Running in weird times

It’s been three months since my last update, and with good reason: there isn’t a lot to share these days!

All the races for 2020 have been cancelled. Even ones that were hanging on to hope that the fall might be more ‘normal’ have now pulled the plug.

Honestly, I’m ok with it, even if I’m sad. I was really looking forward to a big fall race and to the fun of summer training. But I don’t want to dwell on that.

COVID cancellations aside, what have I been up to fitness-wise these last few months?

Well…

Virtual Races and Challenges

I mentioned this in my last update, but it’s still 100% relevant.

To keep things fun and give me something to look forward to, I’ve been doing various virtual races and challenges.

Some are just Strava badges like the Black Lives Matter 1 miler and the Brave Like Gabe 5K.

Others have real medals, like the virtual for Ottawa Race Weekend. I actually just got my 10K medal in the mail and will be doing the distance sometime in the next few weeks.

After cancelling my registration from the spring, I changed my mind and decided to do the 8k virtual Spring Runoff from Canada Running Series. It just felt weird not doing it, after having done the race every year since 2010. I ran that at an easy pace at the end of June.

8k ‘spring runoff’ thanks to Canada Running Series.

I’ve also got a virtual 15K I signed up for from Maritime Race Weekend. There is no deadline for that one, other than ‘do it sometime in 2020’. I plan to run that one in September or October, depending on the weather and if things change with COVID health directives from the city.

Overall, these are fun and a nice way to keep moving even when things feel frustrating.

Everything Peloton

Well, except the actual bike or treadmill, that is.

I mentioned how much I was loving the Peloton app back in my May update and that I was considering paying for it when my 3-month trial was up. Well, surprise! I’m paying for it now.

Even though my gym has reopened as of a week ago, I won’t feel comfortable returning to it for a while. I’m going to really miss the heavy weights and equipment! But Peloton + my treadmill, yoga mat, some bands and small weights = a good home workout setup.

The app has a lot going for it – treadmill workouts, yoga classes, strength training, and even meditation. The workouts are really great and super motivational. They make the time fly by! I haven’t had a single instructor I didn’t enjoy taking classes from, whether live or on-demand. They’re all awesome, with different styles, so no matter what mood you’re in you can find a class that works.

My favourite instructors right now are Becs Gentry, Jess Sims, Chelsea Jackson Roberts and Matty Maggiacomo, but I really do mean it when I say the entire team is awesome. I’ve taken classes with over 20 different instructors, so feel pretty confident saying that. If you’re doing at-home workouts and could use some structure and motivation, give the app a try. They let you test it out for 30 days before committing.

Peloton App
Just one of the 60+ workouts I’ve done with the app so far.

Pilates and Yoga

Even though the studio I was doing online yoga and pilates with closed down in July (which was a total mess that I won’t get into), I’m still doing it on my own.

Yoga is available on the Peloton app, and pilates I’ve been doing from memory for now. I’ll probably seek out some new pilates and movement classes in the fall, assuming studios continue to offer the online/Zoom option.

But… I’ve also got a new injury

Sigh.

So I mentioned back in May that I was planning to do my virtual 10K for Ottawa Race Weekend at the end of the month.

However, I started having some trouble with my right knee/lower leg. That trouble has made me reduce my runs back to 6k or less, primarily doing a run/walk or run/walk/jog pattern to reduce the load.

I’m no stranger to knee troubles – the left one is the one that I injured last year and that I went through the MRI and extensive treatment for. But the right has always been in reasonably good shape… until it felt like I pulled something a few months ago.

Or at least, it felt like I pulled something. My quads were giving me trouble, and my calves were tight and sore most of the time, but especially the day after a run. I was also getting a lot of discomfort and burning sensation in my medial knee (and just above and below it).

As it turns out, there were probably two things going on at the same time:

  • I needed to replace my shoes and
  • I irritated my saphenous nerve, which is a nerve that runs down your medial (inner) leg.

The shoes had only about 450km on them, but I was getting way more soreness after a run than is normal for me. Even after a 20-minute run and a light bodyweight workout, I’d wake up the next morning with my legs feeling like I’d raced a half marathon. Super unusual.

While I don’t usually blame my shoes for leg pain and discomfort, in this specific case it did indeed seem to be the shoes. After a bit of a chat with my physio, we concluded it was worth trying some new ones, so off I went to try and find something in my size. That was a bit of a challenge as the pandemic has made the normal supply of most things fitness hard to come by!

Luckily, I managed to find something at The Runners Shop. I traded in my much loved New Balance 880s for some Saucony Rides and have been loving them, and the really bad soreness issue has gone away.

Saucony Ride 13
Dusty pink wouldn’t normally be my first choice of color, but I do like these!

As for the nerve irritation, that took a few extra weeks to figure out. After it didn’t clear up with some other exercises and modifications my physio realized that it was likely my saphenous nerve. I hadn’t even considered that as a possibility! But after just one treatment my leg is feeling much better, and I’m looking forward to returning to a bit longer runs soon.

Shout out to Bojan at The Runner’s Academy for helping me out! He always gets to the bottom of whatever weird injury I’ve managed to get this time.

So… what’s next?

Honestly, I don’t expect to be doing any in-person races for the next year or more. Unless things change drastically! But even our public health officials have said to expect to have physical distancing and masks for the next 2 or 3 years. We’re still learning to deal with COVID-19 and how to best treat and prevent it.

So: I don’t know what’s next! For now, I’m just doing the handful of virtual races and challenges I’m signed up for and having fun. I don’t plan to stop working out or running. But there won’t be races to talk about or fitness+travel trips for the foreseeable future. That’s all on hold.

I’ll continue to update here on occasion, and will certainly post about how my virtual races go.