Starting Long Distance Running

We’re back in the Way Back Time Machine again, revisiting when I was starting long distance running. As you read last week, I was swallowing all my nervousness and going gun-ho into running, hoping to culminate my training into a marathon at the end of the year.

Here’s the last segment of those old posts from 2014. I hope in sharing my story, you find some of yours.

Reaching Long Distances Part 2!

Too soon, too much, too fast

The near-beginning of a lot of runners includes an injury of sort. It’s typically a TOO-SOMETHING – too much, too fast, too soon. I probably fall under all those categories.

April Goals

March 24

Marathon Training Starts in 100 days

I start MARATHON TRAINING *cue scary music* in roughly 100 days.

Until then, I will be building a “running base”, or basically a foundation to train on. I really haven’t found any applicable training plans to build up miles – because my training is a bit lop-sided at the moment. I shouldn’t do a 9 mile long run with only two other runs during the week. There’s another newbie mistake for ya.

My goals for the rest of March and April:

  1. Add a fourth day of running
  2. Safely increase weekly mileage to 25 MP (miles per week)
  3. Take recovery weeks of lower mileage
  4. Cross-training session once a week

I’m also buying a new pair of shoes!

Starting Long Distance Running

First 10 mile run

March 29

Running is weird. I was so worried about my 9 mile run 2 weeks ago; and today I bust out my first 10 mile run like it ain’t no thang. The longest I’ve ever run.

I carried a water bottle a couple of miles into my route and hid it so I would have it for the run back. I didn’t like listening to the sloshing noise — made me need to pee! But behold, 3-4 miles into my route, there was a porter potty sitting on the sidewalk! A runner’s best friend. It was for a house under construction, but no one was working today, so I helped myself.

And then a second time, on the way back.

Except for a blister between toes, the run really could not have gone any better. I’m keeping these shoes.

I rewarded myself with an ice bath (more like a chilly bath, since I don’t have much ice), a tuna fish sandwich, and a nap.

Oh, and this burger.

Burger, curly fries, and beer

11 miles of complaints

April 5

Today, I ran in a giant nearby neighborhood with gorgeous houses I cannot afford. It’s relatively quiet, except for today.

Turns out it was the annual community garage sale. Hundreds of houses schlep their wares in their driveways for hundreds of people. Some of these people were selling the equivalent to all of my belongings. I’m glad I’m already in moving-mode — I’m not tempted to bring anything into the apartment that isn’t a flattened cardboard box.

But the traffic was ridiculous. There was a guy dancing with rolls of Christmas wrapping paper, and a girl dressed in a giant Krispy Kreme box. There were roadside stands of doughnuts and chili for various fundraisers. I felt bombarded with consumerism and started to get annoyed with all the people and stuff (Why are you selling five full sets of golf clubs? Why do you have that many golf clubs?!). And I felt like everyone was staring at me, because I was pouring sweat and might have looked like I needed medical help.

Anyway, this massive yard sale will probably be the best thing ever next year, but this year it was just an annoyance in a ridiculously long run.

Starting Long Distance Running: selfie

Before I reached the busy neighborhood. Should have stayed here!

Fueling in the Heat

I did learn today, that when it’s hot outside, I need to refuel at the 1 hour 15 minute mark (probably actually at the 1 hour mark). I didn’t get back to my food and water until 1 hour 30 minutes, and it was not a happy time.

A belt to carry fuel would be nice, but I’m on a spending fast to save for the house. What do you mean I can’t spend hundreds of dollars on running AND get a house? I guess I’ll just run carrying a bottle (or two?!) and get used to it.

I ran 11.6 miles in 2 hours and 6 minutes. First time running for 2 hours: it sucked. I really can’t imagine running another 2-3 hours after that. But you can’t take a bad run in April and forecast it out to a run in November. The first time I completed a mile it wasn’t pretty either. But I got better. This will get better too.

GT Pi Mile Race Recap: Mom’s first 5K

Run Until You Like It Again

April 17

The word, “runner” doesn’t actually (by definition) have any feelings attached to it. So whether you’re happy to be out on the road and every mile is new and exciting, or you’re dreading to be out on the road and every mile is old and frustrating… you’re a runner.

Sometimes, you just have to run until you like it again.

The last few weeks, I’ve really had to push to get myself out the door.

Push to start running after a walk break.

Push to finish my miles.

Running felt so tedious, so boring. I wondered why I signed up for this dang marathon.

