Tag Archives: Injuries

Checking In 10/3/2021

Yesterday I spent about four hours at the gym, with 3:20 of that on the treadmill and elliptical.

I wanted to spend a full three hours running on the treadmill, but about 67 minutes in I felt a twinge in my right hamstring that didn’t quickly disappear. So I shut down running and moved to the elliptical, where I could work pain free, and spent another 2 hours 13 working at a high zone 1 low zone 2 effort.

I was tired when finished and understandably stiff but not in any pain beyond workout soreness, and this morning while sore I don’t feel at all beat up. After relaxing a bit, I’m going to strength train and ride the elliptical for 80 minutes today, and we’ll see how I’m feeling tomorrow morning. That my right hamstring is not bothering me much at all (beyond feeling a bit sore, like the rest of me) and I can move normally tells me I shut it down at the right time.

Was it running on the treadmill once again? Not really… I wasn’t struggling at all with my steady easy run, and the brief surges every 9-10 minutes weren’t terribly fast or difficult. If the twinge didn’t suddenly appear I wouldn’t have had much trouble (beyond fatigue, obviously) running that way for a full three hours.

The only possible thing I can imagine led to it was that I paused the treadmill for a bit to take fluid and fuel. While pausing the treadmill was planned and helped recover, doing that resets all the treadmill settings (a bug/feature of these mills).

While I obviously got the treadmill back up to speed, I forgot to restore the 1.0 incline I had originally set, and that may have caused some undue strain in the later minutes. An incline generally helps reduce the needed extension on your stride, which is easier on your body even if climbing takes a bit more effort. The pounding of running on the mill can be exacerbated by this lack of incline by causing a hamstring-constrictive overstride.

I also noticed the twinge happened during one of the 30 second surges. The surges were a bit faster than I had originally planned, but were still comfortable, and I think the incline might have been a bigger factor. It probably didn’t help, though.

Finally, it’s worth noting I ran the workout in my Topo ST-3’s, which are minimalist low-drop shoes. There was no support, which I usually prefer. But that probably contributed to any extra pounding from the above issues. I don’t know for sure that a more supportive shoe would have avoided the problem (a bigger sole could have caused an easier heel strike that would have produced more of the aforementioned overstride). But fatigue usually exacerbates any pounding from the lack of support, and while not causing the problem I imagine that didn’t help.

I will probably test out a work break run on Monday and that should give me a good idea of whether I need more rest, or it will be fine as long as I’m not on a treadmill.

Some good news is Vegas will finally cool below 80 degree (F) highs this week, so I can probably run outside after work again. Monday will still be a bit warm in the low/mid 80’s, but Tuesday after work will be around 75 degrees, which works great. If I run on pavement and stay off the treadmill, I can probably avoid further trouble. A couple of turns on The Big Loop this week will be good for my fitness and form.

Side note, and this is probably a good time to have started this, but I started taking RejuvenZyme, a blend of systemic enzymes that aid in recovery through combatting inflammation and actually consuming excess scar tissue. The Tissue Rejuvenator I currently take does have some of these enzymes, but like most supplements they exist more for digestion than any recovery aid.

The particular unique enzymes in RejuvenZyme are Chymotrypsin and Serrapeptase. These are hard to find in any vitamin or supplement blend, as most producers focus on digestive enzymes (which are not hard to find). You usually have to get each separately and take them with your stack, but I was fortunate to find a blend that has all of them plus some other essentials that work with them like Bromelain and Papain. It wasn’t cheap (the bottle of 120 I got was about $48), and no one really carries it: I had to go to a specialty store in West Las Vegas aptly called Stay Healthy(!) to find them.

But if this does work for me, I do think I’ll recover quicker and avoid exercise-related inflammation. Plus, of course, it would help with whatever issue popped up yesterday, and speed along its healing.

