Thursday, February 28, 2008

Masterpiece Already

Thursday, February 28:

I started off rather gingerly on the NSPCC indoor track, but experienced no pain, so I accelerated to a modest 9 min/mi pace and finished four easy miles.

NO PROBLEMS of any kind! Adductors, achilles tendon, and knee all silent. I expected the adductors to start squawking at any moment, but it almost seemed as if everything got smoother as I went along. Today the track was counter-clockwise, as the UWRF track was when the adductor injury occurred, but this track is banked slightly on the corners and that may make all the difference. I do believe that I can start building up to a decent weekly mileage again, but avoiding UWRF on counter-clockwise days for a while. And as Kel suggests, I need to set up some regular exercises and stretches for those adductors as soon as that can be done without pain. Her blog has some ideas.

Time 36:48, pace 9:12, splits 9:49, 8:59, 9:00, 9:00. Breathing: five footfalls per full breath nearly all the way, then four. I feel great!

Tuesday, February 26:

I ran half a lap (1/27 mile) and felt some pull in the left adductors, so I stopped and burned up 500 calories on step machines and rowing machines, avoiding the elliptical this time to favor the achilles tendon. Next time I need to bring a butt-pad for the rowing machine because I don’t have enough built in and the machine has almost none. Ouch.

Today's breakfast
This morning's post-run breakfast: Organic oatmeal, Don's fruit/berry/nut mix, macadamia nuts, organic blueberries, banana, organic fat-free milk, Hershey's dark chocolate, pure organic pomegranate juice.

Last night's dinner
Yesterday's lunch: Organic salad greens, organic celery, organic low-fat cottage cheese, macadamia nuts, avocado, pistachios, cantaloupe, organic red wine vinegar.

Yesterday's lunch
Yesterday's dinner: Wild-catch Alaskan salmon with organic yogurt, clementine, organic peas. Back for more salmon & peas and I had an organic apple too.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

No Running Yet

Sunday, Feb 24:

I ran a couple of dozen steps to see how the adductor would feel, and quit right away because it seemed like I would re-injure it. So I burned 150 calories on each of four machines: Elliptical, bicycle, and two steps machines. Sweatin’ good by the end!

Saturday, Feb 23:

Still can’t run because of pulled adductor muscle, so I did the elliptical and two different step machines, plus six different upper-body resistance exercises. One of the steps machines said that I went up 187 flights in about twelve minutes. I really doubt that. It said that I burned 150 calories in that time, and I do believe that.

Fruity lunch
Yesterday's lunch: Cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple, clementine, banana, organic blueberries, organic yogurt, pistachios, organic pure pomegranate juice.

Dinner & Salad
Tonight's dinner and salad: Organic salad greens, organic cucumbers, pineapple, clementine, avocado, colby cheese, organic cashews, organic pumpkin seeds, organic red wine vinegar.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Now What?

ANOTHER injury! Yikes.

Thursday, Feb 21:

North St Paul Community Center indoor track today, chosen because the direction is clockwise on odd-numbered days. I wanted to give the injured adductor muscle the best possible chance (see Tuesday, below). Alas, five steps and I was done. It hurt, and any more running would clearly have made the adductor injury worse.

Apparently the injured muscle is not used much in normal walking, because that doesn’t hurt much, and I was even able to use the elliptical machine without pain. But it sure hurts when I run, for some reason. Even little bitty running steps hurt; I tried that. I also tried a resistance machine that I think is called the “torso twist,” with no problems going one direction, but when I switched directions YEOWCH that was the end of the torso twist for today.

I don’t know what’s next. Some time off, obviously, but how much? Until it doesn’t hurt to run I guess. Meanwhile the elliptical, stairs, weights, and most other upper-body resistance machines don’t hurt. Wonder if I’ll be able to run the Human Race.

Tuesday, Feb 19:

It seems like I’m complaining about something in every log entry these days. Today it’s a brand new injury to a muscle or tendon at the top of the inner thigh. One of the “adductor” muscles, I believe, or the gracilis, all of which are used to pull the leg inward toward the other leg. Conversely, for a runner rounding a corner, these muscles would pull the entire body toward the leg which is on the inside of the corner.

And I think that’s what happened. I ran almost four miles on a flat indoor track Sunday, all in one direction to spare the outboard knee. Then today I ran almost six more miles on a different flat indoor track in that same direction. That’s about 150 flat corners, and apparently that’s all it took to strain a muscle. Somewhere in the fifth mile it started to hurt, then it calmed down, and then with three laps to go it suddenly hurt too much to run. I finished the last half lap in a walk and stopped. It doesn’t seem like a major injury - just a very localized pain that should heal quickly. We’ll see.

