It’s no surprise that my running has slowed to a crawl. My August and September 100-mile months taught me a lot of things. First, I’m not sure if I developed hairline fractures on my shins or not, but I can tell you my symptoms are pretty much spot on from what I’ve read throughout the internet and among my running peers. Playing things cool and keeping mileage low is my tactic for recovery – and it’s killing me because I just want to run. Anyway, now that I’ve had a few “ah-ha” moments, here are some hard-learned lessons I was served and my plan of action to overcome them.
Lesson 1, listen to your body and know when to rest. I think not taking time to properly recover was my downfall (among other factors) that lead up to my leg pains. Also, “running through” the pain is great advice when you are running through emotions and battling the thoughts in your head – it’s a great metaphor. Running through physical pain is sabotage.
Lesson 2, a major factor in my performance I feel is skipping weight/resistance training. I’m a cardio junky, not being able to run really kills my physical fitness, so being plagued with “leg pains” takes me out of commission. Having overall fitness is essential, and I dropped the ball on this one.
Lesson 3, you can’t outrun an unhealthy diet. C’mon Ken! I should honestly know better. I’ve gone a good 2 years of being mindful of my diet to practically letting myself go. “It’s okay, I’ll run 5 miles today” was pretty much my mantra as I consumed pure junk. No more! I don’t even want to know how much weight I’ve gained, I just know my size 32’s are getting snug and that’s no bueno amigo.
So now what? I’ve got two lessons I was served on a hot plate of reality and literally feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. Should I wallow in self-pity and just let myself spiral out of control, or do I pick myself up and get my s**t together? I’m going to opt for the latter.
Plan of Action
Step 1. Step out of my comfort zone and commit to something that scares me. I’m already ahead of myself. I’ve signed up for two hellish trail races that have me nervous and scared at the same time. The Hex Hollow Half (less than a week away), and The Frozen Snot a little over 2 months away. I seem to have jumped the gun here, panic is slowly setting in… okay, I can do this.
Step 2. Outline and commit to a specific strength training and endurance building routine. I realize there is little I can do over the next few days to improve my strength and endurance for my upcoming race, so I’m going to hopefully ride on the coattails of previous experiences for the Hex Hollow, but for The Frozen Snot, I need to be better prepared. For starters my initial goal will be to hit the gym 3-4 times a week, first thing in the morning. This is a two-part step because it involves a disciplined sleep and wake-up schedule.
Actions to Improve Performance
1. Weight Training in conjunction with Running
2. Stretching and Foam Rolling Daily.
3. Eat right.
Weight Training in conjunction with Running seems like a no-brainer, but I neglect the process every single time. It’s so easy to just go run that I have to force myself to weight train. My goal is to build strength in my core and to hopefully help increase my endurance while trail running. Lesson learned from not taking care of my core was putting all my eggs in my legs basket… err, something like that.
Stretching and foam rolling seems pretty trivial. Not one to perform either activity, who am I to judge? Also, this may have been the one step, post-run, that could have prevented me from getting nasty shin splints. After strength/resistance training, I’m going to spend a few moments giving myself a proper stretch and foam roll.
Eat right. I mean c’mon, I’m preaching to the choir, but my lesson has been learned on this one. YOU CANNOT OUTRUN A BAD DIET, especially on injured legs.
- Warm-up with a 2 or 3-mile run, easy pace.
- Strength Training focused on different areas of the body:
- Monday – Arms/Chest
- Wednesday – Low Back/Abs
- Friday – Legs
- Cooldown with a 1-mile jog, stretching and foam rolling.
Running Routine will focus on 3-5 days of at least 3 miles or more, Sunday’s reserved for long runs, all sessions immediately followed by foam rolling and stretching.