Posts filed under 'running'

8 months and counting

Yup, I’m still injured! That’s quite possibly the reason why I don’t really update this blog - half of my previous entries had something to do with running, and I also felt too depressed to keep writing injury updates.
But at this point, it’s worth listing all the things I tried so far, just because it’s a bit funny, and will also remind me one day not to get injured again.
So in no particular order, these are the methods, items, medications, that I’ve tried since September:

  • 2 months of physical therapy at Excel
  • 1 month of Etodolac anti-inflammatory meds
  • Flector anti-inflammatory patches on my legs
  • Nitroglycerin trans-dermal patches on pain areas for several weeks (yes, those that heart patients use to prevent angina attacks
  • All natural bursitis patches from Australia, worn at night for a couple of weeks, they smell like vinegar, and always rip off too much hair in the morning
  • Home ultrasound kit - 4 weeks, an hour a day (although I may have used it wrong initially)
  • 6 weeks of aggressive PT at Zarett
  • 1 very painful scraping session for each leg at Zarett
  • Couple of myofascial release massages

Some of the tools in my home inventory are

  • the stick (one at home, one at work actually)
  • foam roller
  • some tennis balls that I lay on or sit on, depending on whether I’m releasing the hip flexor or massaging the hamstring
  • the super powerful Thumper massager
  • neoprene thigh compression sleeves that i wear whenever i walk or bike anywhere

And then there are countless hours of stretching and strengthening exercises at home, I would guess at least 4-5 hours a week, and even more during certain periods.

At this point I am feeling a little better, I think the last round of PT, plus the myofascial relese therapy might actually be making a difference, I just hope it’s not temporary.

In PT they pointed out some weaknesses and bad flexibility in parts not close to the injury (hamstrings), but that could have contributed to the initial injury. So I’m working on some hip flexibility and core strengthening, which will hopefully help me not get injured again, once I actually start running again.

Add comment April 23rd, 2009

Slow Recovery

It’s been three weeks since I started doing physical therapy for my legs. I started seeing improvements immediately, but soon realized that it will take something like 5-6 weeks at least in order to stop feeling the pain completely. Then I’ll be able to start running slowly.
For now I’m spending 1 to 1.5 hours a day stretching, strengthening, and massaging my hamstrings and calves. Needless to say, that’s way more time than I ever spent running. The good thing is that I’ll learn to do some of these exercises routinely, and hopefully prevent such injuries in the future. Because let’s face it - everyone would rather run than stretch and do silly exercises on the floor (while the dog is trying to disrupt you). But after having to do so much of them now, I think I’ll be able to get myself to do them a couple of times a week, especially knowing that they’d make me a healthier runner.
There are some other good things coming out of this whole injury fiasco. I now have more free time to support Crystal as needed in her training for the marathon - dog walking and other things would be a real mess if we both had to stick to a demanding marathon training schedule. Having gone to the pool 3-4 times a week has also made me a stronger swimmer, which will hopefully be useful in any future triathlons I do.

Add comment October 24th, 2008

Injured

I haven’t written in a while, I guess life after Nepal seemed pretty ordinary and boring, not much to write about. However, there has been an event that changed my life(style) significantly, so here it is…

