Sunday, April 6, 2008

short test run

Now that my wife is cleared to run again she asked me if I wanted to go out on a 3 mile run around the 'habba with her and the baby. My first thought was "no, what a stupid question, I'm injur....." I thought about it for a minute and figured "why not?" what am I going to do, have more knee pain? I didn't think that it would be too bad at my wife's pace either. She runs a 2min / 1min ratio of run/walk.

We loaded up the baby in the B.O.B. jog stroller with the rain cover and went on our way. The run went smoothly, the baby didn't cry and we both got pretty wet from the rain.

Here we are 3 hours later and my knee isn't much worse than it was before. If I notice much more pain it'll probably be in the morning. I was stretching before I took a shower and noticed that my knee caps aren't even close to level. My left kneecap (the painful one) is a good bit lower than the right. I'm betting that the orthotics take care of some of this when I'm wearing them. It lends some credibility to my cousin's (who's a physical therapist) theory that the knee pain relates to my PS/SI problems from a few years ago. I'm visiting her next weekend in CA so I'll have a chance to ask her about it in person and show her my kneecaps.

I need to get some new running shoes that are better suited for my orthotics as well. Maybe in a few weeks...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Therapy of the physical kind

I went to Physical Therapy twice last week. The office is in Bellevue so I've been taking morning appointments, working out there for an hour and then going to work afterward. So far it works out like this:

20 min. walking backwards on a treadmill at 2.5mph with a 12% incline.
hamstring stretching exercise
really hard hamstring stretching exercise
Hip extensor balance exercise
partial squats with a 25lb Kettle Bell
Pulse Ultrasound

Walking backwards on a treadmill with a steep incline was hard to get used to initially. You can't see how close you are to the controls of the treadmill and you don't want to bump into them so you end up walking on the bottom/back half of the belt. You end up getting closer than you'd like to be to the edge of the belt so you're constantly adjusting where you're walking. I'm still struggling to walk backwards without either looking down at my feet or looking at the mirror across the room and watching my feet. Walking backwards also exposes my tendency to pronate my left foot pretty badly.

I've read blogs and books that recommend walking backwards uphill to help with runner's knee. I guess it's good for stretching out the hamstrings, which are typically severely under-worked by athletes (esp. runners). I'm surprised that I work up a decent sweat in 20 minutes walking backwards uphill. I suggest you try it some time... no holding on to the treadmill either. :)

The two Hamstring exercises are good for me and something I'm now trying to do at home as well. The first is just laying on my back with one leg up against a wall as high as I can go and still keep it straight with my toe pointed. The other leg is on the ground and I lift it (keeping it straight) up higher than the wall leg.

The second one (much harder for me) has me standing, feet together with a small rubber ball between my knees. I put my hands above my head and bend over slowly sticking my butt out so that I can keep my back straight. I bend over until I can't keep my back straight any more, then squeeze the ball with my legs and bend the rest of the way. I also come back up to standing keeping my back straight.

The other exercises aren't too hard, but the hamstring ones give me the most trouble given my lack of flexibility.

After PT on Friday my knee was sore the rest of the day which worries me. I'm a little scared that I won't be able to run for a while on my knee if this is how PT goes for me.

Still 2.5 weeks away from getting the Orthotics in any case.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

PT visit

I went to see the Physical Therapist today. He listened to my history and based on what I described and what he saw by examining my feet and knees he recommended Orthotics. He said that I could be running in shoes that had more motion control / support but said that Orthotics were really the answer. My arches are pretty flat apparently and this is causing my knees to turn inward, putting more pressure on my ankles, tibia, and knees.

He didn't agree with the Sacroiliac theory, which will be interesting to talk about with my cousin who is also a PT. (I bet she's heard of him) He measured me for Orthotics by taking a cast of my foot with some sort of plaster soaked fabric that he'll send off to Brea, CA where they'll be made according to the molds and the notes that he took as he examined my feet. He recommended against the Carbon Fiber orthotics, saying that they were too rigid for me. Mine will be some type of ABS plastic. I'll see them in 3 1/2 weeks or so. He recommended that I don't run until I get them.

He was surprised at the lack of flexibility in my hamstrings even though I told him how horribly inflexible I am. He gave me two exercises to do for my hamstrings and set up a couple more appointments for me.

