Saturday, June 27, 2009

Difficult Decision

It felt great to get in a workout last Saturday.  A combo of controlled speed (2 x 600m @ 1:44) and some decent repeats in spikes (2 x 300m @ 45.5) after a warm up and a solid 2 x 200m @ about 28 per.  No issues w/ the back/hip, but unfortunately the left calf and adductor that have been very tight since the back flare up felt tight the next day.  Sure enough, during the session w/ the CMT on Monday those areas weren't the greatest.  

At that point, it became pretty clear what I had ahead of me this summer.  I could scale back my workouts and up my treatments for a few weeks and then try to get in a few weeks of sharpening (albeit after some fitness loss) in an attempt to perhaps get in one or two races at the end of the summer - OR - I could make the decision to simply pull the plug here, get some rest for a couple of weeks, enjoy the summer w/ the family a bit more and then get a head start on what will be a very elaborate build for next year.

Clearly I was disappointed that it was coming to this.  But to be perfectly honest, during those few hours when the back/hip thing came out of nowhere and I was wondering when I'd even be able to walk let alone run - the thought did enter my mind that this season at best would be compromised, and at worst could be in serious jeopardy.  

After examining my goals the decision became pretty clear cut.  The original goal for this season was to gain some experience, run about six 800m races and finish up running at Nationals in early August.  No shot at placing this year, just gain the experience of running in a big meet and be as competitive as possible.  I say 'August' because Nationals have been run the first weekend in August every year for a while - however I discovered in May that this year, the Nationals meet was moved up to July 9th.  Immediately I knew I would not be in good enough shape to feel comfortable running in that meet in early July, so the goals shifted to simply gaining some racing experience and have fun running locally w/ my 'big meet' actually being the first one on May 24th.  

Longer term, the goal was unchanged - get to 2-flat or better and look to be competitive enough for a top-5 finish at Nationals.  (I never posted these goals because I wanted to get one solid race under my belt first to confirm that it was at least quasi-realistic)

Being that Nationals were already out for this year, and w/ the limited training I'd be able to do the rest of the way, the chances of going 2-flat this season dropped from slim to none.  So what it really came down to was - would I rather enjoy running a few races towards the end of the season w/o the times being what I'd like or would I rather let the body rest up a bit, continue w/ the massage treatments to finish flushing everything out, and get about a 6-week head start on my training for next season.  (the last part obviously giving me a better chance of hitting my longer term goals)

So like I said, with the longer term goals taking priority, the decision became quite clear.  

I can't say it's the greatest feeling in the world to be pulling the plug on this season already, especially after the freak fall that screwed up my hand killed the winter season - but to be honest, I'm very thankful to have been able to run what was going to be my biggest meet anyway in May.  The experience I gained in that one race will help me tremendously next time out.

In the next post I'll go over the training plan.  There will be several additions to the weekly routine . . . 



Sunday, June 21, 2009

800m Race Photos (May 24th)


I look a lot more relaxed coming through that first lap than I do on the 2nd!  Actually very relaxed on lap-1 considering it was about a 58.3 . . . . . . gotta gain the fitness required to run the 2nd lap better.


video

Unfortunately, the photos don't show well on this thing.  I've posted a few of them below so that they're more visible:


Opening 200m


First Lap
(My wife's first comment after the race, "you need a tan!")


Feeling relaxed finishing up the first 400m . . . 


 . . . Not so much on the last last 50m
(obviously Brendan and I attended the same class on "Displaying your Race Day Face"!!)


The most important part of race day . . . . the post race beer!


Figured I'd throw one in w/ my wife (I even shaved for this one!)


Also, I was messing around w/ Flickr but was unable to have Blogspot communicate w/ the Flickr account.  So I just added a link on the sidebar under "Slideshows" that has my first one.  It's a show of our Garden/Koi pond in the yard - the photos were taken this week.  Let me know if you have any issues viewing it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Finally . . . . A Workout!

Exactly 3 weeks to the day since my last workout (and 3 weeks to the day since my hip/back got zapped) I was on the track for a quasi-legit session.  

I've been feeling much better these past few days.  However the calf/adductor combo that caused some issues going around the turns on the track is still present, albeit to a lesser degree.  

I had 3 goals for this session:

1.  Determine how far the calf/adductor have come along over the past 10 days.
2.  Get in some controlled speed work .
3.  If possible, get into the spikes for a few quick repeats.

I wasn't exactly sure where my fitness would be w/ about a week off and two very down weeks, but I penciled in the following wo as a target:

2 x 200m (at whatever the calf/adductor would allow - hopefully under 30)
5-minutes to re-stretch the trouble spots
2 x 600m @ sub-1:45 (3-min rest between)
8-minute set break
3 x 300m (in spikes) w/ about 90-second rests.  Pace TBD depending on how I was feeling.