The good news is that neither the achilles tendon nor the knee complained at all today. In fact, this was my longest run since January 16, over a month ago. That makes it a masterpiece, regardless of other problems. I am hoping that the adductor problem will resolve quickly and I can build back up to 20 mile runs.

The OTHER good news is we found (thanks to friend Jim) another place to run in the winter. For east-siders like us, the University of Wisconsin River Falls (UWRF) is not that far away, and allows community members (anyone) to use the indoor track for large parts of the day. Here is the schedule. Click on Knowles Calendar. Cost is $3.50 per person, and parking is $0.50/hour. You can get a one-semester or two-semester membership as well, in which case I believe that parking is free. Click here for membership information. My injury today was not the track’s fault; it’s a good track. Counter-clockwise on odd-numbered days, clockwise on even.


Monday's dinner: Organic chicken, organic brown rice with organic tomato, organic spinach with dried cranberries, organic carrots, onions.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Medical Error

I saw my trusted internist today, an excellent doctor, about the right knee that has suddenly misbehaved recently. I call it "lockup," but it doesn't really lock up - it just hurts to bend the knee and I end up hopping on the other leg for a few seconds. He more or less confirmed my suspicion of floating cartilage, but wanted an x-ray to rule out bone problems.

The x-ray technician laid me down on the table and prepared to shoot my left knee. I asked him if we were getting shots of both knees, and he said "not for this picture, just your right knee." I pointed out that he was preparing my left knee, and he actually pointed to it and said "is that your left knee?" Then he agreed that I should roll over and we should take a picture of the right knee.

Sure glad I wasn't in for surgery! If I DO go in for surgery, I'm going to write NOT THIS KNEE on the left one!

Recent Lunch: Organic chard and kale with dried cranberries and pistachios, clementine, Hershey's dark chocolate. Seconds on the chard.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Oh Happy Day

Sunday, Feb 17:

Gosh it feels good, bouncing along on the rubber indoor track at Bethel University. Today my only race was the 800 meter, and I finished within one second of my PR, one way or the other, at 2:50 or so. I went out WAY too fast, a 37-second first lap when the average ended up 42.5, but that didn’t seem to hurt the end result. The race is four laps of 200 meters, and the third lap was undoubtedly the slowest, but I think I drove a little harder on the fourth. I don’t know the actual splits, except the very first one. The good news is that if I can run 2:50 with a bad strategy and without training much in the past few weeks, I may be able to do quite a bit better. Is 2:40 possible? I may have to follow a rabbit with a better sense of pace than I have.

Even better news is: No pain in the left achilles, and no pain in the right knee, which has started to lock up on occasion. Even going downstairs, the acid test for both, there is no hint of trouble. Regardless, I’m going to visit my very wise primary physician ASAP about the knee. I may not have a lot of time left to run, so I’ll probably treat this aggressively, if treatment is possible.

Unfortunately, the primary objective of this race was not to make a PR but to discover my maximum heart rate (HRMax). I may have gone about it wrong, by warming up too much beforehand. During the race I saw the heart rate monitor (HRM) showing 189, but I have seen that before when it wasn’t making good enough contact with my chest, so I don’t believe that number. Immediately after the race it still showed 189 until I pressed the HRM strap against my chest, and then it showed 155. I don’t believe that either, because I’ve seen it higher in races; I believe the max is somewhere around 167. By the time I held my wrist and counted my pulse for 30 seconds, it was back down to about 105. But still I want to measure my HRMax, because certain training goals are calculated from it, so I will have to come up with a new plan.

I probably warmed up too much today for a good HRMax measurement - almost three miles of warmup, mostly easy jogging. Better to surprise the system a little more? And for sure I’d like to find some sort of contact gel or paste for the HRM, so that the contact with my chest doesn’t dry out while standing at the start line. I could do the running outdoors, of course, but it’s nice to use a track because a tumble or other injury event is more likely during speed work, and tracks are softer. Perhaps I’ll wait until spring, when outdoor high-school tracks will be available. Or find another indoor track where I can do this on my own. Or dreadmills? That’s possible, because the pace is only about 10.5 mph, but I really don’t like the dreadmill at that speed. Suggestions invited.

