Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My goose was cooked

The inhospitable Phoenix weather did me in this morning.

My troubles actually started the night before. The p-wife and I were guests in another home, so we slept on a bed 30% smaller than what we're used to. If you can imagine two old bears wrestling in twilight slumber, trying to get comfortable, you'll have a fairly accurate picture of how I slept.

Needless to say, I didn't answer the alarm so I could be on the road by 5 a.m. The sun was already well into the sky by the time I opened the front door. The temperature was brushing up against 90 and the humidity was, well, humid. The air was as still as a hurrican's eye; I know because I've been thru more than one hurricane.

The training schedule called out a five mile tempo run this morning. A tempo run involves a one mile warm up, three miles at 60 to 90 seconds less than race pace (so I needed to log about 11:15 on those three miles) and then a mile cool down.

But 2 1/2 miles into the run I was getting overheated. Even though I was sweating profusely I sensed that things were headed in the wrong direction. I found a bit of shade and stopped for a few minutes until my heart rate dropped into a more favorable zone.

Big mistake

When it was time to get cranking again there was nothing to crank! I started loping along at a 12:00 pace when the drive train components allowed that I was an idiot for having set out on this venture. Then various bearings, cables and levers reminded that they were feeling the strain. I pushed myself for another mile or so and then finally just ran out of gas. The sun beat me up and I just didn't have the energy to make that last 1 1/2 slow climb back to where my adventure orginated.

This is the first run I think I can say, "I wish I hadn't done that today." Even though I know what happened and could probably rationalize it away, there's no getting away from the fact that today felt like a defeat. I didn't fulfill my training goal for the day.

Lessons learned

1. If I'm going to run in Phoenix in the summer I have to get it done before the sun shows itself.

2. If I'm going to do a longer run or a tempo run I have to get a good night's sleep. If I don't sleep well the night before, switch the tempo run for the next days' EZ run.

3. Take water, even if it is only a short run like today's.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Am I turning the corner?

Something's happened the last few days. I'm not sure what it is, but whatever it is, I am now enjoying my daily runs far more than I ever have. Previously, I went out running a little bit later in the morning or in the evening (depending on whether the wife wanted to walk Randolph Park). A sense of duty or discipline was the usual motivator. But now I wake up and I am eager to get out the door and hit the road.

I've thought about what's changed lately, and I can't pin my new motivation to any one thing, so perhaps it's a combination of these:
  • Daylight now breaks before 6 a.m.
  • The overnight lows are now in the high 50s
  • I have new running shoes and shorts
  • I've lost some more weight
  • The cardiologist told me that everything (blood tests, echocardiogram, EKG stress test) looks great - I'm in the best health I've enjoyed in probably 30 years
  • My conditioning is improving and my "take it easy" pace is about 1:30/min faster that it was a couple months ago
  • I am making progress recovering from that Achilles' injury
  • Speed intervals have taught me that even when I'm winded and my legs are aching I've still got gas in the tank - I can go faster, longer.
Today's Five

Today's run is a case in point. Although a good night's sleep was interrupted by a racket (police helicopter overhead, cruisers up and down the streets sweeping their spotlights, K9 units searching from yard to yard) I was still motivated to get my run in. I slept in an extra hour to catch up on what was lost in the wee hours. But once I was up I was ready.

It was a good run and one of my better times for a five miler.

So I'm feeling better, my health is great, my endurance is improving and my times are dropping. Maybe I've turned the corner.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Papa has New Shoes

I was surprised to learn that my primary running shoes have over 950 miles on them. I went back through my running logs to March of last year when I bought the shoes. I was flabbergasted to see how many miles I had put on them! Lately, I have been having some problems due to my running shoes. For example, I have had a large and uncomfortable blister in my right heel. I also noticed that I was beginning to have some mild knee aching.

Although the significance of these issues was not fully apparent to me yesterday, I purchased a pair of new running shoes: New Balance Minimus. I had been considering minimalist shoes for a while, as I my left calf and ankle are well on the way to recovery (not there yet but I am greatly encouraged by the progress and so is my Physical Therapist). To strengthen the calf further I need to return to a mid-foot or fore-foot strike running stride. But the Vibram Five-Fingers I have (one of the earlier models they made) aren't great for running because they have a stiff rubber tongue on the top of the heel cup that chafes.

After reading some reviews and doing some research I settled on the New Balance.

My first run in them was last evening; I put in three miles and felt great! This morning I put in another five, taking it real slow because the last thing I wanted to do is re-injure that calf. (pressing too hard and too fast with the new running gait led to the injury in the first place!) I was feeling pretty good at the end of four miles and my legs had gas in 'em yet so I did pick up the pace, just a bit, for that last mile.

I could have run a lot harder on both runs but I am being cautious. I don't want to push my luck and risk another injury; I've had more than my share this past year!

The shoes are great. They are very light. There is a teensy bit of arch support. The material in the toe box stretches enough that I don't feel cramped. The zero-drop heel took a bit of getting used to but it really encourages a mid-foot strike–exactly what I wanted. At the end of this morning's run my feet were a bit sore, but a few ibuprofen and the passage of a couple of hours was all it took.

I will spend the next 6 weeks training in these shoes, building my base of conditioning and then in June I plan to begin training for my 1st half marathon!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Any good treatments for blisters?

The blister that was raised on my left foot, on the medial edge just above the heel, popped up again yesterday when I finished a 6 mile run. The area was red, and sensitive to pressure. It is uncomfortable to walk in shoes much less to attempt any runs today.

I tried to make the best of a bad situation by putting out extra effort at the gym today. I did back squats, split squats, high kicks, stair steppers, and jumped rope 800 times. I managed to work up a good sweat and although the calories expended were less than I would have used on a 3 mile run, it was still a pretty good cardio workout.

