Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Trial Trail Run

I think I've discovered a new color pattern for the new Vibram FiveFingers, either that or I've discovered what everyone else already knew.

I was pretty excited to try out the fivefingers as I've been running barefoot in the park for about a month now and was really wondering how I could hit the trails without wearing shoes.

Keith has a great description of the "shoe" on his blog so I wont go into it here, besides, they GAVE him his so it's his duty to go into great detail.

I was still a bit stiff from the Afton night run on Fri/Sat but it did not get any worse over the 3.5 miles I ran. I did have a little glute pain but I have had that on and off all day so I'm not too worried about it, had PT today and I'm always a bit tender afterwards. Actually loosened up over the length of the run so thats cool.

The bottom of the shoes are quite smooth but the traction is really pretty good. You can dig your toes in on the loose stuff for extra push. I think the coolest part is it looks like Sasquatch has been running the trails. Some of the trails were really overgrown and grass/flowers tended to get caught between my toes. I was trying to devise some kind of bumper guard while I was running but I'm sure that would go against the minimalist philosophy of the product itself. Hope the fabric is tough, it takes a beating in the grass. Guess we'll see.

Monday, July 21, 2008

While others sleep

Friday night I accepted the invitation of fellow MDRS runner Matt Patton to join him on a quest for 100K. Matt is training for the
Superior Sawtooth 100 mile race this fall and was looking to get in a significant run. Since the wife and kids decided to call the cabin home for another day I decided to give it a go.

While generally quite good at math I grossly miscalculated what time I might meet the group, I wrongly assumed that Matt had answered an email from work/home about 4:00 and figured he would be starting a bit late. I arrived at the park about 10:45 if I remember correctly, and didn't start running until 12:30. Meanwhile Pete A. and I talked about stuff, attempted to take pictures of the moon with our digital cameras - complete failure - and watched the lost horse riders find their way home.

Matt came flying into the parking lot a couple minutes in front the pack (Jim W., Zach P. and maybe one more, having finished two loops (50K). About 15 minutes rest and we were ready to take off when another van pulled up, Helen Lavin, Kami and Eric pulled in, quickly readied themselves and we were off.

The first couple miles were a bit of a comedy fest with Matt and the forerunners joking about whatever, debating the various subjects the beverage world would have us ponder. After a couple miles, Helen et.al. took off at a quicker pace. This was fine with me as it gave me a chance to enjoy the night.

The only trail running I've done at night was on the SHT, this was different in that you didn't have to work so hard to see where you were going (full moon helped here). The temp was cooler than during the day but the dew point was very high, fortunately there was a water stop at the campground or I would have been in trouble. We probably ran for an hour or so with Pete, Jim, Matt and I just mixing it up, running together for a while then on our own. Matt was adjusting his pace a fair bit to accommodate the effects of the first two loops - he was doing great though. Just when I thought I might slow down to wait for a minute or two he would be right on our heels.

With about 5 miles left on loop three Matt pulled the plug. Jim had already headed in and neither Pete nor I pushed him to continue. Matt had accomplished one of his goals without reaching the 100K mark - that was enough for the night, I've no doubt it was the right decision. He was talking about doing this again in a few weeks right there and continuing may have jeopardized another great training run.

Pete and I continued on to finish the loop (mostly), and discovering along the way that we grew up in the same podunk corner of the state. There are a ton of people we both new. Such a small world.

I felt really good up to about 11 miles, after that I started to tighten up on my Rt side. I took it pretty easy the rest of the way in, kinda bummed me out to finish this way but I had a good idea things would creep up. Arrived at the parking lot about 4:00.

Had a good visit with all after we got back, a cup of coffee and a PBJ and I was ready to head home. A few people showed up to start a loop, I think 5 people were heading out as I pulled out of the lot.

Looking forward to a repeat.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Routine - for now

Well here is a list and brief description of the exercises I’m supposed to be doing to get back to where I want to be. While the source of my problems (physical) are not completely known, my disc at L4-5 has some issues which are undoubtedly creating a good portion of the problem. I had an MRI 7/27/07 and one 6/3/08 and the bulges and tear are more prominent in the latter. Not what I wanted to see, but still not unmanageable.
I had a course of therapy to strengthen my back, this did relieve one of my symptoms but the glute pain remains. The current course of action is to strengthen my transverse abdominis (TA) and corresponding back muscle, the multifidus. The TA is a little deeper than the overlaying abdominal muscle groups and gets “shut down” in individuals with back injury – worsening the effects.
The most specific exercise is abdominal bracing, like a crunch without the crunch – not curling your head toward your chest but just lifting it upward, something like this, another way of describing it is bracing as if someone was going to hit you in the gut. Other exercises are rowing and “lat” type pulldowns. While these are not specific to the TA you can contract and release throughout the exercise to work the muscle and “train” it to fire when you are using your core. I really have to concentrate to get the TA to contract – this is typical of one with back injury.
Eccentric and concentric hamstring exercises shown in this article are supposed to deal with the high hamstring tendiopathy which I may or may not have, some good exercises though. The ubiquitous hamstring stretch goes here as well.
Since the glute and hip are causing me issues they threw in a few exercises to strengthen that as well. The Clam is done laying on your side, back to the wall, soles of feet to the wall, knees together with about a 90degree bend. Lift the upper leg up, hold for a bit, return and repeat. Also a hip extension and figure 4 hip stretch to try to loosen up a really tight hip flexor.

To build and maintain my back strength and I still use the Roman chair and do some squat exercises with neutral back posture. Press up’s are done to relieve pressure on my low back.

I’m sure I’ve missed some things but that’s about it. I do about half the exercises every day, the others every other. I have a friend who is going to lend me an inversion table so it will be nice to get some prolonged back extension/pressure release. Hopefully it will get some blood to the problem (my head?).

On another note I have been running barefoot for a portion of my runs lately. I started with ¼ mile and have worked up to 2 miles. If I run more than 2 miles on the road prior to my barefoot session I can feel tension building in my Rt glut/hip/hamstring. Sometimes I can run through it or stretch it out but other times I cant. When I remove my shoes and start running in the grass the discomfort is gone within 10 strides – no shit. It has remained pain free for the duration of the barefooted portion – up to 2 miles at this point. My unshod running loop is .25 miles with half on a bike path and half on the grass. It feels great to have shoes which weigh 0.00 grams – cuts about 20 seconds off the splits.

I can’t figure out how to interpret the instant relief I get, it’s hard to believe that the back is the sole source of my discomfort if it is alleviated this quickly. I am thinking of going to a podiatrist but all they have done in the past is fit me with orthotics. Also considering gait analysis but lack a good source right now – any suggestions? Keep in mind that running is not the activity which causes me the greatest discomfort – that is still sitting.

Meanwhile, I am running about 10 miles a week (have missed logging a number in RunningAhead). Still trying to keep up the cadio workouts with biking and chasing 3 kids. I remain optimistic but really need to make some headway soon – just to keep my sanity.

EDIT: Wednesday, July 16

Therapist added the "bird dog" exersize today, another one for the core, forgot to ask her what I was supposed to take out of the routine.

Got my hands on an inversion table, guess I'll add that to the mix as well. Already used the line "just hang'n round" once.

Tried on a pair of Vibram 5 Fingers today, no one has my size right now but I still wanted to see how they felt. I think I'll try ordering them since I have a pretty good idea what size I need.