I could feel the calf on the turns of the 200s, but I was able to get to a slightly quicker pace before they flared up, and the discomfort wasn't nearly as bad.  The 200s came in at 28.8 and 28.0.

The first 600 felt really good.  Relaxed, controlled effort and pretty even pace the whole way - 1:43.  On #2 I did what I usually do and let the pace come naturally.  Typically this means that #2 is faster than #1 and this was the case early on.  At 300m I was 2-seconds ahead of the rep-1 pace and I was looking for a 1:41-1:42 . . . but at this point, my fitness drop became apparent.  I struggled a bit through the 2nd half and finished w/ a 1:45.  Not that big a deal, it's probably going to take a couple of weeks to get that fitness back up - at least I now know where I stand.

During the set break I changed into my spikes and got ready for my 300s.  I figured I'd need to be careful as the calf issue was definitely going to be there to some degree.  On the first 300 I could feel the calf a little during the opening straightaway - this was new - I assumed it was due to being in spikes, but it wasn't too bad.  Thankfully, it didn't get any worse on the turn and I came through the finish in 45.1  After a 100m jog back to the start followed by an additional 1-minute rest I was off on #2.  I backed off on the pace just a hair to keep from flaring up the calf and surprisingly this worked perfectly.  No calf issues at all on #2 and I was still able to come in at 45.9  

At this point I decided not to press my luck w/ a 3rd rep - I had gotten everything I wanted out of this session and I felt it was important for me to leave the track on a high note w/ some precious confidence restored.

Overall things went very well considering I haven't done much these past 3-weeks.  My fitness is off obviously, but probably not by too much.  Clearly I did not feel like myself during the 2nd half of the 2nd 600 - but I guess that should have been expected.  The calf/adductor are getting better, but not all the way back.  This kept my speed from being back near 100%, but that was only because the tightness kept a lid on how hard I can push it.  The massage is helping tremendously here, but they were so locked up that it's going to take a few sessions to get these guys back to normal.  Hopefully I continue to make progress here in the coming weeks.

Finally - the hip/back gave me ZERO issues today.  Again, I'll need to be hopeful that this remains the case going forward, but so far so good.  

Easy day tomorrow - massage on Monday, and if all's clear, the next workout should be Wednesday.  

Training:  

Fri, 6/19:  31-minutes @ 6:51 pace

Sat, 6/20:  2 x 200m (28.8, 28.0), 2 x 600m (1:43, 1:45), 2 x 300m (45.1, 45.9)

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Week That Was

Who knows what next week will bring, but as of right now things are improving.  I was back at the massage therapist on Monday where she worked through the trouble spots.  For the most part, everything was much improved - only one muscle in the left calf is still tight.

In an attempt to determine whether or not I've got any imbalance issues, I saw a PT/trainer on Wednesday.  He put me through several tests and determined the following:

1.  Flexibility was good.
2.  No obvious mechanical issues
3.  Strength was good in all areas (adductors, glutes, abs, obliques, etc)
4.  Balance not as good on single leg squats as it should be (knees tended to move inwards) 

This 4th point was essentially the only negative mark I had.  What came out of that was that I was given a few exercises to do at home that should hopefully improve this area.  In addition, I'm going to start doing several stability exercises at home. I figure I should do everything I can to minimize the chances of injury going forward.

On the running front, due to work and other things I wound up going every other day for most of the week.  I can tell I'm feeling better because the paces in the trails are picking up.  

I only had time for a short run on Tuesday, and I wound up hitting the last mile in 5:38 just to see how it felt and I was fine.  On Thursday it became obvious the body was itching for a workout when I hit the first mile in 6:47 and continued to pick the pace up from there.

The plan is to do an easy run on Friday followed by a workout on Saturday.  (I really need to get a workout in)

Training:

Sun, 6/14:  31-minutes @ 6:47

Mon, 6/15:  Appt w/ CMT

Tues, 6/16:  3-miles @ 6:34  (last mile - 5:38)

Wed, 6/17:  Appt w/ PT/Trainer

Thurs, 6/18:  28-minutes @ 6:37

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Progress?

The good news is that the back/hip is continuing to improve - so much so that I don't even remember that it's not 100% except for a couple time per day when I stretch or loosen up.  I don't feel any discomfort during normal activities or running.

After an easy run in the trails on Sunday, I headed over to the track on Monday for a light workout:  in and out 200s at a moderate pace just to get the legs used to moving quickly again.  I did take the watch, but didn't look at the times until the session was over so as not to influence the wo at all.  The first couple of 200s went fine, but on #3 the top part of the calf and bottom of the hamstring on the inside of the left leg didn't feel that great around the turn - the straightaway was fine, but the act of turning at a halfway decent speed was not comfortable.  Same thing on #4.  I was reduced to running the turns easy and hitting the straights a little harder.  

