Thursday, November 29, 2007

sleep, finally

My 13.5 year old black lab who has been neurotically barking during the night finally slept until 4:45am! Hey, that's progress.

Got up and did 100 min on the elliptical. There's nothing to say about 100 min on the elliptical. I slowly got my heart rate up to 140 over the first 30 minutes, then up to ~145 by the end, averaging 140 bpm. I didn't run across any deer. I didn't twist my ankle in a pothole. I just used the elliptical for 100 minutes and got off. How boring. (Oh, I did the same core routine.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

no sleep

Barely slept last night. 100 minutes on the elliptical. I'm a zombie. Blech.

I don't think I've mentioned it but I've added some core exercises about every other day. 10-15 each of regular, left/right oblique, and reverse crunches; 3x30sec superman; and 3x20sec easy planks (knees on floor).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

week of 19 November - Patience

Mo: 4.3 miles in 41 min on grass - slow, kinda painful, high heart rate. Caught a cold
Tu: Rest
We: elliptical 100 min - back to the elliptical where I belong
Th: elliptical 60 min
Fr: elliptical 100 min
Sa: 4.4 miles in 39 min on grass - less painful, but not good. Used very short strides. Heart rate pretty high.
Su: elliptical 94 min, bike 6 min - a little discomfort on the inside of my left knee and I moved to the bike

I tried running twice, but it was probably premature. I had swelling later in the day. I also have that disturbing sensation of friction between the tendon and ligament as I plantar- and dorsi-flex my foot. I'm about 90% sure I have tibialis anterior sheath inflammation. I'm not going to run a step this week. Hopefully I can mix in some runs the next week. It's hard to be patient. I can't decide whether or not I should use the referral for an MRI I have. He said to get the MRI if it still hurt after a week (which it does), but on the other hand it's improved a lot and I'm sure the treatment will be the same regardless of what it says.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I'm crying uncle. I haven't recovered as well as I hoped from my four-mile test run yesterday (swelling increased) and I can only imagine what 26.2 would do. It looks like the most direct path to 3:15:59 probably doesn't go through the marathon this weekend. I went 1 for 3 on goals this year (I did sub-70 10 miles, but didn't break 20 in the 5K or BQ in the marathon). I'm thinking of just establishing training goals for next year (like mileage, but trying not to become a slave to it) and let the race times take care of themselves. (Wait, I do have another crack at the 5K on New Years if I recover -- there I go again!)

What to do from here? Do I keep up the elliptical or just get lazy for a while? I'll probably do the former. I'm not sure what kind of training strategy do use after this. I'm considering either something complicated or something simple.

The complicated approach involves core exercises, cross-training, working on power/speed (through hills and intervals) and gunning to get faster before building up fatigue resistance. A lot of this stuff is in Matt Fitzgerald's "Brain Training for Runner's." While I think his justification is weak and informercialish (to invent a word), the recommendations make some sense to me. He starts with speed/power and builds to more race pace specific quality training a la Renato Canova. He recommends doubling several days a week with running and cross-training, which is something I've thought of doing before to bump up the volume without the injury risk. He also recommends core conditioning, which is something I believe I sorely need. (This speaks for itself.)

The simple approach involves just running -- a lot. Run home and to work twice a week (total 42 miles), a long run on the weekend (14-18), and a fill in run or two (5-10) to get to about 70 miles (preferably in 6 days). Something like Mo - off, Tu- 5 am/10.5 pm, We - 10.5 am, Th - 10.5 pm, Fr - 10.5 am, Sa - 5 am, Su - 18 for 70 miles. I like to talk big when I can't even run 10 miles right now! I felt like I improved a lot this summer even though it didn't materialize in any big PRs (I PR'd the half at the end of a big week, but it was equivalent to the 10 mile time). In restrospect, I think it was mainly the mileage and doing 4 10+ mile days per week rather than three. I've done the pm then am thing before and together it's almost like another long run. I'd be getting three pseudo long runs a week (if I survived).

