Three Days

May 26, 2006

Iontophoresis
The title of a great song by Jane’s Addiction, Three Days will also be part of my plan to completely rid myself of the ghost of this calf problem I have been having. I’ve been trying to ignore it, but it keeps reminding me that it is there. It hasn’t been painful, but it has been hanging out, waiting for the next hard workout, the next long run, the next opportunity to make me question how long I can continue running well before it decides to flare up and sideline me for a week.

I’ve decided to slide all of my workouts three days down the calendar, in hopes of cleaning up the problem for good. The PT made a suggestion about a week ago that backing off the mileage would be helpful in healing, but he was cool with continuing my normal schedule. The treatments I had received seemed to work right up to a point one or two days after the tempo and long run, then my calf flared up again on Monday morning. After massage and treatment, they were good through two easy days, and the steady 12-miler, but then sore and tight again twelve hours later, for no apparent reason. I suggested to the PT on Tuesday that it might all be in my head. He didn’t agree that the pain was in my head, but he agreed that the strange behavior of the symptoms was probably getting to me mentally.

So anyway, the plan is three days of doubles, four and four miles, at an easy pace with a couple of faster miles in there for a reasonable amount of stress. I’ll also be supplementing some strength exercises specifically for the peroneals, dorsiflexors, and the calf area. I haven’t decided yet if I will drop the tempo run this week and catch the long run on Monday, tempo Wednesday, and steady Friday, or if I will tempo Monday, go long on Wednesday, then steady on Sunday, say at 5:50-5:55 pace for 10 miles or so somewhere in San Diego. Not sure yet.

I hope this works. I think it’s worth investing a few easy days to try to clear this off, both for my mental state as well as my physical. It has been extremely tough to go for a hard run and worry the whole time that it might be the one that derails me for another ten days. I could afford one ten day interruption, but the next one would be my fourth in just over two months. Not cool.

Steady

May 24, 2006

Just a short post today about my morning workout. I did 12 averaging 6:12 per mile, just trying to lock into a comfortable but strong pace. I changed it up from last week’s similar workout by dropping the final two hard miles. With a tempo run coming on Friday, I think it amounts to too much. By the end of today’s run, my breathing was just slipping into a shorter rhythm, and my heart rate was about 160, which I think is good for this kind of long effort. According to the GPS, the miles broke down like so:

7:18, 6:20, 6:08, 6:12, 5:52, 6:07, 6:14, 6:01, 6:04, 6:06, 6:04, 5:48

I tend to think some of those are a bit off, because I felt locked in to the effort. This is a standard route, though, so overall it’s accurate. I also tried not to add anything to the last mile, but obviously it happened anyway. It felt easy enough, I guess.

Anyway, good run, and no calf issues on either leg. Easy day tomorrow, then another tempo on Friday. Later.

Air Supply

May 23, 2006

That band should be making a comeback sometime soon. When I was eight, they were on top of the world. The marketing cycle makes all things old new again for purchase, so Air Supply should be coming out with some new material soon. Let’s hope.

On to running. Last week was 10 sessions, 90 miles total. Toward the end of the week, it started to creep in to my legs like old times. Just a bit sluggish the first mile of the run, then loosening up and slipping into gear for the balance. Three of the runs were easy four milers and three were what I would call quality. A 14 mile run averaging 6:17 pace, a six mile tempo averaging 5:40s, and a 5+ mile fartlek averaging 6:17 pace. A good week overall.

This week started off well with a 2:21 20 mile trail run at a state park. It was nice to finally get out and put in a long, steady effort after all of these stupid calf problems. There are lots of small rolling hills out there, so it was a different kind of feeling than I am used to when running on the roads in town. Even at lower heart rates (135-140) I noticed my breathing was similar to patterns I would normally have at 155-160. Interesting.

After the run I was good and tired, and a bit sore. Yesterday was really easy, just a five miler in the morning and two on the mill to keep the blood flowing. I have been having some muscle soreness since the mileage picked up again, so a nearly “off” day of seven miles should help that clear up. I’m planning on two quality workouts this week, probably Wednesday and Friday. One will be another six mile tempo, and I’m not sure what the second will be yet.

Have a good week, everyone.

The legs were sore the last couple of days with a touch of DOMS, so I took a nice easy eight yesterday in about an hour. Compared to the weeks when I was running 100+, when that was my average pace, those runs feel like aimless shuffling. But they do exactly what they are supposed to do. Help you recover.

