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
For Garmin, Nikie, Polar, etc user, what is the longest that
you have gone without wearing your watch?
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
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.
Earlier this week an email arrived in my Runner's Cool Down Mile
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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,
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.
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.
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
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.
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.