Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Best Tempo That Ever Was

No better place to start than with last week's mileage recap:

Monday:        0
Tuesday:       11.9
Wednesday:  12.3
Thursday:      12
Friday:          11.8
Saturday:       4
Sunday:        19.3
total:            71. something

This week started out with lead-legs.  I attempted a track workout of 400s and 800s on Tuesday, but after two 400 repeats where I struggled to hit 1:26, I decided it wasn't my day and moved along.

Wednesday was 3x2 miles at 7:00ish pace, with a mile relaxed in between each.  Just for funsies, and because I still couldn't get my legs to run anything faster than 7:00 minute miles.

Thursday was relaxed.

And then Friday, I ran The Best Tempo That Ever Was.

In the history of every amazing tempo run that has been documented on this blog, I have always, without fail, had to stop the tempo between the 2nd and 4th mile to stretch out my leg lock.  When the leg starts dying, I give it a quick hamstring stretch and piriformis release and then I'm off, feeling fine, for about another 1-2 miles.  repeat.

On this 6 mile tempo, I got the urge at mile 3.  STOP.  STRETCH ME NOW.  I can't bend right.  Please stretch me?

But I ignored it.  And I got through 6 miles straight, at a pace that came out of fuckin' nowhere for me, and I didn't stop.  Not once.  A real tempo.  All mine.

6:22; 6:20; 6:14; 6:13; 6:19; 6:19

Delicious.  I could stare at that workout recap all night.

I didn't even feel like I worked for it.  None of that flushed dizzy tingle that sticks with you after a hard workout.  Did it even happen? What? Why can't I feel this good every run? How can I replicate this at a race?

The last 1/2 mile my leg was "locking up" badly and pleading for a stretch, but I got through it, and then stretched, and then felt like my normal self.  Whatever is wrong with my leg, it doesn't like speed, but is also very temporary.

I ran this at the track. Tempo cheating in some respects.  It's so easy to fly around that soft flat thing.  Outside lane = a little under 21 laps.

May sound dizzying to you, but I really enjoy it.  I am far too self-conscious to run tempos out in the wide open where people stare and yell "BITCH!" or "booty!" at me for running by quickly.  Both have happened.  Another example: whenever the Gentleman and I used to run sprint repeats around the lake, errrrrybody had something to say.  "Don't let her beat you!" or "Go get him!"  Sooooo the track is my preferred safe place to run fast without the looks or the commentary.

Speaking of leg-lock, I had a sports therapy appointment today.  The doctor prodded at me, made me sweat with pain, put my leg to the test, and declared a huge knot in my butt (on the leg-lock side) which he released, and that my fast-twitch muscles aren't working. This makes other "wrong" muscles engage when I run fast, and then they fatigue quickly, hence, leg-lock.  Perhaps leg-lock is more appropriately called, "leg that weakens because it is using the wrong muscles to run fast."  This does explain why I can run 20 slow miles (slow twitch fibers) without a grimace, but 2 miles at a fast pace always makes my leg die.  Perhaps this white girl needs to look into ultras and give up on speed.  Hm.

He did say words that were magic to my ears: it's nothing permanent.  Whatever it is can be fixed.

Prescription: plyometrics and balancing exercises.  Then re-visit the doctor to discuss.  I do a lot of balancing exercises.  Plyometric recommendations are welcome! Get my fast-twitch fibers going please!

Saturday: 4 easy miles with the Gentleman so I could get on the road to meet my 2-day old nephew! My sister popped out another future BFF for me.

He's pretty boring right now compared to my 2 year old niece who I tricked into running towards me with a hug every time she sees me.  It's THE. BEST.

She was sick :(  

Sunday: Guess I DID like my last run through crowded San Francisco, because I found my way back to the City! I sliced through Golden Gate park after getting off BART, ran into blog-reader-and-lawyer Jen (which was fabulous.  We both stopped at the same water fountain; I thought she was giving me a side-eye and was like "promise I won't steal all the water!"; then she introduced herself and all was right in the world.)

It was fun but 19 City miles are tiring, all those hills! I also fell into stride with a parade of pink ladies walking for The Cure, so was followed by pink tutus and boom-boxes blaring J-Lo for much of the miles.  Seems like a neat event.

In just a fortnight I will be running my first race in over 3 months! (Not actually a fortnight -- more like 5 days -- but you know what sounds cooler? Fortnight.)

I was not excited for this race (the San Jose RnR half marathon) a week ago.  Feeling slower than usual, and knowing that I would experience the same old issues with racing and my left leg, I was dreading a new personal worst.

But, now with that very confidence-boosting tempo run and the magical words of a doctor (and the torture he put me through), I'm excited.

It would have to be a PERFECT day for a PR--like, 50 degrees, feel as peppy as I did during that tempo.  Of course, the forecast is 83 degrees.  I'm entirely sick of it.  My last three races (Napa marathon, Oakland half, See Jane Run half) were all on relatively hot days.  I disintegrate trying to race in the heat.  These 3 races are part of why I lost the spark to race recently.

Still looking forward to Sunday...I have to remember to enjoy it since apparently I only do this once every 4 months now.

So much more to talk about.  On the bench I have my favorite new place to run in Oakland; a wedding recap; another round of ShittyBlogger; my evolving stand-up station at work; top 100 photos of Miley Cyrus's tongue; and as discussed on twitter, a post about tabby cats.  See you soon! 