About four weeks ago I got hurt while running. Didn’t think much of it, it was just a cramp in my left hamstring, it happened during a long run on the trail in Wissahickon, so I assumed I just overexerted myself, and if I rest for a few days and stretch well, I will be over it. So I “rested” for a week by only biking and swimming, then went back to normal running for a full week. At that point the pain came back, it was in both legs, spreading from the calf, over the back of the knee, into the hamstring. I just put up with the pain thinking it will go away, and kept running. As a matter of fact, the only time I didn’t feel the pain was while running!
However, after about a week, when I woke up and could barely walk, I realized that I needed more than just a few days off. On the day we flew back to Croatia, I was so crippled I barely walked at the airport and got home walking as slow as my mom. I rested almost completely for a couple of weeks (excluding an overnight hike, which was well worth the pain), but the pain came back with a vengeance when I had to move more in Philly.
So the diagnosis is as follows - tendonitis in both hamstrings, normally takes 4-6 weeks to heal. This means not only that I can’t run the Philly Distance Run tomorrow, but I’ll have to skip the full marathon in two months as well (both paid for, nonrefundable, thank you very much). So basically the whole fall running season is pretty much ruined because I over trained, and then was too stupid and impatient to listen to my body and give it proper rest.
It was always easy to dispense advice to others and tell them to back off and rest if they felt any pain, that a few missed runs are not a big deal, and I was proud of my training schedules that always got me to the start line healthy, until now. This fall I just wanted a bit more, and probably overdid it at some point. Most non-runners and runners who haven’t been injured wouldn’t realize how much it means to be able to run. For us, running is not just some silly form of self-punishment, it’s a lifestyle that keeps you fit, your mind clear, and is often the perfect stress-reliever after a sucky day at work. Training for races and running them is not just about setting personal goals and hopefully achieving them, it’s about having a lot of fun, and socializing with others runners.
Being injured really makes me realize how much I need to appreciate being healthy enough to run, and also puts things in perspective - a few weeks, or even months off is not that big of a deal. I will come back, take better care of myself after learning more about my body, and sign up for new races. For now I’m (hopefully) keeping the pounds off by swimming just using my arms four times a week. And you can bet I’m doing a good job stretching those arms before swimming, lest I get totally crippled!

A small benefit is that instead of pre-race jitters, the night before the race I can now enjoy some beer!

Add comment September 20th, 2008

Running after 4 weeks, and altitute training

I had my concerns being away for four weeks that I wouldn’t be able to run when I came back from Nepal. I even brought my running shoes, but as mentioned in an earlier post, I’d be insane to try to run in Kathmandu traffic and pollution, so that didn’t happen.
I was hoping that being at high altitude for two weeks would make up for not using running muscles, being that my body was full of extra red blood cells that could carry more oxygen to my lungs and muscles…
The day after I came back, I set off on a standard 8.5 loop run with my running club, going at the pre-Nepal standard pace, and soon found out that yes, even with the extra blood cells, my leg muscles just gave up after about 4 miles, cramped up and waved the white flags…
This was bad news considering that a week later I was hoping to improve my Broad Street Run time from last year. After that run I pretty much gave up hope on that, until the start line where I met Geoff who normally runs a similar pace to mine, and who basically pulled me to the finish line in 1:11:59, about 50 seconds faster than last year, even though I was in great pain and pulled a few wrong muscles.
That makes 4/4 in PRs this year - a marathon, half-marathon, 5 miler, and a 10 miler… Let’s hope there will be a few more of those in the fall.

Add comment May 30th, 2008

Another week, another PR

Today was the second time I ran a 5-miler, the Leprechaun 5 mile race that has kegs of beer at the end, and quite a few fat drunk guys early in the morning.
It was cool because Crystal, Brad, and Regan also ran, as well as some of my club members. I managed to finish in 33:09, beating last year’s time by around 40 seconds, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’m quite happy with the improvement. I really would like to beat last year’s Broad Street 10 miler time, but considering I won’t run for about 4 weeks in April, I might just have to wait another year.

Add comment March 15th, 2008

It’s the season of big PRs

So yes, the course was really hilly (I thought Delaware was supposed to be flat?!?), the weather was less than ideal with strong cold winds, but I managed to PR (I guess that’s a verb in running-speak) by 10.5 minutes.
I came in at 1:36:10 which I thought I might be able to do only in perfect conditions. I guess I have to try a flat course next and see how I do…

Another really cool thing was to see a fellow member from the Philly Runners win the whole damn thing, and our top male and female teams also won the team competitions (at an amazing average of 1:18:40 for the guys, and 1:32:23 for the girls).