I hope my health care covers some portion of the Orthotics, they're expensive!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I haven't been running much lately. My knee has been in pain for a while so I've been using the Elliptical machine at the gym. It's not nearly as satisfying as the treadmill, which itself is boring. The Elliptical doesn't burn nearly as many calories as running at 7mph with a 2% incline on the treadmill does either. Not that I expected it to, but people tell me that it's the best way to burn calories. Nope. I'll put a hard 30 minutes on each machine head to head. I think people just don't like running and aren't in shape to run hard for 30 minutes when they can hang on for 30 minutes on the Elliptical.

In any case, I saw a sports medicine doctor last week who has a pretty good reputation for treating athletes. He listened to me and gave some theories as to what could be wrong, but otherwise didn't really do anything. He did send me down for Xrays and give me a referral for Physical Therapy. I could call this "exactly what I wanted" I guess. I made an appointment at a sports medicine physical therapy office that's about 10 min from work for tomorrow afternoon.

To prepare for the PT appointment I ran on the treadmill on Monday and Wednesday. Both runs were 3 miles at an 8:30 - 8:50 pace. Nothing too stressful, but I do now have knee pain to go in there and tell them about. I'm going to ask about Orthotics. I hope my health care plan can at least help me out with the cost of Orthotics.

I've been stretching and doing a few core exercises and pushups at night and at the gym on M/W/F. I'm doing okay with my flexability everywhere except for my hamstrings. They've always been really tight. I think I was able to touch my toes with straight legs when I was going to Yoga 2x a week but never before or since. The joy of being 6&1/2 feet tall.

More info after the PT appointment I guess, but hey: another 6 miles in the book this week. /sarcasm.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Short Sunday run

My knee was feeling fine today after forgetting to run on Friday at the gym. I was still pretty sore from lifting weights on Thu and Fri though. I'm just getting back into lifting weights after several years off so not only can't I lift near what I used to be able to, but it hurts after I lift now. My arms and chest were sore, but more than anything, my hamstrings were sore from 3 sets of Deadlifts on Thursday. I was surprised about this because I barely used any weight. The Deadlifts are supposed to be good for strengthening my Hamstrings to help with this knee pain I'm having.

My wife just started training for the Vancouver half marathon, so today was her first weekly long run. She's a beginner so it was only 3 miles. We drove out to the local convenience store in Gig Harbor and started there. I plotted out a 3 mile course that was basically the One Store Loop that I do so often only starting at the store instead of the house. We ran together at her pace, alternating 2 min of running and 1 min of walking. It was comfortable and a good pace for her. The route had a few hills so we tried to time it to walk up the hills for the most part. We enjoyed the run and she had no trouble completing it. She'll get faster and build her endurance as her training continues.

When we completed the loop, she got in the car and drove back home while I ran another mile farther and up a private road to a dead end and turned around and ran home. I started to get a little bit of discomfort (not quite pain) in my left knee at about the 4 mile point in the run. This really disappointed me as I've taken 4 days off of running now and have been icing and stretching. I think I might need to start looking for a physical therapist who knows about these things. I talked to my cousin about it, and she thinks that it's not a muscular imbalance as most Runner's Knee diagnoses describe. She says that it's more likely due to my existing Sacroiliac problem, and more related to my hip extensors. I didn't have time to really get into talking about it with her on the phone unfortunately. Doing some research online seems to support her theory. I just don't really know what I can do to help, other than keeping my S.I. joint aligned and maybe doing some hip extensor exercises. I need to find time to talk to her or someone else familiar with the problem.

I completed the run without a problem other than some soreness in my knee. At least getting out for a run got the blood flowing and helped loosen up some of the pain and tightness that I had from weight lifting.

The forecast for today was rain and some snow, both of which happened for about 30 min. this morning, leaving the rest of the day partly cloudy and ~43F. Not bad at all for the middle of winter.

My route:

one store loop starting at arletta plus private road at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:Share GPS tracks

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I blame Eva

In other news, My wife and I signed up for the Vancouver half-marathon. She hasn't run since she was a little girl and her dad would take her with him once in a while. I don't think she'll have a problem finishing though. She could probably walk a half-marathon tomorrow if she had to. She's just fine walking for distance.

I've never done a half marathon myself. I went from 10K to marathon. Looks like it'll be a PR for both of us!

Every night this year so far...

I went out to see a Really good movie today with my wife and then came home hoping to get a run in. It was starting to get dark when I got home so I purposely took my time gathering up my gear and getting dressed for a night run in the 43F weather. I love the Craft base layer that I have. I bought for cycling originally but it's very tight fitting and keeps me quite warm running, especially considering how thin the material is. The base layer was great under a free 2006 Badwater Endurance Run shirt that I got at the 508 last year and a jacket. I went with a pair of cycling tights instead of shorts.

