Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Best Things About Being Injured

The two people who follow this blog, I'm sure, are dying to know how my training is going. It's not. I'm approaching a return to training next Monday. I could probably run tomorrow, but the last thing I need is to miss another two weeks with a butt cheek injury. In the meantime, let's look on the bright side by examining the best things about being injured.

  1. More food. I can't run so that means I can eat whatever I want. Right? 
  2. More sleep. There's really no need to get up at 5:00 A.M. anymore.
  3. No runner's cough. Anyone who's experienced unlimited coughing for up to 38 days after a run understands my disdain for runner's cough and the associative snot rocket/phlegm battle that follows.
  4. No runner's guilt. It takes some serious nerve to abandon the family for two hours on a Saturday morning to get in a long run. Now I simply annoy them for two additional hours and they can't wait to get rid of me.
  5. Fewer aches and pains. This is especially true if the injury only hurts when you're actually running. Not only is the injury healing, all the other aches and pains you've been in denial about for the past three months are going away too.
  6. More time to write blog posts. Of course, you've really nothing to write since you can't run, but you could write some fluff columns about injuries, I suppose.
The problem with all this, of course, is you forget how much running improves your life.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Miracle Cures for Running Injuries: Plantar Fasciitis

I was blessed with an delightful case of Plantar Fasciitis last summer.  Here's how I took care of it.

How it Feels - It's like having bruises on your feet, especially on your heel.  Once it progresses, it feels like you're stepping on glass.

The Reaction - You will notice your feet are a little more sore than usual.  You'll want to put on shoes soon after waking up.  After a few days you'll be in denial that you have an injury; after all, you think, it goes away a few minutes into a run, even if my feet are really painful once I cool down.  Eventually you'll admit you have a problem and seek help.

Doing Nothing? Don't be stupid.  The longer you ignore Plantar Fasciitis the higher your odds are of having it for like six years.  Very few people really fully get rid of PF once they get it.  This is not an injury to play around with.  I repeat: Don't mess around with PF.

Standard Treatment.  Rest, Ice multiple times per day, stretch your calves multiple times per day.  This will help you run through minor cases of PF.

Miracle Cure #1.  Once you start feeling the heel glass on a regular basis, it's time to see the podiatrist.  You should have one objective in mind when you walk into his office: a cortisone shot.  They're like magic.  You'll be back full blast within a week.  Continue to stretch and ice just in case.  If the doctor does not recommend a cortisone shot, ask for one.  He may try to set up multiple appointments which will give him multiple opportunities to take your money.  He may recommend orthotics.  Play along.  Just make sure you get the cortisone shot.  If he refuses to give you one, find a doctor who will.

Miracle Cure #2.  Get a wooden foot massage roller thing.  Roll your foot over it when your brushing your teeth.  The pain will go away almost immediately.  Don't forget to continue stretching and icing.
Miracle Cure #2
Miracle Cure #3.  Do some barefoot workouts.  This flies against conventional wisdom.  I don't care.  It works.  I started doing Insanity workouts barefoot and on a mat.  I had no problems.  No, I'm not a minimalist runner.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Miracle Cure for Running Injuries: Necessary Supplies

If you're 42 or prone to injury, have the following items on hand.
  1. Ice Packs.  The original list left off the most important item in any injured runners freezer: ice packs.  Thanks to my buddy over at And So it Burns for reminding me.  Not only should you have ice packs at home, you should have ice bottles.  You should have some at work.  You should have a portable freezer in your car.  You may need to move to Alaska and put ice packs on every dog sled stop in the state.
  2. Ibuprofen.  Technically Ibuprofen isn't a cure for the injury.  It's a cure for pain.  And what a cure it is.  Every runner should have a gigantic bucket of ibuprofen at home, at work, and any other place he or she frequents.  Not only does it relieve the pain, it's an anti-inflammatory.  I'm not sure what that means, but every blog I read says anti-inflammatories are good for you.
  3. Foam Roller.  Why are you being so stubborn?  Just get the foam roller.  It's like getting a free massage.  No, I'm not talking about a famous Las Vegas cross-gender massage, although the shape of the foam roller may give you a similar pleasure, if used for that purpose.
  4. Foot Massager Roller Thing.  One minute at night and one minute in the morning will have your feet feeling like the feet of someone who doesn't run a thousand miles a year
  5. Cough Syrup.  Running makes some people cough.  Cough syrup doesn't help, but if you get the right kind, it won't matter.
By the way, I'm not a doctor.  Your doctor's not a runner.  Join the two together and you have miracle cures or a complete idiot.  Not sure which.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Miracle Cures for Running Injuries: Introductory Rant