Back to today’s race, though. To my surprise, I’m very much taken by this sort of racing. Who’d have thought that circling a 200-m track could be so enjoyable? I’d like to find a way to do more of it, if my old bones and ligaments can take it. All the more enjoyable today because friend Jim joined us at Bethel, and ran a very nice 5:53 mile. In a couple of weeks, I believe that he could run a mile in 5:35 to 5:40. Oh yeah.

Saturday, Feb 16:

North St Paul Community Club, three miles in 25:04, pace 8:21. This was intended to be an easy three miles, and it was, but I felt very good and ran a litle faster than the 9:00 pace I’ve used of late. Splits 8:38, 8:19, 8:07. No pain in the left achilles, which is very good. My right knee did sort of “lock up,” though, in the very last (fastest) lap, and I stumbled and hopped for a few seconds before it cleared up again. I’m sure there is a piece of cartilage sliding around in there. I need to find out (1) if it can be taken out or fixed somehow, and (2) if that should be done now before the knee joint chews itself up.

Don comin' around the bend
Don running the 800m.

Sole dinner
Last night's dinner: Wild-caught sole, organic sweet relish, organic blackberry preserves, shredded mango chutney, fresh-squeezed organic lime.

Recent salad: Organic salad greens (under there somewhere), cantaloupe, organic baked blue-corn chips, pineapple, Sunshine's homemade guacamole, organic brazil nuts. This photo turned out a little more suggestive than the salad seemed in person. Anyone want to offer a title for it? Salad fantasizing about dessert?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Five Miles, No pain

Stillwater Recreation Center (Bubble), about 5.4 miles in 45:15. Ran with friend Jim, first time we’ve run in the bubble together. Enjoyable run, especially since the achilles tendon pain did not appear at all. I haven’t felt it since Tuesday, and even that might have been in my mind. I think (hope?) that it’s on the mend. The distance is an estimate, based on a measured pace of 8:23 for two of the laps.

Nevertheless, easy does it. Three more gentle miles at the club tomorrow, and then an 800 meter race on Sunday. With warmup and cooldown, that will probably be another three miles on Sunday. Tuesday, if all goes well, I’ll run 6 miles.

I did have a little trouble with the right knee at the Bubble. I think there’s a little something floating around in there, because it comes and goes, but I swear it’s not always in the same place. I suspect that the many flat corners at the Bubble caused that debris to shift a little, and when I stepped up the pace for the last lap it suddenly brought me up short. Better now.

Salmon dinner
Recent dinner: Wild-caught Alaskan salmon, organic sweet pickle relish (tartar sauce w/o mayo), organic parsnips, organic sweet potatoes, organic rutabagas. I went back for more.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Four Easy Miles

North St Paul Community Center overhead track, four miles in 35:44, pace 8:56. The idea was to run four easy miles without pain, and it happened! Maybe just a little twinge going down the stairs, nothing more. I’ll try five miles on Thursday, 45 minutes at the Stillwater bubble.

Splits: 8:57, 8:54, 8:56, 8:57. According to the heart rate monitor, my heart rate peaked at about 140, higher than expected, but that was probably due to the stomach competing for resources to deal with a very recent 16-oz latte. Breathing was five footfalls per full breath, indicating an easy pace. Four footfalls would indicate a more normal pace.

This morning's breakfast: Organic oatmeal, organic blueberries, banana, Don's nut/fruit/berry mix, organic walnuts, organic fat-free milk.

Sunday's salad: Organic salad greens, cucumbers, organic blueberries, macadamia nuts, clementine, organic pumpkin seeds, blue cheese, organic balsamic vinegar.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lessons of the Week

Sunday, February 10:

North St Paul Community Center overhead track, walking, five miles in 1:09:00, pace 13:48. This was a test, to see if walking would hurt the Achilles as the elliptical machine did. It’s my perception that the calf muscles driving the Achilles actually extend and contract over a longer stroke while walking than while running, so I expected that the tendon would begin to hurt after two or three miles. Surprised again: It wasn’t so. I could barely feel it after the full five miles, and even then I need to use some imagination.

But it’s a good lesson. For what it’s worth, I can walk very briskly without annoying the Achilles, and for at least as much distance as I can run without annoying it. That could turn out to be useful information.

Heart rate was measured several times on this walk, and varied between 94 and 98. I actually started to feel it in the quads toward the end, but I think that after a little training I could sustain a 14-minute walking pace for an entire marathon, finishing in 6:08 or so. Might be useful information some day. Next: Jog four miles on Tuesday, bring the heart monitor.