Add comment March 9th, 2008

Pre-race jitters, rituals

So I’m running a half-marathon tomorrow, first one in a year and a half, and I’m going through all the familiar nervousness that happens for anything from a 5K to a marathon, just at different levels. I guess the more you do it, the easier it becomes…
Here are some typical thoughts that go through my head the day before a race:

  • Weather - I keep obsessing with the weather (it will be cold and very windy tomorrow), normally checking sites that have hourly graphs for temperature, precipitation, wind, humidity…
  • Clothes - closely related to the weather, it’s always a question of what to wear for the race. You don’t want to be too hot or cold, so the question is long or short stuff, any layers, accessories
  • Food - this is normally an easy one, at least when I’m at home the day before, just load up with my standard pretty plan pasta with olive oil and spinach. You definitely don’t want to eat something weird the day before or in the morning before the race. I also bought some red wine which I’ll be drinking by myself tonight as Crystal is in Hawaii, and I’ll try to limit myself to a glass or 2.
  • Thingies - I am always obsessed with packing, this is no different. I lay out all the clothes and other crap like fuel belt, nip guards, GPS, timing chip and bib number if I already have them. These are seemingly little things, but if I forgot any it could throw me off mentally, or result in a less comfortable race (as in the case of nip guards let’s say)
  • Strategy - based on my current fitness level, goals, the course, I tend to go over different strategies in my head, so I can hit the right pace to finish strong, but also go as fast as possible

I sort of signed up for this half-marathon just for fun, and didn’t really train too hard for it, but I know I can beat my PR from 18 months ago, despite the hills and the wind, we’ll just see by how much…

1 comment March 8th, 2008

Hills

My workouts these days revolve around hills for two reasons - I’ll spend 2 weeks in Nepal going up and down a lot, and I’m running a hilly half-marathon in Wilmington next weekend.
While the area is generally really flat, I got these two great features close to me - Lemon Hill, and the 10-story tower in our condo. The first one I run loops around, and the second one I climb up and down endlessly, wearing my hiking boots and carrying my pack. Loads of fun, but overall will probably improve my running times, so that’s a good thing.

Add comment February 29th, 2008

The Perfect Marathon

Yesterday was a long day, but a very good one. Even though I was pretty nervous and had some doubts, and tired as well from flying into Phoenix on Friday night, I ran a really good race.

The weather was nearly perfect for running, with temperatures around 40 at the start, and maybe 65 at the finish, the course was flat, so I had no excuses not to do well.
I started with the 3:40 pace group, which worked out really well since running as a pack really helps, and having a guy pace every mile perfectly is also good, you might as well stop looking at your watch because someone else is taking care of you. There were a few rough miles in the middle, when it started getting a bit warm, but somehow around mile 18 I got over it (started pouring tons of water on myself, Chicago style). By mile 19.5 I realized I was running a bit faster than the pace group, so I decided to give it a shot by myself. I took off and started passing everyone, even when I found someone who’d run at my pace they’d soon stop and stretch or start walking, like I smelled bad and they didn’t want to run next to me.
I managed to run through the finish line in 3:37:38, my new PR 15 minutes faster than the old one!

So after 6 months of training for the 3:40 marathon, I can finally let me running shoes rest a bit, and take it easy for a few weeks.
Thanks to all the friends, family, and coworkers who put up with my training schedule for so long, and supported me along the way!

And I’d like to share couple of tips with any current or future marathoners - if you can avoid it at all, book your return flight so you can get a few hours of rest (sleep!) before you board that tiny economy class seat…
And a more serious one - I know it depends a lot on personality, but I’d much rather start out running slower, somewhat on a conservative side, in order to finish strong and happy. Sure, you can’t predict all the circumstances on race day, but you should be able to pick a realistic goal for yourself, run a steady pace, then speed up towards the end if you’re feeling good. I passed so many walkers by the end - maybe they just weren’t prepared right, but it’s more likely that they just started too fast. At the end of the day, I’d rather feel good about the whole race, and recall flying those last 2 miles, than running out of fuel at mile 24…

1 comment January 14th, 2008

Getting noticed at a race

Watching and running previous races, I realize that certain people get noticed and get more support than others. Other than wearing a ridiculous costume, the obvious thing is to have your name written on your shirt. I ran numerous times next to Bobs, Joes, and Amandas who got all the cheering while I didn’t get any. Sometimes even having a Drexel shirt while running in Philly will get you some attention.

