My Physical Therapist prescribed only a 5 minute run just to see how it feels.
A few months ago when we started to get back to running my left knee began to ache. After a month or so of treatment the knee is mostly better.
So I went from sore Achilles and heels to less sore Achilles, knees and added a sore knee.
Over all, things are getting better but 5 minutes was about right for tonight.
5 Minute Tuesday Night Club Run
When it takes me more time to get ready for a run than actually running, it kind of feels like a waste of time.
But when the run is therapeutic, it is a necessity. Running for a half hour or for a 5K would have been a mistake.
My 5 minute Tuesday Night club run was therapeutic in more than just the physical way.
Seeing my friends and having a wave and a smile as I headed back to the barn was really nice. It’s hard to explain the comfort I felt being out for a run with friends. Even if I was heading back and in the opposite direction.
So, my Tuesday night run wasn’t very long or strenuous, but it was worth the time it took to get there.
As always, I’m planning to get back to regular running. I’d like to run some 5K and 10K races this summer and perhaps run a half in the fall. Perhaps the BAA Half Marathon.
But recovery is a one step at a time process that requires patients and dedication to that process.
It’s time for the 2018 year end review and a look towards 2019.
Well, it’s that time of year again. I’ve seen a few 2018 End of The Year reviews by other bloggers and thought I better get mine written before we start talking about spring marathons!
2018 Running Review
I actually ran fewer racing miles in 2018 than I did in 2017. 186.4 vs 203.2 miles.
It seemed like a busy year and I didn’t expect to see fewer miles at the end of 2018. On a few occasions people would say, “didn’t I see you at a race yesterday” or “didn’t you just post on Facebook at another race” or “do you run every weekend?”
Usually the answer to those questions was yes!
In April I ran the BAA 5K on April 14th and The Boston Marathon on April 16th. I ran 5Ks on both April 21 and 22. I ran a 5K on Saturday and then a Half-Marathon on Sunday on September 29/30 and October 27/28.
On September 3rd on Labor Day Weekend I ran the A Run For Gratitude Mr 8K in Boston and then drove to Malden and ran Irish American 10K. It was blazing hot that day and I had a touch of heat stroke that weekend. Not fun.
I posted from The Boston Garden about the Martin Richard 8K and when I got to Malden a few people asked if I was just in Boston. Even with the heat stroke, that was a fun day.
Over several stretches I raced every weekend for three weeks in a row. Several times I ran two races on those weekends also.
Then I didn’t race from July 15th to September 3rd. I do a lot of events for my job over the summer which makes racing difficult.
It seemed like a busy running year, but I was busy with work and family also.
Injury and Recovery
In 2017 my injuries didn’t act up until The Eastern States 20 Miler in March. I felt a twinge in my left knee in the first five steps of that race. By the end of the race my knee was okay but I was totally wiped out.
Throughout the rest of 2017 my knee bothered me but I was able to work through it. For many 5K and 10K races I was able to run under an 8 minute pace.
I developed swelling on the inside of my left knee. I got checked by an orthopedist and my PCP and neither one thought it was anything to be concerned with. I was able to run and an x-ray didn’t show any problems.
The swollen area didn’t hurt and what ever was under the skin was solid. I never did see my x-ray but the doc said I didn’t have anything to worry about.
The knee pain and swelling lingered into 2018. I ran The Great Stew Chase 15K in January at a 10:36 pace. In April I ran the Boston Marathon at a 10:55 pace even in the wind and rain.
As 2018 progressed my knee hurt less and by October the swelling started to go away. I’m not sure what happened. I didn’t take anything for it or change my routine very much. But the swelling is almost all gone now.
Even with the recovery I didn’t run many 5Ks at a less than 8:00 pace. For most of the year I felt slow and out of shape.
Finishing 2018 on a High Note
On September 30th I ran my first of three half marathons in 2018. I hadn’t trained very much and still felt like a walking box of lard. But something happened during that race.
I started slow and planned to take it easy. The early miles went well and I fueled early and hydrated well. By mile eight I hooked up with another runner and we killed the last five miles.
