Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A tally of running injuries

I want to look at a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately as I have been suffering from sporadic knee pain recently--and that topic is running injuries. I knew that when I started running, I would not be able to avoid injury. Now that I have been running for a few years, I want look back at all of the various injuries that I have coped with since then.

Here is a list of the injuries I can remember:
  • Tendonitis (arch of left foot) - first running injury, too much too soon
  • Shin splints (stopped after I stopped using my old sneakers and stuck with the barefoot and minimalist running only)
  • Calf muscle pulls or strains (determined hydration was the biggest cause for me)
  • Plantar fasciitis (seems to be gone right now)
  • IT band syndrome (pain in the outside edge of my right knee)
  • Achilles pain (tightness on the right side)
Some of these are things I experienced as I was getting started and they have not reoccurred (shin splits, calf strains, etc.) but others have been nagging me for a long time (plantar fasciitis and IT band syndrome.) Thankfully, none have been bad enough to put me out of commission for any significant length of time. The longest I have stopped running was about a month after I ran the Livestrong 10k back in 2011, when I knew I ran too much and too fast, and was suffering from calf pains.

I have a nice collection of medical braces that I have accumulated over the years, including foam rollers, massage balls, ProStretch rocker, knee braces, ankle braces, night splits for plantar fasciitis, compression sleeves for just about every part of my lower body, and I am soon going to be adding an IT Band compression wrap to my arsenal. I have also experimented a lot with KT Tape in the past and have started trying it again. Every one of these tools has helped a little bit, but I am starting to feel like I run a doctor's office with the number of tools I have at my disposal. (In addition to all of the tools I have at home, I also get routine massages, along with routine chiropractic and acupuncture treatments.)
None of these injuries are going to stop me from running because I have found that I enjoy the activity too much, but I definitely need to slow down once in a while and just let my body heal. I have started introducing a lot of cross training into my routine, other than cycling, such as fitness boxing/kickboxing classes that include core training as well. These classes have been allowing me to stay in shape without abusing my legs too much and I have to say I am really starting to see some positive results (weight loss, a little bit energy, a much stronger core, and generally feeling more fit.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tyler 10K Trail Run Race Report

** My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the tragedy at the Boston Marathon. **

Training Update

I ran the Tyler 10K Trail Run on Saturday, April 6, 2013. Leading up to the race, I had been doing really well with my training, and then I picked up a stomach bug that put me out of commission for a few days. Once I got better, I picked right back up with my training and held close to the training plan I had put together on my own. About 2 weeks out, I started experiencing some severe tightness in my left hip. I worked through this with my acupuncturist, and then a few days later with a massage, and a few days after that, attending a hip opener yoga workshop. Everything was looking good, but a work trip was looking like it was going to get in the way of my planned long run, so I made the most of it, and found a beautiful rail trail near my hotel and got that run in anyway. I have been sticking to a schedule that never has me running back-to-back days, and I believe that has been the key to my success. I am not stressing my body, and I am varying my activities to keep my muscles guessing. My schedule has been pretty consistent.

Not my actual plan!
Monday. Rest. (Allergy shot)
Tuesday. Long run. (1-2 hours)
Wednesday. Bike or short recovery run.
Thursday. Speed work, hill work, or barefoot conditioning.
Friday. Yoga.
Saturday/Sunday. Casual paced trail runs, mountain biking and/or hiking.

I have been getting in about 20 running miles per week. For my taper leading up to the Tyler 10K, I just backed off on the intensity and distance. I am never sure if I should back off on one or the other, so I usually just back off on both. I figure the rest is going to do better for me, and at least I still get out there and do something almost every day.

Race Report
Me! Flying across the creek!

