Sunday, January 29, 2012

Two goals achieved

This week took a lot of effort and I hit my goals, so I am happy.

Weekly mileage
Monday = 0 miles
Tuesday = 5 miles treadmill
Wednesday = 5 miles treadmill
Thursday = 5 miles treadmill
Friday = 2 miles treadmill
Saturday = 8 miles outdoors
Sunday = 8 miles outdoors
Total mileage = 33 miles

My goal for the week was to see if I could get in over 30 miles of running. Each mile I ran was hard fought and I kept thinking I should take a day off and rest as the week wore on, but I didn't and I reached my goal. This is the first week I have been over 30 miles since August 2010. I used to think a 30 mile week was an easy week, but this one was real tough to do as I had to keep pushing to hit my goal. Friday, I could only do 2 miles on the treadmill, so to get the 8 milers in was great. There is something about running outdoors!

My energy level for most of the runs was very poor due to my other goal. I went whole hog on starting to lose weight Tuesday. I cut out cereals, breads, pasta, ice cream, snacks, etc. and only ate small healthy meals instead.

Typically, I ate an apple with a small slice of cheese for a late morning snack (no breakfast), had a light lunch of grilled chicken and veggies, had chicken or steak for dinner with beans and veggies, and then had an apple for a nighttime snack. After a couple of days I got rid of the sugar cravings and got to that place where you feel like you are burning off fat and feeling lighter. The hard thing is running like that. Before the 8 milers I had a small frozen waffle with fruit preserves to try to get some carbs, but I still felt rather depleted on those runs. How did it work? From Tuesday morning until Sunday morning I had lost 8 pounds (Tuesday my weight was a little higher than it has normally been so probably I lost 5-6 pounds in reality). I also hit my target weight and now I am lighter than I have been since surgery in the summer, although lighter is probably not the right term as I have a long way to go. It is good to get started. I figure lighter weight = more miles and more miles = lighter weight.

By Thursday's run the muscles around my hip starting getting really tight and sore. I still worry if I am pushing things, but I am getting tired of being patient. I found this video showing a glute strengthening hip lift and added it to my list. It seemed to work the muscles that were fatiguing and I felt better on the 8 milers.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Top Ranked Running Blogs

Marathon Training
There are a lot of good running blogs out there and many of them are filled with information, inspiration, and anything else someone just might jot down. I write my blog because I can go back and remember things I have done or tried as well as a place to find links to things I found interesting at an earlier date. I try to make Recover Your Stride a mix of the personal, injuries and recovery as well as a place to write about training and racing. I do like to focus on all sorts of injuries and finding out how the body works. I also have tried to include the history of running from my point of view having been running since 1972 and I think I have provided  lot of good information such as reports on the early years of the Falmouth Road Race. As a fan of the sport I include information on current elite running events and races that interest me. I also review books that I read, videos that I use, or other equipment that I find valuable. If you think I do a lot of these, you should just see how many books I read and running tools I try that I never mention here. I just like the sport of running, so my blog is a big mix of things I enjoy. If someone finds it interesting then I find that encouraging.

On the left side of my blog, I include some blogs that I like to follow. Some are from my local friends and teammates as I enjoy getting inspired by their endeavors. Others are blogs I have found whose authors offer good information on human movement and health.

Rick Kimbal over at Marathon Training Schedule started the new year with a blog post of his picks for the Top 100 Running Blogs of 2012 and I am happy to see that my blog is on the list at number 86, ultimately slotted just two places behind a blog called The Boring Runner!

There is another blog ranking website that lists The Top 50 Running Blogs. Rather than being based on an opinion,  Blog Rank uses over 20 different factors to rank the blogs in any category. Some of the factors include: RSS membership, incoming links, Compete Alexa,and Technorati ranking, and social sites popularity. Currently Recover Your Stride is ranked 35th on this site for running blogs.

I guess it is encouraging that someone likes reading my ramblings. Thank-you to all the readers who do check in here. If you are looking for other blogs to read, you might want to check out some of the blogs on either of these two ranking lists.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Running: The Slow and Running: The Show

Running: The Slow:
I still can't get the mileage going as I had to take 3 days off due to the third round of trigger-point injections.

