August 2007 Archives

Running Intervals with the Running Club

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Last night I wanted very much to run with my running club as it had been almost a month since I had done this. My wife wanted to do some shopping, so dropped me off at the trailhead. I think she was afraid I would trip over a tree root ;-)

Anyway I chatted with friends and caught up on the latest running news as we waited for others to arrive. I hung back with the medium speed group, not really sure how fast I could push it. The group started out slow, which gave me a chance to warm up. Around the 3K point the group started the first of several intervals. As they sped off I hung back, thinking it probably was not great to be doing intervals so soon after having the stitches removed from my knee. I did speed up to a more comfortable pace (the few kilometers where quite slow) and it wasn’t long until I realized that I was matching the speed of those in front of me. After about 5 minutes the group slowed down and I easily caught up to them as I had remained only about 10 paces behind them.

We ran another 5-6 minutes at the reduced speed, then the group started the next interval and this time I decided to hang with them, which I did. My knee felt good and I went with my instincts. We went through another couple cycles and by the second one I started to slow a little, so I took this as a signal not to push it anymore. As the group began the last interval, shortly before returning to the trailhead I decided not to speed up with them. I did catch them again for approx. the last kilometer.

It was a good run, it showed me that I am not 100% recovered, but it also showed me that I am well on my way to complete recovery. This morning my knee is a little stiff, but no pain, I’m sure when I walk around a little today it will loosen up. My next run will be a longer run on either Friday night or Saturday morning. I am thinking about staying on the flat trails for another week, I’m afraid the downhill sections of my hilly route in Weingarten are still too stressful for my knee.

Have a great week!

An Easy 9K Run

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Last night after work I cautiously set out for my first run in 12 days. My knee was still tender and stiff so I kept the paced down as I warmed up. After a kilometer or two I picked up the pace, the knee felt good and the running didn’t seem to irritate it. After 5 or 6 kilometers I noticed that my stride was a bit out of whack, I didn’t seem to be stretching the left leg out (with the healing knee) as much as the right, and my right was compensating for it. I could feel a twinge in my right thigh from the unnatural movement. I slowed back down for the last few kilometers and it felt better. I ran around 9K/5.5M at a 5:46/K (9:16/M) pace, a little faster than I planned on, which is encouraging actually. I felt like I could have easily ran much farther, but my recovery instincts told me no.

This morning my knee was stiff and sore, which really was not a surprise, I had been expecting this – it will still take some time before it is completely healed. Tonight I want to run about the same distance, but maybe a little slower. Normally I would rest tonight, but do to other obligations I probably won’t be able to run again until Saturday, so will risk an easy run tonight.

In any case I think my knee will be healed enough for me to line up for the marathon on Sept. 16th. I don’t plan on running the city marathon for speed, only as a training run, so I think I will make it over the finish line.

The stitches are out!

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This morning I stopped by the doctor and had my stitches removed. Of course my first question was “When can I start training?” After saying good morning, he looked over my medical record, took a sip of coffee, checked my knee again and finally said TOMORROW!

I left the office grinning like a school kid and headed on to work with visions of trail running dancing in my head!

With 2-1/2 weeks until the Baden Marathon I need to cautiously jump back into training. Even though my stitches are out I can tell my knee has not fully recovered, it is stiff and still tender where it took the blunt of the impact when I fell.

My plan for this week is to take another walk tonight, then try my first run after work tomorrow, probably around 5-6 miles to see how the knee feels. If the knee survives a couple shorter runs, I may try a two hour run on the weekend. If all goes well I will try a normal week of training next week with at least a 2-1/2 hour run at the end of the week. The weekend after that is the marathon.

I am not too concerned about the marathon, it is a training run for the 50-mile race on October 6, so if my knee isn’t happy I can elect to run just the half at the 13-mile point. If I have to choose, my priority will be the 50-miler.

A 12K Walk

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This afternoon was bright, sunny and in the upper 80's. My knee was feeling good, so I decided to try an extended walk. I walked part of my normal running route covering around 12K/7.5M at about a 11:00/K (17:34/M) pace, which I consider to be okay considering I still have my stitches in the knee.