Clearly I had some tightness in the hamstring and calf, essentially along one consistent line (starting mid hamstring down to mid calf)  I could run as hard as I wanted as long as I wasn't in the act of turning - but the curve caused discomfort.

Checking the watch later I found that the first two 200s were at 32, and the next two were at 29.  I then just ran some curves starting at a slow pace, and ramping up the pace on each one until I started to feel the discomfort just to see where the tripping point was.  

Later that evening I poked around and determined that I had some serious tightness along one line on the hamstring and the top of the calf.  This was confirmed on Tuesday by the massage therapist.  The tightness was way beyond the standard tightness I get normally from training, so I had her really dig into it to get the muscles to release.  

What caused it, I don't know.  I obviously don't feel any discomfort on my normal runs, and I haven't tried to run a decent curve since the hip flare up - and being that it's on the same leg - perhaps when the hip went, these muscles locked up to protect themselves.  I just don't know.  

The good news is that this can be worked out in a couple of massage sessions - it's already feeling better.  However, the bad news is that the clock is ticking and I'm still not able to run actual workouts.  

I took a couple days off after the massage as the soreness that followed was pretty intense.  (I hobbled around for 2 days - but when the tightness is that bad, it's the only way to get those guys to release)  

Yesterday I hit the trails for a short run.  Physically everything was good, but my HR was up some.  I'll have to keep a close eye on that over the next few days.

Training:

Sun, 6/7:  30-minutes @ 6:44 pace

Mon, 6/8:  lifting (upper-B, abs) rolling
PM - short track session, 4 x 200 (32, 32, 29, 29)  tightness in left calf/hamstring

Tues, 6/9:  appt w/ CMT

Wed/Thurs, 6/10 - 6/11:  Off (massage soreness)

Fri, 6/12:  25-minutes @ 6:48 pace

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Injury Update

By Monday I was pretty convinced the problem was not actually w/ my back.  From all the research I did, it seemed what I had was more a problem w/ the SI joint between the sacrum and the hip.  The main issue was simply that the joint was unstable (not good for a weight bearing joint), however it was improving every day.

I x-trained on Monday and Tuesday, but I also did some stretching on Tuesday which inadvertently irritated the issue and set me back.  On Wednesday I did see a Chiropractor, who suggested that the problem may have been caused by a tight adductor muscle on the right side that may have had a spasm while sitting in the ice water - this spasm tugged at the sacrum which got it out of alignment and caused the issue in the SI joint.  (he stated that my spine was in good shape and he was actually surprised it was aligned so well w/ all the pounding my body has been taking w/ all the training)  

Long story short - the stability of this joint is improving every day.  On Thursday I x-trained again only this time I was good enough to do a great spinner bike session after my 40-minutes on the elliptical.

On Friday I hit the elliptical again, and then got onto the treadmill for 3-miles.  I started about 7:30 pace and ramped down to 5:56 - no issues.  

Today I went to the track to run 4-miles (I want to avoid the trails right now as I don't feel an uneven surface is best) However, I can only run so slow on a track and after a 6:20 opening mile and a 5:54 second mile I decided to take a 3-minute break before continuing.  (coach said I should not put myself into a position where my body experienced any fatigue at all - didn't want to compromise form at all until we were sure the SI joint would hold)  After the 3-min break I did 2 x 400m at 78 and then 72 w/ a 1-min break.  

Everything went OK, however I believe the joint is currently robbing me of some power.  I don't feel I'm covering as much ground per stride as before.  But as long as I'm improving every day, if a slight loss of power is my only issue right now considering I could barely walk a week ago - well, I'll just have to accept that.  

The plan is another easy day tomorrow and if everything is good, some in and out 200s (w/o the watch!) on Monday just to get up on the toes a bit and see how that goes.  I have a CMT appt on Tuesday where the focus will be the adductors and hips - just loosen the whole area up.

If all's good there then it will be time to hopefully start back up again.  However, I obviously have several dots to connect between now and then, so nothing is guaranteed. 

Training:

Mon, 6/1:  x-train - elliptical and spinner bike

Tues, 6/2:  x-train - elliptical (did some stretching which aggravated the area)

Wed, 6/3:  x-train - elliptical

Thurs, 6/4:  x-train - elliptical, tough spinner bike session

Fri, 6/5:  x-train - elliptical, 3-miles on treadmill

Sat, 6/6:  2-miles (6:20, 5:54), 2 x 400m (78, 72) 

Monday, June 1, 2009

That was Scary

Strength-speed workout on Saturday.  I didn't nail the session as I'd have liked, but to some degree I think it was because it was a bit too aggressive (target - three 800s and a 600 all under 2:20 half pace in the span of about 25-minutes)  However, I did run hard so at least I got in some quality work.