An advantage of the run a lot approach is avoiding the headache of 4 out of 10 commutes a week. I'd save maybe $8 in gas, but the self-righteousness I'd earn would be priceless. The dollars per mile is pretty close on shoes versus gas in the car -- about $0.20 per mile. I figure I probably break even in car service and depreciation costs versus medical co-pays and future knee replacement :-)

Monday, November 19, 2007

first run back

I did my first test run back today (loops around a grass field) and it hurt a lot more than I thought it would. The swelling is nearly gone, but I have pain up in the shin muscle near the bone (anterior side). I was also very, very slow for my heart rate today. 9:35 min/mi @139 bpm average. Looking at the weeks before MCM on the same route I ran 9:06 @ 133 (40 degs) and 9:26@133 (72 deg, 70 deg dew pt). Despite 8.5 hours of cross training, the week off seems to have really affected me.

If this were football, I'd be on the doubtful list. With the loss in fitness, it seems much more likely I'll injure myself than qualify.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

week of 12 November

Mo - <2 min running (physical ouch), 170 min elliptical (mental ouch)/145 bpm avg
Tu - 33 min stationary bike/140 bpm; my hips were so sore after this!
We - 120 min elliptical/143 bpm
Th - Rest, saw orthopedist - x-ray neg, prescription for MRI to use in a week if I still have pain
Fr - 60 min elliptical/forgot HRM
Sa - 121 min elliptical/145 bpm
Su - Rest

My poor "wattage" on the elliptical on Wed and Fri for the same heart rate was mainly due, I think, to the fact they turn the heat down on holidays (vet's day) and weekends. Still Monday seemed considerably better than Saturday.

My shin is feeling a lot better than it was, but it's still swollen compared to the left and I can't do foot circles without pain. The creepy "creaking" sensations as my flex my foot isn't as pronounced though. I'm considering testing it with a short run tomorrow. Maybe I should try the treadmill and then hop on the elliptical if it doesn't work out. If I run at home, I'll do laps on the crushed gravel track to avoid hills. Only 6 days left.

Week: 0.18 miles running, 7h52m elliptical, 33 min bike, 144 bpm avg hr

Friday, November 16, 2007

my legs are itchy

When I haven't run in a day or so, my legs get "itchy" and just need to go out for a run to put them back in their place. Having not run since last Saturday, I'm desperate to scratch, but I know I need to hold off.

My leg has continued to improve and I must be optimistic because I found myself checking the marathon weather: high 54, low 44, and 60% chance of rain. The temps are perfect but rain wouldn't be fun. While it's a very flat marathon, it is a "trail marathon" and I'd be a little worried about the footing. There's lots of crushed limestone sections that would be unaffected, but the packed dirt section might be slick in spots.

I can't believe I'm even considering this. MRI prescription dated 15 November. Marathon on 24 November. Hmmm.

Today was 60 minutes on the elliptical. I had a fantastic 2h50m elliptical at level 3.7-3.8 at 77-78 rpm on Monday. I've stunk since then. Today was eventually level 3.0 and ~80 rpm. I left my HRM at home by accident, but I know I was probably about 150 bpm. How could I sustain level 3.8 for nearly 3 hours on Monday and today not be able to sustain it for an hour? Have I lost that much fitness?

Hoping for a miracle...

By the way, I've started reading Mircea Bogdan's blog. He's a Romanian steeplechaser training for the 2008 Olympics.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

x-rays are negative

My leg was much better this morning but not nearly good enough to run on. I wouldn't have made the appointment if it had felt like this yesterday. It's funny how making an appointment will heal you.

I saw the doctor and it went down like I thought it would. First, I'll say I liked the doctor. He was probably about my age (I'm getting older) and I'd bet money he was a runner based mainly on how thin he was. He also didn't bat an eye at things like 60 miles per week and speeding up on the downhills to work on turnover ("sure, sure"). I told him I was taking 600 mg 3 times a day and icing. "Perfect" he said, although he did say I could go to 800 mg.