Friday, February 8:

North St Paul Community Center elliptical machine, 300 calories in 21:45. Today’s lesson: The elliptical machine is at least as tough on the Achilles tendon as running. I think more so. My last run was Monday, today is Friday, and the Achilles began to hurt in just 21 minutes. Hurts going down stairs, too, which is my personal acid test. I had somehow expected that the elliptical would not re-injure the tendon, perhaps because it didn’t bother the plantar fascia at all. I learned an important lesson.

And now I know why Monday’s 5-mile run was more painful than the identical 5-mile run two days earlier. I used the elliptical machine on the day between! Duh! Took me long enough to catch on.

Monday, February 4:

Plans go awry. Since I had such a pleasant and pain-free run on Saturday, I had hoped and even assumed that Monday’s run, after a two-day respite, would go even better. In fact I planned to run six miles, expecting no pain. But the Achilles tendon was stiff for at least the first full mile, and then began to hurt at the very end of the fifth mile. I ran one extra lap (120 meters) just to be sure, and it was indeed time to stop. No sixth mile, and the tendon hurt going down the stairs, which is the most sensitive indicator of this injury. Nuts.

The pace was deliberately a little slower than the “natural” pace that muscles wanted to run, five miles in 44:51 (exactly the same as Saturday’s time), pace 8:58. Splits 8:57, 8:57, 8:58, 8:59, 9:01.

So now what? Take a week off? Two weeks? I’m getting close to that decision. With plantar fasciitis and some other pains it’s OK to run without fear of compounding the injury. But this is different; a ruptured Achilles tendon trumps all running and most other leg exercises. I’m not going there.

The trouble is that it doesn’t hurt AT ALL until I run, and even then not until I’ve run some distance. It seems that the only way to determine whether it is healing is to re-injure it! I need to be able to run 26 miles on it, and so far have only managed five.

Oatmeal breakfast
Today's breakfast: Organic oatmeal, organic reduced-fat milk, dried banana, organic blueberries, organic walnuts, Don's nut/fruit/berry mix, organic medjool date, dragon fruit.

Chard lunch
Yesterday's lunch: Organic swiss chard with organic red cabbage, cranberries, and pistachios, organic apricot jam, clementine, organic roasted cashews.

Mexican dinner
Friday's dinner: Organic corn with rice pasta and tomotoes, organic blue-corn chips, guacamole by Sunshine, organic refried beans, asiago cheese. Seconds, thank you!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Five Sweet Miles

Yay! Today's five-mile run at the North St Paul Community Center was pain-free! The naughty Achilles tendon seemed a little stiff in the first third of a mile, but smoothed out for the rest of the run. Even walking downstairs, the acid test, it was entirely pain free. This time I was successful in holding the pace down to nine minutes per mile, actually 44:51 overall for an average pace of 8:58. Close enough. And I resisted the urge to ramp it up for the last mile.

Adam left good suggestions on the previous post: (1) No stretching of the Achilles, and (2) Maybe take a whole week off. He may prove to be right; thank you Adam. I'm sure that THREE weeks off would cure the Achilles - that's what it has taken me in the past to heal a serious tendon injury. It might take less than three weeks for a younger person but, alas, I am at that age where every new day is a gift, and there is no going back. Healing takes longer. I still do calf (Achilles) stretches, but very gently and never to the point of pain; I doubt those stretches do much damage and I hope they will help it to heal correctly. And I have stopped using the Strassburg Sock night splint, which pulls on the Achilles gently enough, but all night long. I used ice and heat (5 minutes, ten minutes, three cycles) after Thursday's iffy five-mile run; that may have helped. I'll do that again today.

Thursday I expected to be able to run five miles pain-free and couldn't. Today I was determined to stop at the FIRST sign of pain, and was pretty sure that I would have to do that, but I didn't. Bottom line: I sure don't know what's going on!

Nevertheless I think I'll go back to running every other day, ramping up slowly. The runs will be on a track, at NSPCC or the Stillwater Bubble, so that I can easily quit at the very first sign of pain. If all goes well, five miles (again) on Monday, then six or seven Wednesday and hopefully more on Friday. Fingers crossed.

Post-run breakfast
Today's post-run breakfast: Organic gluten-free pancake, organic blueberries, kiwi, organic medjool dates, Don's nut/fruit/berry mix, organic maple syrup. This was both breakfast AND lunch.

Bison dinner

Last night's dinner: Free-range bison roast, organic sweet potato, organic salsa, organic gluten-free pasta with cheese and a little kale, onions roasted with the bison. Seconds on everything, thank you.