An easy 6

After heading home from work on Monday, I went straight to my laptop and logged in. With 2 competing issues hampering my running, I’m determined to work on some weaknesses and beat the rash of health-related problems plaguing me.

But it’s a process. For one, I need to build up my core muscles to address some muscle imbalances in my abs. And while I was pretty positive I am also dealing with sciatic nerve issues, I’ve also found another area that is often mistaken for the sciatic nerve: piriformis syndrome.

Piriformis syndrome frequently is misdiagnosed, and physical therapy is often the cure recommended. I’m a bit more stubborn and want to try fixing it on my own.

So, after logging into my computer, I started looking up articles and videos for exercises to strengthen the abdominal muscles and address piriformis (some of the exercises are mutually beneficial).

The best part is the exercises aren’t difficult. Remembering to do them, and taking the time to perform them, is the bigger issue.

Today, I headed over to the weight room again and did some leg extensions and curls. Both exercises help stretch out my legs, and afterward I ran an easy 6 miles on the track. My time isn’t relevant, but it went well: I was a little surprised the workout went so quickly. I didn’t use a watch, and counted laps in my head, but it was a nice way to spend lunch.

On a different note, a friend who ran a marathon April 28 and is preparing to run the Minneapolis Marathon asked how I’d go about workouts with just 5 weeks between races. Here’s what I wrote, and I’m sharing just in case anyone is considers running Grandma’s Marathon – 4 weeks after the Fargo Marathon.

If it were me, I’d lay out my longest runs like this (assuming they are on Saturdays):
May 12 – 14 miles
May 19 – 16-18 miles
May 26 – 12 miles
June 3 – race day

And, I’d continue the frequency of running during the week, but make all the runs easy this week unless you’re feeling really good. If my body was feeling, I’d throw in some repeats and higher intensity work, keeping the mileage on the lower end but remembering the speed work as the most important element (for instance, the speedwork would probably by 3-4 reps of fast miles, with 400 meters of recovery jogging between them) once or twice a week.

The idea is this: You have the endurance base, but you probably want to focus on longer speed work to build leg turnover. After you do the longest run on the 19th, I’d still focus on a couple fast days each of the last 2 weeks, but keep the mileage on the lower end.

Remember, you won’t gain fitness within 10 days of the marathon, so you want to do what you can between now and May 23 for building speed, and then just enough to stay sharp after that until race day.

In 2009, I ran the Fargo and Grandma’s Marathon, and at the time they were 6 weeks apart. Last year, I ran Fargo, Minneapolis and Grandmas in a span of 29 days, and each one was faster than the previous marathon. I had built my endurance base, and the speed came from racing so that by the time I reached Grandma’s, I just missed a PR by 13 seconds. It was a surprise, but I worked hard at developing speed in May and early June.

Of course, each person is different, and recovers differently. Before my recent health problems, I recover very fast and I’ve never had knee, IT band or plantar fasciitis problems. If you recover fast from Brainerd, I’d try doing some speed work and stretch out the longer runs on weekends, even if it means skipping an easy day or 2 for extra recovery, so that you’re building fitness with the most important workouts. The light stuff is just maintenance, so focus on the harder workouts without overdoing it.

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