Thursday, January 10, 2013

Learning by Mistake

I was excited for my season to get under way. I felt going into my fourth year of running (2012) that things were finally dialed in.  Not the case...  I ended up making a few mistakes that essentially cost me the successful season I was hoping for.  I’m here to share a few of those experiences along with some plans to get me back on track.  Apparently I learn through trial and error; not by heeding advice or reading about it.

I finished the 2011 Bear 100 and came away with 19 blisters on my feet.  Yes, you read that right; 19!  I knew that I had to focus on transitioning into a better shoe during the off-season.  Craig has always loved his Altras (known for their wide forefoot, among other things), so I decided to give them a shot.  Since I was moving from a shoe with a 12mm heel-toe ratio to a zero drop shoe, I knew a transitional phase was necessary.  Six weeks into my transition however, I decided to go for a 31 mile adventure run with the crew.  Since I was only up to about 10 miles in my Altra Zero Drop shoes at the time, I decided to run in my old shoe.  This single decision led to a string of mistakes that would eventually see me sidelined for half the year.

The day Mistake #1 happened... w/ Craig, MVH, and Scott

Mistake #1: Switching to my old shoe for an adventure run while transitioning into Altras.
Result: Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

Mistake #2: Ramping up training too quickly upon my return to running.
Result: Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)

To add insult to injury (literally), I ended up getting divorced in the summer.  The emotional effects certainly affected my training, but my living circumstances had much more impact.  I moved out of my place and into my sister’s basement.  I really couldn’t ask to live in a better place as she and her husband are amazing roommates!  However, I don’t feel comfortable invading their privacy, so I rarely venture into the kitchen to cook.  Fast food became my friend again after years of only eating out on occasion.

Mistake #3: Eating less healthy.
Result: Poor energy and less healthy overall.

The good news is I’m on the right track now.  I finished the 2012 Wasatch 100 in my Altra Lone Peaks.  Shoe transition: Check!  I’m working on SLOWLY ramping up my training again.  Injury prevention: Check!  And I’m making healthier food choices by getting creative.  Better energy and health: Check!

Finishing the 2012 Wasatch 100 in my Altra Lone Peaks

In addition, I’ve gone back to my tried & true method of writing out a schedule and recording my results… With a pen & paper.  I didn’t do it at all last year and I caught myself slacking sometimes.  Old school pen & paper is certainly not for everyone though, I get that.  Just something about seeing that number for the day written out really gives me motivation, even if I don’t always follow it exactly.

I don’t mean for any of this to sound like I’m making excuses or pulling out the “poor me” card.  I own up to EVERY ONE of these mistakes.  However, I’ve learned valuable lessons from them, which is why I'm sharing.  Each has helped me gain more experience and aided in pointing me in the right direction for a healthy and successful 2013.

What are some major mistakes that you’ve made in training?  Have you experienced a life altering change that affected your training?  What are you doing to correct your mistakes and move forward in a positive direction?  Leave a comment.  We’d love to hear your stories.


Anonymous said...

Awesome Josh! I am not a runner, but I was also divorced and moved into my sister's basement to re-group. I admire your tenacity and strength. You're a good man and a good friend. Best of luck this season! Take it easy,


Anonymous said...

Great post Josh! I admire you for your tenacity.


Missy B. said...

Nice, Josh! Glad to see you are on the mend. I, too, am working on my transition to Altras! Best to you for 2013.

Emir Dedic said...

Hey Josh,
Can you share a little bit more what you did to heal and prevent ITBS from happening again? Thanks!

Josh Greenwell said...

Sam, I'm sorry to hear that you've gone through the same thing. I appreciate the encouragement though! You're a great friend.

Kaylen, thanks for the support! I gain a lot of motivation from the support and encouragement from friends like you. Now we just need to get you out there bagging some peaks with us. Ha!

Missy, glad to hear you're making the transition too. Best of luck in the upcoming year!

Josh Greenwell said...

Hey Emir,

The main thing to focus on when dealing with ITBS is strengthening. Everything in your legs starts with the hips, so make sure to focus on that area. There are some great exercises you can do with resistance bands. Just look them up on youtube.

I also did some ART (Active Release Therapy) sessions with a specialist. This helps break down the thickening of the IT Band, and also helps stretch it out. Make sure to stretch or foam roll both pre and post workout as well.

Emir Dedic said...

Thanks Josh! I am enjoying your posts and this blog. Keep up the good work.

Over The Hill Runner said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Scott said...

Wait a minute. So you went through all of that and you still finished Wasatch? Sounds to me like there is nothing you cannot do.

Way to keep it real and get back on track. Good luck in 2013.

Over The Hill Runner said...

Good article Josh. I know last year was a tough one for you. This year is going to be much better and probably a banner year for you in a lot of respects. You have your head in the right place and your body is falling in right behind it. I look forward to being a part of your running again this year. It keeps me motivated and focused on keeping in the game as well. Now if I could just keep up with you on a run :-)

Josh Greenwell said...

Dad, I'm also looking forward to more runs with you this year. I'm extremely excited to see how things go for you now that you've got that first hundred under your belt. 2013 will be great!

Scott, thanks for the kind words and perspective. It's easy to get down on oneself when you're going through struggles, but when you step back and see it with fresh eyes, it really gives ya some perspective. Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...


Nice work! Thanks for sharing. Its awesome to see how you take setbacks as an opportunity to grow. Cheers to 2013 and may it be a banner year for you!

Lily said...

Hey josh. I really really enjoyed reading your experiences. You are so not alone in your mistakes an injuries. Most runners make a lot of mistakes that cost them. It's kind of a learning process. We grow from them and get smarter about things as we experience them. I wouldn't trade my treasure chest of running knowledge for anything!

So, for me, 2012 was a total flop and loss. I was super sad all summer long. Summer is the season of running for sure. I wasn't able to do even half of what I had planned. I gave myself shin splints by doing speed workouts at the track. It was horribly painful. However, like I said, I learned something. I learned that I cannot do speed running of any kind of an oval track. I know from the past that I do better doing that on the road or the dreadmill. It totally cost me months of downtime though. So this next year is important to me. Especially the next 6 months. I am currently training for the Boston Marathon, and am again running UVM. I have high hopes for UVM. I usually am at my best June-September. Any running/racing I do in that time frame is usually pretty peaked. I am so excited for this year. My number one priority is avoid an injury of any kind. More slowed down running days. I follow a clean food diet all the time, so I am good to go with that :) Let me know if you want some good ideas. I have a plethra :) I think really highly of you. You are quiet but I think you are very cool. Keep it up. Don't stop running. Life is short, we have to live it up now :)

Lily said...

btw- I have been toying with the idea of transitioning into Altra's at the end of this summer. The thought keeps coming back to me. I think I am going to go for it once I am done racing this year. My volume is already to high and I am in the middle of a training cycle right now or I would consider doing it now.

Josh Greenwell said...

Lily, thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds like we both had a very simiilar 2012 in dealing with injuries. I'd also point out that my number one goal this year to also remain free of injury. I'm an all or nothing type of person, so it's been a real struggle the last month or so to pull back on the reins, but I know in the end it will produce a much more productive year this year.

And thanks for all the nice compliments. I admire your commitment to your training and hope you're able to achieve your goals this year... Especially your goals at UVM! Awesome.

Oh, and by the way... Definitely make the jump into Altras in the off-season. BEST gear choice I've made to date!