Friday, June 10, 2016

poo miles

Yesterday I went to a friends house to rescue him from his poo filled basement.  I was able to remove the pump and auger, fix it, and put it back in and get the basement drained.  It was a really shitty way to spend the evening.  After a good shower I decided to stop and do a moonlit run on the C&O canal.  Frustrated by my knees, spending my days doing PT, and spending the evening ankle deep in poo....I decided to hell with all of it and ran faster than I'm supposed to.  5 miles in 31:05.  Not bad for out of shape and running in the dark.  Glad I didn't fall into the canal.  The moon was really amazing.  It was low in the sky so it was huge, but it was just a sliver.  The sort of moon you see in photo's with the kid hanging there fishing. 

Anyways, feel pretty good today.  Sore in the quads I guess.  Birthday is coming up.  If anyone wants to get me anything, I need about 6 years of training without pain.  If you're feeling generous...  I'd like 3 more Cavs victories during the finals.  I think it has been proven that the best way to do that hasn't been to take Curry or Thompson out of the game, but rather to clunk KLove in the head.  Don't go Gillooly on my here, but if you happen to have some Voodoo skills I'd be ok with that.

After spending an evening in poo....I swear I still smell it.  It's burned into my sinuses or something.  Reminded me of this funny song.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

off the rails

I drove to Ohio for Memorial Day weekend and, as Tom likes to say, the wheels came off.  I'd been running ok, struggling to add to my workouts but not making many gains as far as mileage.  Then sitting in the car just killed me.   We had to leave right around the time everyone else in DC hit the highway.  I wasn't all that happy about that.  My step-son has missed 17 days of school this year' which is nothing considering he somehow convinced his mother that he had headaches for 2 years and didn't attend school.   Fortunately for him the malady only struck on the weekdays.  I'm not Sherlock Holmes so I'll not elaborate on my I could do an entire post on that.  Anyways, we've been notified by the school than any more days missed and we'll be in trouble so we couldn't leave early. 

Hitting the road at 3:30 on a holiday weekend in what is always the top or 2nd highest traffic congestion area in the US....isn't optimal.  The normal 5:45 trip took us 8 hours.  When I unfolded from the car (even having stopped multiple times) my back, hamstrings, etc felt like I'd been folded into a suitcase and mailed to Siberia.  Fortunately it was a beautiful night in Ohio so I was able to do a good walk and some good stretching while everyone else went in and went to sleep. 

Saturday I got up early and did a nice nostalgic run around my hometown.  Mom tagged along on the bicycle and she added about 8 more miles.  Having been running only on hilly trails, and in really hot and humid conditions, I was usually only running between 7:20 and 8:10 pace per mile back in DC.  That morning, maybe because of nostalgic energy, maybe the weather, or maybe running on asphalt...I averaged just under 6:10 pace.

The next few days I didn't run.  We did a lot of family activities, went to Niagara Falls, etc.  So I just took those days off.  I didn't even do my physical therapy.  My mom and I walked ourselves silly though.  Every evening when Inna and Vitalii ran out of energy mom and I would head back out and go, go, go.  We had a great time.  My mother sure is a tough woman ready to tag along on any adventure.  Unfortunately my habit of taking the road less traveled with my adventures meant that one evening in an unique section of Buffalo her car got broken into and they stole her Garmin.  Booo!!!!

The drive back to DC was around 8 hours, but I didn't stop as often and I sure did pay the price.  My first run my knees hurt, a lot :-(.  I took a day off and did my exercises then the next day when I tried to run I made 2 miles and they hurt so bad I decided to walk.  I spent 3 days icing and not running and got back in to see Matt.  We decided that my Psoas got too tight.  It was still pretty crazy tight.  He tortured me with some stretches for about 30 minutes and then did more dry needling followed by some stim. 

We're thinking that sitting shuts off my glutes, because when he measures them they're strong enough.  Weak right glute and tight right Psoas pulling me crooked. The exercises I'm doing should do the trick, but he added a glute activation exercise to do before I run.  I'll take today off because my quads are really hurting from the dry needling.  Then tomorrow I'll try to get back after it again. 

No more cars!!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

learning what working hard is

My step-son is about as lazy as they come.  My mom likes to laugh at me about it.  She knows that throughout my entire life I've never had much patience...especially with laziness.  When I was a college coach that was the biggest thing I hated about the job.  Dealing with lazy people.  I can't count how many times I'd have someone in my office all afternoon telling me how badly they wanted to be All-American.  Just how driven they were to be great....and then the moment passed and all that gusto just seemed to run right out of them like air escaping a balloon, because I never saw any of that desire expressed in actual work.

I was very quick to give up on anyone who didn't live running.  You know how coaches all say they'd rather have a mediocre runner who tried hard than a talented runner who didn't?  Well I didn't even bother.   The path to mediocrity doesn't need an escort.  I only gave my coaching time to hard workers.  The rest could read the workout from the wall in the gym and have at it, or not. 