Monday: 5 miles treadmill
Tuesday: 3 miles treadmill
Wednesday: 2 miles treadmill
Thursday: trigger point injections
Friday: no run
Saturday: no run
Sunday: Freeze Your Buns 5k 23:45

I had the third series of trigger point injections in my glutes. This time the trigger points were more discreet, but I had 4 shots in my upper glute maximus and piriformis. One of the shots was much deeper in the muscle. I may be done with these shots. They have been interesting and have certainly loosened up my chronically tight muscles. During the final appointment in two weeks, she may look at other muscle such as the hamstring and calf, which she said were really tight, but she can only do some many shots per session.

My legs feel good while racing, but I have no conditioning as it is my breathing that slows me down in these races. My breathing is part conditioning and a whole lot of extra weight. If I were to go to the tables that say how much each extra pound slows you down for a mile (1 pound = 2 seconds/mile), and ran that fast in a 5k, I would be super thrilled with my time and back to running near the front of the pack. As it was, I ran about 6 seconds slower than 2 weeks ago. It was the first time I wore the Skechers GoRun shoes outdoors. I like the feel of the shoe when running and wore them for all my mileage this week. You cannot wear orthotics with these shoes, but somehow for now my feet work just the same without the orthotics in them, probably due to the rounded nature of the forefoot. The muscles on the bottom of my feet and lower legs need to get used to running without the orthotics as they do have to do more work, but I do get a better feel for the road. I am still not sure how often I will use these in the long run, but I have no other alternative for now as I have to decide which other shoe I may get for training.

Running the Show:
Here is a weekly race recap show on Youtube called Running the Show. This edition has the USA Olympic Marathon Trials, the Houston Marathon, the Mumbai Marathon, the Tiberas Marathon, and the Cross International de Italica

Monday, January 16, 2012

Congratulations to the newest Olympians

The 2012 USA Olympic Marathon Trials held in Houston are history and what a great race in both the men's and women's division. We have a strong experienced and Olympic marathon team. We just may be able to get a medal or two in London.

There is much deserved celebration for Meb, Hall, and Abdi as well as agony for 4th place finisher Ritz.

Shalane Flanagan, Desi Davila, and Kara Goucher console 4th place finisher Amy Hastings. Here are some nice pictures of the Trials.

Meanwhile, while the best Americans were running a marathon, I only got in 18 miles for the entire week:

Monday-0 miles
Tuesday 5 miles hard treadmill
Wednesday 1 mile treadmill hard to move
Thursday 0 miles
Friday 4mile treadmill
Saturday 8 miles outdoors very slow
Sunday 0 miles

I am trying some new shoes and while I feel great wearing them, the next day it is hard to run. I realized I have been doing all my training the past 2 months in a very old pair of Asics Hyperspeeds. I have had 3 pair since I wore this version (without the holes on the bottom) and they had basically been my snowshoe racing shoes for the past couple of years. I couldn't decide what type of shoe I wanted to try, so I kept wearing this old decrepit pair of shoes. As someone who likes trying new shoe technology, I finally ordered a pair of Skecher GoRuns. They feel fast when running with them, but I use muscles differently and that is why the day after I run my muscles are tired. The good news is that if I like the shoes and if they agree with my body, then these are the shoes that took Meb to his 2nd marathon PR in 69 days and a win in the Olympic Trials. If not, they end up in the box with the Vibram five-fingers, the Hoka One One Biondis, the Newton shoes, and a few other "misses" I have tried.

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 USA Olympic Marathon Trials Women's Predictions

The Olympic Marathon Trials are tomorrow morning, but I want to make my late picks for who will make the Women's Olympic Team. The real question for me is who will win out of Shalane Flanagan and Desiree Davila. I think Davilla will be the ultimate champion. She is more experienced at the marathon and keeps getting faster. Who can forget her heart as she almost won the Boston Marathon last April.

Pure guts and confidence will win it for the Hanson star. Shalane has more raw talent, speed, and those Olympic and World Cross-Country Championship medals. She may someday get the American record in the marathon, but this is only her second marathon and sometimes Shalane has had off days when going for it in a race. I see both of these women making the team and being potential medal threats in London.

