Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tower of Terror in T-minus One(ish) Week!

Sorry – I’ve been MIA for a while. Only because, what’s to say, really about distance training through a Florida summer?

It’s hot.

And humid.

And also HOT.

Lather, rinse, repeat.  Endlessly.

My summer has involved a lot of cursing the elements, but there's been one glaring thing missing, compared to previous running summers...


I'm almost afraid to say it out loud, it seems so impossible. I have somehow managed to go through a training cycle without incurring any pain significant enough to require time off and rehabilitation. My poor chiropractor hasn't seen me in months and probably thinks I just quit running altogether.

So, how'd I do it?

I have NO idea. Okay, I have some ideas, just no way of knowing for sure if any one, or a combination of them, actually prevented injuries, or if it's just dumb luck. But I'm not a complete dummy; if doing what I have these past few months got me here in good shape, you can bet I'll keep doing it.

First, I found the right shoes. Again. And... again. Listen, you know me by now - I won't lie and say I haven't tried a few shoes that weren't right. I did and I'm humble enough to admit it. But I knew immediately that they were wrong and sent them back. That's progress, people. Since May, I've run most long distance miles in either my Newton Gravity or Newton Fate shoes. I've used the Newton Distance on short, speedy runs, too. Between them all, I've got about 200 miles logged in Newton shoes and no injuries. Not a bad return on investment. 

Second, I changed up my training plan. Long, hot distance wasn't resulting in anything good, so I tried something different: I went for more running days, higher intensity, and less long distance running. Most of the summer saw me slowly increasing both the distance of my twice-weekly short runs (from around 2.3 miles to my current 3), and the length of my run intervals (from 30 seconds to 2 minutes, 30 seconds), adding a day of mostly walking with a few short run intervals, and keeping my long runs to 4-6 miles. I also dumped traditional strength training and went with two days a week of high-intensity yoga and/or Pilates. The effect has been amazing! I feel stronger than ever, my lungs, when not tormented by allergens, are operating well, and... no injuries!

Third, I made a vow to listen to my body - and I stuck to it. There were a few days when I was exhausted, or achy, or sick to death of being overheated, and I took them off. With no guilt and no reservation. And y'know what? It worked. Instead of pushing and potentially doing damage, I gave my body time to restore and went back to the next run feeling good.

Lastly, I respected the heat. I did need to start bumping up the distance of my long runs in preparation for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler, and in the worst heat of our long Florida summer. In previous years, I repeatedly flirted with heat exhaustion, trying to pound out the mileage... this year I ran to the point at which the heat began taking a toll, then walked the rest of my planned distance. Some days, taking 5 minutes to walk was enough to feel good and start some easy running again. Other days I walked until I was done. It worked. So well, in fact, that I was able to run my short runs with much greater effort than in previous years. A lesson learned there, to be sure.

In conclusion, I am very happy to report that I made it through the summer without incident and am actually feeling ready to tackle the fairly insane race season ahead of me. I'm not foolish enough to think I can now throw caution to the wind, and my IT Bands like to remind me of that toward the end of my longest runs, but I feel better equipped than ever to pay attention and do what I need to do to stay healthy. I guess I'll find out in just over a week...

~ ~ ~

FYI, I'll be posting updates from the Tower of Terror 10-Miler weekend on Twitter at @VsFuzzyWorld. Follow along, and chime in if you'll be there, too!