Reunion with the road and the wind

A sight for sore piriformis

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

It’s been such a long time since I’ve run outdoors that I was surprised to see that Milemeter has reverted back to being called Gmaps Pedometer. I realize that’s an esoteric observation, but it shows that things have changed in the eight weeks since I last did a neighborhood run. Not much changed in the neighborhood except for a whole lot of tar and gravel being laid down to fix this winter’s potholes.

I was excited and a little nervous prior to going out this morning. My cold is still present, but it hasn’t gained much of a foothold. Despite some sniffles and nasal congestion, I’ve had no breathing issues doing indoor workouts. My concern centered on my self-diagnosed piriformis syndrome. I already knew what to expect when running on the flat, flexible surface of the treadmill. How would the injury feel when running on unyielding pavement over varying elevations? What will the longer stride do to my form?

The other thing on my mind was the weather. The strong winds were evident and the local station said they’d be increasing throughout the day. I knew I should get out early to minimize that effect. I procrastinated predictably, and didn’t start my run until after 9:00 AM. I probably overdressed because of the winds, but never felt overheated during the run.

I knew within ten seconds that I’d be okay once I reached the road. The piriformis/sciatica pain was there, but it didn’t bog me down too much. I did notice that it affected my gait and it underscored my need to get to an orthopedist. Overall it was fine and it proved I could run. Not real fast, but it was real running.

The strong winds hit when I rounded a corner around the half mile point. It felt like a huge invisible fan and the mild air suddenly became very chilly. My route soon changed direction and all was well, although half of the last mile was spent running against strong headwinds.

I didn’t have my HRM for this run, so I can’t gauge my real effort. My perceived effort was moderate and I felt I’d passed my fitness test. That said, I’d purposely kept my expectations low. I’m very aware that I tend to take recovery progress as evidence of readiness and I end up overdoing it the next time I run. Tomorrow I’ll aim to go a little longer and, if feels okay, perhaps a bit faster. But not fast. I’ve learned my lesson with this injury.

A good run, all things considered

 

Today’s run (treadmill): 32 minutes

I’m in the middle of a lot of change at work right now and it’s affecting a lot of people. Do you know that people don’t like change, especially when it involves how they do their jobs? When you are the person who’s forcing all this change, it can create some tense moments. But deep down I know they appreciate my efforts and I’m sure they don’t mean it when they tell me I’m ruining their lives.

I’m exaggerating a little, but it is a busy time right now. Just to make it interesting, I’ve developed a head cold that I’m hoping will be short-lived. My schedule isn’t conducive to weekday workouts, so today was my first run since Sunday. Between the piriformis pain and this cold, you’d think it would have been a tough session. It wasn’t great fun, but it really wasn’t that bad.

I still haven’t seen an orthopedist but the pain has lessened significantly. When I started today’s run, I felt a mild jolt of pain. It wasn’t anything that prompted me to rethink the workout, but I kept the speed moderate in the spirit of not doing further harm. I couldn’t tolerate watching the news or listening to music, so I ran in silence. I kind of liked that.

Tomorrow is supposed to be mild (51°) but with 26 MPH winds. I’m aiming to run outside for the first time since February. The high winds don’t sound too inviting but the idea of running on a non-moving surface makes me happy. I’m thinking that a trail run might be the perfect venue for my reunion with terra firma.

I’m running again, if you call this running

The 12/6/14 run that started it all

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

Recovery should happen slowly and in stages, and that’s the plan I’ve been following over the last four weeks. Last year at this time, I was training for the Brooklyn Half using the Hal Higdon intermediate plan. That required some type of running workout nearly every day. It was a mixture of long and easy base runs, short and fast speed drills and 3-4 mile tempos. I could manage that because I was injury-free and had a very flexible schedule.

One year later, conditions are different. I have a long early commute four days a week and my running comfort has been compromised since December 6. That’s when I let my ego get the best of me and foolishly overextended myself to prevent another runner from passing me on a long road. The symptoms I had the next day match the ones I have today.

