Posts Tagged ‘foam roller’

Back To It

I didn’t run a single step between November 17th and December 1st. I walked some, I might have dashed across a cross-walk, but no running for the joy of running. Late in those two sedentary weeks, my body felt bloated and my mind felt cluttered. It was driving me slowly insane not to feel confident enough to go for a run. I never quite grasp how important running is for my mental health until I have to go an extended period without it.

This Monday past, I packed my green gym bag with a technical shirt, sports bra, running pants, socks and shoes for the first time in a long time and committed to starting my plan to get faster.

I am going back to the beginning, back to where I started. Couch to 5k. When I started running in April of 2010, it was in the basement of the parking deck of my office. I was too embarrassed to be seen doing it in public, so it was slow, sweaty walk/run laps in the darkness of the deck. At the very beginning, even the 60 seconds of running in the first week was too much for my terrible conditioning. I think I had to spend two weeks on every single week of the plan for a while, and I think I was hung up on week 5 with a 20 minute run for 3 or 4 weeks before I succeeded.

But ultimately, I did succeed and of course finally found my way out of the darkness of the parking deck and into the light of day. And I eventually went a lot farther than a 5k, too, but never at any speed much better than maybe an 11 minute mile.

I want to run faster but have not had much success just trying to speed up with the normal types of ways to get faster, all of which are variations on just run faster and run up hills. I remember that C25K worked for me and so I think it would work for me again, just running faster. So Monday, I put myself on the treadmill and walked at 3.2 mph for 90 seconds, and then sped it up to 7.0 mph for 90 seconds. Wash, rinse, repeat until 25 minutes are up. This was actually Week 2 of the plan, but my conditioning is good enough that I was able to skip Week 1 altogether. So 7.0 mph was challenging without being crushing, but I was glad too when I got my walk breaks.

Wednesday, I decided I could walk faster on my walk breaks so I set the slow speed for 3.5 mph and kept my run speed at 7.0. I was not sure how the run would go considering I had roller skated for 90 minutes the night before, but it went fine. I will finish Week 2 of the plan today at lunch.

Are you surprised that I feel a bit intimidated by next week’s plan? I will have a couple of 3 minute runs at full speed. And the Friday after Christmas, if I can keep up with the plan, there is a 20 minute run at speed. That is not just intimidating; at this moment, it just seems flat out impossible to run an 8:30ish couple of miles on the treadmill without stopping.

Now it is not currently my plan to suddenly become a 8:30 minute miler. It is my plan to get closer to a 9:30 to 9:45 minute miler. But since I am doing this on the treadmill (so I can easily control my pace), I am training at a faster than goal pace to compensate for the easier to run on surface. It is only a theory that this will work; in a few weeks, I will start running outdoors again and that is when I will see whether my theory translates to faster outdoor runs.

Stay tuned. It should be interesting.


Dropped on My Face

So I posted about being injured and my plan to get back on the road. Modestly optimistic and all that.

The next morning, I was sitting at my desk getting my morning going when a worrisome tell-tale heat began to develop in my eyes. Isn’t that weird? That is exactly how I know when a fever is coming on though; when my eyeballs feel hotter than the skin around them. I don’t know if the sensation is unique to me, but I do know it heralds major trouble.

I was leaving work early to take Byram to a medical appointment that day anyway, so I knew I only had to hang on until his appointment was over, but I gotta tell you, I was suffering by 2pm and we were headed back to Chesterfield. I remember very little of the drive and nothing about the discussion we were having (which couldn’t have been much; my throat hurt too much to talk). We got home and I practically crawled up the stairs (my knees and back hurt so much) and crashed into bed without so much as getting out of my work clothes.

It would be 48 more hours before I dragged my sorry self to the doctor and get my diagnosis. The Flu and something so alike to strep throat that even though it didn’t pop in the petri dish, the doc decided it treat it the same.

The Flu?!? I had gotten my flu shot three weeks before to the day when the fever kicked in. The doc reminded me that it isn’t a 100% guarantee preventative measure. She knows I run half marathons and asked me if I was training. I told her about my 14 mile distance last weekend and she said the peak point in training can take a toll on runner’s immune system. Add a fragile immune system to the fact that I took my daughter to the pediatrician’s office on Monday of that week, I was set up to catch All The Things.

And so I did. I rarely get sick, but when I do, it’s kind of like the Hand of God reaches down and simply drops me on my face. Today is the first day the splitting headache has finally relented. I was able to get up and take a shower and put on a change of clothes. I foam rolled my still achy back and legs. Still no real appetite, but at least I am on the mend.

So no mileage this week. I am not sure I would have the stamina even today to log a single mile. I have to grocery shop in a little while, and I anticipate landing on the couch for the rest of the afternoon after that. I am hoping that maybe by Tuesday or Wednesday I will be able to run a little. I know I will have to take it easy, but I have to get back on my feet and get moving.

