Thursday, September 26, 2013

Training Update (Week 6) and Dr. Scholl's Active Series Insoles Review

So here we are already in Week 6 of my abbreviated 8 Week training schedule for this little number!
My how the time flies.  And I'm not just talking about the past 6 weeks.  Where, might I ask, did the summer go? And for that matter, the first 9 months of this year?!  I have no idea how I ended up in Fall already, but I'm not too pleased.  I mean the downward spiral of our daily high temps has already started and it only gets worse from here.  Fast forward me to Christmas for 1 day, and then straight to Memorial Day pleeeeeease. 
Ok enough rambling.  So going into training for this race I was concerned with how my legs would hold up, namely the periostitis and tendinitis in my lower legs that started to resurface after April's Nike Women's Marathon in DC.  I was therefore also concerned with getting my mileage up in time for this race, since I had started later than I would have ideally wanted.  I'm happy to report that I am feeling pretty good and I was able to get my mileage up pretty quickly.  My running workouts for the past 5 weeks have looked like this:
Week 1 - Two short runs of 3 mi each; One 5 mi long run
Week 2 - Two short runs of 3 mi each; One 6 mi long run
Week 3 - Two short runs of 3-4 mi each; One 7 mi long run (at the beach, on vacation I might add!)
Week 4 - Two short runs of 3-4 mi each; One 9 mi long run
Week 5 - Two short runs of 3-4 mi each; One 11 mi long run
Week 6 - Two short runs of 3-4 mi each; Long run TBD this weekend
Week 7 - TBD
Week 8 - TBD
On non-running days I continue to cross train with any/all of the following: 
At-home circuits/HIIT/WOD (via Pinterest - you can follow my board here)
Interval biking workout (gym)
Weight lifting (gym)
Swimming (gym)
Walking (outside)
Monthly challenge (100 crunches/day for September)
I usually take a rest day each week as well. 
When I hit that 11 mi run last Friday, I started to feel a lot better about the race.  I have two long runs left before I taper in Week 9 leading up to race date on Oct 20th.  One thing that has really been helping with the long runs lately (though I loathe to admit it) is the cooler temps.  Fall is the season runners across the US rejoice because suddenly we're FASTER!  How does that happen?!  One day you're running in 90 degrees feeling like death, and then a few weeks later it's 65 degrees and you swear you are actually flying.  Either that or you suddenly inherited Usain Bolt's legs. 
So, I was feeling pretty peachy about the race, until I spoke to someone who ran the RW Half last year and said it was her hardest race to date because of the hills!  And I quote: "It was 9 miles of hills. I cried."  Um, EXCUSE me, what was that?!  Oh boy.  Well, despite hearing that little gem of information, I'm actually trying not to think about it.  I will approach the race like every other half marathon and just get out there and run my best! Sure, it might be slower, but it will be a challenge and I will embrace it.  At some point, I would like a half marathon PR below 2:00:00 (my fastest thus far was 2:01) but I think I will have to choose a flatter course.  I know 2 people who ran the Philly Rock N Roll Half a couple of weeks ago, and they both PR'ed saying the course was fast and flat.  So perhaps that will be on the docket for next year!
One other thing I wanted to cover in this post was a review of the insoles I have been trying out for the past 5 weeks.  These guys:

I liked them immediately, but wanted to give them several weeks of wear before I did a write-up on here.  As you know, I've been trying many different things to alleviate my stress injuries that seem to crop back up every now and then, and it was only recently that I thought my insoles might need looking at.  I have historically never bought separate insoles to put in my running shoes.  I simply use the ones that come with the shoe, although I know many people swear by separate or even custom insoles with each new shoe purchase.  There were 2 things that led me to believe perhaps I should give insoles a try.
First, I attended a nutrition clinic at Road Runner Sports in Columbia, MD earlier this summer and tried out their Shoe Dog fit service.  I always knew I had high arches but they told me I had extremely high arches (is there a difference?!) that required more support.  As part of their no-obligation Shoe Dog service, they created a pair of custom-molded insoles for me while I shopped around.  I didn't end up buying them because they were $80 but it was good information to know!
Secondly, when I was visiting my sister in Atlanta in August, we went on nightly walks (I didn't run during that trip because my legs has just started bothering me and I wanted to give them a few weeks' rest before I dove into training).  She had an old pair of insoles that she used when she did a 3 day/60 mile walk for breast cancer a few years ago.  But even using those old insoles and just walking, I could tell a difference in my legs. 

So upon returning, I decided to research insoles and see if there was something within my budget that might help.  I've heard good things about Superfeet insoles before, but they are also currently beyond my budget.  So after seeing several TV commercials for the Dr. Scholl's Active Series I decided to give them a try.  At $19.95, they were affordable, and I have to say I have really seen a difference in the way my legs feel after using them for the past 5 weeks.  The arch support is much better than the flat insoles that came in my Nike's and there is added cushioning zones in the heel and forefront.  If you are suffering from shin or knee pain, I would definitely recommend giving these insoles a try, if you are not ready to spring for custom insoles yet.   

I do continue to run in my ProCompression socks as well as ice my legs after each run.  I also am trying to imitate the Graston therapy I had in PT last year.  If you are not familiar with this, look it up.  A physical therapist uses plastic or metal instruments to scrape at scar tissue that is lurking beneath the skin's surface.  Sounds medieval and painful, right?  Well, it is!!  But apparently, I have a lot of soft tissue adhesions in my lower legs and they need to be broken up or they will continue to cause pain, so I've taken to massaging them with my hands or my Marathon Stick after each run:
Wow, this post turned out to be a lot longer than I had planned! I didn't mean to bore you with my training thus far, but if you are interested in or have any questions about the products I talked about here please let me know.  They are all things I purchased on my own, use regularly, and have found helpful.  Also, if you are currently suffering from any injuries and PT is in your future, beware the Graston treatment! 
Your turn!
Are you training for any fall races?  How is it going?
Do you use insoles in your running shoes, or do you just wear them as is?  Do you know what kind of arches you have??


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