Was it getting over the hump of miles and the week? The beautiful morning and weather that didn’t resign me to the treadmill? I don’t know, but after I pushed myself out the door this morning:


Starting Long Distance Running: by the pond

It was southern-chilly at 50 degrees, but half a mile in, I loved it. I ran 5 miles at 9:50 pace, only pausing to snap that picture. No walking breaks.

I was fabulous.

I’ll hit the doldrums again, probably sooner than later. But this was a nice pick-up breeze in my journey to a marathon.

And not once during this run, did I wonder why I signed up for this dang marathon in the first place.

12 Miles on the Treadmill

April 19

It’s raining. The forecast went from rain all day Friday, to rain all weekend with a flash flood watch.

Now my 12 mile run is on the treadmill. Yikes.

The Benefits of Treadmill Running?

  1. Climate controlled
  2. Water and snacks are always within reach
  3. If there is a ledge to put stuff, you can read and stuff
  4. There’s wifi for stuff

I think treadmill running will be more tolerable when I have the space and money for one in my house. Then I can watch geeky things while I run and well, I guess watch geeky things when I run. (UPDATE: IT’S NOT MORE TOLERABLE)

Starting Long Distance Running: Treadmill setup

I put my post-it notes on the screens so I wouldn’t watch the time/mileage constantly for 2.5 hours. That helped a great deal. I watched HGTV and read War of the Worlds (which is getting better) during commercial breaks. After like 4 episodes of House Crashers, a house-buying show came on and the people were looking for places in Savannah – relevant.

Getting there at 8-something, I was the only one for a while, but it got busy as I was finishing up. At 75 minutes (6.26 miles), I stopped, took a bathroom break and ate a snack. I drank water whenever I felt like it, which was nice. Then, I turned the treadmill back on for another 5.74 miles. The last mile and a half were the hardest.

My right ankle feels a little funny, so I’m going to ice it. But, I got it done!

Achilles Death!

April 20

“My ankle feels a little funny” quickly went to limping around the apartment. I think it’s my Achilles tendon.

I haven’t hurt that since my elementary school days, but I’ve never ran 12 miles on a treadmill before. Or anywhere close to that many miles on a treadmill before. Considering that I run differently (and not better) on a treadmill… we can chalk this up to another newbie mistake.

I remember that ankle/tendon feeling stiff a couple of miles in. I just re-tied my shoe for support and didn’t think anything of it. The last mile and a half that foot felt weaker than the other, but everything was pretty tired at that point anyway. It’s hard to know when to stop and when I’m using excuses to stop.

So rest, ice, elevation, and stretching for me today. I was hoping to get in a few miles before my vacation on Wednesday, but that’s looking iffy.

This is such a learning process. I just hope I can figure it all out before the marathon. I’m beginning to understand why they recommend a year of running experience, prior to training for your first marathon. “Oh, I’ve run off and on for years, and it’ll be a year once the marathon comes around” was not a good rationalization.

Lazy Rehab

May 6

It’s been two and a half weeks since my injury. And while I was on vacation for one of those weeks, I’ve been lazy about rehab.

If I can’t run, I kind of don’t want to do anything. I should be just as serious about injury rehab as I am about running, but… I’m not.

I’m good about icing… I’ve even tried a bit of heat recently.

I do downward dogs. I do wall stretches where you put your foot at knee-height on the wall. Sometimes I do stretches where I’m actually stretching the tendon and not gastroc/soleus, but I’m a lot more careful with those.

It swells in the morning, especially if I’m not stretching slowly enough. Ice and massage get rid of that swelling nodule, but as long as that keeps up, I won’t be running.

I miss running. I know a few weeks here isn’t going to kill my marathon, but a few weeks running on a bad Achilles definitely could.

So I guess I’ll just sit on the beach this weekend and relax. It’s a tough life.

Starting Long Distance Running: beach time

Injury Blues

May 18

Ran a mile on last Tuesday and walked a mile back. Still could feel that Achilles so I knew I shouldn’t push it. Even sadder, I felt very out of shape during that 1 mile run. Because I couldn’t be bothered to exercise when I couldn’t run, I’ve lost fitness. How unsurprising, but still frustrating.

So instead of writing about it on last week and coming up with a game plan, I decided to drown my fitness blues in pizza and wine. Obviously pizza and wine did not make it better. Leftover pizza and wine the next day also did not make it better.

