Thursday, April 30, 2015

No watch tan lines

My Garmin has started to gather dust since it has not been for a run with me in over 30 days now. I am not talking about swapping between different watches. I am talking about not wearing a watch of any type for any of my runs in over 30 days.

For Garmin, Nikie, Polar, etc user, what is the longest that you have gone without wearing your watch?
PS, No watch tan lines. LOL.

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hamstring Recovery – Tip

Ok, I have been scouring the internet looking for any information that I might find useful during my hamstring recovery. Recently, I stumbled across something that seemed contrary to my way of thinking.

They suggested using lightest running shoe possible during your recovery. I would have thought that wearing a heavier shoe would be better. The extra cushioning would soften the pounding. Right? At least to my way of thinking it should.

Being open minded and needing help I read on.

Using a lighter shoe means less force i.e. strain on the hamstring is needed to slow and eventually halt the lower leg as it swings forward with each stride.  In a way if you think about it, it makes sense. Swing a 10 pound hammer and try suddenly stopping it. Then, swing a 2 pound and try bringing it to a sudden stop. Yes, there is definitely more force needed so the principle would be essentially the same for my leg. Wearing a lighter shoe means stress on my already weary hamstring as it tries to halt the forward motion of my lower leg and foot.

For the last week, I have been putting this suggestion in to practice. Honestly, I do seem to notice a difference.  My hamstring doesn’t wear down as quickly. That’s a positive in my book, and I need all of the positives that I can get these days.


Suggestion of the day,

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hamstring Injury – Nervous System Realignment

So, I was back in my doctor’s office on Thursday for another treatment on my hamstring. If you remember my post from last week, I talked about the electric shock treatment that I was given. They administered this treatment only to my left quad.

During my visit on Thursday, they did a tag team treatment. Through the acupuncture needles they administered an electrical shock to both my hamstring and quad. Watching my quad contract feels weird when I realize that I am not the one doing it. For those readers that might be wondering, there is no perceptible pain from the treatment.

The current alternated a pulse between my hamstring and my quad so only one muscle group was actually contracting at any one time. The quad contracts were very easy to see and feel. The hamstring was not so much so. The entire treatment lasted about 10 minutes.

When I think back to my last hamstring pull, I made a number of mistakes. This time, I feel that I made some better choices. Instead of continuing to run lots of miles, I cut my mileage to nearly nothing. Instead of taking over the counter medicine along with using ice to reduce the inflammation, I sought help. Note, I stopped using the anti-inflammatory medications on my doctor's recommendation (while the anti-inflammatory medicine reduces the swelling, it also impairs the healing), but I have continued to ice my hamstring (20 minutes on/off) several times per day. Would my hamstring have healed even faster if I had stopped running, well, I don’t know for sure, but I would like to think so. But completely stopping running was never something that crossed my mind. Not really. 

Am I back to normal? The short answer is no. There are still months of work of hard work to strengthen both my quad/hamstring back normal levels. But at least, I can feel like there is a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

 Rainy day thoughts,
The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What exercise is trending today?

Earlier this week an email arrived in my Runner's Cool Down Mile inbox.

My attention span is rather short so unless the topic sparks my interest in the first couple of lines, I will most likely delete it. Since you are now reading about it, you should likely assume that it got more of my attention.

The author asked my thoughts on the two current hot fitness trends: HIIT vs. Body Weight Workouts.

Sometimes, I shake my head as I watch people jump at the next best idea or fad. There is nothing like getting that shiny new penny.

But then again, how can I blame them for wanting to try these latest crazes.  

I am a firm believer that everyone should stay active. Yes, this is a matter of choice, and each person is allowed to make their own choices. But a long, healthy, and productive life can be linked to staying active.  

However, staying active is harder than it might seem. Human beings are easily bored with repetitive activities. Doing the same thing over and over the same way is by its very definition "insanity" at least in my opinion.

This is why I see the appeal of trends like HIIT, CrossFit, Body Weight Workouts etc. They present us with new challenges to overcome.

I find the same thing happening to myself. There are days that I head to the pool for a swim. Others times I will hit the spin class at the Y. Still others where I will take my road bike for the ride.

By mixing up these various activities my own interest in exercising continued to be stimulated.

If by getting into these trends, this gets people off their couches and out their front doors, they are better for it.

As with anything when considering a new activity, always exercise "pun intended" a certain degree of caution. You want to be around to enjoy it again tomorrow as well.


Exploring a new shiny penny,

The Cool Down Runner


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Inspired to return

Is anyone else feeling inspired to sign up for the 2016 Boston Marathon? After watching the race and the seeing an untold number of friends posting about their achievements online, there is this desire swelling within me to return to this race.

If the Boston Marathon were to open their registration this morning, registration would fill to the limits with in mere minutes.  Of this I have no doubt.
Feeling inspired to run,
The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Electrical stimulants to the quad

I was back in Performance Rehab’s office this morning for additional work on my hamstring. Much of what they did was the same: stretching, acupuncture and cold laser treatments, but today, they added something new: an electrical shock treatment.

