Seven runs in seven days

Vacation day on the ‘ole North Fork

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.3 miles
Tuesday’s run (street): 3.2 miles
Monday’s run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

Seven runs over the last seven days. So where’s my parade? The last time I ran that many days in a row was in September 2012. I didn’t cover that much distance over the past seven days (23 miles) but it brought me back to my old running schedule. Up until early 2013, I would run outside (or on the treadmill) six days a week. Monday was always my rest day. These days I typically cram my running in between Fridays and Sundays. Not the best recipe for continuous improvement.

Pretty good shot of a vineyard at 60 MPH

Since I’m on vacation this week, I had no excuse to skip a run on Monday. I ended up on the treadmill because it was raining. At least I think that’s why. I have almost no memory of that workout. Tuesday was a typical neighborhood jaunt and Wednesday was more of the same but a little longer. Later in the day we went out to the North Fork of Long Island for the day and enjoyed the sights (and food) in towns like Greenport and Southhold. Between running and walking, I accumulated a lot of steps.

I considered making today a rest day since my right foot has taken over responsibility for torturing me with Plantar Faciiitis. The weather was too nice to skip a run, so I wore my cushy Saucony Triumph ISOs to minimize impact on my heel. The pain was bearable, but today I felt some pain and tightness at my right hip. That may be signs of Piriformis syndrome. I had similar sciatic nerve pain when I was recovering from a herniated disc a couple of years ago. It may be a recurrence of that, or it could be punishment for running so many days in a row.

I may end my running streak tomorrow and switch to the elliptical. Working out with different motion and lower impact may be the best way to proceed at this point. I can always resume running on Saturday. If the weather is nice  on Friday I may have trouble staying indoors.

The sting of a million bees

Tools of recovery

Today’s run (street): 3.75 miles

Whenever I go out for a run, I think about the things I should capture in that day’s post. This blog has served as my running journal since November 2008 and it’s been a handy resource for looking back throughout the years. Today I thought about how two people wished me happy Easter as I ran through the neighborhood (hey, what about Passover?!), how I could smell the the salty ocean air and how annoying it was to get gravel in my shoes from all the recent pothole repairs. Little did I know that the key item of this post would happen during the last second of my run.

Things started out okay. My nagging piriformis injury felt a bit more pronounced this morning than yesterday, but not by much. I had used both my massage stick and a tennis ball earlier to loosen up my sore muscles. I was hoping for more improvement. To understand how I felt, imagine how it would feel to have a skilled rolfer jam their index finger knuckle deeply into your left glute every time you took a step. It wasn’t too comfortable, but it was tolerable.

After about ten minutes, the discomfort began to diminish and I started to feel more like my old self. My goal was to increase my distance 10% beyond yesterday’s run and I knew that would not be a problem. I was less than a quarter mile from my house when I turned onto a road I’d literally run a thousand times and made my way over to the sidewalk. I typically end my runs by following this sidewalk that wraps up and around a couple of short roads before delivering me to my street.

Just when I was feeling encouraged by having completed two decent neighborhood runs this weekend, my toe caught a raised section of the sidewalk and I began falling toward the concrete. I know what it’s like to take that fall and did everything I could to stay upright. My instinct was to pull up on my hamstring. When I did that, I felt the pain of a million bee stings along in my lower glute.

My first reaction was frustration that I was back to square one with this injury. I tried to take a couple of walking steps, but was warned off by the pain. Although I was only a minute’s walk away from my house, I didn’t feel like I could do it without making the injury worse. I called my wife and asked her to pick me up. It was not the way I’d imagined this run would end.

After the very brief ride home, I was able to walk more comfortably. That gave me hope that I hadn’t done further damage today. I immediately began icing the sore area and I’ve continually rotated cold packs since then. It’s uncomfortable, but I’m not getting the searing pain I expected when I move around. It’s more of a heightened version of my previous sciatic pain.

I’ve taken a few “running” steps in the meantime and it’s actually not that bad. I’m guessing that all the icing has helped reduce painful inflammation. What I don’t know is how it will feel under non-iced conditions. I’m on vacation a few days next week and was hoping to get in some additional running. With today’s setback, I may need to hold off. I will test the waters with an elliptical session tomorrow and see how it goes from there.

Oh, and you can bet I’m remaking that orthopedist appointment.

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 think I have a syndrome

So far, December has been a very low mileage month. Some of that has to do with my schedule, but this week it’s mostly due to a persistent soreness that may or not be sciatica. Sciatica’s root cause points to scary sounding things like lumbar spinal stenosis, isthmic spondylolisthesis and Piriformis syndrome. As bad as they sound, most relate to disk compression or misalignment. I think Piriformis syndrome, when the sciatic nerve is irritated by inflammation, is the most likely culprit.

I bought a massage stick and have used it frequently since Sunday. It helps me put pressure where I feel the most pain but I suspect that I’m not really getting to the source of the problem. I get relief immediately after using it, but the next morning the soreness returns. Despite everything, this ache hasn’t lessened much since the last time I ran. That’s frustrating because I want to run tomorrow, but I’m very concerned that will worsen the problem.

If I was smart I’d take this opportunity to shift to a form of cross training that provides cardio benefits without aggravating my injury. But that would require me to use weights or do push-ups or something. The elliptical is a possibility, although my hope is that I’ll wake up tomorrow pain free and ready to run.