Archive for December, 2007

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#42 – Put Some Elbow Grease Into It

21 December 2007

You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to schedule a physical therapy appointment!  Since my hamstring has been slow to heal I decided I better have someone take a look at it.  I had an appointment for last Tuesday but the trainer called in sick.  No other time slot was available this week and with next week busy with the holidays, I was looking at waiting a long time.

No way.  I wanted to get this leg taken care of – I really miss running!  So I called another branch of the rehab outfit and set up an appointment for first thing this morning.  As I’m eating breakfast I get a call that the trainer at that branch was sick!  I decide to call the original branch to see if I would be lucky enough to find a cancellation.

Even better, almost…  they had me on the schedule for right that minute.  What?!  For some reason I got put on the schedule at both branches at the same time.  If I could leave at that moment, I could get there in time for a therapy session so Amanda and I rushed out the door, I dropped her off at 2 Feet 4 Paws and then buzzed on over to the rehab facility.

The trainer started by testing the strength and range of motion of both hamstrings.  He discovered that my injured right hammy was a bit less flexible, but the strength in it was virtually the same as the left.  After double-checking for any palpable muscle tears, he was able to conclude that my hamstring was not an acute strain but a significant case of micro-tearing.  Basically I overdid the running, which I had guessed was the cause in the first place.

So far, so good – everything was making sense.  He checked out my right knee and hips to ensure there was no related injuries and then started my leg cooking under a heating pad.  Once warmed up he prepared for some deep tissue massage.  Upon hearing this I remarked: “Sounds like fun” to which he replied: “Um, no it might actually be painful.”

HOLY COW!!  Was he ever right – it hurt.  He was actually using his elbow on my hamstring and leveraging his entire weight into the effort.  Ow ow ow, but in a good way.  There was no sharp pain, just a strong soreness, if that makes sense.

After the massage he worked on flexibility.  While lying on my back he grabbed my right foot and next thing you know he’s pushing it up to the ceiling while forcing my knee to remain locked.  It was a pretty tough stretch but not too bad, then he asked me to push down with my leg against his hands.  It’s difficult to apply much force when your muscles are fully stretched out but I got a good push in.

Then he had me stop and relax the leg, after which he stretched it farther up and out!  Yow!  Once again another push against him, relax, and then he stretched it even further!  My foot was in a position relative to my head where I haven’t seen it before.   He asked me to push down again and all my leg could do was tremble.  Finally he put my leg back down and and with that I was done.

I’ll be going back next week for a follow up with instructions to do a lot more stretching in the meantime.  He strongly recommended that I use The Stick so I went out and bought one tonight.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about them and I’ll let you all know how I like it once I get a little more experience with it.

Thankfully my leg was never badly injured and the trainer was confident that I’d be running again soon.  He asked what level of running I wanted to get back to and I told him 20-40 miles per week.   He replied: “OK since it’s winter I’ll just write down 10-20 per week.”  I had to correct him; I run all year round outdoors.  He thought I was crazy enough but when he found out that I’m eyeing a 100K this fall, he flat out called me nuts.  That’s OK – sometimes it’s fun to be a little nutty.

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#41 – Not Running is No Fun

6 December 2007

I haven’t written much lately for a couple reasons:  1) Amanda and I have been busy starting up our new business, and 2) I haven’t been running.

The latter is significant because much of my blog is about my running and without that, what do I write about?  OK there are plenty of other topics, but also important is that not running can be depressing.  It frustrates me to no end that I haven’t been able to run – I missed all the good 50-degree weather in early November and now with snow and ice on the ground I can’t even ride my bike.  I’ve used the stationary bike at home a few times but that’s even worse than a treadmill.  I did get in a great long ride in mid November – 35 miles in 2.5 hours, and it was fun the whole way.  Since I don’t have clips on my pedals it’s hard for me to engage my hamstrings, which is good for my injured right one.

I don’t think I ever recovered from the Harvest Hustle and Doggie Dash, running 5K PRs on back-to-back weekends.  Or rather, I didn’t allow myself to recover.  I was feeling so strong after those races that my next couple workouts were faster than usual and after the second one my hamstring tightened up afterwards.  I took a couple days off and then ran a couple more 5-milers, the last one on Halloween, but it was still feeling tight, so I figured I’d be conservative and rest it for an entire week.

After the week off I ran a couple short runs under 3 miles with a day rest in between, and my hamstring felt no better than before!  Ugh.  So I took TWELVE days off with no running, although I did get some cycling in.  I ran on Thanksgiving day for 3 miles with Haven and my hamstring felt great!  No problems.  I took the next day off just to be sure, then ran 3 miles with Beacon and as soon as I got home and stopped running, my hamstring was more sore than it’s ever been and I was even limping for the rest of the day!  What the heck?

Partly I can “blame” Beacon.  We ran at what felt like a 9:00 pace but when I mapped it out afterwards I was alarmed to learn that he had pulled me to a 7:30 pace!  Still, it felt easy and I was paying close attention to my legs and never felt a twinge of anything until after the run.  Now I’m in the middle of another forced layoff and just hoping that my hamstring will actually heal.

Hopefully it is healing.  I haven’t felt any tightness in about a week and I’m actually considering running on it – very slowly and very briefly – sometime soon.  Yet there’s some trepidation because the last two times that my leg felt healed it turned out not to be, so maybe I should wait another whole week just to be certain?

I know that healing takes time, but what’s so odd to me is that my initial injury never felt anywhere close to serious.  Just a little stiffness in the hamstring; in fact I’ve had that before after some speed workouts.  It’s never hurt to the point that I couldn’t run without pain but I wanted to catch it early before injuries started cascading.  This has never felt like an injury that would’ve required more than a couple days to heal, yet here I am.

The good thing is that Amanda and I have been busy with 2 Feet 4 Paws so most days it’s easy to forget that I’m not running that day, but I can feel the effects.  It’s harder to wake up when I’m “not a runner” and food doesn’t taste as good when I haven’t been exercising.  Time heals all wounds and eventually it will heal this one, but boy is it tough having to wait!