Is This Thing On?

I haven’t posted in a while.  I’ve still been running, and running quite a bit.  More than 100 miles in October.  But it’s been a lot of very slow (even for me), very boring miles, and I haven’t made the time to write about it.

A few weeks ago I signed up for a heart rate half marathon training plan through Train Like a Mother, which is the training arm of Another Mother Runner (“AMR”).  I’ve been listening to the AMR podcasts for a few years now.  Last year they did an episode launching the heart rate training program, and their guest was the HR coach, MK Fleming.   Everything that MK said made so much sense, and I loved her instantly and knew I wanted to work with her someday.  But at the time I was already in the middle of training for my first marathon, so I knew it would have to wait.

This fall the timing seemed right.  Since being cleared to run I’ve been slowing working my way back to fitness, but I’m still nowhere near fit enough to tackle a new goal.  I’m already signed up for the Shamrock Half Marathon in the spring, and I really wanted to try for a big PR there.  I really liked the 80/20 program I did for Shamrock last year, but I wasn’t too excited about doing the exact same program over again.  Plus, I already knew that HR training is tough.  It sucks to not be able to keep up with your friends, and to look at Strava and see that your running buddies that you used to keep up with are running several minutes per mile faster than you are.  I wanted to continue HR training, but I felt like I needed some emotional backup.  Via the Facebook page, Strava group, and the opportunity to talk to MK during office hours, the Train Like a Mother program gives me just that.

In a nutshell, this training plan involves spending a lot of time running VERY slowly.  Most of the runs on the plan so far have been either Easy Effort (heart rate under 140 bpm) or Recovery (heart rate under 120(!!!!) bpm) runs.  None of the runs is shorter than an hour.  I do get to do some “speed” work, but so far the speed part has been very, very short.  Like pickups for 20 seconds.  So far, most of my easy effort runs have been 12-13 minute miles and my recovery “runs” have been 17-18 minute miles, which is mostly either walking or a shuffling approximation of running that is probably even slower than my walking pace.

Running this way is extremely frustrating, at least so far.  I definitely wouldn’t be able to do it if I didn’t really believe that it will work, or if I didn’t have the support of the other mother runners on the Facebook page.   Other than the once-a-week “free runs” on the plan, I haven’t even tried to run with other people because I would be so far behind that it wouldn’t be worth it.

The training plan also involves mini-strength training sessions six days a week.  Some are body weight exercises, some are on the bosu, and some use resistance loops.  I REALLY like this aspect of the plan.  If I have to go to the gym and/or take an hour-long class for strength training, it’s not going to happen.  But five minutes is always doable.  And I like that the routines are specifically geared toward running.

Next week I’m running the Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon, a race I signed up for back in March.  At the time I signed up, I hoped to go for another big PR on this flat, fast course.  Now, my goal is to have fun, finish strong, and focus on the long game.


Training Log, Week of 8/28/2017

Monday: Officially a rest day, but in the evening I went on a 4.5 mile walk with my husband.  This was more about getting out and enjoying a beautiful and kid-free evening than about exercise.

Tuesday: 3 rainy miles.  Average pace 11:02, average HR 145 bpm.  Pushed the pace a little more than I should have but only two of us showed up and I wanted to get out of the rain.  Because it was Shamrock weather, we both wore our Shamrock shirts.

shamrock shirts

Wednesday: 4 miles, average pace 10:59, average HR 147.  Heart rate training/Zone 2 fail once again.

Thursday: 4 miles, average pace 11:17, average HR 146 bpm.  This was a hiller-than-usual route, which explains why my heart rate was the same despite going significantly slower.  But yet another HR training fail.

Friday: Did another C25K workout, I think it was week 3 day 3?  Went with a group and just stuck with them.  Was nice to just get out and move and socialize.  2 miles, average pace 15:37, average HR 111 bpm.

Saturday: 5.3 solo miles in the pouring rain.  Despite a super slow pace, my HR monitor was going crazy during this run.  During the first mile I walked a good bit and still couldn’t get my HR down into Zone 2.  It was super frustrating.  I finally decided to just run as easy as I possibly could and eventually it slowed down a bit.  Average pace 11:57, average HR 148 bpm.

Sunday: 40 minute walk around the Blue Ridge Half Marathon course, so lots and lots of hills.  2 miles.  Renewed my desire to run this race in the spring.

Totals: 18.3 miles running, 6.5 miles walking.  No real strength training other than PT exercises.