Our pace increased each of the last three miles and we basically sprinted the last two miles. I’ve never finished a half marathon feeling so strong. It was The Smuttynose Rockfest Halfwhich I’ve run before and always felt destroyed at the finish line.
My time was 2:00:29 which was faster than my 2017 time, but not particularly fast for me.
What was so great is that I felt in control. I always try to have a plan and run the plan, but this time I blew away the plan and ran very well. It still makes me feel good just thinking about that race.
The next weekend I ran the BAA Half, ran my plan and had a good race. Three weeks later I ran The Howling Wolf Half at an 8:55 pace on a more challenging course.
I wasn’t sure what was going on but I felt healthy and I was running strong.
On December 9th I ran The Honolulu Marathon for the second time. In 2017 I crashed and burned on this course. My pace was 10:34 due to five pit stops and plenty of walking late in the race. My knees were bothering me after 18 miles or so. Everything just went wrong.
I had prepared to run in the Hawaii heat, but apparently not enough.
For 2018 I didn’t train particularly hard. October and November were both about 70 mile months. Nothing crazy.
But during those late year half-marathons I started fueling early. I also started paying a lot more attention to my pace. I always like to be in control, but I was on top of it now. I had my shit in tight little baggies aka I got my shit together!
When I got to Honolulu I wasn’t sure if this was going to work. I prepped last year and still fell apart.
In 2018 I really discovered how important it is to know the course. I knew the first hills came about the 10K mark. I knew not to push the early hills and I kind of knew where the hills were.
I ended up making one pit stop because my pre-race routine got screwed up. At one time I tried to walk but my legs wouldn’t let me.
I ran all of the hills on the way back and cruised down the last hill to the finish.
After the race, besides chaffing, nothing really hurt. My sister even said she could hardly tell that I’d just run a marathon. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that good after a marathon.
My finish time was 4:26:42 or a 10:10 pace. They only give you a finisher’s medal for that time, but I beat my 2017 time by almost 11 minutes!
I have no idea what is going on. I feel good and I’m running well.
2018 is ending on a high note and I have no explanation.
2018 Year End Review Numbers
What running year end review would be complete without a few numbers?
Total Races Run – 26 Total Racing Miles – 186.4 Total Runs – 121 Total Miles – 789
My total runs and miles were up a bit from 2017, but not by a lot.
My only PR was a new Hawaii Marathon PR by 11 minutes. I’m hoping to set a 10K or half-marathon PR in 2019.
I set goals, I don’t set resolutions.
My first goal is to run 12 half-marathons in 2019. I’ve already signed up for seven, so I’m well on my way.
My second goal is to run a total of 1,000 miles both training and racing. I did a few training runs from my house in 2018. If I can do this more frequently in 2019, 1,000 miles should be achievable.
My third goal is to add another state where I’ve run a marathon. Running Boston again would be great, but I’m not counting on it.
What are your goals for 2019?
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Run well my Friends!
I managed a 7.91 mile run on Sunday and it felt pretty good. Somewhere along the way I managed to pick up a stomach bug and spent all of Monday on the sofa doing nothing. Just getting up for a glass of water was a challenge.
I took Tuesday off to take the cat to the vet and go to my last PT session. It was a good thing. I felt better Tuesday than I did on Monday, but was still a mess. My first meal in almost two days was a small supper last night. Monday night I had a slice of toast that I had to force my self to swallow. I’ve lost three pounds in two days.
Going through the routine at the PT office yesterday was a challenge. They usually push you to see where you need work. Between my mental state and the lack of glycogen in my body everything was a challenge. But I made it. We discussed my training plan and how I should approach the Half At The Hamptons. No time goals, just try to finish un-injured.
Today I’m feeling about 40%, even after two cups of coffee. I know I’m getting better because my appetite is back. With a half marathon in four days, I have a lot of carbo loading to do!
Today the plan is to drink as much tea as possible. I need the caffeine and I need to re-hydrate. I’m pretty sure where I picked up this bug, but that’s a post for another day.
Getting back to racing after an injury takes patience.
First run in twenty-four days!
