Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's the shoes

Well, I bought a pair of Newtons on Saturday. They're supposed to promote forefoot striking (as opposed to heel striking, which I do, and which is a contributor to my plantar fasciitis), so I thought I'd give them a try. If you're not used to forefoot running, you're supposed to ease into running with these, to give your body a chance to adapt. I ran 2 miles in them on Saturday (my first run in a month or so), and my calves were insanely sore (but my feet didn't hurt at all). I'm pretty excited to be back running, but am determined to ease back into it. I got up early this morning and met some friends for a garage run (up and down 12 stories of a parking garage), and got in about 3 miles. My calves are pretty sore, and my feet hurt a bit (but that's probably from playing tennis for two hours yesterday. Bad idea, I know, but I'm in a tournament, and I couldn't exactly drop out), but it was great to see some of my triathlon friends, and great to feel like... I'm back. I plan to restrict my runs to 3 miles or less for this week (every other day, or so), and after that, we'll see!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday ride at the park- just like old times

I made it out to the park for a ride last night for the first time in... a year? This involved leaving work at a reasonable time (5:15), also a first in a really long time. It was a beautiful afternoon, and I met my roommate Greg and a couple of Houston Racing folks at the picnic loop at Memorial Park. It's a fun loop to ride (for awhile- then it gets boring), and it's great to get out and ride surrounded by so many other cyclists (and no cars). Yesterday's ride was a bit humbling- I got passed several times (which I don't remember happening too much in the past), and my average speed was a couple of mph short of my best for that course. So... I have plenty of room for improvement! I'm looking forward to getting my cycling back to where it was at this time last year- getting better is always fun!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Revamping the swim

While on hiatus from running, I'm determined to emerge a stronger swimmer and cyclist. I've been swimming nearly every other day, with a focus on form, rather than speed or distance. Form, though, is a pretty nebulous concept. For the moment, I give myself a million little reminders of things to pay attention to (kind of like a golf swing), concentrating mainly on maintaining a balanced position in the water.
After years of playing water polo, constantly swimming with my head up, I finally realized this year that I have terrible form (and that I have some significant potential for improvement (speed, efficiency) by addressing it). This realization should have come to me long before, such as when a pretty experienced fellow triathlete commented at an open-water swim last spring: "I've never seen anyone swim so fast with their head so high". Somehow my mental reaction to this was: "Yup, I'm pretty awesome" instead of: "Hmm. If my form is so unconventional, maybe I could improve it."
After swimming two Ironman swim legs a year and a half apart in virtually the same time, I was more than a little disappointed by the lack of improvement (over the same time period my bike and run times improved by 10%). The ensuing frustration forced me to the realization that if I'm going to improve my swim, it's not going to be by swimming harder, but by swimming better. I've always considered myself a strong swimmer, so admitting to myself that I need work was not an easy thing, but here I am- back at the drawing board.
I feel like a kid learning to swim for the first time, swimming 50 and 100m at a time instead of cranking out 500's, with a constant focus on swimming well rather than swimming hard. I'm much better at the latter than the former. Occasionally I get it right, and the feeling is fantastic. I'm excited just to have found an avenue to improvement, and am looking forward to seeing some results in the upcoming season.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Track practice

Track practice resumed last night, and I went for the first time in months. There was a pretty good turnout, I really enjoyed running fast, and today my feet hurt a lot. I think I'm going to take more time off from running (maybe another month), and not start back until my feet don't hurt at all. I guess it's time to become a bad-ass cyclist.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New sunglasses rock!

I tried out my new sunglasses last weekend on my first ride of the year (22 miles at George Bush park- windy and freezing!), and they are awesome!

The cool thing about these sunglasses is the lenses are tall enough that I can actually look through (rather than over) them when down in my aerobars. I've never had a pair of sunglasses that actually worked in my aerobars. The fact that there's no frame over the top of the lens helps, too, since there's not a big chunk of plastic there to obscure the view.

The ride was great, too. It was cold and windy, but nice to be on the bike. A herd of deer crossed the path in front of me, and I rode within 20 feet of them before they scampered off.

Update on the footsies

It's been a couple of weeks, and I've officially decided that running the 1/2 was a bad idea. My feet hurt. A lot. And they don't seem to be getting better. Here's what I'm doing about it:
  1. Not running.
  2. Bought new, more comfortable shoes for work
  3. Never go barefoot
  4. Calf stretches every night before bed

Here's what I'm not doing, but should be doing:
  1. More stretching. Much more.
  2. Ice?
  3. Massage?
Here's what I'm doing, but maybe shouldn't be doing:
  1. Played tennis twice (I'm in a tournament at work; it's not like I can just give up)
  2. Riding my bike every other day. In theory, this shouldn't hurt, since there's no foot flexion, and no pounding, but I do end up with tight calves, which, of course are a major contributor to plantar fasciitis and achilles tendinitis.
  3. Swimming every other day. Somehow my calves end up tight after this, too. Maybe I should focus on pushing off of the walls less hard?