The soreness was almost completely gone, so I was keyed up for what I planned for this morning. A long tempo slightly faster than marathon pace. Based on the information in Daniels’ Running Formula, I established a goal pace of 5:40 for this workout. This pace corresponds with a VDOT of 65 extrapolated for 35 minutes at tempo pace rather than the typical 20 minute tempo run that is kind of the Daniels baseline. The workout was two mile warmup with a couple of strides, then six miles at 5:40 pace, followed by a two mile cooldown including four strides. The tempo went down like so:

min/mi (maxHR)
5:39 (158) checked the gps a couple of times for pace
5:43 (159) still trying to lock in the pace
5:31 (158) oops. running by feel, feeling good.
5:42 (162) out of the trees, into the wind
5:38 (166) still into the wind
5:39 (166) back in the trees, damage done, breathing 2:2

Overall, this was a good run. I haven’t done tempo runs very frequently (1 other), so I didn’t expect it to feel great, or even good. The effort at the end was more than I wanted, probably due to the low 5:30 at mile three and two miles into the wind trying to hold pace rather than effort.

On the positive side, I know this pace will begin to feel more and more comfortable as I get further into the program. I’m really just getting started and still in ‘base’ mode for a few weeks. I haven’t been doing strides due to the injuries, so I really have no feel for anything faster than 5:30s. In that sense, this run got me pretty excited. I thought it would be more difficult. A run like this could very easily be done once a week along with one to two other quality workouts, provided the recovery is always in the plan.

Ugh. A plan. Sometime. Maybe soon.

Therapy Part Two

May 17, 2006

The last few days have been very good. The injury is completely under control now, if not gone. I was using a heat pack for about 5 minutes prior to heading out the door, but I stopped that yesterday and have had two runs now with no special preparations.

I saw a different therapist yesterday, and even though I was basically symptom free by the time I saw him, I’m still happy I went. He checked out my old shoes, and a pair with 250 miles on, looked at my gait pattern on the treadmill for about ten minutes, examined both of my lower legs through flexion and extension, reviewed my logs, and asked about prior injuries. The appointment was almost two hours, was very thorough, and I left feeling confident that I had a good idea why I had the problems and how to avoid them in the future.

One: no more running 1100-1200 miles in a pair of shoes. Two: no more running exclusively on the treadmill for weeks, let alone months, at a time.

Shoes break down. Simple as that. I can get more miles out of a pair than the average person because I am efficient and I weigh less than 150 pounds, but I’ll probably stick with 700-800 per pair max in the future. I also learned that the treadmill creates a ‘dead spot’ in the stride where your hamstrings and calves don’t pull through the same way as on the road. That, combined with the softness of the treadmill deck can leave you vulnerable to injury when returning to the roads.

I had a good conversation with Fatboy last night about training and racing during the build-up to October 1st. I will probably be doing a half-marathon in mid-August, followed by a 10k the first week of September. Otherwise my training will be sufficiently challenging to keep me from testing my fitness in crappy little 5k somewhere. Eyes on the prize. I know the Lydiard thing about training to race, not training to train…I guess I am training to race, just not for a while.

The converation last night also opened my eyes to the fact that I can train a lot smarter and more efficiently than I have been. I can do a better job of running near my aerobic threshold and recovering properly, rather than just going out and putting in the miles. This morning I set out for 14 with a goal of running the elusive ‘comfortably hard’ pace that Lydiard talks about. I settled in after a couple of miles to an average 6:20 pace, and finished with two 5:40 miles. The final mile had me pushing 170 on the HRM, so I pulled back a bit. Overall a very good run that I felt I could have continued for several more miles (at 6:20 pace!). I think that is the direction I am going. Hopefully I can stay injury free now long enough to make the trip.

Therapy

May 13, 2006

Five miles yesterday easy and eight miles this morning in 50:17. The leg is feeling better, but probably only 90%. I haven’t had any sharp pains in the last few days, but I can tell that if I were to move the right way I could certainly cause them to come back. It’s possible that I could be back to more regular, 10+ miles per day running in another 3-5 days. Good, good, good.

I have definitely lost some fitness, which will take a good week to ten days to get back. The miles this morning felt clunky until the last few, and my heart rate is up by about 10 bpm at marathon pace. I’m not getting the same bounce from the rest this time around. Now I need to stay healthy and get back to the consistency that got me where I am.