My physical therapist gave me the green light to start running again at my appointment on Tuesday. I could have gone out Tuesday night but on the way home I noticed lots of patches of ice. I’ve waited this long, why risk slipping on the ice and aggravating my knee?
The First Test Run
For my first test run I wanted to keep things under control and avoid slipping on the ice.
I decided the treadmill was my best bet to maintain control and avoid further injury. If I felt anything I could stop right away and not have to walk back on a sore knee.
The run wasn’t anything impressive, but I managed to run for 15 minutes at 6.5mph without any pain!
I was a little nervous the entire run. I felt a twinge while using the elliptical Monday and was concerned that I would get another one while running.
When I got to 15 minutes I had a great sense of relief. I had passed the first test. Tomorrow I’ll run for 20 minutes at the same speed and see how that feels. Over the weekend I’ll take it easy and next week I’ll start doing 30 minute runs. By the end of next week I’ll try a 4 mile run.
Half at the Hamptons
The Half at The Hamptons is ten days away. That race will be my first run of significant distance since my injury.
Can I run for two hours or more and not feel any pain?
What if I do feel pain and have to drop out? I’ve never done that before.
Racing is very different than 30 minutes on a treadmill.
While this is a distance test run, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement and competitive environment of a race.
I plan to start this race slow, and stay that way. There is no pride involved in this race this year.
This race is another test and another step in my recovery. The race isn’t to test my speed or fitness. It’s to test my body’s ability to just run. Simple as that.
I had my second appointment with my physical therapist and she said I could start running again! She had me run on the treadmill for about 10 minutes and I didn’t have any pain.
While I was running and walking at various speeds she checked my cadence and my arm swing. My cadence is around 80 foot strikes per minutes and I should be doing 90. The theory being that the less time I spend with a foot on the ground the less impact there is on that leg.
I was surprised to learn that some people have an asymmetrical cadence. This means that they spend more time on one foot than the other. They may end up with a cadence of 85 left and 80 right. I found this hard to comprehend at first but it does make sense. My cadence was even so I don’t have to worry about that.
In addition to my one legged squats she gave me some additional leg exercises to help with my leg alignment.
Tomorrow I will start with 10 minutes on the treadmill at a reasonable pace, probably my marathon pace of 9 minute miles. Then I will go on the elliptical for 30 minutes and do some core work.
I have a half marathon in 12 days. I may be able to get a few 5Ks in before then, but nothing close to 13.1 miles. I’ll have to use the next twelve days to build up my miles slowly. My Half PR is 1:45, but I will hope for a 2 hour half and no knee pain.
I’m hoping that my work on the elliptical has helped to maintain some of my strength and cardio. I’ll start doing my squats and lunges again and maybe some burpees. I’ve got to be careful.
My marathon training program is totally shot now. Even figuring in my elliptical miles, I am so far off from where I should be right now. It would not be safe to try and make up for lost time and miles, so I have to re-adjust my goals: I have to be flexible.
I had hoped to push hard and go for a Boston PR of 3:45. With my training scaled back considerably and the need for caution during the marathon I’m probably looking at a 5 hour marathon. Probably lots of walking.
This marathon will be more of a celebration of the race. My only goal will be to finish, be healthy and enjoy the experience.
I tried out the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill® recently.This is the treadmill you may have heard about that reduces your body weight. This reduction lessons the impact of walking or running on your body.
When I arrived at their office, I didn’t know what to expect. The whole concept seemed like “space age” technology and I had no idea how it worked.
How the AlterG works
The process begins by putting on a pair of AlterG shorts. These are like a heavy-duty pair of compression shorts that you put on over your running shorts. They fit very tightly and have a zippered flap at the waist. You then step into the pressure-controlled chamber and zip the shorts into the enclosure to form an air-tight seal.
The enclosure for the pressure-controlled chamber is height adjustable. Since this was my first time, Sean Fitzgerald figured the height that was appropriate for me and locked the chamber into place. At this point I started up the treadmill to 3mph to start walking. Sean explained how the controls worked and I reduced my weight to 80% of normal.
The machine reduces your weight by pressurizing the chamber which then lifts the top of the chamber that you are zippered into. In a few seconds I went from bearing my full weight on my legs to 80% of my weight on my legs. As the chamber filled the compression shorts compressed on me even more and I could feel a slight lift on my body.