I have noticed that the toes on my right foot are getting cramped inside of my running shoes. These shoes are a D width, but I usually wear double E. Now I am beginning to wonder if the heel pocket is too tight on my left foot. Maybe it is time to start looking at some other shoes.

 Surely, there must be a better treatment for blisters than changing shoes!  But so far I have not found it. We'll soon see how the New Balance Minimus Zero does! I know that buying new power tools can solve almost any problem, so perhaps the same is true with running shoes!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Balance Minimus Zero

Lately I've been noticing that my toes are less and less comfortable in the toe box of my Nike running shoes. I have been having problems with blackened toenails, blisters between my toes, and even cuts between my toes where they are crowded together. Also, I am trying to get away from being a heel striker to a runner who falls midfoot or forefoot. (In fact, I was working on my stride when I injured my Achilles tendon and tore my calf muscle)

I noticed the new New Balance Minimus running shoes on display at the sporting goods store next to my favorite coffee shop. The shop manager was very knowledgeable, and helpful and you got me sized properly. He then handed me off to Mike, who I understand is the running coach at a local high school, who helped me select the right pair of shoes.

I ended up going with the "zero drop" shoes because they make it harder to be a heel striker.

Since the store did not have the shoe in my width (EE), I had to order them in. I suppose it is possible that I may save a few dollars buying them online, but these guys were very knowledgeable, very helpful and to me it is worth a few dollars to have expertise on my side.

I am looking forward to getting my new shoes in a few days. I will post some photos and give a review of what they are like. In the meantime, check out this review of the Nike Minimus Zero Drop.

Monday, April 9, 2012

What you get for eating all that junk

By the time I got out the front door, the poison had already begun its work on me.  I woke up this morning fully intending to run a hard 5 miles.  I finished my morning chores, pulled on my socks and my running shoes,  grabbed my cap and headed out for a push.

Little did I know that a weekend of celebration  was waiting to pounce.  An overdose of birthday cake, ice cream, delicious goodies, and hot dogs was sloshing its way through my gut.  WITHIN the 1st 200 yards it was clear  this was going to be no picnic.

I lumbered along the route for a while, but my legs felt heavy, and  did not have the energy I would like to have had. This was puzzling, because I had not actually run since last Wednesday. I think this was just my body's way of letting me know that it didn't like all of the crap  had stuffed into it over the weekend.

I was not going to shorten my run even though I had thought about it, so  decided to make this one of those “start slow and taper off" runs. Oddly, toward the end of the run I started to feel much more energy.  For the last mile I picked up the pace to about 12:30 per; still not fast, but better than what I had been doing.

This was a lesson learned.

My son, Philip Brown,  has an excellent post on his blog  about a wonderful family weekend.  Turning  63 wasn't so bad after all.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dipping my toes in the water.

Today's easy fiver was my first roadwork in six days. I gave the nasty blister time to heal and this morning I figured it had had enough. Stupid Blister! Hey, a guy can't heal forever, can he?

Turns out everything was good. I felt a little bit of soreness at the end of the run, but nothing that will slow me down - at least I hope not. As long as I take it easy on the hotspot I should be okay. I'll do lighter duty tomorrow - a 5k - just to stay in tune.

Toe Socks!

I took a spin in some toe socks for the first time. I'd seen these before in a local sporting goods store but they really didn't show up on my radar. Then my son, Philip Brown, told me how they helped attenuate the problems associated with hot spots, blisters and cuts (from adjacent toe nails). The Injinjis were a little odd, slipping my toes into place. I have neuropathy in my feet; it's worst in my toes, so I don't always feel much with the toes. Anyhow, I managed to slip those babies on and I liked the sensation.

How do they look?

Physical Therapist finds THE spot

I've had three sessions with the P.T. to deal with the injury I inflicted on myself last September. Nothing showed up on X-rays, thankfully, and the sports med doc couldn't pinpoint the source of the problem (I've had trouble walking w/o a limp and cycling is very uncomfortable).

On my first visit, after lots of measurements and tests, the P.T. concluded that the problem was mainly loss of muscle strength in that calf. I had been going easy on it for the better part of six months and in his opinion that was why I couldn't do calf-raises and why I had a slight limp.

So last Thursday he introduced me to a variety of stretching and strengthening exercises. After the workout he took a stick roller to my quads and calves to do a deep tissue massage. When he rolled that puppy over the lateral side of my left calf he hit pay dirt. I jumped and so he started probing with his thumbs. He was able to identify a well-defined spot approximately the size of a silver dollar half way up my calf on the lateral side.

It has to be a soft tissue injury since nothing appeared on X-ray. He surmises that this was the precise spot of the original injury; rather than stretching or injuring the Achilles' tendon itself, I endured a muscle tear in the area where the various ligaments and connective tissues that anchor the muscle to the Achilles' tendon.

Makes sense to me.

The prognosis is good - except for my wife's opinion

The good news is that if I'm a good patient and do the stretching, strengthening and balance exercises diligently at home, he's 99.9% certain I'll have a full recovery.

I shared this tidbit of information with Little Miss Sunshine this morning. I guess I should have waited until she had a few hundred more milligrams of caffeine in her system. Her comment was, "Physical Therapists are always optimistic."

Gee, thanks for that encouragement.

I countered, "Well, maybe that's a way to motivate people to do the hard work of recovery."

She was not impressed. But heck, it motivates me!

That area was sore during the last half of this morning's run. Every time the left foot struck the pavement, the vibrations worked up the leg and rattled that sore spot. So I'll go easy on it, keep my pace fairly easy, which comes naturally to an old couch potato!

**Ain't recovery great?**

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