Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Missing Car Keys

Today I was scheduled to double up on my workouts - 5 miles at a moderate pace of about 7:00 in the morning, and then some core work and 40 minutes on the elliptical machine in the afternoon.

I was cruising along nicely at the track when hitting the 3.5 mile mark I noticed my car keys were gone.  There were a few ladies walking on the track behind me, and as I approached them to ask if they had seen any keys, one of them holds them up and says "oh, are these yours?"   She launched into the explanation - she was determined to find the owner of these keys, yada yada yada.  In all honesty, if it were a man I probably would have had a few choice words, but all I said to these ladies was "yes those are mine" and they put them back.  

I mean, taking the keys is quite ridiculous - especially since I believe she was trying to find the owner of the keys.  There are only two possibilities here - either 1 - no one has lost their keys.  They belong to someone running on the track, and they will retrieve them when they are finished OR 2 - someone has in fact forgotten their keys (much less likely being that there are at least 6 people currently running on the track) This person will at some point figure out that they do not have their keys and will go back to where they left them.  IF the keys are moved to a different spot by someone, the person who forgot the keys will now NEVER find them.  What was the plan here - go ask every person on the track whether the keys were theirs?  And if not, then what, take them home??  OK - complaining now over. . . back to your regularly scheduled program. . . .

By this point, my run had lapsed for over 2 minutes.  If I was only a mile or two in, I probably would have started back up, but knowing I was going to hit the elliptical later I just hit the cool down phase and that was that.  

The good news is that the recovery is going rather well.  I'm probably at about 90% now.  Every day the Ober's Test shows improvement, the band doesn't feel nearly as tight, and I've been pain free for almost a week.  I could probably start up w/ regular workouts now, but to play it safe I'll stay in "recovery mode" for a while longer.  

Using the elliptical machine helps a lot.  I'm finding it to be a very good cross trainer - the "reverse mode" really gives the quads a nice workout, you can get your upper body involved w/ the handles which helps get the HR into 75%-80% area, and I can do it every day w/ no impact to the joints AND w/o severe knee bends (unlike the bike) so that the IT band is not rubbing against the bone to cause further irritation.  I'll probably be doubling (running + elliptical) most days now until I get back into my regular workouts.  

Training - today:  3.5 miles @ 6:55 pace, full core workout (abs, lower back, hips, glutes) 40 minutes on the elliptical w/ 13 minutes in reverse mode - level 12 of 20.

yesterday - 60 minutes on the elliptical, kept HR between 143 and 152 most of the way.

Monday, February 18, 2008


At the gym yesterday for some lifting, a lot of core work, and also hit the elliptical machine for 40 minutes.

Today was the day to run - I got in the full 4-miles @ 7:02 pace w/ no issues.  

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bobcat in the Yard

We have a fair number of bobcats in our area, and with all of the rabbits we now seem to have running through the neighborhood, we've got one particular bobcat who sees no reason not to simply make his home amongst the  humans.  

Bob found his way into our yard a couple days ago, and probably spent a good half hour there before leaving.  Unfortunately, my wife had the digital camera w/ her that day otherwise I'd have a few pictures to post.  Next time.

Today was my day to run in this IT Band recovery process.  I managed 3.5 miles before I decided to stop.  (before the run I put in a hard cap at 4 miles no matter what)  No pain, it's just that I've become so sensitive to the leg that even the slightest twinge can be felt and I simply will not allow myself to blow this recovery right now.  Went home - iced, stretched, ibuprofen.  The leg actually feels a whole lot better than it did even early last week.  Keeping the band stretched makes a big difference, but strengthening all of the muscles around the area (hip flexors, gluteus medius, etc) is what will actually provide the long term cure.

I figure I'll alternate days for a while:  Day-1 will be strengthening the area + cross training and Day-2 will be a short easy run.  I'll also be icing twice a day and stretching perhaps 4-5 times a day.  The good news is that I don't have to completely stop running w/ this injury - that certainly helps keep the mental approach to recovery in check. 

Training:  3.5 Miles @ 7:05 pace

Friday, February 15, 2008

IT Band Update

Well, I was correct, the IT band is the problem - and from what I understand it can become a very big problem if not taken care of properly.  

Also, from what I understand, this is not the sort of issue where you can just rest it and then the condition significantly improves allowing you get back to your training.  Rest on its own doesn't help much, so a more active recovery methodology is required.  In addition to the standard icing, ibuprofen, and a cut back on running, his will include a great deal of stretching the band (there are a couple of stretches I've found that are very effective), rolling the band out either w/ a foam roller or tennis balls stuffed into a sock, and strengthening the core muscles around the hips.  (hip flexors, adductors, abductors, gluteus medius, Tensor fasciae latae) Up until now, most of my core work has focused on the abdominals, the obliques, the lower back, and the hip flexors (although probably not enough on the hip flexors)  According to what I've read, if the core muscles around the hips are strengthened, the likelihood of developing IT band syndrome is significantly reduced - lesson learned.  Additionally, if I'm going to be able to handle the high volume speed work that will be coming down the line (even if the speed work is not as heavy in 2008, the plan is to be able to handle a much more significant work load leading up to the '09 season) I'm going to have to be much more solid throughout my entire core.  So my core work is going to be greatly expanded going forward - I started today actually.