My Predictions (just for fun)
1st Desiree Davila 2:25:17
2nd Shalane Flanagan 2:25:32
3rd Amy Hastings 2:27:11- just short of her 2:27:03PR and joining the Olympic team with her former college teammate Desiree Davila
4th Deena Kastor 2:28:40 gives it a great shot -but falls apart in the final miles
5th Magdalena Lewy Boulet is the only other runner under 2:30 in 2:29:12
6th Kara Goucher
7th Dot McMahan
8th Jennifer Rhines
9th Janet Cherobon-Bawcom this new American citizen will be an early leader until tying up in her first marathon
10th Clara Grandt

It will be fun to see what really happens tomorrow. I hope both races are much faster, more competitive, and more surprising than my predictions.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 USA Olympic Marathon Trials Men Predictions

On Saturday, January 14 the United States will pick their Olympic marathon team for the 2012 Olympics in London. Actually they will allow the picking to be done based on racer's performances in just one race, the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon held in Houston. For this Olympics the trials will be held for both men and women in the same place on the same day. I rather liked the trials for the Beijing Olympics, the men's trials were held in Central Park the day before the New York City Marathon and the women's trials were held in Boston on the day before the Boston Marathon. What I liked best was that I got to go watch the women's trials and it was such a wonderful setup for spectators, but the Olympic committee felt otherwise this year. The biggest problem I have with this years trials is that there will be no live video of the race. Really? It is 2012 and we can't get a live video feed to show the events as they happen and the "whole" event. Instead NBC will do a 2 hour show on the trials later on Sunday afternoon. That is fantastic, but I know I won't keep away from the computer so I will already know the results; plus a two hour show means that a vast amount of both races probably won't be shown.

It will be an interesting day to say the least and anything can and probably will happen, but I would like to throw out my picks for who may make our Olympic teams. I will divide my picks into 3 categories, from which I will chose 3 top picks for each category, and then I will choose a team.


My first category is for the superstars who have probably earned the top picks in each race

Ryan Hall- Ryan should be a shoe-in unless something unforeseen happens (things do happen- Deena Kastor broke a bone in her foot during the 2008 Olympic Marathon) or he races stupidly. He is that much better and more experienced at the top level than all the other runners.

Meb Keflezighi- He has an Olympic silver medal in the marathon, but he is getting older and he did race the NYC marathon in November. Strangely, he got a foot infection from leaving a breathe-right strip in his shoe during that race and missed 3 weeks of running because of that infection, although the rest could be a good thing). Questionable things like this and signing with Skechers seem to make it look like Meb is losing it, but Skechers seem to work for him as he set a marathon PR in NYC and ditched his orthotics in the process. He may be wily enough to make another marathon team despite a short buildup.

Dathan Ritzenhein - he's got the talent and the 9th place finish in the Beijing Olympic Marathon to be a real favorite, but Dathan is real fragile and has had a slow recovery over the summer from a strange injury that wouldn't heal. He has only run 2 5k road races lately. Is that enough for him to make the team?

The next category is the top level American marathoners. These guys have posted fast time in recent years, but none of them have gone sub 2:10 which means they are barely noticed as international level runners. It would be fun if one or more of these guys has a significant breakthrough on Sunday.

Brett Gotcher ran a 2:10:36 marathon debut in Houston in 2010, but followed that up with a 2:19:30 in Houston last year. Is Houston his city or not!

Jason Hartman ran a 2:11:01 in the 2010 Chicago Marathon and was a high school teammate of Dathan Ritzenheim.

Tim Nelson has a marathon time of 2:15:06from the 2010 New York City Marathon which is less than stellar when compared with many other Trials participants. His build-up races haven't been too fast either, so he doesn't look like the best pick, but he is a quick and experienced runner having a 27:28.19track 10000 meter PR and he did represent the USA at the 2009 World Championship in the same race. He is one of those guys that could have a breakthrough race.

My final category is for debut marathoners. Who can predict what will happen with them?

Mo Trafah has a 1:00:39 1/2 marathon PR. It will be interesting to see what he can pull off at the marathon distance. He tried the London Marathon last year, but went out too hard and dropped out of the race.

Brent Vaughn has a 1:02:04 1/2 marathon PR but I liked the way he looked and ran when he won the National Cross-Country title last year. Can he translate that XC skill and toughness to the marathon?

Brian Olinger is the wildest of all wild cards in the race. He is the only Trials entrant to have never run a 1/2 marathon and full marathon. He gained entry based on his 10000 time. The former steeplechaser was the first American at this years Falmouth Road Race in fourth place with a time that only 3 Americans have ever run faster (Alberto Salazar, Craig Virgin, and Meb Keflizighi. Olinger also won this year 75th annual Manchester Thanksgiving Day race in Connecticut). He just might be the runner with the biggest upswing.

