Thursday, March 8, 2012

My Last Run and My First Spin Classes

Well, I hope it's not my last run in an absolute sense!

Before I get to the meat of this post, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who sent me advice, condolences and empathy. I can't believe how many of you have experienced the same back problem. I've got another post queued up where I'll share some of the advice I got and some helpful links. For now, I'll just say....take care of your low back, especially those of you who are, have been or will be pregnant!

The last run I went on, on Monday before Tuesday's interdiction on running, was great. Normally I do hard stuff on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but the PT appointment on Tuesday was at 7 a.m. and I knew it would be hard to do a long hard speed workout, shower, eat a decent breakfast and still make that on time. On the surface front of my mind, I planned to run after the appointment. But a nagging little voice deeper down was already whispering that it might not happen that way.

So my fartlek workout--7 two-minute intervals at 10K pace with one minute rest in between--was accomplished on Monday. After a two-mile warm-up followed by some stupid fumbling with the Garmin and my new iPod Touch, I finally got in a groove. My paces for the seven intervals were: 8:23, 8:23, 8:16, 8:22, 8:16, 8:08 and 8:05. The total distance was six miles. None of that will set any records, of course, but after the nasty cold and the UTI it felt good to do something hard and still feel strong.

You already know about Tuesday's news and the sad 40 minutes on the bike at the gym.

Yesterday and today, I woke up to my new routine. All spin class/bike, all the time. The spin class I attend is at 6 a.m. on Monday/Wednesday/Friday and 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday/Thursday. Yesterday's class was fun: the instructor, Sheila, had us in a circle and made us all say our names. During the class, if your name was called, you had to sprint by yourself for 15 seconds while the rest of the class watched. I got called on three times despite my weird name! And today's class, taught by Terri, was also great--lots of "hill" work, sprints, good music. I'm not allowed to stand up or jump, but when everyone else did those things I ratcheted up the "road" to a good leg-burning equivalent.

I'm no stranger to spin class. It's been the Monday morning workout in all three of the plans Greg McMillan has written for me, and before that it was my cross-training of choice under the Run Less Run Faster plan. But I admit I haven't always poured myself into it with the same passion I put into running. That's changed now. I wore the Garmin and kept an eye on my heart rate, making sure it was at or higher than the recommended 120 beats-per-minute threshold for as much of the class as possible. I ignored most of the "recovery" segments. My plan is to lose as little as possible of the hard-earned running fitness that showed itself in Monday's fartlek workout.

Between the climbs and the sprints, I had much less trouble keeping the heart rate up in spin class than I'd had alone on the bike on Tuesday. The one worry I have is that these 45-minute spin classes are too short. At next Tuesday's PT appointment I'm going to see if there's any way I can supplement with something weight-bearing, like hill walking for 30 minutes on my break at work.

Last night I started reading a book I won last fall from Erin of See Mom Run Far, Meb Keflezighi's Run to Overcome. Meb, who I saw win the Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston two months ago, really did overcome a lot to get there. I skipped ahead to the chapter about the pelvic stress fracture that forced him onto a bike and into a pool for several weeks after a disappointing performance in the 2008 Olympic Trials. His coach, Bob Larsen, wrote:

There were a lot of blows for Meb when you add it all up. Here's someone who was running as well as ever till he got sick 10 days or so before the [2008] trials marathon....The second blow is he comes back, tries to get in shape, realizes something is wrong, that it's pretty serious and it's going to take quite a bit of time and effort to overcome.
If you're guaranteed a gold medal, sure, you'd go through all of that. But there's no guarantee with this thing. You're doing it all on blind faith that you're going to come out okay. You've got to have a lot of faith in yourself....

Meb's a great example for me right now. I can still see him sitting up there, the winner of his race, having been through far worse than what I'm dealing with. I want to win my race too. I want to wear my own private laurel wreath. Sitting there on that bike, I see that Boston Marathon unicorn with every sprint, with every tick of the heart rate monitor.


