Running Again

My ART appointment went really well with Dr. Tim Keyes. The diagnosis is that I have scar tissue in my Achilles, Calf and Quad, and my IT band is tight. All on my right leg. He said the tissue felt like little grains of sand when he worked my Achilles! The good news is that Dr. Keyes thinks this can be fixed in 2-4 sessions. My first session went really well. It's pretty painful at times when the knots in your leg get worked on but I felt amazing after. Dr. Keyes said I should run on it a few times before my next appointment and those workouts have gone well. The Achilles feels a little tender when I run, but it's 100% otherwise. Thursday I did an easy 5 miler and that felt other than feeling a bit clumsy since I hadn't run for 11 days before that. Yesterday I did an easy 6 miler and that was much better. Plan is to do 6 or 7 tomorrow and slowly work my way up until I can run comfortably for 90 minutes. Once I can do that, I can think about adding some tempos etc. No hurry though. I don't need to force the fitness. In high school and college you always had clear racing seasons so an injury could be devastating. When you're older you can find races every week all year round so I can afford to be patient.


Some Thoughts on Recovery

Today is the first day that I feel good enough to run, but with 9 days off already I'm just going to make it a full two weeks to play it really safe. The ART appointment on Wednesday should hopefully get me back to completely normal. Outside of the Calf and Achilles feeling much better, I've noticed that other aches and pains that I always thought were normal have disappeared. Competitive runners do a good job managing recovery in their micro-cycles (i.e. taking easy days in between weekly long runs, tempos etc.) but we don't always do so well with the macro-cycles (i.e. taking down time in between competitive seasons). We worry too much about losing fitness that we can never regain. In the past I've taken 2 weeks off after club nationals in December, but this year I didn't because I missed a lot of time due to injury last Spring. One thing I always seem to forget is that it's really hard to get out of shape once you are in shape. Roger Bannister took 4 or 5 days off before running his first sub-4:00 mile. As long as you can maintain your racing weight or not gain too much, it's not hard to get back into it. Normally when I take two weeks off, it only takes me a few runs to get back to normal everyday training pace.  So I'm just trying to chill like the monkey in the picture and will be more than ready to start running again next weekend. Not trying to force when I'll race again, but I'm thinking earliest possible would be Memorial Day weekend but realistically more like mid-June.


Making some progress

Just a small update. Each day has been better than the last and I can finally walk almost pain free -- my achilles is still pretty tender and my calf is still really tight.  I have a sports massage tomorrow so hopefully that will help get out some of the kinks. I'm guessing I'll be able to walk normally by the weekend, so right now I'm thinking I will need a full 2 weeks off of running to play it safe. I'll see how the ART goes next week. At this point I can't see myself racing again until at least Memorial Day Weekend. In retrospect, I probably raced a little more than I should have this Spring. Over the last year I've been constantly retweaking my training to stay healthy. It's a frustrating part of amsters running. When you're a kid, it's as easy as run a lot and you'll get better, but as masters guy it's all about the recovery. You can do the same kinds of workouts but you need a lot more time inbetween.


Unexpected Down Time

Well, my 10K race in Michigan didn't go as planned. In fact, I dropped out of a race due to an injury for the first time ever. My Achilles had been bothering me ever so slightly over the last two weeks but nothing that I really noticed once I got warmed up. My right calf and quad have been a little tight too. Consistent tightness in my right leg (never the left) is why I get a sports massage every three to four weeks. Anyway, in the race about half way through I noticed the pain come fairly strong and I was forced to ease back to see if I could shake it off. It kept getting worse. I had a hard time pushing down on my right leg due to the pain. By mile 5 I was reduced to walking as my calf got so tight I could only limp. Luckily, I was only a mile or so from the finish so I didn't have far to limp. I was also lucky that my host, Stephen, is a nurse. He got me all iced up and over the rest of the weekend I had several ultrasound type treatments. Can't remember what his device is called but that helped significantly. Every day has been better post-race but I'm still a little gimpy. I have a sports massage on Friday and an Active Release session on Wednesday the 25th. I've never done ART but that may be the ticket to getting all the knots out of my calf. My massages only seem to go so far.

