Monday, October 26, 2020

This One's Optimistic

A promising run yesterday: 10K at a respectable pace. Though 8:48/mile felt like a bit of work, but it wasn't a struggle by any means and was totally in bounds. When in shape this would normally be an easy pace for this hilly route, so still a ways to go, but I can tell I've made a lot of progress in that direction. I am rounding the corner, which in my case is not a false, bullshit claim. 

Moxie ran with me, as she often does on the weekends. We also had a nice bonus towards the end when we came across Kate who was running a little over two miles with Hagrid. 

The PF was still aching but only very slightly, as it has been all week. The hammies a touch tight, but way looser... the biggest discomfort was sore glutes, which tells me they are likely activating and finally joining in on doing some of the work. Good signs! 

Will likely take today off from running and do a glute/core workout when I get home. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Lunch Break Run Courtesy of Corona

 I was just mentioning to Kate yesterday morning that the coronavirus appears to be creeping up the coast to Downeast, and low and behold, that afternoon we got word that a case of it popped up in our school. I am of course thinking good thoughts for those affected and am concerned for my community.

We went to remote learning for the day, which meant greater flexibility with time. In between my classes and a staff meeting was my lunch break, and I was able to get both dogs out for a run. Moxie is a natural runner. Little Hagrid, he's a natural sniffer, usually insisting on stopping every 100 feet to take in some whiffs of something good. 

He was way more focused today for whatever reason, and we got in a really fast pace for him. We also went 2.7 miles, up from the usual two miles even. For Moxie, of course, this was practically nothing but she was grateful all the same. 

So today was remote, but it's back to in-person learning tomorrow. I'm scratching my head a little at that. Actually, a lot. Granted, it was just one case and not (yet?) a community outbreak, but the CDC guidelines seem a bit... well... interesting? 

Everyone who was in contact with this person, defined by being in the same room (or on a bus) with the infected individual for more than 15 minutes must quarantine for 14 days. That part is logical, but that's also where it unfortunately ends. 

Among those in quarantine are three of my students and five of my cross country runners. Eight total. And do I have to quarantine? Nope. Allegedly, I'm good. Never mind that I was with them this week for several hours, and was on a bus with one of the runners. No, don't worry about, you're okay to return to school and be around others. Oooooookay. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Compacted Week

 I felt pretty good about my running for the prior week. This week? Not so much. The way the week played out just didn't make it easy, but the real culprit was poor time management on my part. 

One way to combat that is early morning runs... something I find difficult to do despite relishing in waking up early. However, whenever I do them, I am always very glad that I did. Looking at the week ahead with cross country meets on Monday and Thursday, I may have to give it strong consideration. 

Rewinding back to last week though, we had Monday off for Indigenous People's Day. I headed to a well known, if not famous, river about an hour and fifteen minutes from my house to capitalize on fly fishing the landlocked salmon run. I know this is off-topic but it's my blog and I can do what I want. 

The salmon here see A LOT of flies thrown at them and are all the wiser for it. However, I was the first person to arrive at one popular run, and on my third cast I hooked and netted a muscular 20+" salmon. The air was cold, my fingers numb, and the adrenaline was surging, so my picture sucked:

It was the only fish I caught. Talking to other fisherman confirmed that it was indeed a very difficult day, so I was extremely stoked to get that one... and it was a doozy.

The Monday off left the work-week crunched. I was only able to run once with the team, and even then it was just a mile and a half total on their warm-up and cool-down. However, yesterday, another biggish rain storm was moving through and Moxie and I got out the door in time to beat it. 

We did five miles and I opted not to wear the ankle brace. We took it especially slow, but the achilles felt a little tight afterwards but loosened up on its own. All in all, not horrible. I'll hopefully get out for a short three miler today but with the brace on this time. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Cooking With Gas

 A very encouraging week of running, with a total of 14.3 miles and feeling progressively better as the week went on. 

Granted, a few of the runs were very slow and easy, like the two miles with both dogs yesterday. While Moxie loves to haul ass and is built for speed, Hagrid is not. Plus, he loves to stop and sniff things every hundred feet. But, he of course loves it. 

This morning, I woke up and tied a few flies while sipping coffee. A few hours later, Moxie and I were out the door for four miles. Lot's of rust, but the hamstrings felt much looser. The plantar fasciitis has also waned considerably. The ankle brace is really helping with that. 

Still a ways to go, but this week was quite encouraging. Will continue the glute strengthening and core workouts while kicking off the rust. 

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Dangerous Riddles

 The fine line between encouraging signs and false hopes: Yesterday I ran a little over two miles with the cross country team on their warm-up. The pace was 8:21/mile, which felt at least a minute faster in my rusty state. My lack of fitness dominated my thinking throughout, which I realized afterwards was actually very good news. My tight hamstrings didn't feel as tight, my PF/heel issues were tolerable (though I was wearing the brace). 

I wondered if I would wake up today with aggravated heel pain or banjo string-hamstrings thanks to the run. I did not. Very minimal heel pain and hamstring issues that appear unaffected by yesterday. 