  1. Had to go back and read Tues. post since I missed it. So sorry you are on the DL right now! Spinning will be a great substitute and it's great that you are embracing it. I know 6 weeks seems like forever right now, but take it from someone who has been through much longer lay-offs--in the end, it will be a blip on the screen in your running career. Boston will be yours!

  2. Sounds like a great book to be reading right now for you. I think Meb is awesome, and his success after so many challenges is just awe inspiring. Keep believing in yourself, Terzah. We all believe in you too! 

  3. I hope you heal quickly and that this is just a minor blip on the way to Boston.

  4. Damn woman, that's a lot of spinning! 

  5. glad you had a good run and felt strong on Monday.  You are tough and
    determined - since you are keeping up on the cardio you'll come back
    stronger than ever!

    love this quote - thank YOU for posting "You're doing it all on blind faith that you're going to come out okay."

  6. BostonboundbrunetteMarch 8, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Spin is a still a great workout. I wasn't even able to do that when I first found out about my injury!  I was on the darn stationary bike for weeks and I hate that thing now!  I tried a 3 mile run today at a very slow pace to see what happens.  I hope I don't end up where I started!  Hang in there.

  7. Just think what it will feel like to run again after this break - mental dessert!! I know you'll pour yourself into the spinning and come out of it much stronger!  Darn it, why didn't this happen in cold, yucky February??? ;)

  8. lovin your positive attitude! And i agree with whoever (Tara?) maybe we will see you out there doing a tri with us! :)

  9. I would freak out if a spin instructor called my name! Actually, I might cry. Absolutely terrifying :)

  10. you have the best attitude. I admire that.  no poor me, this sucks...keep your mind and your eyes on the main goal...that is the best way to go...

  11. trying to get caught up my blog reading. i will need to read your back pain posting next. sorry about the pain. i get it every now and then. my wife seems to find the right spot each time massage the pain away for me though.

    oh, you know, i had fun reading a post on the social/cultural/political life of the greater Boulder, Co. area you wrote a few weeks back. enjoyed your take on it. i have been to Boulder 3-4 times over the last 20 years. really love that area, but it has changed so much since i first checked out the Campus back in my mid 20's. fun place. if i lived there today - i would probably feel many of the same things you do today. fun. 

    thanks for your comments on my blog - always appreciated!

  12. Meb's a huge inspiration to me also.  My comeback has been pretty much in the toilet and I'm learning that what once worked no longer does.  It's taken awhile to figure out WHAT to do, but I think the pieces are finally coming together.  I hope you're able to do some hill walking to keep those glute muscles nice and strong. Nice job in the spin class, girl!!  Sending you big hugs!

  13. Love Meb, what an inspiration he is.  I read an article in Runner's World about him and his injury and how hard he tried to overcome it.  He was actually down in the Springs for awhile getting worked on.  Love him. And loved watching his comeback!  We will see your comeback too girl....hang in there 

    Man, you had a nice run.  I know it is really hard to feel like you are "there" with your running and then have to take a step frustrating.  Just try and enjoy the bike and use and abuse it while you can, you'll be back to running soon!

  14. Wow- such a strong run before all this bad news!  I've been taking my spinning classes much more seriously too.  Most of them are also 45 minutes, but on Wednesday evenings there is a 75 minute one that I've been going to, and I love having a little more time to imitate a longer run.  It's not the same, but it's something!

  15. Hi Laura--

    After seeing your comment, I checked a whole bunch of gyms around here, but alas no spin classes longer than 60 minutes (and those are at inconvenient times). So I'm going to stick w/ 45-minute ones every weekday and a long outdoor ride on the weekends. I'm really really scared of losing my fitness for running, I must admit. Reading about everyone's great runs in the beautiful weather didn't help today. My back isn't appreciably better, but as my husband pointed out it's only been five days since I started wearing the belt. Fingers are crossed!

    I hope you are feeling better too!


  16. Your spin classes sound scary! I look forward to hearing about that book when you finish it!