It would be too easy to pick Ryan Hall, Meb, and Dathan as the top 3 picks in these Trials and I would be more than happy with that outcome, but that would be too easy. I will go out on a limb and pick one runner from each category. I am sure my predictions will be way off, but it is fun to play the game.

1st place: Ryan Hall 2:07:19. He should be unbeatable.
2nd place: Brett Gotcher 2:09:30
3rd place: Brent Vaughn 2:10:05

Sure I would like to see faster times. I hope for a real fast race and not a timid one. Whatever happens, I think a lot of guys will be hurting at the end. I just want to see some great racing. I think Meb left things too close to NYC and he doesn't sound too confident in interviews. I don't think Dathan's body will hold up.

I can only hope the finish looks something like this:

What are your thought and predictions?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Trigger Point Injection Therapy

This week I had the second round of my trigger point injections. Trigger Point injections are used for painful areas of muscle that contain trigger points, or knots of muscle that form when muscles do not relax. A physiatrist is doing the injections. The first injections were two weeks ago in my glutes and I had noticed that my left leg and hip felt "lighter" and more relaxed as soon as I got in car to drive home. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to act that quickly, but I asked the doctor this week and she said that indeed it does work quick like that. This week we talked about my adductor tightness again and she said where it is tight and feels like it is pinching is more a ligament and this therapy won't work on that, but when she pressed on my left vastus medialis she said it was very tight. She also said that the vastus medialis rotates the knee inwards which is part of what my knee does (knock-kneed) so she gave me 3 trigger point shots to this muscle.

Then I four or five more injections to my glutes. She hit one point that I knew I had (can feel like a light electrical shock at times) that was a bit more painful  when the needle hit it. I hope this is my major trigger point. She said that was in my gulte maximus. Other shots went into my glute medius, glute minimus, and the edge of the piriformis. I didn't feel immediate loosening this time, but she tried a different type of needling than last time. These were quicker and she didn't move the needle around so much (really it doesn't hurt like you might think!). However 24 hours after the shot things loosened up nicely. I haven't read much information on trigger point injections and their effect on runners, but my glutes are relaxing more so I think it is good so far. She also does PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma therapy) which I think is more for tendons than muscle, but that isn't covered by insurance like the trigger point injections. She likes the trigger point injections over prolotherapy which she can also do. It is all very interesting and I am thankful that my insurance covers these shots. I am not sure the long-term benefits to them are, but they seem to be helping me with my recovery back into running. I go back in two weeks for another round and then possibly another visit after that too. The question I have about trigger points this week is that she is relying on me to tell her where I am tight and sometimes trigger points refer pain elsewhere. Why then would the doctor not actively search out more trigger points?

This week I had to take days off due to the shots so I only covered 16 miles this week, but I think my form is slowly improving as my strength improves. I still have weaknesses and tightness around parts of the hip after a run, but nothing this week like the really tight adductor pain or the glute tightness that I have had previously. This coming week I intend to run more mileage to see if I still do better on a longer runs.

This weeks mileage total = 16 miles
Monday- 5 miles treadmill good pace
Tuesday- 3 miles treadmill
Friday- 3 miles treadmill
Saturday- 2 miles treadmill
Sunday- 5k Freeze Your Buns race

I decided to do the Freeze Your Buns and not worry about racing, time, or embarrassment over either of these. I felt a lot better than I did running the Thanksgiving 5k race. My hips felt solid and my stride smoother than I am used to. I am just way out of shape and have to lose weight over the next few months. I ran about minute faster than on Turkey Day even though I ate a big dinner last night. My goal was to finish under 25 minutes. I did 23:39. My PR for the course is 18:02 set five years ago so the time was rather humbling. That time would have won this race, but instead I finished in 47th place. I was out of breath, but not pushing or trying to race and I did start picking off people after the first mile and only had two people pass me near the end. The good news is that there is lots of room for improvement and I felt pretty good, even when compared to the stumbling around I use to do 5 years ago when I was racing almost 6 minutes faster.

