Return to fitness: a process

 

fence 66
Sunrise over I-66, before gridlock builds.  The streets I’m on are mostly empty.  I’ts strangely peaceful!

After months of fits and starts, I’ve decided that, for the time being, I’m going to have to eliminate running from my fitness regimen.  This has been a painful and difficult decision to come to, but I think I need an extended period off to strengthen my legs and give them a break from running’s impact, and just allow them to heal.

(But bear with me – it’s not all bad!!!)

It’s four years since I’ve been able to run for more than a couple of months at a time.  Just when I feel I’m starting to get back to normal, something happens, whether it’s my Achilles, my calf, or my hamstrings.

The final straw was April’s Parkway Classic.  I was concerned coming into the race, with my longest run only hitting six miles, but I took it slow, never going faster than a 9:15 mile.  By the fourth mile, I was tiring, which was expected, but then my right calf started giving me trouble.  By the fifth mile, it felt as if the calf was splitting in half vertically.

By the sixth mile, I was resigned to walking the rest of the way.  I tried a couple of times to start up again and maintain a slow shuffle, and only made it worse.  I wasn’t able to walk normally for three days.

About three weeks later, I tried to run a half mile at a 10:00 pace.  I didn’t make it a quarter mile before the calf reacted badly.

End result:  rock bottom reached.

At this point, I recognize the need to strengthen, but without the impact that running brings.

work route
The way out is nice.  The way back…not so much!

Fortunately, I started a new job this week, and have a trail available to me that allows me to get to work without being killed by texting drivers.  It’s about 20 miles one way, is fairly hilly, and will certainly give me my cardio and calf/hammy work.

I’ve got to add core work.  I’ve never been big on weights, but I’m getting older and have to acknowledge the need.  I’ve spent so much time on the shelf over the past few years that I can no longer deny the toll atrophy has taken.

I’m not sure how I’m going to feed my need to compete, but am considering aquabike races.  Of course, that’s going to require me to head back to the pool at least a couple of times a week, but I can make that happen!

I’m going to spend this week developing a workable routine to return to fitness.  The end result may or may not include the distances of running that I used to cover, but it will result with me getting back to the level of fitness I’m accustomed to.

The shame of stairwell stretching

I’m not sure why I’ve waited so long to simply get over the odd looks and occasional comments I get when doing Achilles stretches in my building’s stairwell.

They are almost always harmless – stuff like “You OK, man?” or “What’re you doing?”  Other times, it’s a confused look or the occasional “hmmph” as someone has to slide to the other side of the stair to get around me. Continue reading “The shame of stairwell stretching”

The beatings will continue until morale improves!

So I’ve simply decided to ignore Achilles pain and drive on with a conservative training regimen.

OK – maybe ignore isn’t the best way to describe it…. In the past, I’ve been advised to stay off the treadmill or trails for a couple weeks after a flareup.  It led to a cycle that played out something like this:

Achilles flareup -> one week no stretching at all -> two more weeks no running w/light stretching -> start running very short distances -> add a mile each week -> another flareup after a few weeks

beatings will continue
I’m looking at YOU, Achilles!

After several of years of this, I’ve decided that a more aggressive stretching plan is needed.  The heel drops and toe raises do not stop just because of a flareup, and neither does running, and a wider program is needed.

At the moment, if I run on a Monday, I’ll be somewhat hobbled on Tuesday, a bit better on Wednesday, and ready to do a split elliptical/treadmill run on Thursday.  So that’s the plan.  Run, stretch/recover from soreness for two days, re-engage.

I’ve noticed that even while I’m slowly increasing the mileage, my Tuesday soreness has lessened over the past two weeks.  I’m attributing this to the fact that I’m not passing on stretching and strengthening, regardless of the level of soreness.  Tuesday morning sees me limping a bit, but by Tuesday evening, after at least three stretching sessions during the day, I’m walking normally, albeit with some discomfort.

