Mile Markers: The Little Things

Mile Markers: The Little Things

As a running coach, I always preach to my athletes the importance of paying attention to the little things. I pay attention to some of the little things myself – nutrition, mobility work, core work – but this week served as a reminder to me how much a difference stretching actually does make. 

Mile Markers: The Little Things

All the stretching, foam rolling, trigger point releasing and icing is already paying off. My plantar fasciitis felt significantly better this week. Before, I would experience a tightness in my heel in the middle of the work day, particularly after a longer or harder run, but this week I had very little tightness. Plus, all the foam rolling and stretching left me feeling so good that I ran 35 miles this week with two hard workouts – my highest mileage week since February! 

Monday: 7 mile fartlek run & 40 minutes strength training

I didn’t want to dive right back into harder speedwork with my foot, so I opted for one of my favorite fartlek workouts – a pyramid of 1-2-3-2-1-2-3 minutes hard with equal recovery time in between. My paces ranged around 6:28-6:45/mile (according to my Garmin data afterwards) but felt really freaking hard. I’m glad I focused on effort rather than pace, because wind and humidity add in some extra challenge to the workout as well. 

Mile Markers

I enjoy doubling up on hard workouts on Monday since currently Tuesdays are an active recovery day. I ran in the morning and then a strength workout that included kettlebell swings, planks, single leg deadlifts, lunges, elevated plank rows, and some other exercises. I keep a list of strength training exercises on Evernote and pick 8-10 each Monday based on my mood. 

Tuesday: 35 minutes Pilates

The Pilatesology workout is titled “Ring of Fire,” which is appropriate. My core was burning by the halfway point. After the previous day’s harder workouts, the low impact of Pilates felt good – even if my muscles were shaking throughout! 

 Wednesday: 7 mile run 

I ran with Ollie again and each week he behaves better on the run. The run itself is a reward for him for the good behavior and he is learning that the better he behaves, the farther we go on the run. On the downside, rain poured down on us during the entire hour and we were both drenched at the end. 

This photo isn’t from Wednesday’s run (it’s from a Saturday run), but I really appreciate how mellow Ollie is after a run. I suppose he resembles me a bit in that sense: jittery with energy and unable to focus without a regular run. 

Mile Markers

Thursday: 5 miles easy & 40 minutes strength training

This run was overall easy, but the hills on it were rough. One of my routes features a hill that doesn’t look nasty on my Strava chart but always feels brutal when you’re running up it (actually, it features two of those hills, but one of them is longer and worse!). That hill felt so hard on this run.

Mile Markers: The Little Things

Thursday’s are the days I focus on core, back, hips, and glutes. Unlike Monday’s workout, I really enjoy the routine I have for Thursdays and do the same one each week, with just a few variations. 

2 x 20 cable rows
2 x 20 banded squats
2 x 20 resistance band flys
2 x 20 lateral band walks 
2 x 20 clamshells per leg
2 x bridge matrix: 15 banded bridges, 15 raised bridge hip pulses, 15 raised bridge leg pulses, 15 single leg bridges per leg
2 x 15 side plank with knee-ins
2 x 5-8 full push ups with cross-body mountain climbers 
Short Pilates routine (Hundred, roll up, roll over, leg circles, rolling like a ball, series of 5, spine stretch forward, and teasers)

Mile Markers

I’m obsessed with my new Pilates mat, because it’s a proper Pilates mat – not a thin yoga one. It’s thick and cushioned but not plush and it has handles for harder inversion moves. 

Friday: 9 miles with last 2 miles hard

Hills make you stronger, right? I almost did this workout on a flat route, but I opted for the hillier route to make it more of a challenge (and for the sake of time, since the hilly route is much closer).  Based on my route, the first hard mile would include 100 feet of climbing – which was honestly, a bit intimidating to climb a giant hill and do so at tempo effort or harder. 

Mile Markers: The Little Things

 

My uphill mile clocked in at 7:48/mile. By the end of the second hard mile, my breathing was significantly labored and the effort felt how I would imagine the final mile of a 10K race. I finished the final mile in 7:11/mile and then walked around until I could steady my breathing. This run left me feeling as tired as a 16 mile long run would! 