So I got an x-ray and he didn't see anything although he did look puzzled and asked me if I ever had a stress fracture or problems with my shins before. "No," I said. He said I had unusually thick leg bones along the front. He thought it might be from running but wasn't sure and said it was pretty unlikely I'd break my leg. That's nice I guess.

The plan is to see if it still hurts in a week. If it does, then I should go for an MRI and follow up with him. If it doesn't then I should slowly mix running back in with the elliptical. Is 26.2 a week from Saturday slow enough? I didn't ask that. I did get one answer I wanted: "If it's not painful then you're not hurting yourself." The plan is vitamin I, elliptical, and ice and hope that I don't feel any pain in a week. I'll have to run some by late next week before I'd attempt a marathon. I'm not sure how many miles I'd need to be confident though. A lot of braggadocio from a guy who's walking with a limp!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Is sugar evil?

It's funny how I log a beautiful run around the lake as "Mo: 8.3 (8:57/138)," but will go on and on about injury and not being able to run. Human nature I guess. If I ever run again, I'll try to be more appreciative.

My hips were incredibly sore after only 33 minutes on the bike yesterday. I notice my quads were a little sore when I started the elliptical this morning.

I have a working theory that sugar is evil. After feeling kind of fried a week after the marathon I switched to slow running and looked to reduce other stress-inducers. I switched to the classical station in the car and stopped pounding the Halloween candy. The runs in the couple of days after I swore off sugar were noticeably better, but not enough to conclude anything. The other thing that happened was I slept through the night rather than waking up at 3am feeling hot, sweaty, and wide awake. Of course, I took my renewed health and blew it on a 13 mile progression run, 8 miles with strides, and 6 "easy" with some faster downhill stuff, which led to my current situation.

Last night we had "homemade" pizza (made from Trader Joe's dough) , which is basically like eating a loaf of wonderbread for dinner. I woke up again at 3am. This is starting to be a trend. My elliptical session much "slower" than Monday also. On Monday I did 2h50m at level 3.7-3.8 and 76-78 rpm, which put the watts in the low 80's. Today at the same heart rates I started at 3.8 and quickly went down to 3.0 at about 75-78 bpm, generating 65-70 watts. What a dramatic difference. I wonder if it could have been hotter in the gym.

Anyway, the results today were 2h0m on the elliptical and an appointment with the orthopedist (I see him tomorrow). I guess I want to rule a ruptured tendon or anything crazy. I know what will happen though (at least this is what I'm hoping for). x-ray negative. MRI says stuff is swollen (ya think?) and you ought not run. Rest, ice, and vitamin I.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I did 33 minutes on the stationary bike today. I planned to do 30 and then midway through thought I'd try for 40, but the boredom was too much. Plus, my butt hurt. How do people do this? I'm sitting there with my legs whirring around at 95-100 rpm and breathing fairly hard while a puddle of sweat pools below me. All the while, I'm going absolutely nowhere. The only saving grace was listening to Highway 61 revisited.

Anyway, my shin is still killing me. It hurts to walk. Pointing my toes is excruciating. The swelling has gone down some and there's actually bruising on the surface of my shin in a couple of places. What the hell did I do? It's not like I had shin splints that I was ignoring. This just came out of nowhere. My guess is that I pulled/strained something. I'd go to the doctor, but I'm 99% sure it's not a stress fracture. All he would do is x-ray (negative), MRI (gee some stuff is swollen), and tell me to rest, ice, compress, and elevate.

The plan is to alternate between the elliptical and the bike until I feel better. Hopefully that will be well before the marathon. If not, I'll just bag it. I wish I knew now if I wasn't going to make it though, because I'd just take a couple of weeks completely off.