In regards to cross training, I typically use the stationary bike - but that won't work here.  Reason being, anything that causes the knee to bend  to a large degree can further aggravate the problem by forcing the band to continuously rub against the bone around the outside of the knee.  It turns out the Elliptical Machine is a much better cross trainer for someone w/ IT band syndrome.  (the degree of the knee bend is not nearly as large as the bike)  I used it today for the first time, and although it was awkward at first, I think it's going to be able to do the job.  Zero issues during and after - so I think I've found my cross trainer.  

In terms of "actual running" - I have to be extremely careful not to run w/ any discomfort as the issue can get a lot worse in a hurry.  (this means absolutely NO ibuprofen several hours before a run - can't mask the pain)  I went for a short run on Thursday w/ a few breaks.  The pain typically occurs AFTER the run, so I ran no longer than 1.5 miles before stopping to make sure there were no issues.  The good news here was that w/ the 3 off days prior to the run, the muscles were well rested and the 7:05 pace actually felt like a jog.  I only ran 2.5 miles total, no pain during or after.

Obviously I'm not close to out of the woods here, but I have had no discomfort at all since Tuesday.  By stretching both sides I can clearly feel that my right side is still much tighter, and using "Ober's Test" (which is a quick and easy way to check whether or not you've got IT band syndrome) I can somewhat monitor the progress of my recovery w/o having to "test it" w/ a run that might cause further damage.  I plan on running every other day, nice and easy.  At the point where I can feel that the tightness in the band has subsided and using Ober's Test I feel no difference between my left and right sides, I'll then try to add either a little more pace or distance to a run and see how it goes.  I'm not sure when that will be, I'll just have to keep plugging away w/ the stretching, strengthening, ice etc - run what little I can - and cross train like crazy for a while.  I'm not too concerned about losing fitness right now - as long as I can run a little and cross train a lot I should be OK for a couple weeks.  Where I am concerned is that IT band syndrome is tough to eliminate once you have it - the only thing making me feel better on that front is that after researching the symptoms an such, I definitely have a more mild condition here than most of the cases I've read about.  Hopefully I caught it early enough such that I can recover quickly, but I guess I won't know that for a couple of weeks.

Monday, February 11, 2008

IT Band Issues??

The outside of my right knee felt a bit "off" Wednesday evening, but didn't appear to be anything major.  Thursday's easy run didn't aggravate it and it felt fine during the off day on Friday.  No issues during the run on Saturday, but that evening the outside of my right leg (both slightly below and slightly above the knee)  didn't feel right.  

I probably should have skipped the Sunday run as a precaution, but being that it felt OK, I went ahead and ran the scheduled 9-miler in the park.  No issues during the run. . . but about 5 minutes after the run the knee sort of "ceased up" for about 15 minutes.  Some pain even walking.  Ice and Ibuprofen helped, but the hip flexors are sore now and after reading up on my symptoms, I think I may have over-stressed my IT band on the right leg.  

The knee feels fine again today, but I know it isn't so I'll likely be taking a few days off.  I've also got an appointment w/ a CMT tomorrow.  I'm interested to see what he has to say about the hip flexors and IT band.  At this point, I don't think it's anything serious, but in hind sight I'm probably starting my rest one day late.

Training:  Sunday - 9 miles @ 7:47
Week - 38 Miles

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Scouting for Hills

 I ran my standard 6.7 mile out and back on Thursday (which includes about 3/4 of a mile at a 5.5% grade) in the park, and Friday was an "off-day" for running (lifting + core work + 40 minutes of hills on the stationary bike).  

Saturday was scheduled to be an easy day ahead of a 9-10 miler on Sunday.  However, Hill repeats will be coming soon and I needed to do some "scouting" in the park to see which trails might provide some good areas for the hill work.  I've already located a hellish hill of about 1/4 mile which averages about 18% w/ some parts over 25% (yeah that's fun) and I knew there was a longer hill (about 1/2 mile) where the grade is quite a bit less.  After a fairly easy 6-mile run, I headed over to that hill to check it out.  

I ran this 1/2 mile hill - which turned out to be 0.42 miles according to the Garmin, but I didn't like it - steep for a bit, then not so much and then somewhat steeper again towards the end.  The grade averages about 8% overall, but it's too variable.  That one's gonna be a NO.  

At the top of this trail there are 3 other trails - one of which begins w/ a really nice hill.  Walked up, and down - looked perfect -  about 0.2 miles at a 15% grade and pretty uniform throughout.  Ran a couple of repeats as a test drive and I think this one's a keeper.  First repeat was intended to be a pretty quick pace, the second one was more of a "bounding" effort to really stress the achilles and the quads but at a slower pace.  

