It was a Saturday. Not just a Saturday, but a long run Saturday! I woke up at 4:30 AM bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to rise up and meet the day! Okay, most of that was true…..some of it….I woke up at 4:30 and it was a Saturday. But it could have been any day of the week as I was barely aware I was awake. After making a cup of coffee I was out the door by 4:45 arriving at work at 5:15. I spent an hour typing and reviewing reports and was out of the office arriving in the city of Pittsburgh at 6:40. Just another day in the life of a distance runner.
Within a few minutes I was running. I had shorts on and a long sleeve shirt under a 1/4 zip long sleeve. It was still dark out and there was a light wind along the river. The bite of the morning air was palpable. I shivered for the first mile.
My legs were cooperating though not on their best behavior. I was coming back from a non-injury. A couple of weeks ago I ended a heavy 3 week training cycle and started an active recovery week. I didn’t run heavy mileage, but I did take on a lot of elevation gain that week exploring some trails near my workplace. The following week my fiancé’s Grandma passed away. That week was light on mileage. On Sunday I finally had the opportunity to take a run before the funeral. I headed to Boyce Park. Within a mile I was getting sharp pains in my left interior ankle. There was no cause I could think of. I hadn’t turned my ankle. My Sunday runs involve some walk training so I opted to make this one mostly walking. I covered 10 miles before I needed to head home. The following week I took Tuesday and Wednesday off of running to assess the ankle, which at times throbbed for no reason and other times was 100% fine. I talked to my friend Lisa, who is also a RRCA certified coach. She said that if there is no bruising or swelling it is likely phantom pains from reducing training load. It made sense and I am very familiar with the pains of reducing training. Still, I wanted to be cautious. I took an 8 mile run Thursday. It hurt… at first. Little by little, mile by mile it began to loosen up. By applying pressure to different leg muscles and twisting my ankle I began to isolate some problems. I got through the run and began a regiment of stick massage, hand massage, and foam rolling problem areas primarily in my calves and IT band. I took a second 4.2 mile run Thursday and got back to stretching and massage. Friday, I tried to keep moving at work and stretching and massaging. That bring us back to Saturday’s run.
My legs felt like I had run a marathon the day before. All the work on the muscles helped a lot, but really had me sore all over. The day called for a 28 mile run and I hadn’t run more than 12 on roads in quite some time. I had high hopes and a little trepidation on putting this run in. But I was excited! For the first time in months I would be running with the Steel City Road Runners (SCRR). Months of training mostly alone in the woods was certainly enjoyable and peaceful, but I missed the raucous group runs and the friends I made there too. So as I headed out alone this Saturday morning I had one goal. To run 8 miles and be back for the start of the group 20 mile run by a little after 8AM. I ran from downtown up to Lawrenceville and back. Mile by mile my legs loosened up. I focused on my form and , while not comfortable, the miles flew by. Back at SCRR I loaded my extra bottle of Hammer Heed into the UD PB vest, stretched, and went in to sign in and talk with folks. It had been months since I saw Diane, John and Alyssa among others and it was good to catch up. Soon it was time to run! I went with the 9:30 pace group.
John and I ran the 20 together and I was grateful for good company and conversation. My legs were feeling thrashed to varying degrees the entire run , but it was manageable with focus on form. What would have been a miserable solo run was a hard, but mostly enjoyable effort in a group run. We followed a good portion of the Pittsburgh Marathon course. It was a good route made better by Coach Dave and SCRR. They had setup a few aid stations for us across the city with water, Gatorade, and gels. After the run I dropped my pack off at the car and looking over saw Ali waving me over with a mimosa in hand.
I had just finished saying to John how the last thing I want after a long run is alcohol. That said I didn’t refuse her hospitality. I may not want a beer right after a long, hard effort but that mimosa hit the spot!
On the way home I stopped by Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery in Millvale for croissant, brioche, and an incredible strawberry éclair. This could become tradition. So. Damn. Good.
Arriving home around 12:30 I quickly heated up some leftover biryani, showered, and we were out the door to get our groceries, get me more food, stop at the pharmacy, Petco, then get me more food again and back home by around 5. I got to work on laundry and cleaning and finally sat down around 7:30 to relax for the evening with Tara, a pizza, and a beer. A few short foam roller and stretching sessions were thrown in throughout the day as well.
And that is my typical long run day. Keeping moving (and eating) constantly after the long run versus sitting on the couch really seems to help speed recovery along.
How do you squeeze the long run in when your schedule gets hectic?
Run Nutrition and Gear
250 calories from melon Hammer Heed
3.5 servings of Nocciola Hammer Gel
5 endurolyte caps
Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 2.o
Altra Torin 2.0