A good sign, but even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. Another case of king for a day, fool for a lifetime? Time will tell, but it's nice to have reason for cautious optimism. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Balancing Acts

No bugs, colorful leaves; cool, crisp weather... many consider fall the best time of year to run. Let's rewind a bit though: Sorry if it sounds like somebody pissed in my Cheerios but we haven't had bugs in a long while thanks to the drought. The lack of rain also dried out the vegetation and many of the leaves have fallen prematurely with that first really windy day last week. The temperatures have been okay though... slightly above normal overall lately, but I personally love those damp, cold days of October where dark skies serve as a contrasting backdrop for technicolor leaves. Not so much this year. It is 2020, after all. 

I actually ran a few miles with the cross country team the other day with no repercussions with the plantar fasciitis/heel issues, or the hamstrings for that matter. I have been wearing an ankle brace for much of the day lately and also during that run. It appears to be helping, but I still have a ways to go. 

The workouts are continuing, with the focus on glutes one day day and core work the other. It's a bit tough sometimes to get them in since teaching and cross country practice make for a very long day and I often have to do at last an hour or more of work in the evenings. Balance that with wanting to spend time with Kate and the dogs and it's a bit tough and tiring, but it's been working okay so far. I've been sleeping well at nights lately as a result, at least. 

Looking forward in the shorter term, I hope to get in another run or two by the end of the week, hopefully one with the team for part of their run and another with my speedy dog, Moxie, over the weekend. Both will be short and slow, but I really hope by Christmas break I will be running somewhat regularly again. That would be great, but I'll take things as they come and adjust as needed... and am at least partially satisfied with being proactive and trying to make it happen. 

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Bald Bluff Mountain With Moxie and Hagrid

 Running is pretty tough to do, but hiking not so much. It doesn't aggravate the hamstrings as much and wearing an ankle brace helps with the plantar fasciitis. So, with Kate heading into town to run errands, I took the dogs to and headed to a local mountain called Bald Bluff. 

Coaching Cross Country

This weekend was the Festival of Champions.... normally not just the largest cross country race in the state, but the region. In the past, the event has drawn more than 1600 runners from states and provinces ranging from Rhode Island to Canada's Prince Edward Island where we converge in Belfast to compete on what many regard as the best cross country course in the area.

As you can imagine, this year was much different. Only regional teams competed, for a total of  just 120-something competitors. Varsity only and one coach on the premises at a time. No spectators allowed. Boys and girls races several hours apart. This helped maintain the state guideline of no more than 100 people for an outdoor gathering. However, our state has been fortunate enough to have competent and excellent state leadership and our corona numbers are relatively very low as a result. Most of us can see the big picture and want to keep our state safe and functional and are doing our part. 

The other coach, Louie, coached the boys team in the morning and I coached the girls in the afternoon. We had a blast! The approach this year is to put extra focus on keeping it fun and there was much laughter, joking (often at my expense), and all around positive vibes. Oh, and they ran well also. Goals were identified for this short season and the day provided a good building point moving forward. 

If you have ever considered coaching, give it a shot! Sharing the joy of running, the camaraderie, and the shenanigans make every year a blast. The championships are merely a bonus, and I'll brag a bit and mention that I have a few under my belt, including winning the state championship a few years ago, but the less competitive years are just as much fun. I mean, dude, it's running! How can it not be? Times are crazy, but I feel extremely fortunate to coach, and teach as well, and don't take for granted that I make a living helping young adults reach their potential in both the classroom and on the trails. The kids for the most part are really stoked to be back. Look closely under all of those masks and you'll see the smiles. A big part of my job is to keep them there. 

Friday, October 02, 2020

Plan of Attack

Those tight hamstrings and that plantar fasciitis in the left foot... argh. I thought I would share my plan of attack, which I have developed based on talking with other coaches, runners, and my own research and experiences. 

I would love to get some help from a specialist, but here's the deal: healthcare REALLY sucks in downeast Maine. No, I'm serious. Gone are the days when I lived in the southern part of the state and I could get an appointment with my primary care doc within a day or two, and then begin the process of manipulating that visit to get a referral to the incredibly awesome Orthopedic Associates of Portland. 

Instead, I am now literally going on one year just to get an appointment with a primary care doctor and this is really common. There are a lucky few who have PCP's that can see them quicker, but those doctors are rarely never accepting new patients. I have noticed that the people that have these PCP's will be the first to let you know they have them. Assholes. 

So, going on my own, this is what I have recently started doing and why:

1. Two sets of exercises that alternate each day. Rest days taken when extra crazy days happen, which is usually once or twice a week. 

2. One day focuses on glute activation including strengthening machines, monster and lateral walks with bands, and other exercises and stretches targeting the muscle group. 

3. The other day focuses on core work and lower back, including a pretty common array of exercises and stretches. 

The theory is pretty simple: Activating and strengthening those glute muscles will take the load off the hamstrings. And the core work will be another side weapon to help ensure proper posture, form, and ripped abs to impress cougars at the beach. 

I did something similar last winter with good success. However, I focused more on the core, which isn't bad, but I eventually neglected the light glute activation I was doing and it caught up to me. This time around I am hitting the glutes harder and more regularly, and am hopeful I will see a difference. 

As for the plantar fasciitis, well, I'm not sure. I am hoping the above will help it as a side effect, but I am looking into a specific plan. It's pretty bad right now. Barefoot running cured it 12 or so years ago, but with harder grounds with the cooler and shorter days, it's not as easy. 

We'll see how it goes.