Starting Long Distance Running: beach time

Beach Time

I promised myself I’d go swim to cross train. It rained the next two days. Instead of going to the gym and using the elliptical or bike, I sat on the couch and watched movies.

To be honest, today is the first day I’ve come out of that slump. The last three days I’ve done some different Achilles stretches which I’ve felt have really helped. I did a bunch of chores today and actually felt productive, cooked some meals for the week, and made a batch of laundry detergent. 30 minutes on the Gazelle gave me no Achilles trouble.

I will either use the Gazelle again tomorrow, or run a mile outside. However, priority is beach time with TF and Belle, trying out my skim board, and not falling back into that emotional slump.

Happy Sunday

May 18

Spent a few hours on the beach, then came home and Gazelle’d for 30. Felt like that was nothing, so I went out for a run.

Stitches in my side and abs were burning, all signals that I’ve lost conditioning, but no complaints from the Achilles. It felt great to be at it again. I felt miles away from Tuesday’s run (good riddance!).

I started feeling the Achilles at 2.5 miles, so I walked the last 1/2 mile home — happy indeed. Stretched and iced. We’ll see if I pushed too far tomorrow.

Zombie Bait

May 21

My workout on Sunday was NOT too much for my Achilles! In fact, I’m doing pretty well. Eventually I’ll stop writing about my Achilles, which will be fantastic for both you and me.

Starting Long Distance Running: selfie

I ran 3 miles yesterday. And though I got passed by every runner out there, I’m thankful to be able to run again. I feel slow, like zombie bait. All I need is some noise-makers and I could run decoy (and then get eaten).

I’ve used this Runner’s Connect article for rehabbing my Achilles, including 90 heel drops a day. I was afraid I was going to do more damage than good with the heel drops, but they’ve really helped fantastically.

Oddly enough, my Achilles really only annoys me when I’m in bed, but a small pillow to elevate or create the correct angle helps a lot. I’ve massaged my calf and not doing a lot of stretching, especially in the morning. Massaging helps loosen it up without aggravating my Achilles so bright & early.

I’ve tentatively scheduled 3 miles tomorrow, and a long run/walk session (possibly on the beach) this weekend. Yes, a long run/walk with a couple of beers in the sand might be an excellent weekend.

Stronger Than Yesterday

June 10

With nondescript pains in my feet/ankles when I lay down to bed, when I walk around in the morning, I’ve been doing my best to make sure my training today doesn’t hurt me tomorrow. And with careful training, I’m also ensuring that my training today makes me stronger tomorrow.

Today I went out in the blazing heat to run/walk another 3 miles. At 1PM, it was 91 degrees – I decided to wait a few hours. At 4PM, it was 92 degrees – Oh well.

Saturday’s run/walk averaged a 14:59 pace. Today’s averaged 11:53. I did the same thing, I ran until I felt any discomfort, then walked until everything was peachy once more.

But today I was stronger. My feet and ankles were stronger. My lungs were stronger. We were stronger than yesterday. And while I’m not recovered, I feel like I’m working with my body to regain fitness without furthering any damage.

Don’t Get Hit by Cars

June 23

Difficult to get these blog posts in during the week. But, I’ve been mostly succeeding alternating running and swimming.

Thursday I almost got hit by a Dodge Ram. It was partly my fault; I looked before I started running across the neighborhood entrance but should have slowed down or stopped before jumping out of the bushes in the median. The truck must have seen me before I was in the median, because they stopped very quickly. My super-fast reflexes helped me stop in the middle of the road in harm’s way — perfect. Then fight/flight took over and I ran away. Except for being almost within arm’s reach of a truck, it was kind of funny.

Lesson learned — be more careful because my reflexes are not going to save me. And it’s a good lesson to learn before I move further into town, WHICH WE’RE DOING ON FRIDAY!

I’ve got two weeks until marathon training starts. I’m not where I wanted to be, but that’s OK. I just may need to switch up my training plan.

And, I didn’t get hit by a truck, so I have that going for me.

Starting Long Distance Running: River Street Selfie

Long Distance Runner

Onto Marathon Training

I ended up buying a new pair of shoes which also helped a great deal with my running injury. My feet/ankles would continue to be a problem until present day. Some parts of your body just need more care than others.

While I made a lot of mistakes as a new runner, I didn’t give up. I kept going. I kept trying. Remember, that starting anything is hard – keep an open mind and keep learning!

You can keep on following this story to my first marathon training here.