I'm heading to the doctor on Monday before work, I hope he share my feeling that it is time to take the stitches out.

If all goes well I want to try to run a few miles at least by Tuesday night, but I'll see what the doctor says and how my knee feels - I'd rather be a bit overcautious than to do too much, too soon.

Have a nice weekend!

What if I could never run again?

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Have you ever considered how you would feel if you suddenly couldn’t run/bike/swim like you do now? Maybe an injury, job, family, or other obligations just don’t let you do your thing as much or at all. How would you feel, what would you do, would this leave a void in your life?

Over the last 9 days since I hurt my knee I have had more time to think about a lot of things and I pondered how I would answer those questions. When you are sidelined with an injury it gives you a chance to appreciate how much the sport really means to you. On the other side I have also realized that I could live without running if I had to, something that I would never admit to just 9 days ago.

I thank God daily for my health, that he has given me the ability to run, and to run long distances. I think most of you realize that not everyone can do what we do, and some of you do some pretty amazing things in your sport. Now some of you may think that you are not so special – maybe you think that you are still too fat, too slow, too old or too inexperienced. Don’t think that way, take a moment and look in the mirror at who you have become, think about all those around you that can’t imagine doing what you do in your sport, then pat yourself on the back and smile – you earned it!

Three more days, then my stitches are coming out, I’m looking forward to easing my way back out onto the trails, not because I have to, but because I can!

A 5K Walk

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My knee seems to be getting more flexible each day and I only have a bit of pain when I have to traverse too many stairs or uneven ground, e.g. when I take the train to work and back. After dinner last night I was feeling fat so as my wife went upstairs to study, I headed out for a walk. I headed out over the first couple kilometers of my running route, which are mostly asphalt covered and even-surfaced. I tried not to bend my knee too much as I walked and before I knew it I had 5K behind me and was back at the house, no trouble at all.

I have a theory that I must have some tissue damage or something in the knee as I have pain in the knee itself from time to time, as opposed in the location of the cut. I know I hit the ground pretty hard with both knees when I tripped a week ago. I was also thinking about the tripping incident – I tend to believe now that one of the main reasons that I tripped was because I was still nursing a pulled muscle in the other leg which was causing me to shuffle as I ran, e.g. I wasn’t picking my feet up as much and my stride was deceased. I guess the lesson to learn here is to try to stay on more even paths while healing.

So tonight I want to do some more upper body weight training. I am also thinking about different resistance exercises that I can do for my good leg – got to keep those muscles toned :-)

If my knee feels up to it I will probably keep walking every other day, if nothing else this perks me up and burns a few calories too. I have been maintaining my weight this week, but I want to lose at least 5 lbs. before my marathon in mid-Sepetember! Got to have goals, right.

Last night I spent 15-20 minutes in my shed doing some upper body training with free weights. Otherwise, I tried to stay off my feet as much as possible, even going to the extent of elevating my leg on a box at work. The result this morning was favorable, the dull pain in the knee had mostly subsided. The wound itself looks good, it itches a lot, which is a good sign and I am optimistic that I will be back on the trail next week.

I have rarely been injured in my life, and this is the first time I’ve been sewed up for about 40 years, so for the last couple days I have been wondering a bit about how I should continue with my training once my stitches are removed next Monday. A good friend of mine provided the following words of wisdom:

“Keep right on babying it so that you'll be good like new when the time comes to break free. BUT don't go crazy that first week out - though stitches may have approximated the surface wound, it's that tissue underneath that takes the brunt of the friction & shearing force - so once you get the green light to run, do a little of the easing-back-in thing. Caution feels like hell but mostly pays off I think.”

It would be interesting to hear any of your comments on how should get back into training. Go ahead, shout it out!

Impatient, need I say more...

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Yesterday I went for a 20 minute walk during lunch, stretching the legs out a bit felt good. For the most part I still need to keep my left leg straight so I don’t tear out the stitches, but at least I can move. Last night the walls of the house started moving in on me, so I decided to go for another walk, I went for about a 2-miles (3K).