It’s been a roller coaster of recovery since then. A race in late December, along with the New Year’s Hangover Run, reignited the pain and soreness. An icy and snowy January and an unusable treadmill provided time for healing. By the time we acquired our new Freemotion unit, I was ready to return to the run. So ready, that I did a high intensity workout that (unfortunately) produced some serious pain near the end. One week later, I suffered through an extremely painful three miler. It was the last time I’d run until yesterday’s session.

Which brings me to today. After yesterday’s encouraging experience on the treadmill, I considered taking it to the street this morning. It had snowed all day on Saturday and there was still a coating of powder on the roads. I opted for the treadmill and slightly increased both my speed and the length of the run. The soreness was there, but it was fully tolerable during the run. Like yesterday, it felt better as I went on and the soreness is responding to the massage roller.

So I’ve transitioned back to running, but I’m doing it a lot slower than I had before my injury. The things I like about running (fresh air, changing views and the sense of forward progress) that come from being outdoors, are absent. When the weather gets better, I’ll run outside and take it easy. I think I’ve finally learned my lesson but I hope I don’t get challenged to race anyone too soon.

Running without harm

 

Today’s run (treadmill): 32 minutes

After yesterday’s string of bad news and disappointments, I decided to take matters into my own hands and try a run. It had been 23 days since I last ran and I felt that I’d abstained long enough. The pain I experienced in the days since my last run have greatly lessened and I was confident that I could now manage an easy treadmill workout.

Primum non nocere, Latin for “First do no harm” is part of the Hippocratic oath. It’s now my personal mandate when it comes to running. With that in mind, I set the treadmill 1 MPH slower than my usual pace. Running felt tolerable, but the soreness was there. My barometer was focused on the level of pain as I went through the run. If the pain increased, I would slow down (or shut down) depending on severity.

I ended up dropping my speed by another .2 MPH. It was a small difference, but just enough for me to feel protected. The pain (really an ache) was still there. As time went on, the soreness diminished. I wondered if that was due to the warm up of my injured muscles. My heart rate stayed at around 83% of max, exactly where I wanted it to be for this workout.

I ended up running for about 32 minutes and didn’t even bother to look at the mileage. I was just happy to be running. I finished up feeling good about my conditioning, but my concern shifted to post-run pain. Although I did feel a little sore, it was no worse than what I’ve been experiencing after my elliptical sessions.

It’s been snowing all day, but it hasn’t accumulated at all. I’ll try another run tomorrow. If conditions are good, I may just take it outside.

Orthopedist appointment invokes Murphy’s Law

 

I cannot remember the last time I’ve run, but it was at least three weeks ago. Since then, my workouts have been done on the elliptical machine. It’s a fair trade-off, but not an equal one. I know I’ve lost fitness as a result. While I’ve wanted to return to running, I’ve been concerned about further aggravating what I’m calling a piriformis issue. I wish I could be more specific about the cause of this soreness. Unfortunately my opportunity to get a diagnosis today was taken away by an incompetent receptionist.

Most people are familiar with “Murphy’s Law,” the idea that if something bad can happen, it will. That law has been in full effect today, starting with news from our electrician that the cost to bring our pool electrical system up to code will be five times what we expected. And we’d expected it to be a lot. Next it was the plumber, who informed us that the cost to replace our leaky shower fixture will be double our expectation. We have to stop inviting these people to our house.

A little later, I received a message that the cool new fitness equipment that I’m helping to test (they’re no-impact treadmill alternatives) will be delivered late. I was counting on having access to this gear so I could do workouts that match running intensity without inviting further injury. The stuff is coming, but I’ll need to wait a couple of more weeks to start the program.

The worst of it was when I arrived at the orthopedist this afternoon, after waiting three weeks for my appointment, only to find that the doctor wasn’t in. Apparently they’d tried to call me to reschedule, but the person who made the appointment had recorded my number incorrectly. So, after looking forward to some type of resolution of this problem, it’s still a mystery. I still don’t know if I should be running on it, but my patience has grown short.