The race itself was great. I had picked up my race number on Thursday, so I just needed to figure out what I was going to wear. I was hoping to have been able to put the race number on a shirt before I left, but the weather had been pretty unpredictable and I was not sure what I was going to wear. Once I arrived, I went to the meeting area, picked up my freebies and then returned them to the car. I spent a few minutes warming up, at then made a decision on my layers and proceeded to the starting line. I set myself up for a position in the front quarter of the pack, figuring that would be a good place to prevent crowding and keep me in line to where I was hoping to stay for the race. That decision proved very helpful, because at the same race 2 years ago, I started towards the back, and spent the first half of the race passing people, and I know that had cost me time that year. When the race started, I settled into my race pace quickly and just went with it. Knowing that I had been training hard, I did push myself a little harder than usual. I did walk 2 short sections of the hills, but the hills on this course are plentiful and I had to. I used less energy and accomplished the same thing, so I do not look back on that decision with any regret. I was definitely in the right spot in the crowd because the same group of 4 or 5 people kept passing each other on the different uphill and downhill sections, and we were spaced out nicely at times where I was not feeling crowded in, nor forced to go faster than intended. I was able to enjoy the effort and run my race. Mile 6 was pretty difficult as I was pushing myself pretty hard, but I managed and kept pace. I checked my Garmin as I approached the 6 mile mark and realized I was well ahead of my 2011 pace, so I did start to back off. I saved my energy for the last 0.2 miles, where you go up a short hill, down a short hill , then finish on a 100 yard uphill. I finished the race in 55:14 and was very pleased. Immediately after finishing, I rested for a few minutes, went for water, then picked a spot near the finish to cheer some runners on (right before that last 100 yard hill!) This is where motivation is needed most!! I hung out there for a while before heading home. Unfortunately, I did not have time to stay for the awards.

Upcoming Race Plans

Now that Tyler is behind me, I am feeling much better about my upcoming 30K (Double Trouble) trail run in July. I have already done training runs of up to 13.1 miles in the past, so my plan is to build back up to that distance and then slowly increase my training distance even further over the next 10 weeks. I have a vacation in the there, but that fits nicely as a recovery week (however, we do not just sit on the beach for our vacations, so it won't be real rest!). My goal is to get up to 18 miles in training, preferably on trails. Now that we have daylight until around 8PM, and over the summer, as late as 9PM, I should be able to do this without worrying about running in the dark, although I enjoy some night running on occasion. I also recently made the commitment to the Blues Cruise Ultra 50k in October, so I will take a brief rest week after Double Trouble, and pick right up on training for that. For this training, I may have to do some distance/endurance runs with the local running club on pavement, even though the actual run is on trail. I will figure out those details later, but I am at least thinking about my options now. I've got some real training ahead of me. The biggest question I am facing right now is whether to continue self-training, or whether I should go back to my coach and get some guidance. I have been doing well on my own, but I could do better. But, I like doing things on my own terms and enjoy figuring it out!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I spoke too soon

After my perfect training week, I managed to get sick. I guess I spoke too soon about my training going well. I almost did not want to post about the week, but I wanted to share my training because it worked out so well, so I wrote it anyway.

Monday. Rest. Allergy shot.

Tuesday. Trail run/endurance. I spent 2 hours on the trails of the Pennypack Wilderness and enjoyed exploring several new trails, and sloshing through 6 inches deep puddles and mud. I took a nice fall at one point, and brought home mud stained clothing as a souvenir. I wore my Altra Instinct's because I was hoping for smoother trail, and they did not work so well in the mud. Lesson learned.

Wednesday. Massage. I was long overdue for this. My last massage was in December. This has been one of my secret weapons of feeling good. I have been trying to get a good massage about once a month. The massage is whole body, but I always ask for a little extra attention on my legs and I can really feel a difference afterwards.

Thursday. Trail run/speed work. I met my wife at a local park for this run and started out at the same time that she started a walk with a friend. I set off towards Valley Forge and found some of my favorite trails. I kicked off my shoes for a mile and a half of this run and that's when I focused on my speedwork. After returning to my shoes, I caught up with my wife and walked back to the car. Total time was about 45 minutes.

Friday. Sick.

Saturday. Sick.

Sunday. Sick.

I am just 2 1/2 weeks from my first race of the year, so I still have time to get some good training in before a taper. I want to make sure I do not build up too fast after being sick, too. My planned speed work for this week is going to be pushed to the weekend and I may adjust my schedule slightly to accommodate this. I never really write up a formal training plan anyway. I just set good intentions and make things happen with the time I have available any given day. This usually works out well for me. I have done formal training in the past and while I saw results from that, I still see good results this way, too.