Worst Race Prep Ever

bug_001This year has not been good when it comes to race preparation. Training for both of the Spring half’s that I competed in was interrupted or cut short by injury, and the lead up to this month’s half in Philadelphia has been a catastrophe of comedic proportions. A recurrence of my knee injury, a busy work schedule, and a severe bout of food poisoning rendered me incapacitated for a lengthy period. At one point I had dreams of a PR attempt in this race, but I have not even had a sniff of a run in the last two weeks. Certainly not the best preparation for a half marathon, and completed destroying any hope a new best time.

Countdown to the NYC Half

nychalf_2013Only a few days to go to the 2013 NYC Half-Marathon. I’m pretty excited about this race. Last year’s version was my first ever half-marathon and I managed to finish it well within my two hour target time. I would like to achieve a personal best this time around too, but am hesitant to set such a target for myself while nursing an injury. I’m afraid that if I go out too hard I’ll do serious damage to my knee and possibly fail to complete the course. It goes without saying, but I would rather finish in a slower than expected time and get the race credit, than not finish at all.

Since my last race, the Al Gordon Classic in Prospect Park, I have done almost no training. I intended to continue with the bike and weights routine I had gotten into, but my knee was acting up in the days following the race and I chose to rest rather than run. It’s a strange position to be in – having not trained for a 13 mile race, and yet still feeling relatively confident that I can turn in a decent time. I really enjoy the half-marathon distance, it’s a god test of mental strength and physical stamina without the monotony of a full marathon. I’ve run three half’s up to know and have had one DNF due to freezing weather. Here’s hoping that this is my fourth success, with or without a personal best time.

An Amateur Mistake

amateur_001One of the joys of traveling is finding interesting new places to run. While I was away, I took the opportunity to substitute a sterile treadmill run in my local gym with a seafront dash back and forth along the beach in Juquehy, a little waterfront community located just outside of Sao Paulo. For some reason that still remains unknown to me, I decided to run barefoot. I guess I have never run along a beach before – and the thought never occurred to me that it might not be such a good idea. In the early mornings and late evenings there were plenty of people running along this idyllic stretch of sand, and a handful were even going forsaking footwear. However, it was only after completing the 4 miles back-and-forth that I fully understood why running shoes should always be worn.

Running on wet sand is in fact the equivalent to running on sandpaper. Throw in the lateral movements required to avoid the water and the variable grade of the beach thanks to tidal erosion, the feet and ankles take a significant amount of pressure throughout the session. About three miles into the run I felt the blister on the underside of my right big toe. By the time I was done, I had worn through multiple layers of skin under my toe and there was a significant stinging sensation.

I learned the hard way, always protect the feet by wearing socks and runners. I just hope this irritation heals in time for the upcoming run in Central Park.

The Next Step

nextstep_001I upped my distance this week, covering five miles for most of my runs. I did a couple of five mile runs back in November, stretch goals while averaging four miles per session.

However, this most recent change was a concerted effort to take my training to the next level. I had been hitting my distance and time targets consistently and wanted to avoid getting too comfortable or reducing the effects of my runs. This was also a conscious effort to get my body used to covering longer distances ahead of the Kleinerman 10K on January 7th. I have never run that far before, so need to get a couple of longer runs in beforehand if I am going to last the distance and not come out the other side with any injuries. The next couple of weeks are also tricky, with Christmas and holiday travels throwing off my regular training schedule. It’s going to take a little more effort and motivation than usual to get some training runs between Christmas and New Years – testing my physical and mental strength abilities at the same time. So far there have been no ill effects, combined with my new stretching routine my body is taking less time to recover between runs.