Thursday, March 12, 2009

Running Cadence

I managed to go nearly a week between runs, from track last Wednesday to late Monday night. I intended to run Saturday, but ended up running errands and changing out the cockpit on bike #2 (still a work in progress). On Sunday, I rode 100 miles from Houston to Livingston to support the first leg of the Brick for Women, in which a guy is cycling from Houston to Little Rock, AR, and then running the Little Rock Marathon to raise money and awareness for women's support centers. (that's me leading the pack)

On Monday I had a Houston Racing meeting, and I was pretty bummed because it looked like I was going to end up going a week between runs (not a good idea), but I got home and my cadence sensor had come in, so I went for a run in my neighborhood at 11:15 pm. My default cadence is somewhere between 165 and 170 steps/min, but I managed to maintain 176 or so throughout my run, mainly by focusing on pumping my arms. The run was pretty tough on my calves; I don't think all of the time off was particularly good for me. I focused on shortening and quickening my stride, and was surprised by how tough it was. Monday night run: painful, frustrating, slow.
Wednesday night I went to track practice and found that forefoot running is a lot easier when I'm running fast. Nonetheless, I felt pretty darned slow. My fastest mile was in the 6:48 range, and it was tough! I did manage to maintain a cadence around 180 from the start until my cadence sensor died (hopefully it's just a dead battery).
This morning I got up and did a brick at the park. I rode about 13 miles, easy, and then ran 2 miles. The 2 mile run was actually pretty effortless and relatively pain-free.
The feet are at about 85%. They seem to be getting better since the tennis playing mistake a few weeks ago, and night-time icing definitely seems to help.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Still running...

Well, I've had some ups and downs since my last post. I've been running 2-3 miles in my Newtons every other day since then (with the exception of last night, which I'll get to). My feet still hurt. Unfortunately, when they started to feel better I stopped taking care of them quite as fastidiously, or maybe it's the continued running that's aggravating the plantar fasciitis. Essentially, anything I do that tightens my calves will aggravate my feet, so I have a renewed focus on stretching copiously and often.

As for the Newtons... my calves got used to running in them after 10 days or so. They occasionally hurt the balls of my feet if I don't have my foot positioned in them just right. Increasing my running cadence enough to forefoot strike (which the Newtons essentially require) is hard. I've been running around my neighborhood, and had a terrible run Monday night, in which I ran as fast as I could and barely broke 8 min/mile pace. I was pretty frustrated.

...which leads to last night. I went to track practice for the first time in awhile, and started out running pretty conservatively. I eventually got annoyed with not being the fastest person there, and did a couple of miles running fast (or what passes for fast for me these days). I did my first mile repeat at a 7:10 pace, and then ran my next two at 6:40. I'm not sure that I could hold that pace for a 10k at this point, but it felt good, my feet felt fine, and most of all, it was exhilarating! This was my longest run in a couple of months: 5 miles. It's been so tough and mentally taxing for the last couple of months having to rein myself in and to hold a constant awareness of my pain levels, and letting go was just fun. I can't wait for next week!

So, I'm going to start ramping up my mileage (still stretching like a fool in hopes of getting rid of this foot pain), with a focus on increasing my turnover rate (my cadence is around 160 strides/min, and needs to be around 180) to become more of a forefoot striker (and to improve my efficiency). To that end, today I ordered an accessory footpod for my Garmin that will give me my running cadence in real time (it's really hard to count steps for any length of time).