I am a runner.  There's a good chance you are a runner. I don't define my existence by running. I am other things too--a father, a Christian, a teacher, a UNLV fan. If I were hit by a truck and no longer able to run, I would be upset, but it would not define me.

Many people are not runners, mostly by choice. Some just don't like it. I understand. This rant is not addressed to the haters. It's addressed to the excuse makers. You know what I'm talking about: the "I don't run because it's bad for your knees crowd." Being 800 pounds, by the way, is bad for your knees too. This rant is addressed to the "Running is bad for you" crowd. That triple cheeseburger you just ate, by the way, is bad for you. There are many other crowds who say similar things.  This rant is directed towards you.

Dear "You shouldn't run because....." crowd,

You are a loser. You're fat. You have accomplished nothing in your life, so you try to bring others down. You're insecure. You see me accomplishing goals once thought impossible. You tried to make fun of me the first time I ran 10 miles. You tried to discourage me from running a Marathon.  Go to hell. Kiss my ass.* Look at me. I'm 42. I'm healthy. I'm active. I'm pretty darn good-looking, all things considered. I get tired after a 12-mile run on hills. You get tired walking up stairs. Being out of shape doesn't make you a loser. Resenting those who are in shape does.

Sure, we runners have our share of injuries. I injured my ass this morning. I've had a strained soleus or two. Plantar fasciitis? Had it. Shin splints? Check. I'm not alone. I'm sure most runners have suffered or are suffering dull aches and pains on a regular basis. We don't mind. It's the price we pay for doing something we love and doing something that keeps are entire selves healthy. Deal with it. This doesn't mean running is bad for your knees or your ankles or your ass cheek; it just means we participate in an activity where such things are common. You wouldn't criticize football players because football is bad for your brain, would you? You wouldn't criticize basketball players because basketball is bad for your ankles, would you? Tennis players for their elbows? Soccer players for their shins? Swimmers for their ears?  Of course not. So leave us the hell alone.


Running from Mediocrity

P.S. This is the introductory rant to my miracle cure for common running injuries. I've had a few. My wife's had a few dozen. Some things work. Some things don't. We'll pass on our experiences and hope they help.

By the way, I'm not a doctor. Your doctor's not a runner. Combine the two of us and you have a wealth of knowledge or a complete idiot. You make the call.

*I prefer not to swear in my blog, but "ass" just felt right today. Apologies to the four readers I get annually.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Secrets to Running Farther

The following are secrets to running your longest distance ever. My longest distance before Thursday was 13.1 miles.  Here are some secrets to success on how I accomplished a run of 15 miles.
  1. Don't actually run the entire distance.  I stopped at 13.23 miles.  That's where my car was.  I was tired.  I drove the remaining 1.75.  It was the fastest pace of the entire "run."
  2. If you're attempting to run the longest distance of your life, make sure you map your route so you reach the "I just want this freaking run to end" portion of the run right when you pass your nice, comfortable car.
  3. It's best to try your really long runs when you have a cold.  It produces great snot rockets.
  4. Water is for wusses! (I'm in Vegas and we do funny things to the water before handing it out at races)
  5. Whatever you do, drink very little water the entire day before a long run, especially if you're running in the afternoon and the temperature's higher than it's been in months.
  6. Add lots and lots of hills.  There's no sense in doing the longest run of your life if you can't make it challenging.
  7. Run at a fast pace.  I ran it over 30 seconds per mile slower than my half marathon from two weeks ago and over a minute slower than my 10-k pace and look where that got me--at my car with 1.75 miles to go.
  8. You ever felt like this?
  9. Make sure you have to drive your daughter and her friends across town within an hour of finishing your run.  That way you can get your body accustomed to making life and death decisions while being semi-delirious.