The big story was later that evening. I was icing my calves (which surprisingly are feeling much better now).  Just sitting down w/ the lower legs in some ice water.  After about 15-minutes it was time to step out and dry off.  As I stood up, my lower back felt odd.  I toweled off, walked into the bedroom and a severe pain shot through me like a lightning bolt.  I went to the bed to lie down for a few minutes - maybe I was in the ice water a few minutes too long?  About 5-minutes later I stood up again and my lower back didn't feel right.  I tried walking - definitely some pain - about 10-seconds later a violent pain shot through me again and I hit the deck - couldn't even stand.  Something was seriously wrong.

I've never had lower back pain before (aside from muscle soreness from lifting or working in the yard, etc)  This was definitely nerve related - not muscular.  I was thinking, "did I slip a disk?", "do I have a pinched nerve?"  In either case, I knew one thing for certain - I couldn't walk w/o fear of falling to the ground at any moment.  This was scary.

At this point I certainly had bigger problems than "how/when was I going to be able to run again?", but from the running perspective, yeah - it looked it was all but over for a while.  How can you run workouts and races when you can't even stand up much less walk??

For the next hour I tried to figure out what had gone wrong w/o much luck.  I kept "testing" it by moving into different positions and occasionally trying to walk (I dropped to the ground at least 5 more times)  Then while standing I did some kind of movement w/ the spine and I heard a "pop".  The area was still sore, but all of a sudden I could walk.  I walked around for a while and I thought the problem was essentially solved - whatever popped out popped back in and I was OK.

Not so much.  A short while later it was back "out".  It soon became apparent that this wasn't a disk popping in and out, but in a certain position it was much better.

I went to bed very early and had a miserable night's sleep.  When I could get the back into the "good position" by laying on one side I was OK, but if I moved to the other side it shifted to the "bad position".  I wound up doing some self-physio on the hip and glute muscles around 2:45 am as the whole hip joint didn't feel right.  (this combo of tennis ball and foam roller that does wonders on this area)  This actually helped some and I was able to then get some sleep.

By the next day I was "experienced" enough w/ this thing to get back into the "good position" more quickly which kept me from hitting the floor, and I was able to keep it in this position longer.  When it got into the bad position I could position myself in a certain way where I'd hear the slight pop (almost like cracking a knuckle) and I'd be OK.  Of course the overall area was still sore.  

By mid-day I went outside and started doing some minor things in the yard.  Later in the day I was able to do more and although the back was still a problem, for the first time I started thinking that it was actually improving. 

Here comes the part where you'll think I'm nuts - of course I couldn't run, but I figured, "hey if I can do some stuff in the yard I should be able to x-train".  So I was off to the gym only 20-hours after being unable to stand.  (maybe I am a little crazy)  

Twenty-five minutes on the elliptical actually made it feel better!  Then 20-minutes on the spinner bike where I did 3 solid intervals.  I finished up w/ 20-minutes on another stationary bike as a cool down.  All in all not bad - nothing got worse and honestly I was feeling a little better.

Last night it still went in and out, but the feeling when it was out was improving and it was now very easy to get it back in.  Today it's still sore and I can get some pains in it, but there is no longer an in and out at all, just general soreness.  

When it comes to nerve/disk issues w/ the back, I can't say I know too much about it, but I know enough to know that there is no such thing as "out of the woods".  So although things are improving quickly, there are no guarantees what will happen even 3-minutes from now.  I don't know what caused it - all I know is that I had both legs in ice water up to the knees for 15-minutes and was sitting when it happened, and my left hip joint (same side the pain was on) had felt tight for a day or two beforehand.  Maybe my CMT can shed some light on the subject.

I don't know when I'll feel healthy enough to try a run, maybe Wednesday, maybe not until the weekend, maybe later than that - I just don't know.

At this point, I'm just thankful to be able to walk and do most day-to-day things.  Every 8-12 hours there is noticeable improvement so I'll just hang my hat on that for now.  Hopefully the worst is over and I'll be back in action soon.

Training:

Sat, 5/30:  800m-2:21, 550m-1:35, 800m-2:23, 600m-1:45  (550 was supposed to be 800, just didn't feel like I could get it done.  Re-grouped and got in the 2nd half of the w/o)  the 600 was supposed to be 600 - didn't cut that one short.

Sun, 5/31:  X-train  (elliptical, spinner bike)