I did notice after the race today, that the major trigger point has a bit of a sharp needle-like feel to it at times, but the muscles are not tightening up like they used to, so maybe that is because I used and stressed the muscle a bit running today.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Two Simple Exercises to Recover your Running Form

Jenny Hadfield over at AskCoachJenny writes on How to Transform your Running Form with One Simple Exercise. I have seen the single-leg balance mentioned many times as an assessment and balancing exercise, but Jenny adds a tweak to it that is very sensible to me and I can feel its immediate effect when I use this exercise and her tweak. Previously I have seen this as simply a balancing exercise. "Stand on one leg and hold." Jenny has you activate your glute with a simple move. I can feel it work when I use it. This is what Jenny says about the single-leg stance:

The single leg balance activates  and strengthens your stabilizing muscles from your feet and ankles all the way up to your hips and improves your balance too!  If you sit all day like most of us do, that deactivates your gluteal muscles which stabilize as you run stride for stride.  When these muscles atrophy (decrease strength and stability) they no longer engage and support your leg and hip as your foot lands on the ground.  It has a ripple effect in translating to wasted energy as your hips move side to side and increases the friction in your ITB (Iliotibial Band).
Those sound like the things that I need work on. Here are her directions for doing the single-leg stance. The fourth bullet is the key maneuver for me particularly letting the hip relax and then tightening it up again. I can feel my glutes activate when I do this.  Make sure you check out her directions as she gives further advice in the comments on her page:

  • Stand up with your feet hip width apart.
  • Keep your arms out to your sides for balance.
  •  Lift your left leg a few inches off the floor and hold for 30-60 seconds.
  • Engage your hip muscles to create a long, neutral line up your body. If this is confusing – try letting your hip relax out to the side and then tighten and contract it to align it under your shoulders – this is also another great exercise hip huggers.
  • Repeat 2-4 times on each side. You will feel all the muscles in your foot, ankle and hip fatiguing in seconds!
  • When this is easy progress to wearing no shoes.
  • When that gets easy stand barefoot on a towel, pillow or pad to further challenge the muscles and balance.  If you get to SuperStar status, close your eyes (very hard).

 Running is basically a single-leg balancing movement where you transition and push off between legs as you run so this type of exercise makes sense. This reminds me of another single-leg exercise that has received much press lately, the 100 Up. Back at the beginning of November, Chris McDougal of Born to Run fame wrote an article in the New York Times called The Once and Future Way to Run in which he rejuvenates and old drill as found in an late 1800s text on running. Here is a video demonstrating the 100 Up. I have done this off and on for a few weeks more as an exercise to work my creaky hip (labral tear operation last July). It certainly can't hurt and it only takes a limited amount of time to do. Both of these exercises can be added to your tool bag of simple exercises to improve your running form.

The Stark  Center at the University of Texas has a PDF copy of the old 100-Up Exercise book written  by W.C. George in 1913. Find and download it here. They also have  a related chapter on running training by Mr. George published in Training for Athletics. Find and download that here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking Ahead

Thankfully it is time to close out the year 2011. It was a long year and I learned how much I miss not being able to run and how I am not made to be a sedentary person. The highlight this year was getting hip surgery and feeling the hope that I can recover my stride enough to run pain-free and fast. I only did two races this year. The first was the Feel Good Farms Snowshoe race back in January and that will go down as one of the most difficult and challenging races I have ever completed (well I only did 1/2 of it). The other race I completed was the slowest and most humbling race I have ever done with the Thanksgiving day Turkey Gobbler race. I hope to put 2011 behind me and start all over again.

Today I ran 5 balmy New Years Day miles to start off the year. That gave me 20 miles for the week. I am not going overboard and building up slowly.

Monday: 1 mile Treadmill
Tuesday: 5 mile Treadmill
Wednesday: 3 miles Treadmill
Thursday: day off
Friday: 4 miles in Falmouth
Saturday: 2 miles Treadmill
Sunday 5 miles

For the year ahead I just want to run healthy and consistently. I look forward to racing (slowly at first), training long, running with friends, hard Gate City Strider track workouts (strangely I missed doing hot hard track workouts most of all-I think because the effort reminds me of running in high school and college-without them I feel real old), and losing all the weight that I have gained in the past year (yikes!).

Sure I have goals. My true running goal is the sub 3 hour marathon (it won't be this year). I have time goals and race goals, but I will be happy just turning the sinking ship around and being able to lace up a pair or running shoes each day and putting in a good 8 miles or so and coming home without feeling all the aches and pains.

Best wishes for a healthy New Year to all my running friends!