Workout Cards

Pick a card, any card.

Seriously. That’s how easy it is to decide your workout for the day if you spend 30 minutes to set up cards like these for yourself. I did one deck for strength (core, legs, and upper body) and one for flexibility (stretching and rolling), but you could make as many as you want. Each of the workout cards is designed to take about 20 minutes, so combining two gives you a decent 40 minutes of strengthening and stretching- quick enough to fit into most days!

If you have any other exercises to recommend, pass them along!

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Not running- a training log

Hesitant to write this post as it will certainly reveal how deeply neurotic I am. But being honest helps me take perspective, and maybe someone out there will find comfort in my madness.

As you may know if you know me or have read any of this blog, I dropped out of Orcas 50k at the beginning of February with what I thought was piriformis syndrome. It was frustrating, it was humbling, it was smart. I thought I’d take a week off, and get right back into it in time to log a solid month of hard training for Gorge 100k, my first goal race of the year. Here’s how that week went:

Day 1- Sunday – I made this awesome set of workout cards to motivate myself to get in the right balance of core and strength work.

Day 2- Monday- hid in my classroom at lunch to avoid telling all my coworkers about dropping out, since I’d only just revealed my deep dark ultra running secret the week before. Discovered jump squats. I loved them, my leg did not.

Day 3-5 Tuesday – Friday- felt less terrible. Biked a little. It kind of hurt. Did my core workouts. Tried hot yoga- sweated a lot but didn’t really feel like I worked super hard.

Day 6- Saturday- went for a very short hike near Whistler, loved the sunshine but wanted to do something harder. Felt that longing for a lung busting heart racing workout. The irritability set in.

Day 7- Sunday- In Whistler, got in a decent day of skiing on meh snow but enjoyed the mountains. Then we were having beers and I should have been happy as can be but it was sunny and there were trails out there and all I wanted to do was lace up and go. Shit got dark. I went through all the negative what-ifs, until finally Justin was like, Jordan, stop. go for a walk outside. I recovered, temporarily.

Day 8- Monday- I was desperate for a workout. Went to hot yoga again, left really hot and zen but it just isn’t the same as running. Not sure what the term is for being cranky from lack of running (run-ger? Rungry? Runky?) but I had a bad case.

Day 9- Tuesday- Against better wisdom, hiked up Mailbox. Wore my hiking boots to keep me honest but basically ran down anyways. It felt sooooooo good. Even my butt didn’t really complain, for the first time in a few weeks. Until I got in the car, and the pain started again. Ugh. I called the PT. (But I was 2:47 up and down Mailbox, plus a 15-min break at the top- that’s a good time to work from, considering I wasn’t busting it up or down ūüôā )

Day 10- Wednesday- The first question I asked after the million lunges and leg lifts and other diagnostic silliness was “what are the chances I can run a 100k in six weeks?” The answer wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Hamstring injuries are harder to heal than piriformis, and they certainly don’t respond well to the trauma of long long runs. So no 100k. No 20-milers even. But, they did agree to let me run small amounts to keep sane, and build up from there as my leg allows. The first thing I did when I left was go to Seven Hills, pick up some new shoes, and go for a very short run. I was sore from my boot journey on Mailbox, but going through the motion was enough.

I don’t think I knew how integral running was to my self image until I had to not do it. I struggled more than I expected. I cried a few times because I couldn’t do the thing that makes me feel the most “me” – to use a cliche, I felt lost without running. It’s my stress relief, my escape, my access point to the beautiful landscapes we have out here, it’s a solid 30% of my happiness.

How will I survive the upcoming 6 weeks? 5 miles at a time. I’ll do my core workouts, my PT exercises, not hot yoga (PT says I’ll throw out my weak back), and bike commute as much as possible. And just in time for a umber of adventure, I’ll be strong and healthy and ready to fly again.

Orcas Island 50K – or- Winning the DNF!

Let me start by acknowledging some superb people who fought hard battles and ran incredible races yesterday

Some bad-ass ladies: Tara Berry, first place woman, FINALLY!, wearing a spectacular golden shirt, and smiling the whole time! Whoever the two girls were in 2nd and 3rd place going all out right at the finish- more dramatic and inspiring than any of the mens finishes! Gretchen- fantastic job on the 50k and thank you so much for the hug at Mountain Lake aid- you are always so selfless and kind. I hope we can run more races together in the future!

