Monday, October 15, 2018

Maine Focus

Just got back from Maine...and completed marathon #43! How did this happen? When I last wrote in August it seemed like I was sliding backwards. And maybe I was. Maybe all my hard work with creating a different running form, building up muscle, stretching an absurd amount each day did not really fix the issue(?) I do know that I got a cortisone shot (which I still am convinced do not help me or at least help me right away) as well as an HA injection. Let's back up a bit.
After my article, I got a cortisone shot on August 23rd. People claim to feel an immediate difference. I felt nothing and was up against a deadline. I needed to start increasing mileage or pull out of the marathon. I then went in on August 28th and received an HA injection. By the end of the week, my pain was decreasing. Then on September 1st I ran 12 and felt really good! There is one other thing I changed though

I made a VERY strong commitment to cadence and lean in my running form. I had already changed a lot about my form (landing on midfoot, etc). I had improved my cadence, but I honestly was not religious about counting it. Starting on my runs after the HA shot, I started to count every 4 miles. And I made sure I was in the 170-180 range. That just was what came naturally to me. To be honest, the HA shot probably helped a lot. But I would not be surprised if the commitment to cadence also went really far.
Anyway, about the race! Emily and I went and stayed in an Inn right at the starting line. Emily ran the half! And she destroyed it where she PR'd by like 8 minutes (on a VERY hilly course) and broke 2 hours!

 The marathon was as beautiful as everyone says. The first 13 were intimate and there was very little in the way of traffic. The second half had a lot of tight, confined running spaces for us on major roads and the pitch on the roads was very challenging (steep right to left).

But my goal was to finish somewhere between 3:15 and 3:30 and I came at 3:15! I had to stop for a minute because I started using some heel lifts on my shoes and I had to call an audible and remove them half way through the race.

So what is next? I have decided to commit to cross training through the winter to really to continue to build muscle to protect my knees. I plan on getting on the bike trainer starting in a couple of weeks to mix it all up.

This picture of my form that Emily took of me finishing is discouraging a bit. It looks like I am heal striking as I head to the finish line. I need to be diligent about form. I need to continue to crosstrain. I need to continue to do yoga and stretch. I have 8 more to go! And the MDI marathon proved it is still possible for me to do this!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Highs and Lows

So here we are. August 22nd. 7 weeks out to the Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island Marathon. And my knee is hurting. If you read this blog, this is not surprising really. But a lot has happened since early June.

After my last post, running got easier and easier. And triathlons became more or less "normal" for me. Sure i had a new running technique. Sure, i wasn't running as much or as fast in training. But for every triathlon I did this summer, I was competitive. What does that mean? Well, I finished 3rd AG once (getting 9th overall) in one race, I got 2nd AG twice, and 1st AG twice including a VERY satisfying finish at the Lake Logan Intl Tri where i was yet again under 2:19.

So wait (you may ask). It sounds like you are killing it and maybe in the best shape of your entire life. Well, something has happened in the last two weeks. And I am still trying to piece it together.

After Lake Logan, I did an 8,8,8 week. This was part of my conservative plan to build mileage towards the marathon in October. Those runs went pretty good, but with a hint of trouble towards the end. You see, I think that, while my plan looked good, I did not take into account the intensity of Lake Logan. I probably should have taken more rest. Then I ran 8 miles 4 times with only 1 day rest. I think that caused issues. I got up to a 12 mile run last weekend but I already started to notice small issues. My next run was so bad, I had to cut it short and now I am left 7 weeks out wondering what is next. Is this the end of my marathon career? Should I reduce to a half in Maine? Do i need a another HA injection? Is this the new normal?

Long story short, I don't have answers right now. I go to the doctor tomorrow and I have a lot of things to consider in the next 8 days really. I wish I had answers but I do not. I definitely will be going to Maine Si or Si as Emily would say. I can gut out a half no issue. But i need to decide by Sept 1. So we'll see...

Friday, June 8, 2018

Learning How to Run Again

My progress has continued albeit slower than I would have expected. I fully expected that March was the beginning of the end for my injury. It turns out it was just the end of the beginning. What I found was that I was still aggravating my knee on runs and even in swims.

Despite all the physical therapy and injections, running and swimming was simply not getting any better. So I created a new plan:
1. Increase Leg strengthening and stretching.
2. Change my running technique aka learn how to run for real
3. Get new zero profile running sneakers
4. Adjust my orthodics to also be zero profile
5. Really make a special effort with hamstring and hip flexor stretching. Like 14 minutes a day each level of effort.
6. Continue doing things like yoga
7. Try to understand what is going on with my knee
8. Learn how to swim for real

1. Starting in March, I started to do all my PT exercises....every day. I also paid close attention to what may be aggravating my injury and dropped them. Every morning, I do:
A) 2 minute wall sit
B) 100 calf raises each side
C) Place strap above knees, get on back, get in bridge position and then open knees as i thrust upward (this is good for part of the glutes)
D) 3 sets of different lunges dynamic stretching
E) 1 leg balance dynamic stretching

2. Change running technique: I was a heel striker. This was a large portion of my issue. My running technique was crap. I always knew it. So I went ahead and decided to learn how to run. I got a running coach and he helped with my cadence (160-165 bbm), my foot strike (forefoot), and my lean. This takes a great deal of stress of my knees (and places them on my calves).

3. Altra sneakers. Zero lift from heel to toe means less stress on your knees.

4. Orthodics were adjusted because i used to have a lift on them. Not anymore.

5. Every morning, I do 7 minutes of hamstring stretches. I'll do 7 more in the evening or before a run.
I also do monkey pose from yoga and heel to put stretches for hip flexor.