What's really nice about the hill is that it is a bit steeper in the very beginning for about the first 1/3 (maybe 20% grade here) and then shifts to a more uniform 12% the rest of the way. . . I think this will set up perfectly for repeats where you're bounding up the first 1/3, or shifting the weight back a bit to get more of a "high knee" effect really working the muscles - and then sprinting up the last 2/3 at the 12% grade w/ pre-fatigued legs.  Five or six of those w/ minimal rest should just about kill you . . . . . just about - should be perfect.

Training:  Saturday - 8 miles - 6 miles @ 7:25 in the park followed by 3xhills (1 x 0.42 miles @ 8% grade - 7:20 pace)  (2 x 0.2 miles @ 15% grade - first one at 6:50 pace, second @ 7:32 pace)
Friday - lifting + core work + 40 minutes of hills on the bike
Thursday - 6.7 easy miles @ 7:35 pace

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Nice Day. . . But Needed to Cut it Short

The plan was to do 7 miles of negative splits.  Last time I did this, (Negative Splits) I started about 7:07 and got to about 6:56 by Mile #4 - then I picked it up finishing in about 6:45-6:35-6:21.  I remember mentioning at the time that by the last mile I was considering adding a mile or two at about 6:15-6:00 because I was feeling really good.  (didn't do it however)

I wanted to do a similar run today.  First mile was 6:55, a little fast, but I figured no big deal.  Second mile was 6:48 and now I'm thinking this is too fast - I'm going to turn it into a tempo run which is not what I want to do.  I decide to force myself to hold the pace here and I kept a watchful eye every 1/4 mile.  Third mile 6:48, then 6:46.  

Just like the last time I did this run, by the middle of the 5th mile something happens where I feel like the first part of the run was just a "warm up" and I can't help but open up the stride length which subsequently increases the pace.  And even though the HR continues to inch up mile after mile, the run seems to get progressively easier.

The back half of the 5th mile was a little faster and I came in at 6:41.  I carried that pace into the 6th mile and it got faster every quarter - Mile #6 was 6:28.  

Here's where the problem came. . . . . the track I run on is a Community College, and their track team was just starting practice.  I did my best to dodge these guys for the past couple of miles during their warm ups, but now they were taking up 7 lanes practicing their relays.  Their coach asked me to head out to lane 8 or 9.  (not much fun in that)  So, Mile #7 was cut short to only a 1/2 mile (3:06).

What ya gonna do?  Had the track team not been out there I was going to finish that mile at the 6:12 pace and then "maybe" I'd have tried to gun one just to see how it went.

This is twice now that I've done this negative split run and both times it was a similar result.  (although I was about 9 seconds/mile faster today)  The interesting thing for me is that I'm going along for 4-5 miles feeling "pretty good" and then it's like a switch goes off and I'm in this "other mode" where I can run a full tempo effort like the first 5 miles at 6:45 pace (which should add a fair amount of fatigue) never even happened.  What do I need a 5 mile MP run just to warm up??  Not likely.  So what the hell?  

If this scenario develops again (I'll try to make sure I'm not running at the same time as the track team) I'm going to keep going to see what happens.

Training:  6.5 miles (6:55-6:48-6:48-6:46-6:41-6:28-3:06)  Average pace - 6:42

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Threshold Day

I was thinking of moving my threshold workout to Wednesday this week figuring I might have some soreness two days after the 12-miler on Sunday.  The legs were fine however, so there was no reason not to run the workout on the regularly scheduled day.

Cruise Intervals today, three 2-mile repeats w/ 2-minute rests.  The workout went pretty smoothly - first interval at 12:26, second one at 12:29, and the third one at 12:28.  Average pace was then about 6:14.

Obviously the short rests (4-minutes in all) help me quite a bit - if I compare this workout to the Tempo Run I did last week (5-miles @ 6:25 pace), I was able to do one extra mile (6) at an 11 second/mile better pace (6:14 vs 6:25) for what amounted to the same effort in terms of HR.  

Looking at HR data, the averages for the 3 repeats were 160-165-166 which correspond to about 87%-90%-90% of max.  The HR for the 2nd mile of the last two repeats was 169 (92%) - meaning the last mile of those last two intervals was a little tougher, but still a bit lower than the last 2-3 miles of the Tempo run last week.  

All in all a good workout.  I'll probably run a negative split 7 or 8 miler tomorrow.  I'll start around 7:05 pace and keep ramping it down every mile.  

Training:  7 miles (including warmup and cool down) Three 2-mile repeats @ 6:14 pace w/ 2-minute breaks.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

"Longish" Run at a Decent Pace

Today was the first "long" run since the knee started bothering me.  It was only 12 miles (I was up to 14 before the knee), so not really very long but it was a good run today.  Average pace was 7:23 at an average HR of 154, not bad considering it was in the hills.

The plan is to increase the length of the Sunday run every other week such that I'll be running 14 miles in 2-weeks and then 16 miles 2-weeks after that.  I don't think I'll take it above 17 or 18 at any time until the fall, but I'll see how it goes.

Total mileage for the week was 38, so right on target.  I need to make sure the ramp is slow so next week probably will be 36-38 again and I'll look to take it to 42-43 the following week.

Training:  12 miles @ 7:23 pace
Saturday - 6 easy miles @ 7:45
Friday - lifting + core work (no running)