Monday, November 12, 2007

hours on the elliptical

I made an optimistic attempt at running and made it 1 minute 53 seconds before I realized I wouldn't be able to tolerate the pain and limped back to my car, wincing. Then I drove to the gym at work and attempted to do my long run there. I'm proud to say I did 2 hours 50 minutes in an empty gym. The last 20 minutes were tough and I started to slow down some. My heart rate slow ed down as well like at the end of a marathon where my legs give out before my lungs. I think it might be due to the resistance of the elliptical creating some muscle fatigue. Average heart rate was 145 bpm, which is a little lower than my usual 148-150 bpm average for a long run, but I'll take it.

My shin is so bad that I've taken to walking backwards downhill. It's hard to imagine how I'll be recovered in 12 days, but since I believe it's a muscle (and not a tendon), I think it's a possibility. I'm planning to elliptical until I can walk without pain.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

week of 5 November

Mo - 8.2 (9:31/136)
Tu - 8.2 (9:18/136)
We - 4.6 (8:53/140) - HRM messed up first mile, more like 138 avg
Th - 13.3 (8:19/151) - progression run, 6 ez then 7:59, 7:47, 7:34, 7:29, 7:15, 7:39, 8:18
Fr - 8.2 (9:06/142) - w/ 10 strides
Sa - 5.8 (8:53/142) - hurt right shin, very painful to walk home
Su - planned long run, but off for injury

Things were going pretty well until yesterday. I was trying to work on my turnover a little on the downhills on saturday and that, combined with the strides the day before, is what I think caused me to hurt my shin. I think I was overstriding on the strides and downhill running and the breaking action strained my shin muscle (tibialis anterior). The marathon is two weeks away and I was hoping to do a long run this weekend (say 18 miles). I only did 13 last week (the week after marine corps). I might be rationalizing, but I think running might be less painful than walking. The other option I can think of is trying to use the elliptical for a long run, but I can't imagine hours on that thing.

week 48 miles, 7h14m, 8:57 avg, 142 bpm avg

Sunday, November 04, 2007

week of 29 October

I'm signed up for another marathon on 11/24. Goal again is 3:15:59 (as it will be until I BQ). Realistically, I might back off earlier that 18 this time if I know it isn't going to happen.

(last Sunday was MCM)
M, Tu, We - Rest
Th - 6.6 (9:13mm/138bpm)
Fr - 8.2 (8:59/139)
Sa - 4.2 (9:30/139) - I'm always much slower on the treadmill
Su - 13.6 (8:42/150)

My pace/heart rate was bad all week. Hopefully it's just recovery. I feel like I lost my mojo and I'd like it back. I have the dumbest thing bothering me now: a blister/callus thingy on my right pinky toe. Ouchy.

32.6 miles, 4h53m, 8:58 avg pace, 143 bpm avg hr

Thursday, November 01, 2007

not hitting the wall

"... the marathon without hitting "the wall"-- I can tell you what it will take to get over that hump as I've been in that exact same boat as you but was able to figure out how to get out: (larger volume/base-- avg. 50-60 mpw for a few months, then Pfitz 70 mpw for 12 week program, add several miles of goal MP running into the mid-week med. long runs, run long runs on "empty", without carbo loading or caloric intake, just water, run easy on recovery days, be honest and do tempo effort the full 7 miles of the prescribed 12 mile workout that day, stay healthy, do approx. 1/2 of long runs finishing the last 3 miles at MP, 1/2 MP, 10k pace. Most long runs can be 17-20. Do one long run of about 22-23 one month prior to goal marathon). Carbo load appropriately (not too much to gain weight), and fuel pre race morning and during race appropriately."

Above is some from advice from an internet board. I've come to most of these conclusions on my own, but have yet to reach others. The 12 w/7 @ tempo just seems impossible for someone of my limited speed and I've never figured out how to "carbo load appropriately" or "fuel pre race morning."