Thursday, May 20, 2010


I've never been so frustrated with my body.

I know in training for the half marathon, I probably overdid it a bit. I could feel the wear and tear on my body at the end of my training, especially with my knees. From the research I've done online, I've self-diagnosed my knee problem as "runner's knee" or patellofemoral pain syndrome, which can be caused by overuse, worn out shoes, simple things like that. I definitely increased my mileage quickly in the end of my training to make up for weeks in which I was sick or busy and missed runs.

I haven't done that much running since the race. I've run maybe 3 times a week since then anywhere from 3 to 6 miles. I'm trying to maintain some level of fitness, while giving my body a rest. But even now, a month later, if I sit for a long time (like in class everyday) my knee gets really sore and stiff.

My knee has improved though, and I have less pain while running, but my injuries don't end there. After a 6.5 mile run last week my toenail (which had turned black during the half training) finally fell off. Perfect timing for summer and sandal season.

And now for whatever reason my hip is causing me severe pain, even while walking. I thought it was getting better and went for a short run on Tuesday, but after only 2.5 miles I had to stop and walk because it was really hurting myself and I don't want to injure myself further.

It's just so frustrating to me because the training and endurance is there. I have enough strength to run long distances, but my injuries are preventing me from reaching my potential. I really think a big part of it is that I desperately need new shoes, but I don't really have the money to purchase a good pair at the moment.

I just hate that I COULD run farther, that what's holding me back is hip or knee or foot pain. And I'm nervous that if I take too much time off of running, I will have to completely start over in my training and build up from the beginning to run again. And I hate that I have to put my goals on hold.

And I've really grown to love running. When it's nice out all I want to do is go for a long run. I love exploring different neighborhoods or trails. You get a different perspective on what's around you when you run.

That said I may take some time off while my hip and knee fully heal and hopefully find myself some new shoes. I'm ready to take my training to the next level, but I have to listen to what my body needs. I think fighting it any longer will just result in further (and more serious) injury and a more prolonged break from running.

Any advice on what to do to maintain running shape while injured would be appreciated!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Skunk Cabbage Half Marathon - Race Recap

Running the half marathon was probably the most physically challenging thing I've ever done.

I woke up super early that morning, full of nerves and had my typical pre-run breakfast - a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with half a banana and tons of water. When I arrived at Barton Hall at Cornell about an hour prior to the start of the race, the hall was already filled with people and there was a long line waiting to register.  After I had made it through the line, I tried to mentally prepare myself for the race. I was so nervous, but so ready to just do it.

While I was walking around, stretching out and waiting to line up, I ran into a friend who I had no idea would be there. We figured out that we were both planning to run at a similar pace - about 10 minute miles- so we decided to stick together.

The first portion of the race was through Cornell's campus and then it lead out onto some country roads with beautiful scenery. The first six miles absolutely flew by. My friend and I were chatting the whole time and there were beautiful mountains and fields in the background that helped to distract me from what I was doing. I so often run the same route, that it was really cool to run somewhere completely foreign to me. At that point, we were holding pretty well right under a 10 minute mile pace.

Then at mile 7 the "rolling hills" began. Nothing too bad, but it was also getting more windy, which created an additional challenge.

Then right as we were approaching the end of mile 10, we turned a corner towards a massive hill. It was so steep that halfway up I had to stop to walk to get the top. I had hoped that I would run the whole way, but I don't regret stopping because at that point the length of the run was taking its toll, and my body was really telling me it needed to slow down. I only walked for about a minute and a half before continuing to run.

Up until this point my friend and I had been talking pretty much the whole time, but once mile 11 began, it started to get pretty silent. I think we were both pretty focused on just finishing the last 3 miles. Those were the LONGEST three miles I've ever run. Of course it was partly mental - my longest training run was 10 miles so after that I was in uncharted territory running farther than I had ever run.  Also, I felt very physically weak. I don't know if I "hit the wall" as some runners call it, but I began to feel like every step would have to be my last.