So here I am, on a daily basis coming home to a young sheltered 16yr old who hasn't ever known real work.  His exasperation when given simple tasks is something I just was never prepared for.  Some kharmic angel sent him to me to round me out a bit, build something in me...but I gander I'm probably failing.

Which brings me back to my running.  I've been bragging lately about just how strong I've been getting, only to have setback after setback.   My attempt at returning to running so far has been a frustrating and totally humiliating experience.  Well, if all I can do is run 30 minutes a day and do physical therapy....then I'm going to own that shit! 

Matt, my physical therapist has been slowly removing limiting factors.  My back wasn't firing, my hips were weak, my QL was locking in compensation.  One by one we've strengthened to reduce the symptoms.  Each week he assigns me new exercises without taking away the old ones.  Each week I astonish him at how strong I got that week.

Last week I was able to run 6 days.  When I started my 4 mile loop (at 128 HR) I was able to do it in 35:10.  That quickly came down to 34:12 average.  A few more weeks and I was averaging 31:17.  Now I average 28:20.  So I'm back to running 7 minute miles on hilly twisting trails at a very low heart rate (even with 176 average cadence).

I started out, as I posted earlier, doing about 2hrs of physical therapy exercises a day.  Now I'm up to almost 4.  I wake up to 16 minutes of various planks followed by 18 minutes of various bridges.  then I'm off to work where every hour I take a break and do 9 minutes of my suitcase carries and different variations, or my foot exercises, or my stability with weights exercises, or my weight assisted stretching routine.  After work I run 30 minutes, then my stability exercises and ball routine.  After that my stretching exercises, shower, etc.  

I'm going to fix this, I'm going to be the best 42yr old runner I can be.  It's the journey.  If I have to remake every muscle in my body I will.  I'm done complaining, I'm done being frustrated.  It's time to embrace this shit and show it who's boss.  I'm not afraid of work, I define work.

People say the best thing for a child is to see consistency, work ethic, and healthy habits.  It's in front of him, all day, every day.  If none of it sinks I said before, he'll have plenty of company on the mediocre highway.  I have a different destination for myself in mind.

Friday, May 13, 2016


Everything was going along smoothly, until it wasn't.  I got up to running 2 days, then 1 day off.  I was increasing all my exercises...but my back wasn't responding.  One day I woke up with a kink in my neck.  Figure I was doing too many push-ups with my feet on the exercise ball.  I took that day off running and did more stretching.  All that stretching without exercising seemed to make my back I took another day off.  By then my neck and back were so bad that I had to make an emergency appointment with Matt my Physical Therapist.  He worked on my back and shoulder gave me some homework....

So I've been doing my homework.  I'm back to running 2 days on and 1 day off.  My runs are still going awesome.  My heart rate has come down while my cadence work has done wonders.  I'm pretty consistently running 170-176 cadence easy cheesy.  Doesn't feel all that weird anymore either.

I went for PT today and we found that my back just isn't responding.  The funny things we've noticed... 

1) When my back tightens up my knee hurts.   Regardless of activity or inactivity. 

2) Doing a "suitcase carry" or "bottoms up kettlebell carry" exercise almost immediately helps my back.  too many however or too much running and my QL locks up and I'm leaning right a bit.

3) At around 28 minutes of running (I currently run for 31-34 minutes for my loop) my left hip fatigues and I can feel that instead of springing off the ground, my right leg is catching me, sinking in, then having to muscles me up.  That I'm sure comes with some hip tilt and then causes my right leg/knee to dive in.  When that happens my form has basically gone bad.  Keeping the high rpm combats this because my stride is shorter, but not completely...and I can only maintain the high cadence for so long.  So for now we'll keep the run duration right around 30 minutes and just add more runs per week.

My functional strength measure ok for everything.  My form on the treadmill looks great... but I still get the neck kink with too many exercises and right QL lock with too many.  So today he introduced me to dry needling.  This is where he takes acupuncture needles and jams them through the skin, then moves around here and there poking and aggravating the muscles.  He said this causes them to send acid and enzymes there to repair them, and blood to wash away everything.  Basically attacking the adhesion's like massage.  Holy hell!!  rank this right up there with the dentists drill.  He worked on my right quad for about 10 minutes and I was just about to my limit when he graciously moved on to my hip and back.  Hip and back didn't bother me nearly as much.  A few places really seemed to release things.  I'm sore, but my range of motion and strength improved pretty dramatically really quickly.  The leg though.  Dang!!! I'm barely able to kneel down.  My quad is pretty sore.