I’m going to try a run this weekend, either on the treadmill or around my neighborhood. I don’t think I’ve run on pavement since January and I don’t expect it to be easy. I plan to take it very easy and stop if the soreness goes past moderate discomfort. I’ll make another doctor’s appointment and will hopefully be able to schedule it soon. But I’m going to lay low for the rest of today and let Murphy find someone else to bother.

The end of running, for now

Patience is a virtue

Today’s workout (elliptical): 50 minutes

For now and for the foreseeable future, I am no longer a runner, emerging or otherwise. Like the old adage that insanity is repeating the same action but expecting a different result, I’ve concluded that running right now will only result in pain. I’m not as upset about this as you’d think. I don’t plan to change the name of this site to “The Former Runner.” I’m just hitting the pause button until nature fixes the problem.

Thursday’s treadmill run was (literally) an exercise in determination. I was sure that getting through my three mile workout would somehow prove that I could always run through this problem. The bigger issue was that it hurt. First a little and then a lot. I knew that this was no way to handle things. I ended up skipping my workout on Friday because I needed to meet an insane work deadline that used up every minute of the day. An opportunity to recover somewhat offset the guilt.

I was still sore this morning and I knew that I couldn’t repeat Thursday’s experience. My strategy was to first do an elliptical session and then test the waters on the treadmill. The elliptical session went great. No pain during the 35 minute workout and no pain after I’d finished. I hopped up on the treadmill and set the speed to 4.1 MPH, hopefully fast enough to “run” without aggravating the source of my problem.

It only took a few seconds to realize that running at any speed right now will result in pain. I further backed down the speed and switched to walking for ten minutes, playing with inclines and declines between +/- 3%. Once done, I returned to the elliptical for 15 more minutes of pain free exercise. Stepping up my effort on the elliptical did not produce any pain. Better still, the soreness from my brief treadmill “run” was completely gone.

So today’s lesson is that running hurts and ellipticals heal. I’m going to use the elliptical exclusively while my body works on whatever it is that’s causing my running pain. I’ve decided to give it three weeks before I try another easy treadmill run. This is exactly what happened between the time when the old treadmill failed and the new one was installed. I did fine in that transition, but made the mistake of pushing my speed (and my luck) and that brought me back to square one.

If this plan doesn’t work, I’ll visit a orthopedist to get an MRI or meet with a physical therapist. They say time heals all wounds. Let’s see if that’s true.

Hard times on the short track

Sounds about right

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

My current level of fitness is probably at its lowest since early 2010. Back then I was recovering from a bout of pneumonia that had me in the hospital for a week. My time away from running (after our treadmill failed) had an effect on my conditioning. More concerning is an injury that surfaced in early December. Things improved a lot in January but I made the mistake of pushing hard on a run one day and that re-aggravated the problem. Three weeks working out exclusively on the elliptical got me back in the game.

Things started going downhill after we got our new treadmill. I had three decent runs and concluded that I was back on track. I was having a great run last Friday and decided to step up my speed. That was a big mistake. I suddenly felt searing pain in the area between my glute and hamstring, Even though I stopped right away, the damage was done. The closest thing that I’ve found online that describes it is something called hamstring tendinopathy.

I was back to the treadmill on Saturday but I struggled to the point where I had to stop. I completed my workout on the elliptical and didn’t even attempt to run on Sunday (elliptical again). I hoped that a three day layoff since Sunday would allow sufficient time to recover. I felt okay at the start, even though the modest speed I’d set felt as fast as race pace.

Despite the challenge, I was determined to see this run all the way through. The pain started increasing after ten minutes and I decided I’d deal with it for as long as I could stand it. I hoped I wasn’t doing any damage and felt okay when I finally finished, but I’ve been very sore all day. I’ll give it another try tomorrow but I won’t be a hero. Reducing speed seems to keep the pain in check so I’ll see how it goes.

Shallow bins and recovery progress

Usability testing anyone?