Ok, no, it wasn’t to my head. Although, as we all know most runners are pretty stubborn, single minded creatures. I doubt if even an electrical shock to our heads would alter the desire to run in us very much if at all.

No, the electrical shock was to my quad. To keep the explanation as simple as possible, I am not an expert here; I am just trying to share what I learned today, my quad and hamstring counter balance one another. When my quad contracts, my hamstring relaxes, and vice versa when my hamstring contracts, my quad needs to relax or release. This all makes sense to me. Over the years of running, I have learned enough physiology to understand that neither can contract at the same time nor relax at the same time.

Well, when I “jacked” up my hamstring, this threw off the balance between my quad and hamstring. Thus, my quad wouldn’t fire off as well because my hamstring wasn’t able to support the full force of the quad contacting.

Until today, I didn’t understand the medical reasons behind it, but I did realize it. My left quad just didn’t seem to have any power in it at all. I have said this many times but it rather feels like I am running on just one leg. My left leg holds me upright but doesn't push off during my stride.  

Really the purpose of the electrical shocks is to help remind the brain and the quad to fully fire.

 How do they do it you might ask? Well, first, they insert this tiny needle barely in to my quad. Again, I am overly simplifying it. Then, they apply a small electric shock through the needle and into my muscle. It is the strangest feeling. My brain realizes that my quad is contracting but it isn’t doing it. It feels similar to a very tiny muscle cramp but without the desire to stretch against it.

There was an immediate difference in how my quad functioned after the treatment. I am interested to see how it feels running.

Status update, I am three weeks into my recovery. By the end of last week, I could finally walk normally again. By normal, I mean that I could walk around throughout the day with no pain what so ever in my hamstring. Now, setting is still an issue so I have been standing up a lot. The next steps are getting to run without it hurting. I suspect this will take a lot longer than 2 weeks.


Status updating,

The Cool Down Runner








Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Getting off course – Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Getting off course in a road race or especially in a trail race can happen. Personally, I can attest to having it happen to me both on the roads and on the trails. By far, my worst experience was running off course during a marathon which may be the worst. No one wants to run extra miles during a marathon.

What got me thinking about this topic was the recent story of Heidi Bretscher’s adventure during this past weekend’s Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon in Raleigh. Somewhere between 18 and 20 miles she missed a turn. This happened to her while she was leading the women’s race. After much discussion between race officials, she was still declared the winner of the race. Even with the off course detour she was still ahead of the second place woman.

Much of the buzz that I have been reading centered on if she should have been disqualified. Fortunately for me, I happen to have a USAT&F rule book handy so I took this opportunity to read up on disqualifications.  

While much of the USAT&F rule book speaks to the track races, I did find a couple of sections which addressed races longer than 20k. A marathon certainly qualifies here.

The first paragraph that might apply speaks to willingly leaving a race and then returning. Based on what I read, Ms. Bretscher wasn’t intending to leave the course. Proof of this could be taken from the fact that her bicycle escorts were just a confused and lost as she.

The second paragraph says that someone may leave the course if escorted by a race official as long as they returned in the same location and finish the race. One would assume that the bicycle escorts could be considered race officials. And, based on the article she returned to the course in roughly the same area that she left it. I don’t know Raleigh all that well so I may be making too many assumptions here but considering she ran extra, I am not going to quiver over if it was the exact spot.

Now, there is some gray area in the article which does cause me to raise my eye brow. The article says that she got a ride back to where she left the course. If she had run back, I certainly would totally be on her side. I got myself off the course. It seems only fair that I get myself back on it.

For purity sake, I believe it would have been better to run back on to the course. Either way, the Rock ‘n’ Roll guys should put an “*” next to her name for this year.

In closing, I do want to say that I give the Rock ‘n’ Roll official major “props” of making it right. They gave her a free entry into any race with travel and lodging and not just a Rock ‘n’ Roll race. In my opinion, this is how you make a bad situation for a race “right”. Kudos to them.


Thoughts from afar,

The Cool Down Runner




Monday, April 13, 2015

26.2 miles of running history

For runners, this is our big week. Every runner starts with just a few strides. They work their way up through a few 5ks. Then, they transition to a few 10ks or maybe even a 10 miler. That’s not enough for them. The ½ marathon distance becomes their goal race. When this has been accomplished, they set their sights on a marathon.  Maybe during their first one or over the next few marathons they strive for what is known as a “BQ” or “Boston Qualifier”. They work hard, race well, and earn their “BQ”. This gives them the right to travel to the holy land of running and make the trek from Hopkinton to downtown Boston. These are the dreams of runners as they allow their tired bodies to drift off to sleep after an exhausting day of work and training.

I remember my own pilgrimage so very well from just a few short years ago. The experience is something that I continue to treasure to this day. This is also an experience that I hope to repeat again in the next few years.