This was only my second full week back, and I’m thrilled that I was able to do 18 miles.  But I’m disappointed in my heart rate training efforts.  I know I need to run most of my miles at a 12ish pace while I re-build my aerobic base.  But I’m finding it really hard to do.  Running is such an important social outlet for me, and running that pace means that I will miss out on a lot of social time.  I know that plenty of local runners run the pace where I need to be right now.  But I’m a creature of habit and my friends who run at the times and locations that are convenient to me run a bit faster.  Also, my mileage is already out of sync with most of my friends, who are either marathon training or a bit further ahead in half marathon training.  The end result is that I feel like I’m in a bit of a running no man’s land right now.

Goal for next week: Have at least two runs where I spend more than half of the run in Zone 2.  That’s not aiming terribly high, but it’s better than I’ve been doing, and I do need to find the right balance between being social and doing the right thing for my training.

Training Log, Week of 8/21/2017

My first full week back to running!

Monday: rest.

Tuesday: 3 miles, average pace 11:12, average HR 145 bpm.  Struggled to keep my HR in Zone 2 during this run.   My legs want to run closer to my pre-injury pace, but my HR monitor keeps telling me no.  It’s a constant struggle that continued all week.

Wednesday: 3.4 miles, average pace 10:53, average HR 153 bpm (oops).  I unintentionally pulled off something cool during this run, check out those perfectly even splits!


Thursday: Attempted a run when I probably shouldn’t have.  My hip was hurting when I woke up (highly doubt it’s running related, seems to be just old lady related) and I was a bit paranoid about it, so I stopped at just over a mile.  1.1 miles, average pace 11:23, average HR 134 bpm (nailed that part at least).

Friday: Did a Couch to 5K workout with some friends.  This workout was from one of the earlier weeks so it had much more walking than running.  1.9 miles, average pace 16:09, average HR 121 bpm.

Saturday: My second parkrun!  Beat my time from the week before by almost three minutes.  Some of that was from improved fitness, but most of it was because the weather was MUCH better this week.  2.9 miles, average pace 10:19, average HR 152 bpm (I turned off my HR alarm for this run).

parkrun 2

Sunday: easy 4 miles on my own.  This was my most successful run in terms of keeping the miles truly easy and staying in Zone 2.  My first mile was over 12 mm pace because my HR alert kept going off, at times it felt like I was barely moving.  But I was able to pick it up a little after that.   Average pace 11:34, average HR 140 bpm.

Total miles 16.6, all but one-ish of them were actual running!  No dedicated strength workouts but I did a lot of sit-ups, squats and MYRTL exercises here and there, just didn’t track them as dedicated strength workouts.

Hope to continue to build (but not too quickly) this week.

Training Log, Week of 8/14/2017

Oh hey, what’s that?  My first training log in two months?  Don’t mind if I do.

Monday: Nothing.

Tuesday: 2 mile walk.

Wednesday: 3.3 mile walk

Thursday: My first attempt at running!  3.1 miles total with two miles running.  The two miles I ran were between 10:40-11 mm.  It didn’t feel easy (it was hot, humid and gross outside) but I felt like I could have done more.  I didn’t wear my HR monitor for this first run because I didn’t want to get discouraged, and based on the numbers I saw later I’m glad I didn’t.

Friday: 2 miles of a couch to 5K workout with a friend.  This was more walking than running (it was one of the earlier workouts in C25K), but it was good for me to be social and take it relatively easy.  Average pace 14:40.


Saturday: I did the local parkrun for the first time.   This is a free 5K (ish) series with chapters throughout the world, and one started at a park very close to my house a few months ago.  This was my first time trying it.  It started at 8 am, which is later than I’m used to running, and the weather was terrible.  The dew point was 73, and according to this widely circulated handy dandy chart, one should “expect pace to suffer greatly” in those conditions.  Plus, the course has some very challenging hills.


My run was not great.  My watch had just under 2.9 miles at an 11:30 pace.  My average HR was 163 bpm and per Garmin I spent most of the run in Zone 5.  Not where I want to be, especially since I wasn’t trying to race this run.  But I got it done, which is more than I could have done even a week ago.

