marathon I’m hoping for a finisher’s medal to go with my tee shirt.

Beyond My Bucket List – Drew

I started running in earnest in 2010 while in graduate school when I met my wife who had previously run three marathons including Boston twice. Running was a way to spend time with her, and it led me to complete my first half marathon.  At around mile 11 of that first half marathon I decided that I might as well just sign up a full marathon under the rationale that I’d never be closer to the goal than I was at that point. 

I’ve aspired to run Boston for as long as I’ve understood what it meant to the people of Massachusetts, more or less. Running any marathon was always on my bucket list, but running Boston was beyond that, and I couldn’t be more excited to have this opportunity.
This will be my eighth marathon. My wife and I make it a point to both run one marathon a year. My first was in the Outer Banks, North Carolina (2010). I’ve done the Vermont City Marathon twice (2011, 2014) and Hartford Marathon 2012. My wife and I got engaged at the end of Rock N’ Roll Madrid Marathon in 2013 when I dropped to one knee at the finish line and everyone around thought that I was having a medical emergency. I ran the Seattle Marathon in 2014 and most recently the Newport Marathon in 2015. 

I run Monday through Thursday throughout the week and try to tally 20-25 miles during those runs. I then do a long run on the weekends, building up by two-mile increments weekly with a couple lower mileage weeks scattered along the week. If I could get two 20-mile runs in before the race I would be very happy. I’ve had some troubles in previous marathons with muscle failure towards the end so I’m also doing a fair amount of lower body strength training.

I try to minimize how much time running takes on a daily basis by running every day at work on my lunch break. Even if I can get 2 or 2.5 miles in, that adds up over the course of the week and helps me avoid having to run for hours on end in the evening. As the distance of the long runs increases, those runs tend to take a big chunk out of your weekend, and that’s unavoidable.  My wife adores the Boston Marathon, and she understands how important it is that I train well and she’s cutting me a whole bunch of slack around the house.

The standard concerns that all the forces will conspire and I’ll have a terrible race, but those concerns are minimal and I am moreover eagerly anticipating being able to complete my first Boston Marathon. All the moments of misery during training (and there are many) and when you would just rather be anywhere else doing anything else at mile 22 or mile 23 are quickly forgotten when you finish a marathon, and that’s what I try to focus on.