I did end up going to see a physical therapist, which unfortunately was a waste of my and her time. And my money. My goal going in to the appointment was to get a firm diagnosis, short-term symptom relief, and long-term strategy for avoiding more problems. What I got was alignment voodoo. I thought I was at a friggin chiropractor. What she didn’t ask was telling. No questions about history, volume, shoes, surfaces, hills, intensity, or previous injuries. The first and only question was, “So your left calf is hurting?”. Assuming it was a prelude to treatment, I went along with various hip rotations, drops, adductor lifts, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouths, and even some fiddling with my shoulders. (!) WTF?

The cause of my left calf problem turned out to be that my right shoulder turns in and restricts my ability to fill the upper lobe of my right lung, which, with every arm swing rotates my left hip outward laterally, reduces the function of my adductors, causing my inner thigh to be weak, and by extension causing my calf muscles to compensate for that weakness.

That’s all fine and well. How is it going to help me run 6, 8, 10, 12 miles today? It’s not. So we get through all that crap, and the appointment is over. Any questions for me? Yeah, I have a ton of questions. Do I have a muscle injury or an achilles injury? What can I do to run on this leg today without pain? Why do I have trigger points up and down my left calf and not my right? What can I do to get rid of them? Is it possible my injury is from a change in volume, surface, intensity, or shoes?

BLAH, BLAH, BLAH! To be continued…

Day 8 : OMFG!

May 11, 2006

Okay, day eight of this calf issue. It’s getting old. Progress is slow, but steady. I was able to make 2.5 miles this morning with some stiffness and a small amount of soreness, but absolutely no sharp pains for the last three days. So the progression of the injury has been like this:

Day 0: 21 miles
Day 1: .5 miles
Day 2: .62 miles (1K! So injured, I converted to metric.)
Day 3: No running
Day 4: No running
Day 5: No running
Day 6: 1 mile
Day 7: 1.5 miles AM :: 1 mile PM
Day 8: 2.5 miles AM :: TBD

This injury stands in marked contrast with the previous calf problem in that the pain was so bad I actually had to stop running completely to get some healing going. At least with the other leg, I only had one day of less than a mile, after which I was able to get right back up to my regular distances within 10 days. I’m not so sure I will be back as quickly this time around.

I’m going to have a physical therapist look at my calf, and possibly get some deep tissue massage on it. While massaging it this morning, I noticed at least two painful knots outside the location of the injury. I’m wondering if these are contributing to the problem. If they are anything like the knots I get in my neck every couple of months, they can’t be good.

Bottom line, the injury is improving. Not as quickly as I would like, of course. But if there were instant gratification of every wish we had, we’d probably all be living in a soulless, me-first, consumerist society, like a bunch of puppets being jerked around by a nepostistic oligarchy.

Is that a Radiohead song?

On the way back

May 9, 2006

I was able to walk and then run a mile this morning with no pain, but I could feel the injury in terms of tightness and some tingling. It’s healing, but it’s definitely still not ready for a lot of stress. I took three full days off of running, which helped, although not as much as I would have liked. Progress is progress.

On to heat, ice, and stretching. Have a good day, everyone.

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Addendum
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So, today I’ve been freaking out about wave one and wave two. Twin Cities is doing a two wave start, where only the first 2000 with a qualifying marathon or half-marathon time qualify for wave one. My friend Paul got thrown into wave two last year, and said it was a pain in the ass, running at six-minute pace, to get through the crowd of penguins he started with. I’m not calling slower runners a pain in the ass by association, so don’t go there. The situation is a pain in the ass. I would imagine a four hour marathon runner wouldn’t enjoy starting up in front of five thousand 2:30 marathon runners either. Elbows and expletives would certainly fly as that guy or gal got trampled.

I don’t know how these big marathons work. The scale isn’t conducive to weaving through the crowd to the front, while pointing out to every stink-eyed observer that, hey, I’m a legit sub-2:40 runner, I just need to get closer to the line. It might not even be possible. How the hell do I know?

So that’s why I’m trying to get into wave one. All I need is to fax proof that I have run a sub-1:46 half-marathon in the last two years. Easy enough, I averaged a half-marathon or better every day most of the winter well faster than 8:06 pace. Of course, training don’t matter. I haven’t run a half-marathon in about three years, and I’m not planning on another until July. Problem is, as soon as they get 2000 people in wave one, it’s closed, and registration is already 90% full. That means there are already 9,450 people ahead of me with a shot at getting their proof in first. Can I afford to wait until July 4th? Probably I can’t. That, of course, means entering another half, and soon. Which means driving to another town, picking up packets, etc., and paying for the privilege of doing a training pace run that somebody else is timing. Proof.