We'll see what that does for me.   Setback after setback....but at least I'm running.  I may be the slowest man slogging through the woods but I'm getting out there and enjoying it....

maybe I'm in last place....but hopefully I can pull a Waddle.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

getting stronger

I've slowly been getting better at my physical therapy exercises.  Last week I was finally able to get through 3 sets of all of them.  I was rewarded this week with more and harder exercises.  So far when he's added exercises he hasn't let me stop the old ones....and now it seems I have more to do than I can fit into my evenings.  Today I got up early to do some.

I only got to run twice last week because I was busy.  I'm trying to run with a high cadence and I feel like I'm prancing along like I'm training for Riverdance....but I do feel better.  It'll be a lot better when I'm fit enough to run at a pace that warrants a fast cadence.  For now it's just good for my stride and hips. 

Yesterday I ran at lunch and it was pretty hot (83 degrees) compared to what I was used to.  I was doing this loop 4 years ago between 33 and 35 minutes.  Yesterday I was feeling pretty good for about 28 minutes, but with the higher cadence my heart rate was higher than it should be for the pace I was running.  After 28 minutes my hips were getting really sore and I could feel a bit in my patella.  I end every run praying my patella doesn't flare up.  At 35 minutes I stopped and walked in. Probably would have been around 37 or 38 for the loop.  So pretty slow, but I'm so happy to be out there I guess I don't care how slow it is. 

I went to the gym at lunch today and I'm really happy with how all the core and hip stuff I've been doing has translated to strength in other areas.  My pull-ups and just about everything are way better.  Hopefully next time I go to physical therapy he lets me drop some of the easier exercises so I can fit in some other things. 

Here are some of the hardest exercises I do..

1) planks with leg movement.  I do 1 minute of normal plank lifting one leg at a time up using my back muscles, then immediately turn to this side plank moving my top leg in a running motion..., then roll to the other side.  After the 3 minutes I take a 30 second break and then do it again.  I do 3 sets.

2) Next I do band walks.  Those are pretty easy looking but after 3 passes back and forth of my living room my hips are cooked.

3) next I do one legged squats where I push the up leg into a ball.  This puts a lot of lateral pressure on the leg that I'm squatting with.

4) Next I do 1 legged bridges and I dip the hip of my up leg 30 times during the 1 minute bridge.  I do that 3 times with both legs.

5) Next I take bands and close them in my door.  I stand with my right side toward the door and stand on one leg.  With the bands in my hands in front of my stomach I twist to the right, middle, left, and when I go back to middle I take my hands straight out.  I do that 10 times with each foot then turn and do them facing the other way.  It may sound simple but it was almost impossible at first.  Now I can do them ok, my balance is getter better and I can really feel my feet getting stronger and I have to force myself to turn. 

6) most of the other exercises are balance related.  They don't seem very hard except that I do them when my hips are already cooked from the other exercises. 

As I was running in the woods yesterday I just kept waiting for my knee to hurt and praying that my patella holds up and I can really start to run.  So far so good. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

a restart?

I've spent a pretty fair amount of my time in the last 3 weeks sitting in doctors offices.  A lot of interesting news.  Just enough to get me to start dreaming again.   I'm afraid to even write about it and jinx myself.

First the doctors, then trip for MRI, then back to doctor, then to physical therapist.  Turns out at some point I had a bulged disc that pressed on the nerve that tells my multifidis to fire.  The disc bulge went back on its own, but the muscle wasn't getting the signal and wasn't working.  I did a week's worth of exercises and got that firing again and now I'm finding all sorts of weakness because I've spent a few years compensating for the back stuff.

First off is a horribly weak left hip and poor stability when doing one legged squats with my right leg.  I did about 2 weeks of all sorts of crazy exercises for those.  Pretty pathetic! One of the exercises was a side plank, but instead of just holding, I rotated my top leg as though I was running.  I could last 7 seconds.  Well, after 2 weeks of that I can now do 3 sets of 1 minute.  My hips are getting nice and strong, my core is nice and strong.  Still weakness in my left hip, but the main problem now is the stability issues when squatting. 

Right now we're tackling that with some exercises where I land and hop stopping in a one legged squat.  Sort of odd to express in writing.  We'll see how all that goes.  All I can say is that every night I go to bed with my hips totally wore out and all day long they're quite sore.  Good sore!!

Yesterday they had me run on the treadmill and did video gate analysis from the side and back.  My form over 6:10 pace is too up and down and my cadence is too slow.  Once I get faster than 6:10 my cadence improves, but I'm still up and down.  Measuring my legs upon landing it's quite clear that I'm catching myself cushioning with my muscles, then having to push up and off again.  Hopefully cadence with take care of some of that.  The other problem is that I lean to the right when I run.  He thinks that's is what has been the main issue putting more stress on that right knee.  Probably due to my back not working, my left hip being too weak, and my back to those exercises.  For now that's my emphasis...but I am allowed to run. 

Here's hoping I finally beat this thing.  Don't just be teasing me!  I want to run!  Save some love for me!