Starting this week, I’m adding more stretches and strengthening exercises aimed at the Achilles/calf/hamstring/glute chain.  While I think the real problem might be having a slightly reduced range of motion in my left ankle (many, many sprains in my youth), it can’t hurt to increase my flexibility.

After three weeks of NOT giving this thing a break, I’m starting to see results, which always makes me worry, as I wait for the other shoe to fall.  I’ve increased mileage to five miles, and my level of soreness is slowly dropping.

I’ve got the Parkway Classic 10-miler scheduled for April 23.  I will not be racing this.  It will be a slow run, aimed at nothing but enjoying the scenery (which this race is known for), and finishing.

If all goes well, I’m looking forward to a healthier summer than I’ve had in years!

What’s new? Random calf pain, flaring Achilles and a CPAP machine!

My apologies to my handful of followers for the long pause.  Lots of things going on, most of them not good.

I’m almost at the point where I’ve given up on ever running respectable times again.  Following a fairly successful (read: injury-free) fall and winter, including a surprising Army Ten Miler, I felt like I was on the verge of being able to return to the kind of times I wanted to run this spring.

Then the REAL fun started… >:-( Continue reading “What’s new? Random calf pain, flaring Achilles and a CPAP machine!”

So many things to do, so little time

todo
I want my time back!!

Sorry folks – it’s been a couple of weeks since the last entry.  Time is at a premium these days.  In addition to the full-time job, I’m working my way through a military training course (several hours a week) and I’ve recently picked up a part-time marketing gig (another 5-7 hours each week), so time to write is getting hard to come by.  The good news is that this military course is done the first week in May.

So here’s a quick update – It’s been four weeks since the hamstring(s) injury.

As I suspected, it’d be either one week for a strain, or perhaps up to 3-4 for something worse.  Well, it was something worse.

While I was moving around fairly well after a week on the shelf, it was fairly obvious that I wasn’t going to be running anytime soon.

At the 3 1/2 week mark, I decided to go for a short run through my neighborhood.  Of course, my ‘hood features rolling hills – not ideal.  But my gym membership ran out last week, so treadmilling it wasn’t an option.  (That gets fixed next week on payday!)

About a quarter mile into the run, it was clear that my left hamstring isn’t where it needs to be.  While not painful throughout the entire run, any unsure step gave me feedback, telling me that it just isn’t up to speed.

It’s a strange thing – with this being a hamstring injury, I figured I’d only be limited in speed.  Not the case.  The uncomfortable part occurs when I’m swinging my left forward to take a step, as opposed to bounding forward.

Not sure what to do at this point, beyond taking it easy.  I’ve been doing more cardio stuff on the elliptical, and swimming.  I haven’t tried biking yet, although I’m pretty sure that won’t work just yet.

Three days after running, my entire left leg is still very sore.  Fortunately, it’s the good kind of sore, so I’m not super-worried about that.

I’ll be hitting the treadmill at my local military base tomorrow, and will provide an update!

Swimming instead of running

injured-mad

So true!  The first thought I had after injuring my hamstrings was not whether I was OK.  The first reaction was whether it’d be one week or three before I could get back on the trails, followed quickly by “how far will this set me back for my next race in April?”

Injury was nine days ago, and I’m just today back to walking normally.  Hammies still bark when walking uphill, though.  So it looks like a few more days before running again.

The morning swim (the first in several months, as I’d been focused on getting back on the road) replaced this morning’s run.  If you don’t think you use your hamstrings while swimming, I’m here to tell you…YOU DO.  Especially while kicking and simultaneously turning to breathe!

Still, I got 1000m in, followed by a 45-min walk, and felt pretty good – can’t complain too much about that!

Happy Monday!

An anti-resolution kept

gym-meme
With the holiday season now in the rear-view mirror, I’m looking forward to the New Year.  This year marks the first time I’m not doing resolutions.

Why?  Because I find them to be a waste of time.  Why should I make promises to myself that I don’t keep all year ’round, and re-make them the following year?

This year, I did something else.   Continue reading “An anti-resolution kept”