Friday, July 30, 2010

The Ultimate 4-hour Cardio Playlist part 2

18. Funkytown - Lipps Inc.
19. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap - AC/DC
20. Dragula - Rob Zombie
21. Step Up - Drowning Pool
22. Sports mix - Jock Jams
23. Pretty Fly (for a White Guy) - The Offspring
24. Forget - Drowning Pool
25. Bleed it Out - Linkin Park
26. Whatever - Godsmack
27. The Bitch is Back - Elton John
28. Amazing Grace - Dropkick Murphys
29. Given Up - Linkin Park
30. No Brakes - The Offspring

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Home treatments have failed me

When I get hurt or sick, my reaction isn't to run to the doctor, but to heal it at home, and use the medical profession only in extreme emergencies or as a dead last resort. So when my leg started hurting, I figured I could fix it myself. I tried heat, ice, rest, massage, hot tub, aspirin, biking, squats, lunges, leg pressing, leg extensions and ellipticaling. I can jump rope on both feet just fine, but when I tried alternating feet, the right leg wouldn't play nice. It's not getting worse, but the only thing that feels better is when I bike. It seems the longer I bike, the better my knee feels, yet within a half hour or so, the stiffness is back and my knee won't bear weight. I can't spend the next nine weeks on a bike, so I finally made an appointment to see an orthopedist. Please help me!

With this great negativity and huge monkey wrench in my life, here's a nice story to balance it out a little. I told my grad school friend about it and she said if I can't run Detroit, I can stay with her in Houston and run their marathon in January. I hope it doesn't get to that but I appreciate her offer and understanding of how important this is to me. Thanks Sandye!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Two good days

My leg is finally feeling better. Hallelujah!!!! With the combination of not walking if I can help it, stationary biking, elliptical training and time, I haven't limped in two solid days. What a great feeling! Stairs and inclines don't feel great but I can't expect everything to instantly change overnight. I've talked with some friends who are / were long distance runners and both concurred with my self diagnosis and treatment plan. One recommended waiting four pain-free limp-free days before I try running. I figure I'll give it a week. Even if that feels great, he said do the next day on the elliptical to ease my body back into running. For now everything is going right. The obvious priority is healing, but along with that is maintaining my heart and lung capacity. Once those are gone, so is the marathon dream, so I elliptical for an hour regardless of how insanely boring it is. Despite the setback, the marathon still seems to be a go!!!! I can do this!!!! (and so can all of you!!!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another crummy substitute

I've never understood the appeal, or even the need for elliptical trainers. I always relegated them to the category of exercising for those who don't want to work too hard or get too sweaty. If I'm putting in the time and effort to exercise, I want to maximize the full benefits from running or biking (but not recumbents because even though I have heard the arguments about being more efficient than uprights, I have assigned recumbents to the same category as ellipticals). Other great options are running stairs or lifting weights. I have definite ideas about working out and ellipticals never fell anywhere in my realm of options.

Yet I'm still gimping along and biking is great for sustaining aerobic capacity, but the marathon isn't a bike race! After talking with a cross country coach, I finally sucked it up and tried the elliptical. I'll try anything at this point! I began with a mile and felt pretty ok, so I hopped off and stretched my quads and hamstrings. Still felt great so I hopped back on for another two miles. It's far from perfect - my average mile time is in the 11:40 - 12:00 frame and I don't seem to be sweating enough or breathing hard enough, but it's working my legs in a similar fashion to running without the constant pounding or weight bearing. I read somewhere that in running, every time the foot hits the ground, it does so with a pressure equal to four times your body weight. Isn't that amazing to ponder?

I finally came to the conclusion that rather than biking and hoping for the best, I'll transfer my running schedule to an elliptical trainer. It's not great, but it's the best I can do right now.

I looked up the symptoms of a strained quad and I seem to fit the criteria to a T. On the positive side, I'm home medicating exactly right. But on the negative side, the cure is rest. I've even stopped walking from point A to point B relying on biking as transportation as much as I can. (Thank you Carrie and James - you guys are awesome!!!!)