I made to the finish line though, without walking again, in 2:18:01, a time slower than I had hoped, but one that I am extremely proud of.
Crossing the finish line!
Cool things about this race:
  • Set a PDR - personal distance record! yay 13.1 miles
  • Ran the entire way WITHOUT music - this was all conversation (and my breathing and my feet pounding on the pavement). I normally rely so much on music to keep me going, most of the time I would say I can't run without it.
  • Got to know the friend I ran with a lot better - nothing like over two hours of bonding time to form new friendships
  • Spent a beautiful morning exploring areas of Ithaca and nearby that I had never seen
This was such a great experience for me and I learned a lot. I learned to trust my training and have faith in myself and my abilities, I learned how to breakdown mental blocks, I learned that with hard work and dedication to something there are so many possibilities as to what we can accomplish.

post half marathon!

This is such a long post! Thanks for reading:)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Training for my first half marathon

When I decided back in December that I wanted to run a half marathon in April, I knew I would need a little expert advice in devising a training plan that would help me to build up my milage safely. At this point the farthest I had ever run was only 4 miles, so the 13.1 that a half marathon entailed felt a bit ambitious.

I decided to create a training plan through Runner's World, which allows you to input race times and other factors and then produces a somewhat personalized plan based on those variables. My plan was 14 weeks long. It started slowly with just running shorter distances 3 times a week. But those 8-9 mile long runs, even though they didn't start for several weeks, sure seemed daunting on paper.

I decided to just trust the plan and go for it. The nice thing about having a training plan was that it definitely helped to keep me accountable. On days when I didn't want to run, I knew I needed to so I could get an adequate amount of miles in for the week. I didn't follow the plan exactly; I made my own modifications as needed, and there were a few weeks when I was sick and unable to run that threw me off a bit. Doing so much of my training in the winter was really hard too. I hate the treadmill, so the majority of my runs were outside. There were days I ran in 4 degree weather or in the snow, which was crazy and added a whole additional challenge to the run. I did, however, feel pretty hardcore after those runs.

Somehow in those 14 weeks, 5 miles became an easy run, 8 miles not so bad, 10 miles tough, but doable. The farthest I ran before the race was 10 miles. In hindsight I wish that I had run the full distance before the race, but I'll talk about that later when I do a race recap.

For an simple and free training plan, I would totally recommend the Runner's World site. The plans are easy to mold to your schedule, and they provide different types of workouts to help with speed and things like that. Having a well-designed plan is important, especially to prevent injury.

Stay tuned for a recap of the race in my next entry!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I thought I would start out my first blog entry by giving a little bit of my history with running.

In high school I was involved with a number of sports including field hockey, soccer, cheerleading, and even track, so of course running was a regular workout that I had to do with my teams. It was never something I enjoyed though. I always found it very difficult and just thought of it as something I had to do to get better at something else - to be quicker on the field or to have better endurance and stamina.

So once I left for college and was no longer involved in sports teams, I found different ways to stay in shape; I used the elliptical and stationary bikes at the gym and started adding in a strength training regimen. 

When I was home last summer however, my mom suggested we join a group of people who were starting the "Couch to 5K" training program, which is designed to ease people who have never run before towards being able to run a 5K race or about 3 miles. It started off very slowly using short intervals of running and walking to create a strong foundation to build upon. The plan was a little easy for me, but it was also nice to take a step back and build more cardio strength, instead of just trying to push too hard too soon. So we met this group three times a week to complete the workouts and at the end of the summer we ran a 5K race.

After that race I was hooked. I loved the adrenaline and excitement of the crowds cheering as we ran by. It was such a cool and fun experience and I couldn't wait to start training for my next race.

When I returned to school in the fall, my running faltered a bit as I became busy again so I searched for a new race that I could train for and run as a way to keep myself motivated. At the end of the semester I found the perfect one: The Skunk Cabbage Half Marathon, located right here in Ithaca in mid April.

Next time, I'll talk about how I trained for the half marathon and the race itself, which took place last weekend.

Thanks for reading,