  1. I am so glad you finally have some answers on the leg lock, it sounds so simple the way he explained it. All that time we all spend rolling our legs, now we need to remember to roll our butt? ;)

    I am glad to hear I am not the only one who avoids running in certain spots and at certain times because of commentors. I refuse to run fast workouts through my neighborhood immediately after I put my kids on the bus because the middle school students are all walking to school. Middle school kids are WORSE than high school kids when it comes to rude comments. Anyway, Congrats on the speedy tempo!

    Looking forward to reading another round of ShittyBlogger. Anyway, Congrats on the speedy tempo!

    1. I will punch those middle schoolers while running by

  2. Lateral jumping squats, holding a medicine ball. That's my favorite for addressing my stupid hip.

    1. I will surely mess this up. Will have to look for a video...

  3. I'm glad to hear you do have some answers from your leg. I honestly had absolutely no idea the wrong muscles could engage during a workout but that makes sense.

    That tempo is pure brilliant. I hope that the race goes well for you this weekend. :-)

    I don't run a lot on main roads just because of the commentators. I also hate getting stopped by traffic lights.

    The Miley post should be first. Then the cats...ha.

  4. Great job with the tempo!! Hopefully you can duplicate that at RnR!
    I had a hip strain earlier this year and had a huge knot in my glute. I went to PT and they would heat me up, massage it out, and then I would do a bunch of stretches (glutes/hamstrings/etc). It took a while but with consistent stretching it got better. Then I did strengthening exercises to balance out that area. I bought a cheap set of stretchy resistance bands from Amazon to help with that and they work great in targeting the glute/outer hip area. Hope it continues to feel better!

    1. How did you get yourself to DO the stretching and strength training? I will be good for a week and then fall off. But those sound like the cure.

  5. I'm trying to get into more plyo exercises since I also have an angry piriformis. I like skaters, Burpees, and jump squats the best.

    1. I did 20 jump squats. That stuff is no joke.

  6. Great to hear that you had a strong run, and also that you won the battle against your leg-lock/tight muscles. I'm sure we have a similar leg issue, because I also have a huge knot that forms in my glute (well, butt, whatever) and that tends to predede my leg numbness and locking. If you manage to get yours completely fixed there may be hope for me too, but then again perhaps not because no amount of willpower will make mine go away - I tried to run through it in a half marathon last Sunday and unfortunately despite my anger, frustration and stubborn attitude I had to stop in the end to stretch it because I was literally starting to hop along on my other leg. Boo. Speed also aggravates my leg - the locking starts a lot earlier the faster I go...it didn't play up at all during a 35 mile Ultra, but that was because I walked most of the hills, so obviously I'm not meant for speed. You still achieve amazing times even with a dead leg, though! So I wouldn't say you're not meant to be fast, because you already are.

    I really hope your race goes well, and I'll have everything crossed for you!


    1. 35 leg-lock free miles sounds pretty fantastic.

  7. Who are all these professional sports commentators and were they raised by wolves? That or the Bay Area has become a wayyy more interesting place since I was last there. (I've never heard anything weird on a run, but one time a woman at a party - within five minutes of meeting me - started hurling insults at both me and the newspaper I work for. I mean, I may disagree with your employers too but that is plain old rude.)

    Good luck for RnR half! Tri training has taught me to run in the heat - you gotta train for your race conditions.

  8. Good luck at San Jose!! Hope the leg behaves for you!!

  9. It amazes me how answers make a huge mental difference...even if the problem isn't solved yet-- knowing that it can be solved and knowing how to solve it are important as hell.

    Awesome tempo, love when runs just click like that!

    Good luck in San Jose!

  10. Ha! Sorry for the creepy side eyes. Typical Jen. It was nice meeting you IRL!

    1. You're the best! Let's run into each other again!!!

  11. Glad to hear you have some good news on the leg/butt thing! I have been doing single leg squats (they sound badass but aren't) and they hurt but help!! Also your nephew is so tiny! I don't have kids and whenever I see freshly born babies I kind of get freaked out by how little they are.

    1. newborns are extremely freaky. He was shaking like a chihuahua

  12. So glad it's not permanent. Hope the plyo cures what ails ya :) I LOVE PLYO.

  13. People all say the same stupid shit when you run. It's amazing.

    Just do whatever you did -- exactly -- before the tempo before San Jose and what could go wrong?

  14. Wow...the speed! Really hopeful for you for the weekend, good luck! My cat definitely wants to feature in the forthcoming cat-post!

  15. oy, i have the same issue....Insanity- Lots of plyo (which I tend to hate) and will really work those muscles. The only issue I have with combining these with running, is that my legs are always tired!

    1. exactly! That's why I have a hard time sticking with strength training....it makes me feel constantly sore, heavy, and slow and then my running suffers.

  16. AWESOME news about the tempo and also about PT diagnosis! I get a weird pain in my left hip sometimes and I think it's related to weak glutes/hip flexors. Sitting/rolling on a tennis ball has done wonders. I need to jump on that plyo-wagon. (pun intended. har har) I also hate doing speedwork around the lake, not because of the comments (because I'm not that speedy), but I hate running around people, their dogs, and strollers.

    Congrats on being an aunt again! Good luck in San Jose! OK, gotta get back to my guest post about calico cats...

  17. There is one particular guy that seems to ALWAYS be standing out in his yard smoking a cigarette when my husband and I run by and he cannot resist making comments about who is "winning". every. single. time.
    THEY are everywhere!~

  18. Ummmm where was the post about tabby cats?? Where I ask you??


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