Monday, November 14, 2011

Happiness is an 8 mile run

Well Charlie Brown, there are lots of things that bring happiness, but if you would ever lace up some running shoes you might just find that a good run makes you feel...happy!

This was not the best week for running. I got in a mile at the YMCA on Monday in between work on the stationary bikes. There are 9 laps to a mile and you have to dodge around walkers, joggers, and the occasional kids who is just bouncing in and out all over the track. The tight corners aren't the best for my hip, but I like that I am a bit more agressive with pace. I got it in at 6:55, but I was huffing and puffing like I was going about a minute faster as I aim so out of shape.

Thursday I got in 2 miles on my treadmill, but the next day I was feeling it. I don't think the treadmill gives me enough variety and after every treadmill run I get a bit achy in my joints the next day. It looked like it was going to be another rough week.

I have one new goal and that is not to run when I feel "off" and I was feeling "off" all week. After PT on Wednesday, when I was told what I think is muscle pain could be a pinched nerve coming from a disc problem, I decided to look that up a bit. I found a few articles pointing to McKenzie exercises that look easy enough. Here is a PDF of simple McKenzie exercises. I tried these and they seemed interesting and they made sense as the Sphinx and Cobra are a similar move to what I have been doing with the Foundations Founder and they are much easier. I also found this video that demonstrates a different take on them.

These are easy enough, but I found after doing them that my back and left leg felt a lot better. Sunday, I decided to give running a shot again as it was such a nice day. For whatever the reason, I felt looser than I have post surgery and a lot more balanced. I did my 8 miler and I felt pretty good and I even felt at times that I was floating down the road. I did not get post run tightness and it was my fastest 8 miler post-surgery by 1 1/.2 minutes and on my last two 8 milers I have dropped my time by 3 minutes without even trying. I really enjoyed the run and it left me feeling very happy! It is good to see some progress for a change and my week and outlook suddenly became much better and brighter.
Thursday, I go in for an MRI of my lower back to see if I do have a nerve and disc problem. I wouldn't doubt it and now that I read about the discs and nerves it makes sense from some of the stufff I have experienced over the past years. I know I sometimes feel a twist in the lower spine, and the pains down my leg come and go mysteriously. I would have hoped the labral tear surgery would have fixed me up good, but I created a bit more problems for myself, it seems, over the years.

Here is Dr. Eric Goodman and a co-author of Foundations talking about getting out of chronic pain and that pain is a product of poor movement patterns. He says that learning where the breakdown is, whether a herniation or bulging disk, is a road map towards learning how to change movement patterns, often brought about through sitting. He says a key movement to learn is the hip-hinge. I wish I was aware of this stuff when I jumped into triathlons in the 1980s as I am convinced that is when I started killing my hip and back. I even recall that near the end of that first summer of triathlons that I couldn’t really bend to make my bed as my lower back would hurt too much - and the was the first signal that things weren't going right. I should have learned the hip-hinge at that time. Because my left foot everts out, I locked my left pedal into that toed-out position, which still caused some pain as I kept changing the right-left orientation of my saddle trying to get comfortable. My hip then was jammed further up the chain and due to the angles it did not work right. Did I start developing the labral tear at that time? Because my hip did not rotate properly, the rotation came from my left lower back and I was in constant pain by year 2 of my triathlon racing and that pain stayed with me for the next 25+ years. I am trying to learn, what I didn’t know then, and that is how to move properly. I get worried that sometimes I have done too much damage, but then I get a nice 8 mile run in and it is pure happiness.

Dr. Eric Goodman - TedxAmericanRiviera 2011

And here I am doing the 112 mile bike leg of my fourth Cape Cod Endurance Triathlon (full Ironman) in 1986. I could barely sit or stand without pain at this point during a normal day when not exercising, but I knew of no way to stop the pain and insantiy except by quitting the sport.  I didn't and I did one final year. I guess movement is something that brings me happiness, if it didn't, I would have stopped trying to fix things years ago, quit, and become a couch potato, but that is something that I have not enjoyed doing this past year.

Note my race nutrition for the Ironman distance triathlon: a baggie attatched to the handlebars filled with jelly beans!

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