Archive for August, 2010

Where did I put those running shoes?

Posted in Uncategorized on August 31, 2010 by Trail Boy

I could learn a few lessons on recovering from a leg injury from my 82-year-old dad.  

A few months ago, he fell down and broke his hip and jaw. He spent a week in the hospital, getting a new hip. Then he spent a month or so in rehab, learning to stand up and walk again.  

It was a long, painful, exhausting process.  He still can’t walk without a metal walker. Steps are a huge challenge.  

This isn't my dad. But he could play him on TV.

But he keeps at it, working with a therapist several times a week, and forcing himself on short walks every day.

“One little step at a time,” he said.  

So I’ve got nothing to whine about.

Sure, I’m a little bummed that my IT band flared up unexpectedly last month, killing my summer training and any hopes of a fall marathon.  

But unlike my dad, I can still get around. And my recovery promises to be much shorter and easier than his.  

Plus, I didn’t have to bother with the surgery, the IV, the catheter, the medication, the liquid diet or  the excruciating pain.  

All I had to do was rest for month, ice my leg and do a lot of stretching.  

Now I’m on the road to recovery, I hope.  

First I had to find my shoes. They weren’t in any of the usual places. I finally found them in a gym bag in the back of a closet, where I had thrown them in anger and frustration many weeks ago.  

But I pulled them out, gave them an airing and slipped them back on. It felt good.  

On Sunday, I did a 1.5-mile run-walk, as I wrote in my last post. But I worried how I would feel afterward.  

I’m happy to say that my IT band didn’t growl and bark in the hours afterward. I felt fine for two days.  

So this morning, I pushed myself just a little bit farther. I ran two miles.  

OK, I didn’t exactly burn up the road. It was a slow, slow pace — basically one notch up from power walking.  

I ran the first mile in 9:21. Then I walked for 30 seconds. Then I ran a second mile in 9:26. Then I walked for another minute or two. Then it was over.  

I felt just fine. No tenderness. No throbbing. It was elated.  

So I’ll keep pushing gently, slow and steady. The journey back to marathon running after an IT band problem starts with a small, tentative shuffle.  

Keep at it, every day, but don’t overdo it.  

This is a lesson I’m trying to learn from my dad.  


One race I hate to miss

I just learned that Planet Adventure is launching a new trail marathon and half-marathon at Eagle Creek Park this fall.

The course looks very fun: lots of trails and woods on both sides of the lake. The field is limited to 500 runners, which is my kind of size.  

To see the race info, click here.  

To see the course map, click here.  

The park is less than 10 miles from my house.

But there’s no chance in hell I’ll be ready  for a half-marathon this fall.  

Is there?


Looking forward and having a laugh 

Well, enough about what-might-have-been. It’s time to look forward!  

Next year, I hope to run a spring marathon and a few fun trail races. Over the next week or two, I will be throwing some ideas in a hat. All suggestions are welcome  

In the meantime, my favorite funny guy is getting ready to sing.

Run, walk, stop. Run, walk, stop.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 29, 2010 by Trail Boy

Run two minutes. Walk one minute. Stop and shake out the leg.

Run two minutes. Walk one minute. Stop and shake out the leg.

That was my plan this morning — just an easy, tentative re-entry into running.

So that’s what I did. And it felt pretty darn good.

My leg has been feeling stronger in recent days, so I’ve decided to give it a whirl, so to speak.

A short whirl, mind you.

I did a run-walk-stop-etc. on neighorhood roads this morningfor about 1.5 miles. Nothing too ambitious. My pace was extremely slow. I never got out of first gear. Just a shuffle. It took 16 minutes.

Run two minutes. Walk one minute. Shake out the leg.

Run two minutes. Walk one minute. Shake out the leg.

No sense tempting fate by trying to blast up a hilly trail or jumping across a creek. It was a smooth, easy run, over before I knew it.

The real test, of course, will be how my leg feels much later — tonight or tomorrow morning. Can it take this much stress? Or will it ache and throb like before?

Only one way to find out. Run two minutes. Walk one minute. Shake out the leg.


Oh, to be young and strong

Even if I can’t run hard, it doesn’t mean I have to give up the running scene.

On Saturday, I spent an enjoyable two hours watching hundreds of high school runners (including my 14-year-old son) at a cross-country meet.

What’s not to enjoy? The sight is invigorating: healthy, athletic, competitive boys and girls racing up and down trails — through the woods, up and down hills, across meadows.

I can’t wait to get back into trail racing in a few months. Meanwhile, I’ll watch the kids.

The long trail back

Posted in Uncategorized on August 27, 2010 by Trail Boy

OK, that’s enough denial. Four weeks is plenty. Same with anger, bargaining and depression — and the other stages of grief, if I’ve missed any.

Now I’m at acceptance. A marathon is out of the question this year, despite my grand plans to qualify for Boston this fall.

My right leg is healing slowly — a little too slowly, it seems sometimes. It’s going to be a while before I do serious running.

In the meantime I’m doing lots of resting, icing and stretching, trying to get my IT band back to a healthy place.

And I’m doing as much cross-training as possible. I hike. I swim. I play baseball with my sons. I ride my bike to and from week once or twice a week.  (A round trip is about 25 miles).

One thing I haven’t been doing lately is blogging. It was too depressing to write “still not running” day after day after day. But like I said, I’m over the denial and depression thing now.

There are a lot worse things than not running. I could be stuck in a coal mine in Chile for three months, or be unemployed, or watching a loved one slip away. I still have my health, more or less. So on with the show!