Being that it was going to be really rough in Chicago, I decided to try something. Having a foreign name, that was out of the question, so after thinking about it I had to settle for something universal, like the smiley face. Having decided I was going to run shirtless due to the heat, the choice was obvious - draw a smiley face on my chest!

As Crystal was using a Sharpie to mark me at 6am, she thought it was ridiculous. My doubts cleared as I entered the hotel elevator with a bunch of marathoners, and some older woman smiled and said “I like your shirt”.

It proved to be the best decision that day, as people must have cheered for me over a hundred times, mostly screaming “go, smiley face!”. Even though I felt like quitting a few times, this got me through the day - when people smile at you and cheer you, you have no choice but to smile back, wave or say thank you, and keep going…

go smiley face!
Go smiley face!

2 comments October 13th, 2007

The Chicago Marathon Meltdown

In case you haven’t seen the headlines, this year’s Chicago Marathon was very hot. So hot that they cancelled the race after about four hours, as the ambulances couldn’t keep up with the people passing out on the course. One died, 300 hospitalized.

I was fortunate (and I guess smart) enough to finish only with a minor headache which went away after several liters of gatorade and a cold shower, and was able to drink beer with my dinner and enjoy exchanging horror stories from that morning.

The first half was actually bearable because it was mostly in the shade, but I quickly realized that I’d have to slow my pace down significantly. By about mile 15 all shade was gone and I had to start walking at intervals.

People slower than me had it the worst, by the time they got to some aid stations, all water or Gatorade were gone. I heard of people running up to city’s decorative fountains to drink water out of them. There were supposed to be extra drinks, misting tents, ice handed out, but I saw none of that until very late in the race when most people were already hurting a lot.

The people of Chicago who were watching the race were great. Not only were they cheering the runners, they quickly realized how critical the situation was and helped out by hosing us down, turning on their sprinklers, running with pitchers of water from their houses, even running into convenience stores to buy water and hand it out. People handing out ice cubes were my favorite, letting the cubes melt on my head and
in my ears helped cool me down. The sentiment is that the organizers were not up to the task, but the crowds definitely saved the day for a lot of us.

Only after about 4 hours did the organizers have the fire dept hose people down and open the fire hydrants. They also cancelled the race, redirected slower runners to the finish using shortcuts, and yelled at the rest of us from police helicopters that “the race is cancelled, this is now a fun run, start walking now”.

I walked from about mile 21 to 25 with my new Portugese friend Alfredo, and despite the race being cancelled we ran the last mile to get some cheering from the crowds, and finish in at a blazing fast 4:25. Now for a while I don’t have to worry about running my worst marathon - the odds of running any slower are really low, at least before I turn 50.

I’ve seen so many people collapse during the race and even more at the finish, that I’m certain next time a race I’m signed up for is that hot, I’ll just choose not to run it. Apparently 10,000 out of the 45,000 who signed up chose not to even start. We won’t really know how many actually finished, but not that many ran the whole 26.2 miles. This will be a medal I’ll definitely cherish, not because of a great time, but because of extreme conditions and the fact that I actually managed to do the whole thing.

On another note, Chicago is a great city, I’d definitely visit again, and even run a marathon there, but only if they schedule it a few weeks later in the year.

2 comments October 9th, 2007

Oh heat, how I hate you

With passion…

So I train for 4 months, mostly in the heat and horribly humid weather in Philly… But there’s a happy thought that kept me going on those sauna-like runs - Chicago in October will surely be nice and cool, and I will run so much better.
Well, marathon week is here, and Chicago forecast is saying it will be 86F (that’s 30C for the rest of the world) on Sunday. With thunderstorms later, which guarantees high humidity too. The high temperature will match the historical record high for that day. Go figure, it could have been 60F just as easily on the same day.
I know I can do absolutely nothing about this, and that I’m very lucky that I am able to actually run marathons and am healthy enough to enjoy running, but I still somehow feel angry and cheated!

For those who don’t normally exercise in hot and humid weather - the body just won’t perform at the levels it would otherwise. You can hydrate all you want, but sweat just doesn’t leave your skin, and the body overheats at some point if you’re pushing it too hard and it just shuts down. So we are looking at slower running paces or heat stroke, neither one of which would make me happy.
Oh well, at least I’m hoping that I could have actually run faster (3:30), so that maybe with the heat my goal of 3:40 still might be possible.