Sunday:  This was a MUCH better run.  3.4 miles, average pace 10:27, average HR 151 bpm.  This run showed me a couple of things.  First, I’m in better shape than I thought.  Second, I probably need to do most of my runs by myself for a while.   My HR is reflecting the fitness I’ve lost, and to train the way I want to train, I need to slow down a good bit.  Even when people say they want to run with me, I’m naturally going to push myself to the pace that I feel like I “should” be running.  I’m thinking what I will do is pick one day a week where I will try to stick with the group, and the rest of the time I will do my own thing.  I know that with time I will get back to the place where my easy pace matches my friends’ easy pace.  I’m just not there yet.

scuffed garmin

Totals: 16.6 miles, although at least 7 of those were walking.  All things considered, I’m very happy with my first few days back to running.

First Run Back

I ran this morning!

I did a quarter mile warm up and then ran for two miles.  I was aiming for at least one mile and no more than two, so I made myself stop at two.  I kept it slow and easy, around 11 minute miles.   I felt like I could have kept going.

My collarbone felt fine.  The run didn’t feel awesome, mostly because it was hot and HUMID, and any heat acclimatization I had developed before my injury is now long gone.

This afternoon I had physical therapy.  My usual therapist is on vacation so I had to work with his protege, which scared me a bit because I have trust issues when it comes to physical therapists.  But the protege worked out fine.  My range of motion has improved substantially already; I can almost lift my left arm straight up over my head with no pain.  I’m a bit more restricted when I try to bring my arm out to my side.  But not bad.  Certainly a huge improvement from just a few weeks ago when I couldn’t dress myself or put my own hair in a ponytail.

As far as my training, after this morning’s run the training plan I discussed in my last post still seems doable.  Tomorrow I’m going to walk/run with a friend who is doing Couch to 5K.  This friend is an experienced runner but is coming back from an injury and starting slow.  Will be a nice way for me to get out and move and run a little bit without doing too much.  Sunday I will run 3 miles with Other Liz.

Cleared to Run!

Today the doctor cleared me to run!  Or, to be specific, to do some “light jogging.”  I was happy enough to be cleared that I didn’t take issue with his terminology.   The bone is healing well.  My activities are still somewhat restricted in that I can’t lift more than 10 pounds and I can’t do any body weight-type exercises, like planks or push-ups.  But I can go back to business as usual in most respects.  He also wrote me a prescription for six weeks of physical therapy, two times a week.

In anticipation of this milestone, I talked to my physical therapist yesterday about returning to running.  He said to start small, with only a mile or two, and build slowly.   He said that my natural tendency might be to restrict my arm swing on my left side, which could make my stride lopsided, so he said I should focus on keeping my core strong and tall to prevent that.

Tomorrow morning I will test the waters with somewhere between 1-2 miles.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.  Will I even be able to run a mile?

But that fear hasn’t stopped me from putting together a whole training plan for the Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon.  I’m just not a play it by ear kind of girl.

I’m planning to start with a 3 mile “long” run (possibly run/walk/run) this weekend and then slowly build from there.  3/4/5/6/8/9/10/8/11/12/10/14/10/race to be specific.  That’s a similar schedule to what I used for the Shamrock Half Marathon earlier this year and I really liked having several 10+ mile runs and going up to 14 miles.   I’ll run 3-4 additional times during the week and work on getting in two strength training sessions a week (which will be somewhat of a challenge given that I can’t lift more than 10 lbs on my left side for at least another six weeks).  For the first month or so I will keep at least 90% of my  running very easy.  After that I might throw in some hills and/or tempo runs.  And I will keep my fingers crossed that I can stay healthy, because being injured sucks.

Recovery Milestones

Lots of recovery milestones in the last few days!

Last Friday was my first day out of the sling.  My left arm feels heavy and floppy, and extending my elbow kind of hurts.  All of that has more to do with being in the sling for six weeks than with the injury itself.  My collarbone doesn’t hurt most of the time and as of now the hardware isn’t bothering me.

I am back to driving short-ish distances, but I wouldn’t want to drive very far.  Using my left arm to turn the steering wheel is doable but hurts.  Which brings me to my next milestone: I’m starting physical therapy tomorrow.  I don’t have a prescription from my doctor yet, but I knew my PT would see me direct access for 30 days, and I’m assuming that I will get a prescription (I will push for one if not offered) at my final follow-up with the surgeon.  I want to do everything I can to get back as much functionality as possible as soon as possible.

Tomorrow I am back in the office after five weeks of working from home.  I never thought I’d be so glad to go back to the office.  There were certainly some positive aspects to working from home, but it was lonely and often dull.

Even though I had access to a car all weekend, I didn’t go to the gym.  The weather was beautiful and I’ve really been enjoying my walks, so I stuck with that.  Without the sling I was able to walk a little bit farther and a little bit faster than I had been.