Although I failed in my quest for 15 miles, I'm OK. Part of training is realizing what an idiot you are and correcting the idiocies before the actual race.  I've run two half marathons in 12 days, 2 more than I'd run in four years and the two fastest I've ever run.  I also threw in a pr 10-k in between along with an awesome head cold.  Technically, the marathon training program has yet to begin.  

I've plenty of work to do.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I Am the Fastest Man Alive and a Big Fan of Hyperbole!

There's no magic bullet for running faster.  It doesn't happen overnight.  It does happen, but it takes work.  It's the results of an accumulation of doing the little things daily.


10 kilometers, 6.2 miles, the perfect race distance.  It's long enough to make you work.  It's short enough that there's no risk of bowel-movement-while-running syndrome.  I'm not much of a racer.  The last 5 races I have entered, not including Ragnar, have been between 6 and 6.2 miles.  I finished near the end of most of them.

Up until last summer, the best time I'd raced at the magic distance was around 55 minutes.  Last summer, I raced it in just over 53 minutes.  I then lowered it by a minute-plus, 52:19 at the beginning of the year, over five minutes less than the year before.


I have a magic mile pace as well.  It's eight minutes/mile.  I'd never actually run that pace for more than a 5-k.  That did not, however, stop me from calculating all my race/fast run goals for that pace for the last 10 years.

This is what makes the Qualify for Boston Goal so ridiculous.  It's four times longer than my favorite distance at 45 seconds/mile faster than my magic-mile pace that I've never achieved...until now.


I headed for the park after work on Friday and rattled off a 48:02 10-k.  That's a 7:45/mile pace.  I ran on a 1.5-mile track at the Sunset Regional Park in Henderson/Las Vegas.  As I finished the first lap, I peaked at my Garmin.  It read 11:38.  I nearly soiled myself in surprise, which would have negated my previous theory on running 10-ks.  I was under 23:00 after the second lap. The first 5-k was run in 23:38, the fastest 5-k I've ever run by nearly a minute.

At this point, I had a pretty good notion it was going to be a good, fast (in relative terms) run.  I slowed a little, running the second half in 24:24, the second fastest 5-k I've ever run.


So the question is, how can someone take nearly six minutes off a 10-k time in a little over six months?

Here's what I did:
  1. Improved conditioning.  I did this through cross-training.  I began with P90X.  I then went with Insanity.  I ran five times between July and December.  The fifth time led to a strained soleus.  There was a little Plantar Fasciitis mixed in.  I love cortisone.  I didn't really start running as a primary exercise until January 2.  Happy New Year!
  2. Lost weight.  It helps not lugging around an extra 20 pounds.
  3. Ran hills.  I really have no choice.  If I'm going to run near my house or near my work, there will be hills.
  4. Ran fast.  I've only actually done three speed workouts, mostly mile repeats.  I hate them.
  5. Did double workouts.  Getting up at 5:00 a.m. kind of sucks.  Working out again at 2:30 in the afternoon kind of sucks.  Setting a PR doesn't suck.
Going Forward

I enjoyed my accomplishment for a day or two, just like I enjoyed the half-marathon I ran under 1:50 last week, but as I said then, There's work to do.  Running a 10-k at 7:45/mile is no where close to running a marathon at a 7:15/mile pace.
  • Speed work.  This is where the money is.  In addition to doing mile repeats, I'm going to add some 800 and 400 intervals.  I need to get more serious about these workouts if I'm going to get faster.
  • Long runs early.  Technically my marathon training doesn't begin until the end of February. I've already run 13.1.  I plan on going 16-18 by the end of this month, slow.  I want to get the distance up and maintain it, so I can concentrate on speed.
  • Double workouts.  Running at 5:00 A.M. twice per week followed by Insanity workouts in the afternoon have paid dividends.
  • Rest on Sundays.  As always, give the Lord His due and He'll give you all the strength you need.
For the first time, I believe I have an unrealistic chance at this (unrealistic is a step up from impossible).