Race day is coming. I suffered some set backs this week, but they aren’t going to stop me or hold me back. I was searching my jewelry box for a gold dollar coin (Grace lost her first baby tooth this morning) and while I didn’t find a coin, I did find my drawer full of race medallions. I am not the type to display my medals, but coming across them was a great motivator and brought a smile to my face. I can’t wait to add a new one to the drawer.


I could probably save myself a bunch of typing and just go back to a year ago and copy and paste my posts from last October into this year.

Four weeks to race day. One very long run. And I’m broken again.

I ran my 14 miles successfully on Saturday. I foam rolled before I left the house that morning. I came home and took an ice bath. I received a professional stretching session. I was up and at ’em for the rest of the day, no problems. Sunday was more of the same. Slightly sore muscles but no issues.

Yesterday, I took myself out for a (relatively) easy 7 miler, and by mile 3, I knew I wasn’t going to make it; my left knee was killing me. It’s that familiar anterior pain I know so well. My IT band is jacked up. Last year it was the right knee, this year it is the left. I came home after only 5 of my 7 planned miles.

I am frustrated. Why does this happen in the Summer/Autumn training season but not the Winter/Spring? I have run two half marathons in March with no IT issues, and I am getting ready for my second November race, and have my second major IT injury. It can’t just be the long distance runs triggering it because I would have the same problems during my spring training.

I know the drill. Back off running. Stretch. Ice. Tape. Compression. Massage. I could pay the $35 a session to go see Dr. Green at Active Chiropractic, but work and finance considerations don’t really allow for that (work more than anything else).

This is so familiar that I can set myself my own treatment plan. No running this week; I will consign myself to the stationary bike. I am icing it regularly (like, right now). Foam rolling. Self-massaging the band along my knee. Stretch breaks in the conference room.

We are supposed to run 10 miles on Saturday. I was really looking forward to it because first, it’s a drop back week, second, 10 miles is my favorite distance, and third, it will be in the 30s on Saturday morning and I love cold weather running. Now my week will be full of self-doubt and questioning on whether I should go or not go. I *want* to go. I *need* to go. But I also can tell you from experience that it would probably be best if I didn’t go.

What a depressing reality.

Owie, Again

I am dancing around the edge of being injured again. Another very common, typical runner injury; my left piriformis is angry at me. In the colloquial, my butt hurts.

It isn’t crippling, although every now and then I will get gasp-inducing shocks of pain in my left hip when I take a step, but they have come down in frequency since I started addressing the issue with stretches starting back on Sunday.

I am frustrated because I know the reason I am hurt; I sit at a desk all day and I have extremely inflexible hip flexors and weak hip abductors. Even Dr. Green commented that I have extraordinarily inflexible hip flexors when he was adjusting me back during the last round of IT problems.

It is not my habit to really stretch out after a run; I am time-pressed, I am overtired, I am rushed to get back to the office/home/wherever, insert whatever other excuse here. Further, I haven’t done any sort of strengthening exercises for my hips and glutes. As I said even in my last blog post, I haven’t been doing any lower body workouts aside from running. Well, the hens have come home to roost because of all my excuses.

Of all the possible times to be injured and need a little bit of rest from running, this isn’t the worst possible time at least. The next two weeks will see me sucked down the rabbit hole of SCA activities, and I have no long runs planned at all. I will keep my short runs on my schedule, and keep the stretching going that I have been doing. I need to find a hard ball to use on the piriformis muscle itself because the foam roller cannot get deep enough into the mass of muscles in that area. I need to keep up my daily stretching I am doing when I wake up in the morning. But I also really need to incorporate something like yoga into my routine, and I have known that for a good long while.

Like last time, I will set myself up a treatment plan including stretching, deep tissue massage (with a ball), and strengthening exercises. If it doesn’t resolve in the next 2 weeks with my own homework, I’ll call Dr. Green and get on his calendar. I guess I also need to find a yoga class at the Y to take on a semi-regular basis too.

I just wish yoga was as fun as running. I suppose it is more fun than being injured, though.

No Hollywood Finish to This Story

I wouldn’t say I conquered 12 miles. I conquered 9 miles, and then suffered the worst 5k of my life.

My first 9 miles were run pretty much at my goal pace. I was really pleased with that; I felt good, strong, the knee was achy and complaining, but solid. And then the last 3.3 miles (the whole route was about 12.3 miles) took most of an hour. I am not kidding. It was like a switch got thrown right at the 9 mile mark and I went from achy to agonized.

The pain in my knee progressed to muscle spasms across my quadriceps and even down my calf and shooting pains and spasms into the arch of my foot. A painful reminder just how much your body is a completely interconnected system. Pain became fear, and by the bitter end, fear threatened to become panic and irrational tears.