So it continues. My mom and brother both asked what I'll do if I can't run the marathon. I refuse to acknowledge the possibility. Undertaking huge feats of strength or ambition require a certain suspension of disbelief and faith in the impossible. I can do this!!!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The first step back

After resting my leg all week, the pain has downgraded to a slight discomfort and the limp that made it almost impossible to walk on Saturday became very slight. Biking, squats, lunges all felt ok so it was time to test my leg with running. I wasn't foolish enough (or stubborn enough) to look at my calendar, see 4 miles for today and plan to run that. I thought one mile would be a good start. I barely made it 30 steps. Could I have kept going? Sure, but at what cost? The pain was immediate as was a severe limp of my body screaming in protest and trying to protect my right leg.

So I did what I should have been doing all week - changed into my swim suit and climbed into the hot tub, trying my hardest to ignore the screaming children who were surely peeing in the tiny pool. I sat right next to a jet and moved every few minutes, hitting my knee to my hip and back. Came home and iced it for 20 minutes, then heating padded it for another 20. It seems to be back to a slight to moderate pain.

If I was just running for fitness, I wouldn't care about taking off a week or a month, or I would bike hard 4 times a week, but the marathon is exactly 3 months and one day away! Time is not a luxury at this point. Hurry up and heal you darn leg!!!

For what it's worth, it seemed a few days ago that it was the knee that felt pain, now it seems to be the quadricep. I don't know which is worse.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Biking is a crummy substitute

My leg has been improving day by day. It's not great, but compared to how it felt on Saturday (when I would have used a walker if I could) it's tolerable so therefore time to test it out. Tuesday (72 hours later) I tried biking. I kept it at a low resistance and a slower speed than I normally do and limited myself to 20 minutes. It neither hurt nor felt great so I tried some leg presses, also much less than I normally do (100 pounds yesterday versus a normal 210). That didn't make a huge difference either. It felt good to sweat a little, but biking is such a lousy substitute for running, at least how I was doing it. I didn't want to force my knee with a high resistance, but that's what causes me to work my legs, my heart, my lungs. What I did on Tuesday was more akin to biking as transportation or recreation than biking as exercise.

I tried again today, biking 30 minutes then doing some squats and lunges. I've isolated it to my knee - at least that's better than my hip or my quad - and it's not in pain, just discomfort now. Time is most likely the only remedy, but with the biggest race of my life in 12 short weeks, I don't have the luxury of waiting out discomfort. Besides, running is the epitome of discomfort. So tomorrow is time to start running again. I have the good sense to not expect to jump right back into a 5 mile run, but I don't really have a plan of how far I want to go. I'll start with one step, then another, and another and see how I feel, then baby step it as long as my knee holds up. I won't even set my stopwatch just listen to my body not my hard headed brain.

The irony, of course, is that I went since November without a single twinge or even a cold and this close to the race have to deal with this setback. Let's hope it's short term and not long - I really don't want to walk the marathon!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

48 hours later

It's been about 48 hours since my leg started hurting. It seems to be improving, but is it really getting better, or am I just telling myself it is? I'm not sure if it's a physical or mental improvement.

Most days I regard running as a chore that I have to do, so naturally while I'm trying to rest my leg, the only thing I want to do is run! Of course another factor in wanting to run is that my alternative is reading pages and pages for grad school (as in 600+ pages of military theory by Sunday). Not to mention that the longer I go without any exercise, the more I'm convinced that I can feel the weight creeping back. Must avoid that!

I'm going to try an easy gentle bike for a few miles and see how my leg fares with that. Keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Running through the pain

My past few 5-mile runs have felt really good and this week was no exception. I was barely breathing hard, my heart felt great, my lungs were great, there wasn't even a hint of a side stitch from dehydration. Yet I grabbed a sip of water at 3 miles and it all went downhill from there. I felt a slight kink in my right leg - I wasn't sure if it was the knee, the quad or what. I kicked it out a few times and kept going. It didn't go away, but didn't get in the way of running either. Until 4.5 miles when it stopped being a slight twitch and became pain. I pulled off to the side, did a few stretches, then kept going. I should have stopped immediately.

I've always believed to a certain extent in the idea of "no pain, no gain." (or in the 1992 Olympics "no pain, no Spain" then in 1996 "no pain, no peaches." I love it!) After all, if exercise was easy, we would all have killer bodies. Any physical improvement is worth working for, so a little pain doesn't faze me. Besides, how are the muscles growing if not through a little discomfort? With this attitude, I told myself I could do it and kept going.