I don’t want to wade through a pack of people the first mile or two of the race, and I defintely don’t want my race or time being affected by the people traffic. Any ideas on how to get an official time by the TCM wave nazis? I already tried talking to them directly. No soup for you! Bring official result! Pay cash! No refund! was the response. Does it really matter to be behind five thousand other runners at the start, given there is a high likelyhood I will pass more than 4900 of them in the first ten minutes of the race?

Ugh. I’m already nervous.

It looks like there were quite a few races run this weekend, and good results were had by all. Congrats to Duncan, Dallen, and Mike, who tuned up with a sublime 10 miler, a tough half-marathon, and a hilly, near-PR 10k, respectively. I am supremely jealous of you all.

My calf problem is progressing along a ballistic trajectory. And that’s no hyperbole! Get it?! Ha! Hyperbole, hyperbola? Nothing? Alright. Anyway, a ballistic trajectory in the sense that it got worse the day after it started, no better the second day, and no better on the third day. Today is day four, and I suspect it is not much better, although I think I am ready to begin the light massage and alternating heat and ice treatments that are recommended after 48 hours of rest. Forty-eight hours? But, it’s been four days. Isn’t that 96 hours? Well, yes, it is. The first two days I was in denial, and trying to do as much as possible without pain. Turns out that is a good way to prevent healing with a muscle strain. I only ran half a mile each day, but I stopped only after getting a single sharp pain. Feel that tingle? That means it’s ripping.

So active rest doesn’t work for strains. Sitting on your ass does. Sitting on my ass is very difficult for me. I picked up a bike trainer at a local sporting goods store and have been doing 25-30 minutes a day on that just to do something. It doesn’t seem to aggravate my calf because I am a terrible cyclist, and I can elevate my heart rate to about 120 spinning away at 90 rpm on my massive 35×17. It’s not much, but I would go nuts if I didn’t do something.

Speaking of nuts, I can only make it about 30 minutes before said nuts get uncomfortable. No, I’m not sitting on them. I’m just not used to the pressure, and it’s tough on the quads so far as well. I’m not getting used to it if I have any say in the matter.

I had a streak going, which I can talk about now that it is over. I don’t get too worked up about streaks because keeping them going can force you to make bad choices, especially if you are on the verge of injury. Anyway, my streak went from about November ninth or tenth of last year to Saturday, May sixth. It was a good long time. I was secretly hoping for a full year. Didn’t happen, but I can feel pretty good about taking a few days off now having that streak and a couple of thousand miles behind me. Not that I want to, but since I have to, it makes it easier. Relatively easier. I am still going crazy reading all of those race reports.

Good news and bad news. The 22 miler turned into a 21 miler, which is fine. And the ten mile progression changed a bit, but probably for the better, into a seven mile (6:30, 6:12, 6:10, 6:09, 5:47, 5:42, 5:51). Unfortunately, I tweaked my other calf early in the run and it held together well enough to finish. A full day later it feels about like the third day of the achilles injury, which is to say moderately painful. The difference this time is it is a much more acute pain that seems to be localized to two different areas of the muscle rather than the achilles.

I’m treating it the same way, with ice, ibuprofen, and active rest. I think racing broke it down some, then a 3-4% hill run on the treadmill on Monday probably pushed it over the cliff. Two runs on Tuesday was the free fall, and 21 miles on Wednesday was slamming into the pavement and making a big dent. I’ve been doing strength and stretching exercises to avoid this very thing happening, but obviously it didn’t work quickly enough. Interestingly, the original bad leg from two weeks ago feels *like Fabio’s freshly waxed chest*.

What?

I managed only half a mile this morning of walking and half a mile of running before I got a big sting and decided to call it off. I’ve iced twice today, and will make it three tonight, and I will stretch lightly again before bed. I expect it will start to clear in one to two more days and then I can get back into calf raises and dorsiflexions to strengthen the whole of my lower legs. This shit has to stop. I’m just glad I have 150 days left to pull things together.

The 21 miler kicked ass though. The lead up was nine miles averaging 7:00 pace, then I met up with Paulie and did the progression. We ended up talking quite a bit during the 6:10s, which was a surprise. They felt pretty easy. The 5:50s were a bit more stressful, but still not bad. I was most happy that my legs felt strong with no cramping, even sitting at work hours later. I had loaded up on Gatorade Endurance Formula the night before, and I think that really helped. I seem to have a big problem with electrolytes, but the GFE takes care of it every time. It’s a bummer that I’m hurt again for the second time in a month, but I can see my way through this one better. Another few days and I’m pretty sure it will be fine. And no more racing for a while. I’ve got nothing left to prove until my half-marathon in July, and I have a long way to go to position myself for TCM.