For now, I’m taking it mostly easy today aside from the planned cross training workout. Maybe I’ll take a nap. Busy week of training starts tomorrow, with rest days Thursday and Sunday, though it’s a down week so Saturday’s training isn’t currently planned to be terribly long. The real hammer week will be the following week, ending with my planned Vancouver getaway. After that, we head downhill into the taper for Indy.

More to come.

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Time To Taper: When It’s Too Late To Train For Your Marathon.

A good portion of you are running one of the many major marathons taking place over this next couple months: Berlin is this weekend, London next weekend, Chicago and Boston the week after that, and NYC on November 7.

As people do for these races, many of you are probably in an overthinking sense of semi-panic about getting trained and ready for these races. I’ve seen multiple accounts of people now injured ahead of these races, so I know the following advice is relevant.

Most of you are now about 2-3 weeks out from your race. This is now the time you should be tapering, not training hard or long.

Don’t forget: Your body can only gain fitness adaptions from any individual workout after about 8-14 days. Anything you do within 8-10 days of the marathon will not manifest in any training benefits until after your marathon. Any hard workouts within 8-10 days won’t do anything other than tire you out and possibly get you injured.

Many argue for tapering within 3 weeks of a marathon, but I’m with Jonathan Savage on the ideal taper being 2 weeks, with a gradually reduced volume of running at mostly your goal marathon-pace, e.g. instead of a workout of track repeats you’re generally better off doing a few miles at marathon pace and calling it a day. So anyone 3 weeks out at least has through this weekend to train long or hard before they need to wind it down.

At the same time, a lot of injuries happen within the month before a race because runners, generally knowing this truth, do the equivalent of cramming for a final exam, trying to jam in as much training as possible feeling they didn’t do enough the previous couple months. They overtrain within the last 4-6 weeks ahead of their taper, and then get hurt.

It’s a risk I clearly recognize with my own training for Indy in November, and one I have to balance against restoring training volume and best getting ready for that race. Granted, like NYC runners, my race is farther down the road, and I should be reaching peak volume anyway with my taper ideally happening in late October.

But those of you running Boston, London, and Chicago should be in your taper phase, and at this point any hard workouts are unlikely to significantly benefit you. The time to get the work done has passed. You’re either going to be ready or you’re not, no hard training you do from now to then will do much of anything at all to change that, and any long runs or hard work you do in the interim is more likely to burn you out, injure you, or otherwise leave you at less than your best condition for the race.

Side note: In fact, the only real benefit or purpose of any long run the week before a marathon is to tap into your glycogen stores so that any subsequent carb loading will best re-load them before the race. The goal isn’t to get in a hard workout to get you ready. Most would almost be better off cross training this workout for 2-3 hours than running at all.

So unless you want to join those people who now have a sudden injury to their calf, knee, hip, ankle, etc. with 2-3 weeks until their goal race… recognize that you won’t benefit from hard/long marathon training within about 2 weeks before your race, and start wrapping things up now. You had 2-5 months to get ready, and at this point you can’t undo the past.

Any hard work from 2 weeks out until race day is much more likely to get you injured than it is to get you ready for your marathon.

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Checking In 8/1/2021

I slept in a bit, and felt good and pain-free taking a few steps in the hotel room, but still felt enough discomfort in my left hamstring and groun to know this run could get cut short. Still, I drove up to Big Bear and statred out on a run of indeterminate length.

And I got about 1000 feet away from my car before a gradual ache began to emerge from the spot where my left hamstring meets the glute, right around where the original issue emerged earlier this week. So I turned right back around, finished a jog back to the car, and called it off right then and there to get coffee.

The hamstring doesn’t feel too bad at all now, with no sitting pain really other than a bit of stiffness. And that’s probably because I made a point to cut it abruptly short.

So I’m going to relax and take it easy today, and just shut down all serious training for at least seven days. I will still go to the gym and lightly cross train plus strength train as usual. The blood flow of movement and the flow-through of workout hormones can only help the healing process. But no running, while I stick to the spin bike and elliptical, on which I’ve felt no pain or other distress while using. I have a low-maintenance kilometer route at work for break walks, and I’ll just walk on breaks.