This morning my kneecap hurts, I think I walked too much yesterday, sigh…

My knee seems to be healing nicely, the swelling has disappeared and the wound itself is clean and mending. On Saturday I spent 15 minutes lifting free weights in my shed, careful not to bend my injured knee. This afternoon (Sunday) I went for a 2-mile walk along a flat asphalt bike path around town. I'm sure my limping along, trying to keep my left leg straight looked pretty funny to the many people that passed on their bicycles, but I didn't care - I was happy to be out and about.

I want to try to continue with weight lifting and walking throughout the week until my stitches come out on Monday the 27th. I am hoping I can start running right away, but really don't know if my knee will be too still the first few days or what. I guess I'll have to wait and see. Have a nice Sunday and new week!

Running Without Jack

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So I have been officially blown out of the saddle. The doc that sewed me up (also a marathon runner) left no room for discussion as he told me NO running until my stitches are out and NO marathon on Aug. 26! My normal doctor checked out the wound last night also told me explicitly NOT to run until the stitches are out (Aug. 27), repeating himself at least three times as I tried to change his mind – he wouldn’t even agree to take my stitches out a day early so I could train on the weekend (remind me to change doctors ;-). So between them they pretty much got through my thick runner’s head that I shouldn’t run.

That said, I know that won’t be easy for me, but I have promised myself and my wife that I will try to abide to doctor’s orders and behave myself (my wife doesn’t believe me). My doctor did say I can do weight training as long as I don’t use my leg, so at I can still do something. I also will be working on losing a couple pounds over the next week or two, my omnipresent spare tire being a reminder that I haven’t reached my perfect weight yet.

So I will be shining up my running shoes and crossing the calendar off, I’ll be back in the saddle in no time. Then there will be lots to do, a marathon on Sept. 16 and a 50-miler on Oct. 6 – it’s going to be great!

When the wall comes crashing down

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Or in my case when I trip over yet another root, my second in two weeks, and this time put a hole in my knee.
I was running the 4K/2.5M trail toward the Running Club trailhead so I could run with my running club, had just turned into the wooded section and boom, I hit the ground fast and hard. After cussing myself out for being so clumsy, the second time in two weeks, I bent down to brush the dirt off my knees and noticed I had a steady flow of blood flowing down my left leg and already filling my sock. A close look revealed a small finger sized HOLE in my knee, I knew this was not good.

I was about 3K from home and 1K from the trailhead, but decided to run home, at least I could double my mileage. I stopped at the park across from my house and washed my legs off a bit with the water from the fountain located there, I knew my wife would freak out if I showed up covered with blood.

By the time I reached the house my knee was swelling and I had to hobble up the steps. My wife grew pale as she looked at the wound, and I went in and took a shower. After patching up the hole I iced it and propped my leg up. After a while it became clear that it was not a simple cut, as it wouldn’t stop bleeding. My wife called our doctor and after she described the wound he said I need to go to the emergency room in Karlsruhe and get it sewn up.
So off we went, luckily there was one person in front of us and we only needed to wait about 15 minutes. As doc sewed me up I discovered that he was a marathon runner and his assistant was also a runner, cool! I also got a cool look at my knee cap, good thing my wife, who can’t handle blood, guts and gory grime, was waiting on the other side of the room.

So he left me instructions to not get the wound wet for at least two days (e.g. no shower), to have my normal doctor check it in the next day or two, and no marathons in the next 10 days until the stitches are taken out (good thing my next marathon is in 11 days). Unfortunately he left it at that and went on to the next patient, so now my wife and I are already fighting over whether he meant no running or no marathons – which one do you think I understood :-)

When I got home I propped my leg up and iced it as the doctor recommended. I elected not to take any pain killers, so had a restless night of sleep. My knee still has a dull ache this morning and is so stiff I can barely bend it. I elected to stay home from work as I didn't think I could drive our standard shift car and there are two many stairs involved to take the train/street car.

Tonight I am going to my normal doctor to have him check out the wound and my wife wants to go with me and have him clarify the running issue, obviously she doesn’t trust me to do this alone ;-)

In any case my goal of 6 marathons in 6 months is in real danger as my knee may prevent me from running on the 26th, but that’s okay, I have had a good running year and still have a couple races in September and October. So time to prop the foot up again and catch up on my reading, have a good one!

