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Yes, I know, I’ve blogged a lot about how technology is making my running better..GPS, running apps, podcasts, video gait analysis., blah blah.   But of course there’s a flip side..it’s also making me incompetent.  Last weekend I decided to run a 5 mile trail race.  I hadn’t signed up in advance, and was a little disorganized in the morning, and at the last minute was still picking and downloading my Podrunner mix.  I always race with something playing that has a 180 bpm cadence.  I’m not sure if it’s the right cadence for me, but it’s what I’ve gotten used to, and if I don’t have something in my ear telling me how quickly to step, my mind might start to wander and I’ll end up going slower, or so I assume.  Anyway, somehow when the gun went off I was still fiddling with my bib, struggling to re-pin it to the belt in which I keep my phone that plays my tunes.  So I got it pinned and turned around (totally ruining my plans for a fast start), and started the race.  And about a quarter mile in, the thought came to me that there was somethig weird about the music I was hearing.  It seemed familiar, but not quite.  That was the first thought.  The second thought that popped into my head was “Hey, why am I runing so slowly?”.  It dawned on me slowly, (way more slowly than it should have,) that I had accidentally pressed the half speed button on my phone and was hearing my 180 bps mix at 90 bps.  After another couple of minutes of high-powered thinking I realized that it was going to be OK, I just needed to take two steps for every beat, which isn’t that hard to do.  But really, technology is making me stupid.

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I went to a new PT last week, and he did an evaluation in response to my lateral hip pain.  He did that thing where you lie on the side and raise your top leg laterally and try to resist when the evaluator pushes down on it.  He said that my right hip was rock solid , super-strong and he could “do push-ups on it” if he wanted to, which I think was a poor choice of words and I’m not exactly sure how that would work, but OK, so I’m strong on that side.  He also said that my left side abductors were “profoundly weak.’  But the right side is the one that seems to usually be out of whack with the weird rotation and the tendinopathy pronation and torn meniscus and whatnot.  So I’m not sure why it would be so much stronger, unless I’ve just been focusing on it more in my exercises.  Interestingly, this is the exact opposite result of a previous evaluation in 2013.   Then it was my right side that was weaker.  So either physical therapist evaluations have non-reprodicible results or I am slowly oscillating between being  weak on the right side and weak on the left side.  I imagine most people have a stronger side, but I can’t quite figure out why there would be such a dramatic difference.  It just get weirder and weirder.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is worth a million words. This week I had a video analysis of my running gait. Here’s what I learned.

  • I’m a forefoot striker. (Mildly surprising..I would have said I’m a mid-foot striker)
  • I have pretty good foot and ankle control. Slight supination on the left; more pronation on the right..apparently nothing too earth-shattering.
  • My right foot toes out but my left one points straight ahead. (I’m surprised I don’t end up just running in endless clockwise circles!)
  • My pelvis isn’t as level as it wants to be. (Not unexpected, and confirms what I thought from looking at still photos)
  • I don’t overstride and I have a decent amount of forward lean.
  • According to the guy who went over my results with me, most of the bad stuff that’s happening is around my hips and upward.
  • The more I look at it, the more I think my whole right leg is sort of rotated at the hip, which would help to explain the knee injury and the achilles tendinopathy on that side.

So, not a million words, but still a lot of information from a 15 minute exercise.  The question is, what to do about it?

 

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Early Autumn

Just some scenes from recent runs in the northwest section of Wissahickon Park.

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I know, I know, I’m always having epiphanies about this or that.  Shoes, cross-training, heart rate training, cadence, form, exercises, blah-blah-blah, and every time, I think my running life will be miraculously made better, and it hardly ever is.  Nevertheless, I persist in having epiphanies.  It’s fun.