Add comment October 3rd, 2007

A week until Chicago

A week from tomorrow I’ll be running my second marathon! We’re going to Chicago on Friday afternoon, coming back Monday night. Neither one of us has been there before so we’ll do some sightseeing and stuff… Lots of eating too I imagine, little less drinking (all of that after the race). Martin and his buddy are flying in from London to run as well, so we’ll have some company.

I did my last long run this morning, 10 miles at marathon pace, which seemed easy enough, and I guess I’m ready to go for my goal of 3:40 next week. It will be insane, 4 times the size of Philly at 45,000 runners! Crystal will be lucky if she even sees me running at all.

The only thing I’m not looking forward to is getting Pablo back from daycare, we’re really hoping to get a good report this time, he’ll need to go 4 days without annoying the staff and other dogs too much.

Add comment September 29th, 2007

A Running Vacation

In some ways it is a pain in the ass to be training while on vacation. It means you can’t just skip your runs, but you have to find the time and place to do them. It’s especially hard to figure out a route that’s the right distance for your particular training day.
However, running while on vacation is also very rewarding. You get to see things you otherwise wouldn’t have time to, and you can cover a good amount of distance too.
This morning we woke up at 6 to run, it was cold and I totally didn’t feel like getting out of bed. But as soon as our run got us into the Killarney National Park, I thought “this is way better than sleeping”. After 7 or 8 miles through trails looking at the lake, large meadows with deer and cows, mountains in the distance, and even a trail through a castle (they’re everwhere) courtyard, we’re back at our B&B, ready for the full Irish breakfast which I think consists of ham, bacon, sausage, beef, maybe some other meat, and probably potatos.

2 comments May 15th, 2007

From Clean Air to Clean Air

Yes, it’s been a while since my last post, but between getting married, having guests here, I just didn’t know what to even write about, and had little free time, so that’s my excuse.

Today I ran the Clean Air 5K that starts really close to our house. Two years ago that was my first running race ever, and I finished it in 24:28, which seemed amazing at the time. Today I broke 20 minutes, finishing in19:40, which today seems really amazing. Between those 5Ks I ran a 3 other 5Ks, a 5 miler, 10 miler, 3 half-marathons, and one marathon. I guess I’d do more actual races, but I’m too lazy and do only those that start in front of the Art Museum, 3 blocks away from us.
Anyway, spring has finally come to the northeastern US, and while it was snowing last Monday, this weekend is just perfect, and everyone is out. Every sidewalk and green surface is full of people running, walking dogs, biking, playing sports… And yes, every road and highway are also full of cars stuck in bad traffic because some people would still rather go shopping.

Add comment April 21st, 2007

It’s done, and it was awesome!

So I really didn’t need to worry about anything. As soon as we started running I quickly forgot about my headache and my cold and enjoyed the run. Chuck and I started with the 4:00 hours pace group, which is a really good way for beginners to keep their desired pace, get some company and additional motivation.
Support along the way was great too, thanks to everyone who decided to spend their Sunday morning cheering for crazy running people. For those who have never witnessed a running event, it’s well worth your time - runners will really appreciate your support, and you might see some weird things like: a guy running in a red dress, a guy wearing a wooden lighthouse, a guy juggling with 3 balls the whole way, etc.
I ended up finishing in 3:52:39, which is about 7 minutes faster than I had hoped for.

To sum it up - 4 months of training, 4 hours of pleasure and pain, and it’s all worth it! I’m sure I’ll be doing it again some time…

Marathon start
Marathon start

1 comment November 19th, 2006

The anticipation…

It’s killing me!
Tomorrow morning I’m going to get up and run a marathon. All these questions are going through my head - have I trained enough, will my cold affect how I can run, what am I going to wear tomorrow, etc…
I really want to go just under 4 hours, but I should really be happy if I just finish without too much pain, or without having to walk a lot. We have people over for the pasta dinner and maybe games, so hopefully that will take my mind off of stupid worries.

1 comment November 18th, 2006


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