Today’s workout (elliptical): 40 minutes

I realize that there are many larger problems than this, but can someone please explain to me why the stuff holders on our elliptical and new treadmill are so shallow? I don’t get it. Do the designers ever think about the fact that an 8″ remote will probably fall out of a 4″ deep console bin? This are the sort of things that go through my mind these days as I do my workouts without outdoor distractions.

Yesterday’s treadmill run ended with an alarming jolt of pain as I pushed my pace beyond a moderate speed. Rather than signaling a new or deeper problem, I think this experience was a warning. Despite giving the injury plenty of rest, the root cause issue remains. If three weeks of no-impact workouts haven’t resolved it, it may be time to see an orthopedist.

Today’s workout was all about protecting the problem. Instead of running, I spent 40 minutes on the elliptical and followed that with ten minutes of (very) slow running on the treadmill with a 2.5% incline. It wasn’t a particularly challenging workout, but that was the point.

I’ll probably go back to a full treadmill workout tomorrow. The elliptical session seemed to reset whatever caused yesterday’s pain and I’m feeling better. Just the same, I’ll need to keep my speed in check tomorrow to prevent another cycle of pain.

97% of a good run

Unhappy ending

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.3 miles

When does a tenth of a mile make all the difference in a run? Today it was in the final 10th of my treadmill workout. It’s been a lot of time since my last run because my business schedule is sucking up all my bandwidth. Today I worked from home and managed to get back to running, although I had limited time this morning.

It was my fourth run on our new treadmill and I continue to appreciate it compared to the old one. The Freemotion running experience is far better than the Sole’s. Besides the much quieter motor and stable tread that doesn’t jerk underfoot, the Freemotion unit feels more substantial and the running less tedious. The time – and mileage – seem to go by a lot faster.

So I had 97% of a great run and 3% of a really bad one. It was my own fault. The three weeks I spent exclusively on the elliptical helped heal my chronic sciatica. My return to the treadmill last week re-aggravated that injury. I hoped resting from Monday through Thursday would reverse the damage and, to a degree, it did. But I pushed too hard today and that set back my progress.

I only aimed to cover three miles and felt good running at a moderate pace. With half a mile left to go, I began increasing my speed. Everything felt fine and I decided to cover 3.25 miles. By the time I was on the last quarter, the speed felt challenging. At the 3.2 mile point I felt a searing pain in my upper hamstring/glute region and I knew I’d pushed too hard. Y’ouch!

I thought I’d seriously hurt myself. I immediately reduced my speed and stopped the treadmill. Walking felt painful and I hoped it was a temporary situation. I took Ibuprofen and hit the shower. I certainly did myself no favors today. After living with the result all day, it doesn’t seem as bad. I’ll see how it feels tomorrow morning. I may substitute a run for an elliptical session rather than further aggravate the problem..

Good pain and bad pain

Here’s a recap of my running since last Thursday:

Friday: 0 miles
Saturday: 0 miles
Sunday: 0 miles
Monday: 0 miles
Tuesday: 0 miles

Despite that, I’m extremely sore all the way from my hamstring to my upper arms. I’m fine with the upper body soreness because it’s the result of exercise. I decided to act on my new resolution to add strength training to my routine and did a 45 minute workout on Sunday. Don’t be impressed. I used two 10 lb. hand weights and barely broke a sweat.

I didn’t want to overdo it, because the last time I worked with weights, I ended up straining my back. The fact that a light workout has resulted in so much soreness tells me that I need to spend much more time on upper body training. All the same, it’s nice knowing that this discomfort is due to effort, not injury.

The soreness I’m feeling in my glutes and hamstring is not making me very happy. I’ve always coped with minor injuries by taking a few days off from running. A short rest usually had me back on the road within a week. The pain I felt during last week’s Hangover Run wasn’t debilitating, but it was a clear signal that I needed a lot more recovery time.

It’s been five days since my last run and I think I’m going to take a sixth day off tomorrow. The pain has dulled, but a quick jog down the hall tells me more mending time is needed. I’ll probably try an elliptical session on Thursday morning to gauge my progress. Depending on that result, I’ll either plan for a Friday morning run or make an appointment with an orthopedist.