Last weekend, Mrs. Trail Boy and I went to the Lawrence Creek Trail at Fort Ben for a beautiful stroll through the woods. I guess this is my long road back. Or my long trail back.

I’m not going to rush it. I just want to run more marathons and trail races, whenever my leg seems ready for it.

Hope to be back at the races in a few months. Your mileage may vary.

Deep denial

Posted in Uncategorized on August 9, 2010 by Trail Boy

Three weeks of rest and recovery. Four weeks, tops. Then I’ll be back in the game.

That thought has been rattling around my brain for the past week, like like a marble in a tin can. Around and around it goes, clattering and clanging, drowning out every other conscious thought.

So what is it? Wishful thinking? Complete denial? Or within the realm of possibility?

Who knows? I’ve been getting lots of advice since my last post, when I when dislosed that I’m having a pain in my right leg that I suspect is iliotibial band syndrome.

Many runners have told me that I could be back in action within a month, as long as I give myself complete rest and do proper treatment during that time — stretching, icing, cross-training.

“That should do it,” one friend said — followed by a pregnant pause, and then:  “But you never know.”

Gotta love that pregnant pause.

So how long? A month? Two months?

An old friend who has run for decades said he knows runners who have been sidelined for two years with this IT band problems.

Another friend said he suffered from an inflamed IT band, but  caught it early. He gave it a few weeks of aggressive treatment, and ran a marathon a few months later.

 Yep, just about every runner knows someone who has had iliotibial band syndrome, one of the most common serious running injuries.

The advice is endless, and all over the map.

* Give yourself a few weeks.

* Maybe it’s just a tight hamstring; stretch it out, and you might be good to go in a week.

* Don’t make any running plans for the  six months.

*Start thinking about your next type of activity. You’re done with running.

So there it is. I’m basically on my own, trying to figure it out.

As best as I can tell, this problem was caused by a sudden increase in mileage, as I jumped into my marathon training in June with a little too much gusto. I ramped up from a long, lazy summer of four-mile easy runs to tough workout schedule of seven- and eight-mile easy runs, plus Yassos, tempo runs, long runs, etc.

Plus, I went from trails to pavement, with lots of repetitive motion.

My leg didn’t like it. In mid-July, my right leg started throbbing. By late July, I was hobbling around, in deep pain.

So from beginning to end, my marathon training lasted just a month. It’s my shortest training season ever.

What’s the justice in this? In the past few years, I’ve run 10 marathons. I’ve never had a serious injury. Suddenly, this year, I’m aim for a big, fat, juicy goal, qualifying for Boston, and I get sidelined in one lousy month.

Well that sucks.

In the meantime, I’m doing all the basic recommended treatments: no running, lots of ice, lots of gentle stretching, lots of cross-training, including bike rides almost every day. And this week, I’m planning to buy a foam roller for stretching.

It’s not as fun as running. But at least it’s just temporary. Right?

Three weeks should do it. Four weeks, tops.

Hobbling around like a lame horse

Posted in Uncategorized on August 4, 2010 by Trail Boy

Things are not good. My right leg is stiff and sore. It’s been that way for about a month, and I’m starting to get worried.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been ignoring the dull pain, thinking I must have overstressed a muscle or tendon and just needed a few days of rest. So I haven’t mentioned it to anyone or written about it here.

But in the last few days, I’ve been hobbling around the house and office, especially the first thing in the morning, or when I stand up from a chair.

People are starting to ask if I’m OK. The truthful answer: I don’t know.

I had hoped that three or four days of rest, during vacation last week, would cure whatever was ailing me. And during that time, my leg was OK.

But after my 16-mile run on Saturday, my leg began throbbing again. I woke up with a heavy pain Sunday on the outside of my leg, near my knee. I was unable to lift it my leg. I felt like a lame horse.

After a few minutes, I was able to walk gently on it, but every time I sat down, and then stood up again, I would feel the pain.

On Monday, I ran a very easy, gentle six-miler on flat pavement.

On Tuesday, I tried to run moderately hilly trails at Fort Ben, but my leg started throbbing again, and I had to quit after less than two miles.

Today, my schedule called for Yasso 800 repeats at the track. I knew that was out of the question. So as much as I hate to do it, I’m taking another day off.

I’ve never had a serious leg injury before, so I’m at a loss to know how serious it is.

After a little web surfing,  my best guess is that I have a mild case of iliotibial band syndrome. It’s often caused by aggressively and suddenly ramping up mileage.

“People who suddenly increase their level of activity, such as runners who increase their mileage, often develop iliotibial band syndrome,” according to one sports medicine website.

In June, when I started my official training program for the Columbus Marathon, I increased my weekly mileage from about 20 miles a week to 35 miles a week. I probably should have given myself a more gradual ramping up schedule.

The symptoms of IT syndrome match mine pretty closely:  soreness down the outside of the leg, often near the outside knee. “Usually the pain worsens with continued movement, and resolves with rest,” one website said.

So what should I do? According to several sources, I should decrease my mileage, ice my leg, do more stretching, avoid crowned surfaces, and let nature take its course.

Funny, I never had this problem when I ran trails. It started only when I began pounding pavement.

Well, I guess I don’t have much choice. Let’s break out the ice, start stretching, and hope this little problem doesn’t get any worse.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. I’m in Week Six of a 16-week training plan.

Can I get on track for good, and get to the starting line of the Columbus Marathon, healthy and trained, on October 17?

I wish I knew the answer.