I got back to the stadium to find it largely emptied out. The intermediate teams had long ago left. It was just the stragglers left. I clocked an average pace of 13:14.

Not much I can say about it. I was upset, but I knew going in that 12 miles is a difficult distance for me mentally. Add in the physical difficulty I was facing, and there was no real way for me to come away from the run cheerful and chipper.

I saw the chiropractor again yesterday who worked me over. He wants me to completely lay off running unless I want to run the long one on Saturday, but he would prefer I didn’t. Between now and next Saturday, my focus is strictly on cross-training. He prefers using a bike, but he is an avid cyclist (he is flying to Florida today for IronMan Florida this weekend), so that figures. I will probably alternate biking and swimming if I can since I find stationary bikes only slightly more fun than watching paint dry. The goal is to get a moderately difficult Perceived Rate of Exertion going and do that for the length of time my scheduled run would have taken.

With only 10 days to go, I am not going to lose any of my physical or aerobic endurance. I have been wrangling with my mental endurance since this crap with my knee started 3 weeks ago. I am going to spend the next 10 days working on my brain as much as I work on rehabbing the knee.

Visualization, yoga, stretching, ice, cross-training, and positive thinking are the prescriptions for the next 10 days.

The countdown is officially on.

Suck It Up, Cupcake

Yesterday, I was wallowing in self-pity. Closer to tears than I have been in a long time. I felt my goal of running the half marathon I have been training for was slipping through my fingers and I hated everything about that.

I wrote out all the thoughts bouncing in my head yesterday, and I realized as I re-read that blog post that I talked about the 10 mile run a bit, and how much I love that distance.

It reminded me how much I loved that run on Saturday, even with the pain, and how proud I was of myself for finishing those 10 mile, still running, even through the pain, because I loved what I was doing.

Then, this morning a teammate from the training team responded to my piteous plea for a bit of hope that all wasn’t lost, and she basically said she was in the same boat, and she hoped to see me out there on 11/10 because she sure would be, whether her knee cooperated or not.

The message rang though, probably not the way she thought it would, but through a phrase I use on myself on a semi-regular basis when the going gets tough: Suck it up, Cupcake.

Another comment left here on the blog yesterday reminded me of something I knew, but had forgotten in my self-pity. There are tools out there (like tape!) to help you get through an injury without lying on your ass, getting even fatter and slower.

I made myself an action plan to get through the next 5 days, and then re-evaluate. Foam roll at least twice a day. Rest during the week days. Ice every 4 hours at work (speaking of which…brb). Get up and walk around at least once an hour (otherwise, it stiffens up so much I limp around). ITB stretches in an empty conference room on my lunch hour. Buy sports tape and bone up on taping for ITB pain. Today, I forgot to bring my yoga mat (for those lunch hour stretches) and a pillow to elevate my leg with me. I will fix that tomorrow.

Saturday morning, when the alarm goes off at 6am, I will get up and lace up my trainers, just like I did last Saturday and go run. If it is too awful, I will repeat more of this week’s efforts, and do it all over again next week. And just keep trying.

In my daily life, I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, but in a mental crisis like the one I experienced yesterday, I require a plan of action; without action, I sink into despair and sloth. Today, I might not go for my midweek run, but you better believe I am icing my knee right now, will apply more Voltaren gel in a while (yay for Rx topical anti-inflammatories), and get sports tape either on my lunch hour or tonight if I have to go to an athletic store to get it.

I am not throwing in the towel yet. And I will not be stupid either. But sometimes you can’t let pain be the excuse that makes you stop. Sometimes, you have to work through it and with it. I am going to do everything I know how to do to get my knee to cooperate. And then I will suck it up and run anyway when it doesn’t. But if it grows into a more serious threat to my long-term goals, then I have until November 1 to decide if I am being forced to defer my race until 2013.

But I don’t think that is how this will end.

Suck it up and run, Cupcake.

Blue On a Monday

Monday is lower body lifting day.

Started like usual with dumbbell squats, but on the first squat, a muscle in my right quad pinged. I tried a couple more but my form was shit and the pain got worse each time. I switched over to the leg press machine, which did not seem to aggravate the injured muscle.

Leg Press: 2×10 at 150 lbs
Standing Calf Raise: 2×10 w/ 17.5 lb dumbbells (need more weight next time)
Hamstring Curl: 2×10 at 50 lbs
Back Extension w/ 8 lb medicine ball: 2×10
Crunches: 2×15
Reverse Crunches: 2×10

Stretched the hurt quad and foam rollered it. Very worried at the moment. Tuesdays are speed days and I am going to baby the hell out of my leg today, and try to run tomorrow if it feels safe to do so.