Dumb Running

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After work yesterday I was stoked and ready to run. My cold is behind me, the sun was shining (31C/88F) and I was ready to cruise. I warmed up for a kilometer, then picked up the pace to around 5:15/K (8:27/M) as I headed out over the field paths and forest ways. I have been running at a slower pace lately, so thought I should speed things up a bit.

After around 8-9K my right hamstring muscle (probably the biceps femoris), which I pulled last Monday when I tripped violently over a root, started complaining. By the 10K point (52:45) it started downright hurting and I (finally) slowed down. About this time I got the bright idea that I might be aggravating the still healing muscle and was foolish to be pushing the pace like I had been. By kilometer 12, this was confirmed as I began limping. I slowed down a bit more until the pain eased up and limped back to the house.

This morning my hamstring is aching and it is uncomfortable to sit in my chair at work. When I walk around for a bit it loosens up and feels fine. Tonight is a rest night, so I’m hoping that the hamstring will feel better by Wednesday night. In any case I need to keep the pace down until after the marathon.

In less than 8 weeks is my last major race for the year, a 50-mile race. The total ascending and descending on the 50 mile, mostly asphalt, route is approximately 3500 feet (1066 meter). This includes one monster (for this flatlander) climb of 600 feet (183 meter) in 0.8 miles (approx. 1.3 km). The race has a 12-hour time limit, which means I need to head into the race ready to rumble.

I have been tweaking my training plan a bit to try to maximize my training. I haven’t run any asphalt trails for most of the summer, so need to hit the pavement. I have two “training” marathons planned, a forest marathon on August 26 with a couple hill climbs (approx. 50 meters) and a flat city marathon on September 16 which will give me some pavement time. I was also testing a couple trail variations on my last long run that will significantly increase the number of hill climbs and thus the severity of my long runs.

I am hoping that my cold is now behind me and I can get back to some serious training. Have a great day!

A 3-Hour Long Run

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On Saturday morning I was again up early and on the trail before 6 a.m. I drove to Weingarten, 12K away, to my hilly route trailhead. It was still slightly dark and a misty fog was lifting around the forest as I started out. After warming up on a mostly flat forest trail, I turned and headed up the side of mountain, winding my way to the top. My quad, which has been aching since I tripped and pulled a muscle last Monday, seemed to have been healed, it didn’t bother at all.

The first two hours were uneventful, I wound my way up and down the hills, really enjoying my run. As I continued on I grew more and more tired, probably a result of fighting a cold the whole week long. I downed a gel and some sports drink and pushed on the best I could. My energy didn’t pick up again so after around 3 hours I decided to call it quits for the day, no reason to turn it into a death march. I had wanted to run another half hour, but I decided that it was better to knock off early and give the body a rest.

Today I am feeling much more rested, the last signs of my cold seem to be receding, and I am looking forward to a new training week.

In two weeks is my next marathon, a “forest” marathon that consists of two loops of mostly forest trails, with a few smaller hills to climb. I am using this as a training run for my 50-miler in October, so plan on taking it easy and enjoying it. My goal is to be able to continue training a couple days after the race.

A Peaceful Morning Run

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This morning again found me out on the trail at 5:15 doing a 12.5K/7.8M loop before heading to work. My right quad muscle is still sore from pulling it when I tripped over a root on Monday run. I can’t seem to stretch the leg out as much when I run, which is wrecking havoc on my tempo, reducing me to about a 10:00 mile. But I’m okay with that for now, better to keep it slow and not irritate the quad. So the run otherwise went well this morning, once I loosened up the quad I could run comfortably, albeit not up to cruising speed. At least it didn't rain the whole time like yesterday. I saw a couple deer too, that was cool!

I exchanged e-mails with my crew chief yesterday, it looks like I’ll be running my second 50-miler for this year on October 6. Here is the profile of the race, looks like fun, right:

canlake50-profile.jpg

In the wee hours of the morn'in...

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...I crawled out into the rain for a run before going to work today. It was still dark as I left on my soggy run around an approx. 12.5K/7.8M loop. The first kilometers were quite slow as I was still nursing a bruised quad from tripping over a root on Monday. Once I got warmed up I was able to pick up the speed slightly, but between that and my still lingering cold I just couldn’t motivate myself to get up to a proper tempo.