So this time, I was finally reading Ben Greenfield’s book, Beyond Training, which I’ve had on my Kindle but had forgotten about until I had nothing else to read on the train, and right there in Chapter 1, he described me almost perfectly..older athlete,  slightly driven, constantly injured, often tired, overtraining in a sort of dysfunctional way.  Long story short, I decided I need to stop the medium length, medium effort, death-march runs, do my easy runs as an easier pace, and add in some High Intensity Interval Training.  I’ve always found it hard to push myself to run at maximum effort unless I’m  in a race and sprinting for the finish line.  But I downloaded Tribal Tabata from Podrunner, and now I’m doing 20 minute Tabata runs on my 2 short-run days, and slowing down on my long-slow-distance run days.  The routine is 20 second going full-out, 10 second (though it seems shorter) rest, for 8 rounds, 4 sets.  So far, I like it, because it allows me to cover more distance in a shorter time on my Tabata days, while not feeling as much wear and tear on my body.  And I don’t get that exhaustion feeling.. as long as I keep the high intensity to 20 seconds.  I’ve tried it twice with running, and once on the elliptical at the gym so far, so it’s too early to tell if I’m getting any faster.  We’ll see how it goes.   I haven’t gotten to Chapter Two in the book yet, so I’m sure there will be more epiphanies coming up.

 

 

 

Just kidding, it’s not really.  But I wish it were, because I have a persimmon tree that is dropping  persimmons all over my front garden and the sidewalk and due to my frugal nature I feel like I ought to do something with them.  So, I asked the Internet and the Internet in its wisdom sent me to the web site of one of these super-conscientious and highly superior uber moms who send their children to school with a lovingly crafted home-made healthy organic  tasty snacks in a recyclable sack with a handwritten note of affirmation each day.  OK, well, maybe I am making assumptions, but anyway, this back-to-nature supermom showed how easy it is to make home-made fruit leather, so I figured I could make persimmon fruit leather to take on long runs as an alternative to those artificial gu-chew thingipersimmones.  Persimmons are almost as high in potassium as bananas, and I always need potassium.  It’s pretty easy once you’ve removed the seeds and created persimmon goo (or puree if you want to be fancy about it) , you just spread it on a cookie sheet and put it in the lowest temperature oven you can, until it forms fruit leather.  So, my first attempt came out looking perfect, and having a good texture,  but tasting completely bland.   So, I tried again, this time addig some vitamin C powder,  but it seems that that second batch of persimmons contained some that were not at the right stage of ripeness and had that horrifying astringency that makes them unpalatable.  Moral of the story: taste the persimmon goo before you put it in the oven.

How did we runners ever survive before podcasts?  Not only do they help me run 10 or more miles without dropping over from boredom, but I’ve learned so many very useful things about fitness and running from them. (Thanks, Trailrunner!  Thanks Ben Greenfield!)   Recently I found Physioedge, which has the added bonus of being Australian.  There is just something about an Australian accent.  I find  Aussies all sound somehow  ruggedly sporty and capable of wrestling alligators and sharks, and therefore more credible.  So, I’m pretty sure this interview with  Dr. Alison Grimaldi about lateral hip pain  is going to help me fix my pesky hip enthesopathy/IT Band Stuff  once and for all.  Yes, I know, I always get excited about some new treatment, which typically fails to magically fix everything, but this one is not about a new treatment, it’s more just a really precise synthesis of what is known about this condition and how to treat it.

This is something I’ve had two or three times over the past 20 years.  I finally got rid of it a few years back with an intense regimen of exercises, but of course, I stopped doing the exercises when the pain stopped, and then other injuries happened, and I had to focus on rehabbing from them.  And now it’s back.  So, what I really need is just a couple of things I can do to target this condition that are sustainable for the kong-term.  I need to listen to this podcast again, but one thing I learned that made me really happy was that I can stop doing clam shells!  They aren’t that great for targeting the glute med and they provoke pain.  Yay!  I have alway hated clamshells.  So apparently I can stick with my lateral leg raises and bridges and single leg stands on a pillow.  Two of those I can even do at my office while working at my standing desk.   So, if I can do 3 exercises three times a day, rather than 20 exercises a couple of times a week, I think that’s a win.