Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Running lessons: Take everything into account

Spring flowers at Shubie Park
Last weekend was supposed to feel since my schedule called for two relatively short runs - 16k and 10k - after a couple of tough midweek workouts. Unfortunately, the weekend wasn't quite as restful as I hoped.

Husband's away for a couple of weeks so I decided to avoid the stress and aggravation of getting myself and the cat to the country and stayed in the city. As the weekend approached, I imagined I'd tackle a few chores, do a bit of cooking and rest as much as possible.


Of course, that's not how the weekend unfolded. Admittedly, both Saturday and Sunday began gently. It was a warm, sunny weekend so I started both days on the back dip sipping coffee, then doing yoga in the sunshine.

But that's where the relaxation ended. As soon as coffee and yoga were out of the way, I launched into a long list of chores - gardening, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning - before lacing up my shoes to go running.

Saturday's run was the nicer of the two. I did 8km - mostly along the Dartmouth Harbourfront Trail. The trail is one of my favourite routes in summer because it offers terrific views of downtown Halifax, George's Island and the harbour. Not surprisingly, there were lots of other people out enjoying the day and heaps of spring flowers!

Shubie Park
On Sunday, I ran to and through Shubie Park as far as Vivien's Way (one of my favourite places), figuring I should opt for a more challenging route since I only planned to do 20k. There's plenty of up and down in Shubie, which I hoped would help break in my new shoes. As it turned out, my shoes broke me instead. By the time I shuffled out of the park, my legs and feet weren't at all happy - bad news given the race is less than a month away.

It's particularly frustrating because my new shoes are the same model I've been wearing for several years - Asics Nimbus - though a size smaller than my last pair, which chaffed uncomfortably. The new shoes don't chaff but, for whatever reason, my legs and feet don't feel good in them. Clearly, wearing them to run 42.2k isn't an option. :-(

Of course, my legs might have been unhappy for other reasons. My hamstrings and lower back got a serious workout while I was gardening. In retrospect, I probably should have left gardening until after the marathon but the warm temperatures made me want to get outside, and I could tell the garden appreciated my efforts. I swear I could watch the irises growing Sunday morning!

I wore the shoes again last night for an 8k tempo run and concluded it's the right shoe that's an issue, which has me wondering if the answer is to run in mismatched shoes - a new shoe on my left foot and an old one on my right. I'll maybe try that this weekend and see how it goes. It'll look silly but that's the lesser of two evils in my books.

The high point of the weekend was a trip to Truro to visit my 94 year old Aunt Ruby. It was good seeing her but a little sad too. She doesn't have much memory left so quickly forgets when people visit. As a result she feels lonely a good deal of the time. Fortunately, the staff at the facility are good to her and she appreciates their kindness so there are plenty of bright spots in her days. It also helps that she still has a wonderfully sly sense of humour. I hope people say that about me when I'm her age!

After such a full weekend, dragging myself out of bed Monday morning was painful, which made me realize I'd frittered away whatever benefits I should have gotten from running less. I can't do anything about that now but it was a good reminder to take everything into account - particularly in the final weeks leading up to the race. I'll be running less but that doesn't mean I should plan on doing extra chores and activities. The point of tapering is to rest, rebuild and mentally prepare for the challenge that lies ahead. Given that, I need to spend the last three weeks resting as much as I can between workouts.

I checked the Calgary forecast again this morning and it's still hot as hades. My niece (who grew up there) assures me that Calgary weather is quixotic and could cool off considerably in the coming weeks. I hope she's right about that. I've been overdressing for all my runs in an effort to prepare for warm temperatures but, realistically, I'm in no condition to run a full marathon in summer heat:-(

As I write this, I'm listening to news reports on the horrific fire in Fort McMurray. Needless to say, I'll be keeping the folks there in my thoughts and prayers in the coming days. Bless the firefighters and other first responders who are risking their lives to get the fire under control and help those fleeing the flames, and my sincere sympathies to all who've been affected.

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