A Glimmer of Hope (and a recipe!)

I finally posted yesterday about what the heck has been going on after being MIA for a few weeks. I think I was putting off posting because I was afraid to talk about my dumb Achilles (among my other aches and pains) for fear that they would become a reality. Like if I didn’t talk about it, it wasn’t actually happening. I’m excited to report that yesterday afternoon, I had a pain-free marathon paced run! Wooohooo!

I get my workouts from my coach every two weeks, but we’ve been in contact daily to tweak them based on what happened with the previous workout and my injury status. For example, the weekend where I ran 18 miles, I had a track workout scheduled for the following Tuesday (only one recovery day in between the two). Since my crew and I ran faster than anticipated for the 18, my coach modified the track workout to a general aerobic run, especially because of my achy Achilles. That’s what I am really enjoying about having a coach. Before, if the plan said track workout, well, I best get in that track workout. Now, I have someone telling me when to back off and when to push and I really, really love it.

Yesterday’s run was supposed to be 8 miles, 7-7:15 pace. Certainly not an easy task when I’m running solo, but also not impossible as long I was feeling okay. Since I try to follow a mostly Paleo diet, I’ve been finding that sweet potatoes before a run work pretty well for me. I’ve been eating them for breakfast before my long run and they seem to give me a good energy boost without bothering my stomach. Oh, and it’s an easy, welcomed addition to my diet because I love them. Knowing I was going to try to hold a faster pace, I decided to pack one as my afternoon snack at work.

I had a few options as to where I could go to complete the run, but they were somewhat limited since there’s a little coating of snow/ice in our area.There’s a local trail that I really love, but it isn’t necessarily the best place to run if speed is my focus for the day. The surrounding roads, however, are perfect. They are usually well cared for when the weather is poor. Gently rolling terrain with gradual climbs and descents, and only one or two relatively steep hills in the middle of the run. I still park at the trail head since it’s only about 10 minutes from my house (on the other side of a huge mountain, or I’d just run there!), so it’s also very convenient. I knew there would be some snow on the trail anyway and didn’t want to worry about it messing with my pace, so I hit the streets for this one.

IMG_8043As I headed out of the parking lot, I told myself to start slow to warm up. Don’t look down at my watch, just let my legs do their thing and warm up at whatever pace felt good. I didn’t care if my first mile wasn’t in my designated range. I figured I could do this as a progression run and still hit that 7:15 average. I looked down as I neared the one mile mark and saw…6:53? Was my watch broken? I was cool with being out of my pace zone, but wasn’t expecting to be under the faster end of it. I ended up averaging half of the miles in the 6:45 range and the other half in the 6:50 range – with an overall pace of 6:49. It didn’t feel “effortless”, but I just felt great. FINALLY! Best of all…no aches and pains to whine about! I have no idea if I could even repeat that performance if I tried. Did that even really happen yesterday or did I imagine it?

This morning, I got up and went for a super short swim. Today is a rest day from running, and my coach said I could swim about 1500 meters (usually I swim 3000 + meters in a workout), and to do some core/strength work. My gym and physical therapist are conveniently located in the same building so I got up, hit the pool and made it in time for my 6:30 am PT appointment. My legs were totally dead when I was swimming – it felt like I was lugging around dead weight! Anytime I did a set using a pull-buoy (a foam buoy that goes between your legs to prevent you from kicking, just focusing on using your arms to “pull”) felt like a rest because I didn’t have to make my stiff legs try to work. The routine I have going on at physical therapy is pretty simple, yet effective: the therapist warms up the achy region, does some ultrasound on it, then some Graston and massage, and then I stretch it out. The Graston makes it a little sore, but I can really feel it working to break up whatever was causing pain. I am hoping that I’ll be released from PT by the end of next week. If I can get through my long run and recovery runs with no pain, I’ll feel a lot more confident.

After my run yesterday, I made my favorite weeknight dinner – a Honey Mustard Chicken dish that requires little prep and just enough time in the oven that you can get a few things done (for me, that’s usually some core work and packing my stuff for the next day). It’s a great post run treat, and I served it up with some glazed carrots. I haven’t shared a recipe in awhile, so here it is!

IMG_8048Honey Mustard Chicken
Serves 4-6 

  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard (preferably something organic and with only a few ingredients to keep it as Paleo as possible, but if that isn’t a concern for you – any mustard would really do nicely!)
  • 1/3 cup raw honey (or whatever honey you have on hand)
  • Salt (I like the pink Himalayan stuff or sea salt, but use whatever you prefer)
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2-3 lbs of bone-in chicken thighs (I’ve also used split chicken breasts, legs, etc.)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place the chicken in a large casserole dish. I like to use a 9×13 glass Pyrex, but you can use whatever will fit it. It’s fine if they are a little squished. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the chicken.
  3. In a bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the Dijon, honey, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Pour over the chicken. Top with the two sprigs of rosemary, and bake for about 45 minutes or until your chicken is 175 degrees on a meat thermometer. Sprinkle with a little more fresh ground pepper when it comes out of the oven. Try not to eat the entire tray 🙂

There’s some snow in the forecast for the weekend but I have a 22 miler on the schedule for Sunday. Hoping the snow doesn’t mess that up, but excited for some accumulation. Such a love/hate relationship with it this winter. I did make it out to buy some brand new yak tracks so hopefully if I have to run in the snow, it won’t jack up my body too badly.

What are your weekend running plans? How do you handle running in inclement weather? Are you battling any injuries right now?

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11 Replies to “A Glimmer of Hope (and a recipe!)”

  1. PT seems to be doing a lot of good for you – hope it works for me too! I’m so happy your run went so well 😀 Um, and can I just take a minute to point out your finishing sprint pace?! 3:06?!?! I mean, I know that’s just for the last 0.01 but that’s crazy lightning speed in my book! Congrats! Wishing you many many more good pain-free runs coming up!!

    1. oh also, sweet potatoes are my go-to pre-run food as well – for morning runs at least! So yummy and very easy on the tummy, I agree 🙂

      1. Yes! I am loving the sweet potatoes! A couple of my high school cross country runner girls do that and I also noticed in your posts that you do sweet potatoes before he runs so I figured I wasn’t crazy and thinking I should try it too. I’m excited to hear about what you think of PT! And I don’t know about that sprint pace LOL – maybe my watch malfunctioned or something! That’s my only explanation for yesterday’s run!

  2. Woohoo!!! This is great news!!! I’m sooooo happy to hear about any of us running strong and pain-free right now. Hopefully this is the start of everyone getting back on track. Nice run and amazing job Allison! 🙂

  3. That’s awesome news! Your times are so impressive. And that chicken dish – I’m wondering if you’ve ever tried it in a crockpot? My new gym opened at the start of the month and has a 50 m pool. It was my first time ever swimming in a 50 and it’s so nice but no lap timer (at least that I can see without my glasses).

    1. Hmm, I don’t see why you can’t do that in the crock pot – it does make a lot of juice from the fat on the chicken so I don’t even think you’d need to add any broth or anything like that! Let me know if you try it! My pool is a 25 m pool – I’ve never swam in a 50 m pool! Does it feel like it took forever until you hit the wall? I know even when I swim in a 25 yard pool and then go back to my gym’s meter pool, I feel like the meter pool is so much longer (even though it’s really just a few feet). I can’t imagine a 50 m pool. That is awesome!!!

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