My Team7Hills teammates: ¬†Masazumi (4th), Korey (6th), John (7th), Adam (8th) and Phil (not far behind but I don’t remember his place!) — also Chris Barry for getting through a rough patch at the top of Constitution and making it to the finish alive, and Ian for making it up the hill with a shot IT band. You are all beasts!

Team Rainshadow & the volunteers: Matt, Kerri, and James– Neverending amounts of love and respect for you guys. Yesterday I was able to see so much more of the behind-the-scenes work that you do while people are out running and although you called it the “quieter time,” you were still working your butts off, just like always. Volunteers- Thank you for making these races run as smoothly as they do. Never worry about the few negative people that you encounter. There are hoards of people who appreciate every tough course and potato chip and high-five and pizza and beer that you offer.

Now for the not-so-fun stuff

In the last 24 hours, I’ve probably thought more about the 6ish miles I ran at Orcas than I ever did about the 100 miles of Cascade Crest, but reading about a DNF is never as exciting as reading about a full race, so I’ll try and keep my remarks on the subject as brief as the run itself. That being said, as it’s my first DNF,¬†it’s brought up so many deeper thoughts about running and life in general for me that I’m sure this will actually turn into a cathartic stew of word-vomit.

– In retrospect, I shouldn’t have started. I knew I was injured. I didn’t want to be injured. I figured if I didn’t acknowledge the injury, it wouldn’t exist.¬†I just wanted to try- I didn’t want to give up without giving it a go. I did better than usual by admitting I wasn’t in the best of health, but¬†as my injury kept getting worse in the weeks leading up to the race, I didn’t really tell anyone, apart from Justin, hoping that I could wish it better.

– Even though I had it as part of my plan to drop if I had the tell-tale sharp-pain-in-the-butt (which kicked in as soon as I hit the road climb, and worsened on the slippery downhill), and even though I knew it was the best thing to do for the long term, sitting at lunch and thinking about everyone else racing was SO depressing.

– Running ultras is enjoyable for the struggle¬†and the journey- it’s like going to a battle where your body and mind face off against¬†the wild. I wasn’t prepared for the¬†emptiness that comes with NOT completing that fight. This DNF, so early and so rational, was like a mediated negotiation. Smart, clean, but not primal or rewarding in any way.¬†

– Despite the depression, the questioning, the overwhelming feeling that I was not doing what I’m supposed to do (run ultras, relatively fast and with a huge smile), the (very egotistical) thought that I was letting people down, I know I did the right thing. How do I know that? My hip hurt walking up a little hill in our neighborhood this morning. No bueno!

–¬†This¬†was an ugly and obvious sign that¬†I need some actual rest.¬†¬†I can’t think of the last time I took more than 5 days off from running; my planned end-of-season recuperation¬†in Australia was full of ¬†steep climbs, fast tempo runs, and long efforts,¬†lax core work and minimal stretching- all things that have traditionally led to piriformis syndrome in my running past. My coach has prescribed 10 days of no running, which is already making me apprehensive, but it will be a good time to dial in some hip and core strengthening and flexibility exercises, go to yoga, and get a massage. Piriformis syndrome is something I’ve had several times, so I know how to go about fixing it and preventing it in the future. I’m confident I’ll be a stronger and smarter runner at Gorge 100k and other spring races with this experience behind me.

– A lovely lady named Emily that dropped up at Constitution and rode back with us put it perfectly: I could finish, but at what cost? What am I trying to prove, and to who?¬†Could I have finished the race? Sure. But what would the cost have been? If my hip is irritated from 6 miles and 1500 ft of easy climbing, how bad would it have hurt after the whole race? Do I need to prove I can run a 50k? No. I’ve done that, several times. What do I¬†really need today? I needed to not run 31 miles.

Finally, this¬†“failure” was a great lesson¬†in several things that will lead to future successes: first and foremost, listening to my body is important; second, deriving a large amount of¬†self-worth from running accomplishments is not healthy, as even I am not invincible; third, experiencing the emotional impact of dropping will certainly get me through low points in future races.

 

Conclusions:¬† If you’re injured, rest. Don’t hurt yourself to accomplish nothing and destroy future goals. Focus on the long-term goals. Hopefully we all have years of running long and tough races ahead of us, and we can only do that with healthy, strong, respected bodies.