For now, I will live vicariously through my friends as they experience their special running moment.
Best of luck to all Boston bound runners this week,
The Cool Down Runner 


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Hamstring Recovery

Stepping away from the curb and into my first running stride, the nerves in my hamstring rocket signals back to my brain. Hey, something is not right. Maybe you shouldn’t go running. The hardest part is ignoring those signals and making that second stride, then the third, forth, and so on.

This is reminds me that I need to focus on my recovery right now rather training and racing. Yes, in time I am sure my hamstring will heal even if I continued to pound out the miles and do the hard workouts. It did the last time, but oh, was it painful and it was months in doing so. I attribute my lengthy recovery during that injury mostly to my own stubbornness. I continued to run lots miles and to race hard. Neither, I am sure, contributed to my hamstring having a speedy healing time.

This time around I have cut my mileage way back. There are no hard runs in my training plan and definitely no races on my schedule. Plus , guys are Performance Rehab hare helping me. I am also using the ice, massage, and stretching as much as I can.

Here’s hoping my recovery time will be measured in weeks rather than months like the last time.

Crossing fingers,

The Cool Down Runner  

Friday, April 10, 2015

Comments from the gallery

I’m finding that these acupuncture and laser treatments leave my hamstring pretty sore the next day but some 48 hours later this soreness seems to fade away. I guess this is how that it should be. I don’t really know. Like I posted earlier; this is all new to me. I do know one thing. My reliable old friend Mr. Ice Bag continues to do his job.

Sitting is extremely painful but after about 5 minutes of sitting on Mr. Ice Bag, the pain is actually manageable. It probably should be since my leg is pretty much numb from the cold.

Oh, well, that’s enough about Mr. Ice Bag.

I have come to accept that this month and probably the next few months will be a total loss when it comes to running. This doesn’t mean that I am just setting around doing nothing. For one thing, I am continuing with my core work and strength training. When the timing is right, I will venture back into cross training. My hope is for this to happen sometime during the mid to latter stages of May.  I will just have to see how it goes. There is fine line that I am walking here. Working my hamstring too hard too soon can prolong my recovery or it could even re-injurer it. I certainly don’t want this to happen. No, no, I definitely don't want this to happen again.


See you at the races hopefully soon,


The Cool Down Runner  


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hamstring Treatments

Well, a couple of weeks have passed. My hamstring still hurts, and I am painfully reminded of my problems every time that I sit down. In fact, I found that I really like standing up these days.

Moving on, one thing about having a running log and also a blog, I have tons of notes to read and reread about old injuries.  In particular, I have been reading about my previous hamstring injury. What I read wasn’t pretty. 6 months passed and I was still hurting. In fact, I thought it took every bit of 12 to 18 months before my running felt “normal” again. I will admit that I didn’t handle it wall. My denial stage lasted far longer and I put off seeking help with it.

This time around, I am letting wisdom and experience hopefully guide me in the right direction. That being said, I have been visiting my buddies at Performance Rehab Associates.  

In the past two weeks my rehab has included two acupuncture treatments and a session with the cold laser.

These were my first treatments ever using acupuncture and the cold laser. The story has yet to be written if they are helping, but when something hurts, I am open to exploring new options. Even if it does mean having a needle stuck in my hamstring.

For those that might have worried about running streak coming to an end. You can put your fears to rest. I have hobbled through some pretty slow runs but I did them.

It is remarkable how much pain that we are willing to endure for something that is important to us.


Dreaming of running pain free again,

The Cool Down Runner



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

3 phases of a running injury

Somewhere in my many post over the last 7 years I talked about the three phases of a running injury. Given my current situation I thought it might be time for a little refresher course.

Ok, first, some running related injury occurs. Once this happens, my brain goes through three different phases: denial, frustration/angry, and recovery.

From Wednesday of last week through last Saturday morning I was in major denial that my suffering was anything more than just some soreness. I hoped against hope that it would just loosen up, and I would be able to run. Being hard headed at least according to my mom probably makes my denial phase worse for me than it is for the average person. I don’t want to admit even to myself that I am wrong.

Next comes frustration/angry. This occurs once I was overwhelmed with enough evidence that my soreness was really something major. Standing alongside the road at 15 miles was more than enough evidence for me. The frustration of working so hard and wanting something so much is more than enough to make me angry with myself for putting myself in this situation. These are the times when I really question if running is truly worth it. Deep down inside I know the answer is still yes, but on the surface I just want to walk way. I want to put all of these injuries behind me and do something else. Punctuating this in my brain was the resonating pain coming from hamstring and rear as I set in my car for the four and half hour drive back to Charlotte on Saturday.

My little 2 mile run on Sunday may have been one of the slowest and most painful run that I have ever experienced. If there has ever been a moment when I considered just stopping, this day was it. Yet, I didn’t. I begin to think about what I need to do in my recovery. The time of frustration and anger had passed. The time for recovery had come.

Tuesday, I started treatments on my hamstring. I suspect they will last for the next few months. I have put my racing on the back burner for now. I want this hamstring well before I go back to running a lot miles and stronger before I go back to doing intervals and racing.

For now, running hurts. Sitting hurts.

But it will get better. I know it.


The Cool Down Runner