Saturday: 7 mile run 

Ryan, Ollie, and I ran 7 miles along the river, which means training practice for all of us since Ollie wants to chase every single duck, goose, heron, and other water fowl. Charlie stayed at home since 6 miles is his current maximum and he does not like running in the rain. 

I am so proud of Ryan: he asked that we do this 7 mile run at “an easy effort” (which of course was fine by me) and then he averaged an 8:57/mile pace for a light, conversational effort. He’s going to run his first half in the fall and I really think a sub-2 hour half is within his reach – especially since he’s still in the base phase of training! 

The effect of increased mileage piled up on me this week and I was hungry all day long. I was craving a salad the size of my face for lunch, so after going furniture shopping, we tried a local cafe in downtown Bothell. Ryan got a smoked salmon salad and I had a chicken fajita salad that came with a generous serving of avocado, and we split a Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA. 

Mile Markers: The Little Things

Sunday: Rest Day

We had every intention of going snowboarding, but we decided to skip it. I think we’re both just ready for spring weather and not more snow, even though there’s still over a hundred inches of snow in the passes. I’m ready for (snow-free) hiking! Instead of doing anything adventurous, we went furniture shopping and watched the Great British Bake Off on Netflix. 

What “little things” make a difference for you in running?
How was your week in running?

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16 Responses

  1. Im so glad the stretching and everything else is helping and you had a good week! I am working on a plan to address this foot issue once and for all, and it will definitely involve doing all the little things even if that means sacrificing other workouts. I remember when I had PF a really long time ago it was always the worst if I would run or work out in the morning, and then sit for awhile, it would hurt when I stood up. Nice job with the mileage and workouts this week!

  2. The little things do indeed build up to larger things. Yay for things working right! Yesterday was gorgeous here. I actually wanted to go snowboarding but wasn’t so sure that was a good idea with my ankle situation. Oh well, we went to the beach instead!

  3. You said it – it’s all the little things but they are really the core of training since injury prevention (at least for me) is key! I stretch and roll almost every night after the boys are in bed and it makes a huge difference in how my body feels before bed. I don’t WANT to do it most nights but I know I will feel better (and be better) if I do!

  4. Speaking of little things that make a difference, I am back to lacrosse ball massaging every morning. If nothing else, it feels good! I have to do my activations as well, and I can’t just bullshit them. I think that yoga is causing me to overstretch a bit, so I am holding of on that for the moment, but trying to do the same stretches on a much less structured (flowy) way. I really need some pilates in my life!

    1. YES to Pilates! It stretches out well (although I now add in downward dogs at the end for my calves) while still maintaining some stiffness. Go try a Pilatesology or Pilates Anytime free trial!

  5. I’m glad your PF is improving and you were able to do some workouts- it looks like a solid week too. I agree that little things make the difference like foam rolling, stretching, and PT exercises (even if you’re “done” with PT, sometimes it helps to do the exercises if you feel a niggle, so things don’t come back).

    1. Thank you! I have to find ways to sneak in those PT exercises, like the towel scrunches with my feet, so that they become part of a morning or evening routine – otherwise they are easy to skip.

  6. I know I should stretch more but am often guilty of skipping it. I have been better about rolling though as this marathon season has gotten on and am working much harder on getting to bed early. Glad you are getting a little relief from your plantar fasciitis

  7. I’m so glad your PF is settling down. Why is it that hills are never accurately captured in photos? I climb this INSANE hill near our house (it’s actually the road-side of Sumas/Eagle mountain!) and I used to take photos at the top until I realized that none of them did that climb justice. So I stopped taking photos. It’s not fair! How am I supposed to brag about it?

    1. Thank you! And that’s not even the photo of the hill. I once tried to take a picture of THE hill and it looked like a speed bump. Running up a mountain is totally insane! That puts my little 100-foot hill to shame 🙂

  8. The little thing I am guilty of skipping recently is mobility warm ups. I am generally good about doing them for strength workouts, but for some reason it just seems like so much more trouble to warm up before a run…

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