I loaded up on gear for the run as well. I took my new lightweight REI gloves for their first run. They weren't as snug and warm as I'd hoped. I'll try them again when it's colder to see how they do in weather where I really need gloves. I also took my Petzl Tikka headlamp for it's first run tonight. It's a 3-LED head-mounted lamp for running/hiking. It's fairly bright, especially for a $27 lamp. It lit up the trail/road enough for me to see where I was going and not run off of an embankment or into a tree but having the light on my forehead took some getting used to. The light was illuminating smoke or fog in the air in front of me when I ran, making for a hazy view that was a little confusing at times. I think I'd get a stronger light if I were doing a night-time race.

Finally I brought both my Ultimate Direction waist pack/bottle holder and my hand-held UD bottle with the neoprene hand strap. I wanted to try the waist pack again to see if I still didn't like it. Plus more water! I wasn't as annoyed with the waist pack as I was the first time I ran with it. It didn't slosh around as much and I found a way to make it sit more comfortably toward my side. I think I'll hold onto it.

So the run itself was great. I almost never go running at night. I'll start out in the afternoon and let the time get away from me and end up running at night but I rarely have in the past gone out for a night-time run. Every time I did, I ran around neighborhoods with streetlights every 100 meters and cars driving by all the time. Where I live there aren't streetlights. There wasn't much car traffic tonight, and the only source of light at night, the houses are pretty far off the roads, providing little or no light to the streets.

With the head lamp I had enough light to make out the road ahead of me and see where to run and where to avoid for the most part. I stumbled a couple of times, but never fell down. I ran out toward the Horsehead bay sign and then continued on toward the Tunnel Trail. I'd never been on the trail at night but I've run on it enough times that I could probably navigate it just fine without a light at all. There was a little mud on the trail but it was easy enough to avoid. It was neat running on the trail at night with only my head lamp showing me the way. It was a fun and slightly uneasy feeling thinking about what else might be out there on the trail with me. I never see any wild life on the trail during the day, and didn't see anything tonight.

I got to the top of the trail and jogged down to a turn-around point I like off of Kopachuck Dr. I get the uphill and then the resulting downhill, hit the turn-around point, and then do the hill over again. I made the whole route a simple out-and-back course to minimize the car traffic that I'd encounter and to run both ways on the trail at night. When I was running on the roads I tried to stay a little bit away from the shoulder where the road was more level and tried to run with my body a little bit more upright. I noticed a difference running this way and it felt better on my sore knee. I'll have to try more of that on future runs

Speaking of future runs, I took 2 days off after my last run because I got a little bit of knee pain from the last one. I figure I can back off between runs if it gets bad and see about finding a runner-friendly doctor / physical therapist. Scott Jurek is a PT up in Seattle but he's not on any health plan. Seeing him might be overkill though.

I took 3 walking breaks during tonight's run out of caution. They seemed to help. I'm trying to get into a habit of taking regular walking breaks during my runs just to make things a little easier on my body despite them slowing me down on shorter runs. If I ever get back into ultramarathons I'll have to train that way on longer runs so I should just accept them now as part of the way I run and get over looking at my pace. If I could program the Garmin Forerunner to do two separate countdowns, it'd be easier to stick to them. Watch goes beep, I walk.

I notice that the Garmin has some trouble collecting data during my runs. When I download the data, I see points in the graph where it will lose signal to either the satellites and/or my heart rate chest strap. I can blame the satellites on the trees everywhere or the clouds/weather, but the chest strap with a fresh battery? I dunno.

I listened to a pretty good This American Life podcast during the run. It had two stories, one about a factory owner in Texas who was abusing foreign labor in his Texas factory, the second about a poorly reported news story in Idaho concerning a man said to be a sexual predator who was working as a referee at a hockey rink. I love listening to TAL podcasts on the run, and this one turned out to be almost the perfect length for the run. It ended about 1/10th of a mile from home.

Great run overall, especially running on the trail at night which made me wish that I was in good enough shape for / had time to train for another ultramarathon. I'd love to do something like Western States or give the Cascade Crest Classic 100 a shot, even though it's quite hard even by ultramarathon standards. I long for the days that I can spend more time training, and live close enough to trails to do a few longer runs a week and then some really long trail runs on weekends.

My map:

kopachuck and back at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:Share GPS tracks