I’ll continue with psoas/iliacus stretches and other anterior hip training, as imbalances there could be key contributors to the hamstring and glute problem. But other than light stretching I’ll take it easy on the lower body for now, and see if rest can heal up enough for that to benefit more than exacerbate any soreness.

I had been supplementing extra with the Tissue Rejuvenator to see if its joint-healing properties could spur recovery (I usually take just one cap each night as maintenance), but hadn’t seen much progress. So I’ll scale back supplements to their normal levels as well.

With 14 weeks still remaining until Indy and having trained quite a bit up to this point, I’m not worried about being set back if I need to take a week or two off and spend another week or two ramping back up. There’s plenty of time and if things go as intended then I might not even notice this happened by November.

But obviously with national news rumblings about Coronavirus restrictions being restored in the U.S. due to the Delta variant, the possibility remains that Indy could down the road get cancelled or deferred, meaning it won’t matter whether or not my training is set back. It would be the 3rd marathon and the umpteenth race I’ve had cancelled out from under me during training, and it wouldn’t bother me any more than any of those did. It’s the reality of the situation and there’s a lot more to life, plus I still will have build fitness from training anyway… which is the idea to some extent.

I’m going to relax today, commute back into Vegas tomorrow, and take things from there.

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Checking In 7/29/2021

One thing yesterday appeared to cause aggravated pain in my hamstring/groin. I go sit in the grass in a park area near work during lunch. Often I will get up without my hands, hinging through my legs and transferring weight before I rise up.

I went to get up, and quickly noticed that my weight bears/transfers through the exact spot that’s hurt… because it hurt to do it.

Could this be a key contributing factor to my issue? If so, then simply not doing it anymore (or at least turning the other way to get up, or just using my hands to support like most people) would remedy that contributing factor.

It doesn’t heal the issue, obviously, but perhaps this is inhibiting healing.

I haven’t talked about this much but my arms have been kind of sore the last few days. I have some sort of lingering issue in my left deltoid, though I’m certain it’s overuse from everyday life and I’m actively working on not using or bracing on that arm so much.

But the overall soreness was real strange, given I had only done a moderate strength training workout on Monday and nothing else upper-body prior to last Friday. That is, until I remembered I had started using the elliptical a lot more, and that the arm handles require constant movement and work while exercising. Okay then, that would make your arms sore.

In last night’s brief session I made sure to hold the static handles on the front instead of the moving handles, and hopefully they’ll rest up soon. I also forewent my planned push workout, wanted anyway to focus on rehab strength exercises for my legs with the hamstring situation. I don’t have another upper body workout planned before Monday so hopefully that’s enough to heal things up.

Yesterday I researched some functional anatomy and stretching/fascia work, as now I’m thinking a combination of muscular imbalances and possibly impinged nerves are contributing to the hamstring and groin problem, both right now and cumulatively over time. I’m able to move without pain, except with certain movements.

The key anterior hip (front hip) muscles that can contribute to subsequent hamstring overwork, imbalances and pain are the (illi)psoas and iliacus. Obviously, the glutes in the rear are important as well, but it’s often tightness and inhibition of these deep superficial anterior hip muscles that lead to the glutes not sufficiently working and the hamstring etc therefore overworking and straining.

Having dealt with some degree of anterior pelvic tilt my entire life, I know for sure these anterior hip muscles are tight and overactive, and need to be extended. I admit I haven’t worked on these as much in recent months as I’ve ramped up training. And apparently I am paying the price as my hamstring begins to act up, a common ripple effect when you combine the tilt with added training volume.