Yesterday my wife received the good news that she was accepted by a large company in our area in a two month apprenticeship program for her technical writing course. This and the final test are the last remaining hurdles before she graduates. If she does well at the company she may even receive a job offer at the close of her schooling (I am sure believing this will happen). Anyway I set my running on the shelf and took my wife out to dinner, I am so proud of her!

I have pretty much convinced myself to run another 80K/50M race in October. I was debating whether to run a 50K or 50M race, and will probably just jump off into the dark and do the 50M. I only want to talk to my crew chief about it before I commit myself though, the race is far, far, far away from home and I need to make sure I’m covered if things get ugly (you never know, right).

I have a pretty good base, around 2100K/1300M so far this year, have been doing some good long runs - a marathon a month since March, and the last races have been strong (two PB’s). In two weeks I am running a (civilized) trail marathon as a training run and three weeks after that a city marathon. This should leave me properly warmed up for the race on October 6. I’ll fill in some more details once I have talked with my crew chief and am signed up.

Last night I was cruising along at a pretty fair pace, thinking about everything but my running, when all of a sudden this big old root came out of nowhere and tackled me to the ground ;-) I ended up on my side as I rolled, luckily landing in a patch of sand and grass rather than on the other tree roots, but as I went down I could feel my right quad stretching painfully. I was quite shaken as I got up, mostly from being shocked out of my daydreaming. I did a quick damage assessment and other than a painful quad muscle and a bruised pride I seemed to be okay. I jogged on slowly and the pain pretty much went away and I gradually picked up some speed again, my concentration fully restored!

This morning my quad is quite sore, I may need to take it easy for a couple days, we'll see what happens. My cold is slowly getting better, at least this didn't bother me during my 14K/5.5M run last night.

Hopefully I'll learn to pay a little more attention to my running the next time I am running through the middle of the woods :-)

Running with a Summer Cold

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Summer colds are the worst, the sun is shining, the weather warm and I have been coughing, sneezing and even running some fever. By Wednesday night I could tell I had caught something, after running with the running club I was pretty wiped out. On Thursday I had fever, but it broke by Friday morning so I went to work. I know from experience that as long as I don’t have fever I can run, so after work Friday I went out for a test run. I ended up covering my 14K/8.7M run at a pretty good tempo, 5:25/K (9:00/M). I was a bit congested, but it cleared up after the first part of the run.

On Saturday morning I was up at 5:00 a.m. and running by 6:00 in Weingarten on my hilly route. I was more tired than normal, so kept the pace down. I wanted to run for 3 hours, but after 2:35:00 I decided to call it quits, my cold just zapped my energy and will to continue. I took a three hour nap in the afternoon and feel better today (Sunday). I think I am on the rebound with my cold and can get back to normal training soon.

Have a nice weekend everyone!

Running and Planning

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It has been a very busy week, we are going through departmental restructuring at work and that means our offices are being shuffled around a bit. So I been spending extra time going through things and throwing out as much as possible, e.g. less to move.

I ran last night with my running club (Hi Conny!). I haven’t been sleeping enough this week so felt quite tired, I decided to run at an easier pace. I started out with the normal group, but as they picked up the pace I stayed back with three other runners that also wanted to run a little easier. One of the runners was from the fast group, he had a recovery run scheduled so wanted to keep the pace around 6:00/K (9:39/M). In any case this was much too easy for him, so he kept us entertained with a constant flow of information (chatter:-) on his goal of running a sub-3:30 marathon in September. I welcomed the diversion and had a nice run.

My recovery seems to be going a little slower this time, probably because I ran a record-breaking (i.e. personal best) marathon instead of running conservatively. I still plan on running my sixth marathon this year on August 26th, but it will definitely be a slower training run (4-1/2 to 5 hours). Three weeks after this marathon is the Baden marathon in Karlsruhe, a city marathon.

I also need to decide rather quickly if I am going to run 50K or 50-miles in October (6th) as my last major race of the year (probably). At this point I am thinking about running the Baden marathon in September as a training run (maybe 5 hours) and the run the 50 mile (80K) race. We’ll see how my long run goes this weekend.

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