I probably won't try running until after the two sessions and only if I can walk completely normal with no pain whatsoever. An old friend once said that you have to ride the waves of life like the Silver Surfer so I'll just roll with this wave.


Welcome to Mile Club: Week 2 - Timed Mile

Back at it for my Mile Club. After last weeks 4 x 400 session, my key workouts were a 5K race on Saturday and an easy 11 miler on Monday. Yesterday I went out to the track to do another mile specific workout. Rich Stiller, who publishes the Last Chance Runner blog (see my sidebar for link), has given me some amazing training advice over the last 6 months or so. When he was 50, he alternated a series of 4 different weekly workouts and in a 6 month span lowered his mile time from 6:07 to 5:19. The workout I opted for this week was to do a single timed mile at about 10-15 seconds slower than what I could do an all out mile in on that day, so basically 2 mile race pace. The winds were especially strong and the temps were a bit on the cool side (about 40F) when I ran so I knew I wouldn't do anything blazing. I ended up hitting a very evenly paced 5:33, not killing myself but hitting it decently hard. The weird thing was that my heart rate only got up to 90% of my max -- I'm guessing it was due to the wind as it was very hard to push beyond a certain effort. In any case, that felt right for the day. Funny how my 5:38 opening mile in Saturday's 5K felt so much easier. Shows how different it is in a race as a opposed to training by yourself. The key though is to continue to work on the mile once a week without sacrificing my 5K - 10K training.

Next up is the Meteor 10K in Michigan on Saturday. The video above is of Filbert Bayi's 1975 mile world record race where he edges out Marty Liquori. I'm pretty sure I saw this as a kid on ABC's Wide World of Sports. What an amazing show that was.


Bogsucker Strut 5K Race Report - Monkey's Off My Back!

Finally got this year's sub-18 5K monkey off my back (more on that below). This was my best week of running in a few weeks and it culminated with a really solid 17:45 for third place overall at the Bogsucker Strut 5K in Twinsburg. I had never done this race before, but I've run several races that start and finish at the Twinsburg Recreation Center and they're always well organized. Fortunately, yesterday's 5K was a much faster course than that Turkey Trot 5 miler that hits some very steep dirt trails! We also had ideal weather -- low 40s at the start. This was an out and back that was net downhill the first mile, which meant the last mile would be the toughest. With that in mind, I tried to hold back as much as possible on the blazing first mile. I hit 5:38, feeling like it was about 10 seconds slower. Much more controlled than that 5K race in Louisville back on St. Patrick's Day. Good sign. Soon after the mile mark, we hit a narrow and scenic bike path before making a very abrupt turn around some cones to head back. I felt really good at this point as I headed back. The only difficulty here was paying attention to groups of the slower runners heading towards me. I kind of wish they set up more cones to keep runners on opposite sides of the path here. I didn't see a 2 mile marker but I was still feeling strong as I hit the final hilly mile. The hills weren't as bad as I thought I would be when I warmed up -- more gradual than anything really steep, but certainly not pleasant. At this point, my masters friend Curt, who went out very hard, had a big lead and would go on to win the race in 16:50. A younger friend, Mike, started a little behind me, but caught me with about 3/4 of a mile to go and displayed some youthful power as he kicked in with an impressive 17:34, his first time under 18 I think (he's going to be very fast by the end of this year). I was third in 17:45 and another masters friend, Steve, was fourth in 18:31. Three of the top four runners were over the age of 45, which I thought was pretty cool.

As for the sub-18 monkey reference, back when I started running again in 2005 at age 40, after a very long hiatus, I set my goal for my first year as sub 18. My first race that year was a 19:14 and I thought that would be a good challenge. I ended up with 17:52 that year and I have been under 18:00 every year since, this being year number eight. Some years have been better than others, but I'm really happy with the consistency. I want running to be a lifetime sport and I feel like I'm in a much better place than I was in November 2004 when I woke up hungover and stoned and depressed after my 40th birthday party. About a month after that, I got my act together and decided that I wanted to compete again and the rest is history.