Click this link to see a videos of how the AlterG works.
Running in Reduced G mode
At first it felt odd, because I was literally hanging by my shorts. My center of gravity was now higher and it took me a few minutes to feel balanced. As I adjusted to the higher center of gravity and my reduced weight, I increased the treadmill speed. I started at 6mph and after a few minutes went up to 8mph or a 7:30 minute mile pace. It felt amazing! 7:30 is a fast pace for me but in the Alter-G it felt almost effortless.
I managed to carry on a conversation with Sean even at a 7:30 pace. After a few minutes of running at 8mph the sweat started rolling down my face. Even with a fan blowing on me from the side and the flow of air into the chamber to keep it pressurized, I was still getting hot.
This confirmed that I was getting a good workout even though I was only supporting 80% of my body weight. My piriformis has been a problem for about a year, but in the AlterG it did not bother me.
You know that cruising speed where you feel like you could run forever? A 7:30 pace is not my cruising speed. 7:30 miles are hauling ass for me. With my body weight reduced by 20%, 7:30 was very comfortable.
It was pretty amazing. I could have gone to as low as 20% of my body weight but only went down to 70% for a few minutes to see how it felt. I probably could have run all day at this pace if I stayed at 70%.
Full G Mode
After about 15 minutes I took the machine back to 0% reduction of body weight. As I felt my full body weight again, the first words that came to mind were “lard ass.” I felt so heavy. I felt like I was running up a steep hill or through water.
I could not believe how heavy I felt. How have I been hauling this lard ass up those hills I thought? Do I really weigh this much? Have I been subjecting my legs to this type of abuse all of these years? I’m 6’ tall and weigh around 180, depending on whose scale I’m on. My BMI is in the normal range. As I went back to 0% reduction in weight I felt like my BMI doubled!
The thought crossed my mind that I’d never want to go back to regular running. My body felt like dead weight weighing me down. What if regular running never felt the same again? Was this a life altering experience?
I immediately realized the training benefit of this machine. All of those training miles put a lot of stress on my legs and hips and this machine would reduce almost all of that. I could train and not have to worry about hurting a knee or hip or straining any of my problem muscles. Training would not be free of effort but training would put less wear and tear on my body and allow me to train harder and avoid injuries.
0-G isn’t free
Running is basically free. The basics for running cost less than $200. Sean said the machines are in the $30,000 to $40,000 range, and the AlterG web site does not provide pricing.
The Fitzgerald PT web site says that their machine is one of only three available in Massachusetts. Fitzgerald offers blocks of running time starting at $22.50 for 30 minutes up to 600 minutes for $300.00. I think a block of time would make a nice Christmas or birthday present!
I thought the AlterG was amazing. If I was recovering from an injury or surgery, I would want to have my treatment at Fitzgerald PT and use their AlterG treadmill. Most insurance plans cover physical therapy. If some of your therapy time is on the AlterG as part of your treatment it would be covered. Check with your insurance provider.
If you get a chance to try out an AlterG, I would highly recommend it. The experience of running at 20% reduced weight is unique.The machine can help you work on speed and form as well as recover from injury or surgery.
What others are saying
While I was at Fitzgerald PT I met Ruben Sanca. Ruben is an Olympic Athlete and at the 2012 London Olympic Games he came in 21st in the 5000 meter heats. At the 2012 BAA 10K he was the 3rd American to finish. In 2011 he won the New Bedford Half Marathon.
He was using the AlterG treadmill when I arrived. While I was getting set up to use the treadmill we started talking. He was recovering from knee surgery. In addition to his PT sessions, he was using the treadmill to get back into his training program.
As an Olympic Athlete recovering from knee surgery, Ruben is highly motivated to get his training back on track. He felt that incorporating the Alter-G into his recovery program was helping him come back faster than he would have been able to recover otherwise. To him it was absolutely worth the cost.
Hollie at FueledByLOLZ recently tried one out and you can read about her experience here.
Have you ever tied an AlterG Anti-Gravity treadmill?