I finished the last half mile and the last mile time was the slowest. Yet, this happens the majority of times - the first mile is the fastest, I slow down each successive mile, then end with a strong last .3 or .4. So in terms of time, I was following my normal pattern. I stopped for subway and by the time I was home - less than 20 minutes from the end of my run - I was in pain. The worst part is that I couldn't definitively pinpoint the pain - was it my knee? my hip? my quadricep? A day later I still don't know, but it's painful to put weight on my right leg. It doesn't hurt to move it, just to bear any weight.

Now I'm self medicating with ice and heat, stretching a little, but otherwise trying to not move. What a mess!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A heat index of 108? That's funny

I've claimed numerous times that there's no correlation between intelligence and common sense, but when the heat index topped 108 this afternoon, I had the good sense to say it's too damn hot to run outside! I was stuck in class again all day, leaving only the mid afternoon break to run 4 miles. Not a huge distance, but in this weather, walking to the mailbox is too strenuous, forget a 40 minute run.

Alas I went back inside. When is this heat going to break? I think I've discovered my heat threshold is 85. Any more and I'll wave the white flag and resign myself to gym laps. Given the choice between gym laps or nothing, the mileage is more important than pavement pounding.

For what it's worth I did the 4 miles in 40:11. Not a bad pace at all!

Monday, July 5, 2010

7 miles redux

On Monday I had another all day class. They gave us a several hour break at lunch which coincided with a temperature fluctuating between 90 and 92 degrees. Naturally this was the only time I had to run 7 miles. I didn't wake up early enough to go in the morning and I knew if I waited until after dinner, by the time I digested, it would be too late. So it was run in the excruciating heat or not at all.

i'm not stupid so yes, I went back indoors, but unlike my last attempt at 7 miles where my body rebelled and I sat down on the track at 6.5 miles, this attempt went great! I felt strong and finished the entire 7 miles with only one water break. i wasn't even thirsty, but after 5 miles, it felt like I should have some water, just in case.

My brother had recommended Gatorade pre packets so I tried one today. Maybe that made the difference, maybe it was actually having calories fueling my body. Whatever it was, I destroyed my old 7 mile time. Last week I trudged across the finish line in 1:19:03. Today I was aiming for 1:14 and soared across the finish line in 1:11:44, my last lap the fastest of all. Wow! I lost over a full minute on my average per mile speed. I even felt way better today, strong and not in any pain. The mental trick seems to be not thinking, just listen to the music and keep counting the lap number.

The rest of the week should be pretty easy - 4, 5, 4, 4. It's all relative. Not that long ago 4 miles seemed an insurmountable distance, now it's an easy day.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A short history of running (or something like that)

In 8th grade, I first decided I was a runner and therefore belonged on the track team. It never fazed me that the last time I had run was in 6th grade gym. The track team was one of the hippie types where everyone makes the team. I participated in some meets, sat out others. I wasn't great, but on a team of 70, I wasn't the worst either.

In 9th grade, I joined the track team again. I had run sprints in 8th grade, but decided I was going to take advantage of my height and switch to hurdles. Not many people wanted to do hurdles, so I ran at all the meets, including the one on my birthday when I clipped my trail foot on the very first hurdle, tumbled to the ground and instinct said to break the fall. The result was a broken and dislocated finger. Even better, this happened on my 15th birthday when I had tickets to go to my first Detroit Pistons game. I was off the team.

The next year I decided I was going to be a distance runner. Very early in the season the coach had us jumping on boxes and I twisted my ankle on landing. I didn't rest, but kept running and it eventually turned into a hairline fracture. Another year off the team.

By 11th grade, I was still convinced I was going to be a track star. I hadn't yet found my niche so I switched to mid-distances. I finished the season without any major injury but it's pretty safe to say I was the worst on the team.

My senior year, I joined the team again, but a few weeks in, realized I didn't enjoy it and quit before the first meet.

I didn't run again for years. After college I participated in the Race for the Cure several times and a handful of local runs, as far as 8k, but I never really took it seriously and I was never good! Sure I finished every race, always with at least one walking break.

In 31 years, the furthest I had run without stopping was about 2 miles, probably even less than that. I doubt I've ever run more than 20 minutes without walking. And now I can run more than an hour without stopping or walking. Wow! I have no athletic ability but determination is more powerful and is working thus far. If I can do this, everyone can. It just takes time and work. You can do this!