Next up for me is the Meteor 10K in Michigan on April 14. Really looking forward to this. I always run really well in that race -- fast, flat USATF certified course with a very deep field. I seem to have figured out a good training pattern for myself and this week will be more of the same. 10 or 11 easy miles on Monday; a 'mile club' workout with a decent cool down on Wednesday; and an easy shakeout before driving to Michigan on Friday.


The Lost Rivers - Sin and Lostness

Germany's Lost Rivers blew me away with their debut EP on Northern Star Records last year (more like a mini-album since it contained seven songs). Their new full-length, Sin and Lostness (also Northern Star), is even better. The band's trademark is an immense wall of sound that makes even the Jesus and Mary Chain sound quaint. Like A Place To Bury Strangers you can hear hints of goth in The Lost Rivers sound, but it's the cool early stuff like Sisters of Mercy, not the poseur dance club garbage.  It makes sense that The Lost Rivers are fans of old school groups like The Dead Boys. They have the menacing attitude and the cool looks. If The Stooges formed today they would probably sound something like this.  Effortlessly cool rock 'n' roll. Is there such a thing as punkgaze?


Welcome to Mile Club: Week 1 - A Sobering Reality Check

When I was 17 years old I ran the mile in 4:27 and 2 miles in 9:25. As I never raced those distances in college (I quit pretty early on), those times ended up becoming my lifetime PRs. I'm never going to run 4:27 again, but I think it would be cool to break 5:00 in the mile again. That's doable based on my current performances in the 5K and 10K. To do that, though, I need to work on my basic speed, something I've pretty much neglected as a masters runner. No more! This week is the beginning of what I'm calling "Mile Club". I want to do one short, very basic speed workout each week, geared to running a fast mile. Today, I went to the track and embarked on my journey and was quite humbled. 4 x 400 with 400 meter jog/walks for recovery in 73, 73, 73, and 75. 73s felt like 63s used to! If you add up all four reps, my mile time would be 4:52, which was a typical opening mile for me in a fast high school cross country race. I didn't run the 400s 'all out' but I pushed like I would in the first lap of an 800 or 1,000 meter race. Right now I probably can race sub 5:40 per mile pace for a 5K but I'm not sure if I could run much faster than 5:20 in an all out mile. This is why I want to commit to my small experiment. So each week I'll do a short little session of 4 x 400 or 2 x 800 or a 1200 meter time trial (Roger Bannister was big on these -- see photo on the left) and try to get comfortable in a zone that is currently uncomfortable for me. I'll continue my longer runs and tempos as those are the bread and butter workouts for a slower twitch 5-10K guy like me, but a little speed can't hurt. I won't let my mileage slip either. For today's workout I warmed up 2 miles and ran a 5 mile cool down.


Running and The Endless Summer

I've never surfed but I've always felt that competitive runners are very similar in outlook to hardcore surfers. The movie above, The Endless Summer, is one of my favorite documentaries ever. It follows a group of guys in the 1960s who travel the world looking for the perfect wave. Runners are always seeking the perfect race where the temperature is just right, the course is fast and flat and the field is deep. To use a surfing analogy, the March waves were a little choppy for me. I had a really good 5 mile race at the beginning of the month but didn't get the fast 5K I was hoping for. It was unseasonably hot on St. Patrick's Day and the course was tougher than expected and the race in New Orleans was, well, in New Orleans. 80 plus temps are never ideal for a race, but the post-race party certainly made up for it.

Next up for me is a 5K on April 7 and a 10K on April 14. I'm feeling pretty good though as I'm getting older I've become really in tune with what works for me and what doesn't. I seem to respond really well to tempo workouts and semi-frequent races, but intervals always seem to set me way back. Light fartlek type workouts seem to help though. Last summer I was doing stuff like 10 x 1 minute on / 1 minute off in the middle of longer runs and that seemed to get the wheels moving enough without killing myself on the track.

As for the rock 'n' roll part of this blog, I've bought some new CDs by the Lost Rivers and Strawberry Whiplash that are amazing so I'll add some reviews soon.

Below is a song called "Endless Summer" by one of my favorite groups ever, Honeyrider:


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