6. Yoga. Every Wednesday. No exception.

7. There are 2 pains I was experiencing. The first pain is in what i call the "bad zone". This is the bone on bone section of the medial knee. If you feel pain here, that is very bad. I very rarely ever feel sore or have any discomfort let alone pain in this region anymore. That is good.

The second zone is either on the left edge of the kneecap or down from there. This apparently (according to my PT and Doctor) are a different, soft tissue area. I have had less and less discomfort in this area to the point now where I don't have much at all. It was in this area that swimming was causing issues. I think my old swim form aggravated this. Also, if I flutter kick too much, it can exacerbate the issue. This leads to....

8. New swimming technique! I researched the proper triathlon style. That is, the 2 beat kick. Well, I made an adjustment to that, I'm just doing a 1 beat kick. But this is a big change for me because I am doing it opposite my hand stroke. That is, I don't ever use my right foot to kick (big change for me), i only use my left foot. And I only kick with my left when my right hand goes into the water. Ideally, I would kick with my right when my left hand hits the water, but i'm not there yet. AND i'm not sure I need to be. My swim times are as good as they've ever been at the half mile distance so far.

This week is a big milestone for me. This is my 8th week back to running (7 technically since i was sick 1 week). But I have decided to take it VERY slow coming back. And also only using proper running technique. This week will be the first time I do 4 miles 3 times. That is 1 lap at Shelly lake 3 separate times in a week. I've been building up to it and I am happy to report that lately i have been feeling at a 10 on my spreadsheet on race days and no less than a 9 or 9.5 the next day. I've even tried to vary speed and get some good intensity on some of the middle week runs (which is what my running coach suggested).

Anyway, after I finish my 4,4,4 this week, I'll feel comfortable enough to sign up for a small sprint triathlon. I am currently targeting The Carolina Double Sprint in 2 weeks! We'll see!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


So here is my progress with my knee since the beginning of the year. If you'll recall, I tore my right medial meniscus in October. I tried PT and a cortisone shot but wasn't getting better. I received a PRP injection into my knee on January 5th. That and I started doing MASSIVE amounts of PT. Essentially everything that i was taught to do, I do every sing morning. 

In January, I created a series of measures to quantitatively measure my progress. It consisted of 7 every day things that I do daily. I scored these items between 1-10 and then averaged them. If everything was perfectly perfect, I would be a 10. I had to not only create the categories from scratch (consisting of things like a "squat score", driving discomfort, walking discomfort, etc) i had to create a vocabulary for describing to myself what a 7 was or what a 9 felt like. That way I could score things a little more accurately. Also knowing how something felt the day before (slightly better, etc) helped. Anyway, as you can see, i'm making progress!

Where I am as of today is that i am starting to run outside again. I ran 4.2 on Sunday and felt almost 100%. I did feel a little sore on the drive home, but the next day I was fine (and what is strange is that the day after the day after tends to be bad but this go around was fine).

So not only have I been doing PT 5 days a (at home), I've been swimming 4 miles per week (mostly with a swim bouie but as of today i am starting to ween my way off it ), Going to Yoga every Wednesday, and watching my weight (i am at 191 lbs or so right now and i was about 5 lbs heavier prior to injury.. i dont want to put extra strain on my knee but i really cant go below 190). I also got another PRP shot last week to hopefully keep this meniscus healing going!

So here I am! Making progress! And running! Honestly, I was not confident I could ever run again. Now i feel at least confident enough to dare to dream of the future. In fact, I have already planned out my slow and steady road back followed by a pretty awesome triathlon season! And just today i booked a marathon this coming Fall (the Mount Desert Island Marathon in Bar Harbor Maine)!!!! I couldn't be more excited or motivated. Emily is coming too! Can't wait! 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Still injured.. humph

Well, here we are in the New Year and I'm still injured. If you recall, I was injured exactly 10 years ago. I was newly 30 years old and suffered a 9 month long injury to my posterior tibial tendon. Well, I am newly 40 and have a new problem. Well, same issue as last post. My knee doesn't seem to be healing as quickly as it would be expected.

A couple of notes as of today:

It's been almost exactly 3 months since the marathon. Since then, I have focused primarily on:
1. Leg strength: squats, lunges, strenthening around the knee
2. Pool time! I've actually gotten to like the pool. I'm doing about 4 miles per week.
3. Yoga. I do Yoga now!
4. As far as treament, i had 5 weeks of PT. I learned what exercises I need and do them daily.
5. Medically, I have had a cortisone shot (did nothing) and just last Friday did PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma). I'm actually taking a little bit of a break (back in pool today, but break from the other items) because of this. I plan on trying to jog in about 2 weeks.

All in all, I am frustrated but hopeful. No doctor I've seen has been saying "Well, running is over for you". They basically have said, "You are doing the right things, now lets try X". If PRP doesn't work, I'll try Stem Cells next. If that doesn't work (and we are talking maybe 1 year anniversary of running and doing all the right things for that long), i'll consider surgery.

I have big goals of running my last few marathons as well as just wanting to run triathlons and the occasional half. Not time to hit the panic button yet I don't think. In the meantime, I plan on getting really good at swimming, keeping up with yoga, and starting a spin class.

It has to be said too: I knew this was coming. Ten years ago, I learned the lesson that you have to adjust given the fact I was getting older. I had to get orthodics, I had to stretch, etc. I couldn't just run whatever/whenever. I had to listen to my body.

I knew there was a new version of that coming. I always knew I needed to do things like squats, lunges, yoga, diversify better. I started doing triathlons, but i really just loved the running. Everything else was just kind of a hindrance.

But I've come to see that swimming can be very good for muscle tone! When I am doing 4-5 miles a week, I really have never felt like I was in better shape. I have switched over to using a swim bouie recently, but that along with spin class and yoga? Really good shape. So when the knee eventually wants to start acting like it wants me to run, I'll be ready!