There are four things you can do to actively combat this without pain:

  • Leg Swings. I do these sometimes as a running warmup and cooldown, but doing them more regularly as a limber-up exercise will help release the anterior hip and hamstring complex, plus activate the glutes. Also, if the hamstring is in fact injured, it will help loosen up adhesions and scar tissue along the affected areas.
Exercise for Low Back Pain - Body and Soul Wellness Center
  • The Psoas Stretch. This kneeling stretch (shown on right) isolates and extends the often tight and inhibited psoas muscle. Typically, you’d avoid static stretching ahead of any physical activity. But when it comes to tight overactive muscles like my anterior hip muscles, stretching them before a workout inhibits them and this can actually help engage the muscles that are being inhibited from these tight muscles being tight… like, in this case, my glutes. It also can help release the over-extension and tightness in my hamstrings and groin, while relieving them of the overwork that has caused my current issues.
  • The Iliacus Stretch. This is similar to the Psoas Stretch. The difference is that the rear foot is elevated to accent the Psoas, while laying the foot and shin flat on the ground accents the iliacus. What you see in the image mixes both worlds.
  • Fascia rolling with a ball. I use the Orb Extreme Mini (pictured right), a rippled massage ball the size of a tennis ball that’s much better at what people generally use a tennis/lacrosse ball for. I’ll sit or lay on top of it with the ball under whatever muscle group I want to massage, sometimes moving along it to roll out the muscle. This helps loosen and release fascial adhesions along harder to reach muscles, much better than foam rolling. I’ll sometimes sit on this to help massage my hamstring, and I hadn’t used it much until just recently.

So I went to work with these four approaches last night and this morning, and while my hamstring needs time either way, all of the above have certainly helped me feel better than I otherwise had.

In particular, one crazy Let’s-Runner on their Message Board once claimed his hamstring problem went away in three days with nothing more than leg swings. I don’t know about that, but I’ve certainly felt better doing those throughout the day.

I’m still not convinced this weekend’s going to be a wash, and that I won’t just have to shut everything down for a few days. But I’m also still not convinced that somehow my aggressive recovery (this plus nutrition and vitamins plus rest and good sleep) won’t quickly turn things around in three days. I’ve had quick recoveries before, and even my prior hamstring injury from 2019 was healed enough to run again after a bit over a week of rest. But I totally realize how these issues can compound into serious problems if you don’t recover and rest enough.

Now, I don’t plan to run today or tomorrow, and as mentioned Saturday is a total rest day. I’ll even scale back my walking routes on work breaks today to minimize any need to jog across a street or similar.

At the gym tonight, I’m going to forego aerobic cross training for a full slate of dynamic and static recovery stretches and some easy rehab exercises. Barring a miraculous recovery, tomorrow will be more of the same even if I’m feeling better.

As mentioned, I have to decide by Friday evening if I’m going to cancel my weekend trip (after which I could not get a refund). To some degree, I would definitely scale back my planned long run either way, whether the outright volume or to make it a long Galloway-style run-walk session. I’d at least want to be able to walk a while without any issues. I’ll see how today and tomorrow feel.

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Checking In 7/28/2021

Last night I ground out a full 60 minutes on the elliptical without pain, though once I climbed off my lower body felt heavier than excess baggage. I ate a rather large meal and Garmin reports I got some good deep sleep last night.

I woke up this morning with two changes from yesterday.

First, my hamstring while a bit stiff is feeling better. I don’t feel pain except a little bit every so often, depending on how I step or stride. This improves on yesterday where I pretty much felt it most of the time I walked.

Secondly, though, I now have some occasional pain in my left groin, where it meets the leg. This however feels more like soreness than a possible issue or injury, suggesting this part of my body simply overcompensated for the hamstring issue rather than got strained or injured.

I attempted a brief test jog this morning and running did feel a bit better and easier. I will at least attempt a work break jog in the morning, and unless that feels terrific I’ll probably shut down on running again for the day just to be safe. I’ll walk through remaining breaks and continue tonight with cross training (plus I’m due to strength train this evening).

The hope is that the morning break feels reasonably pain free, and the brief stimulus of running on my lower body plus this evening’s training further spurs recovery overnight and beyond.

I’ve been leaning on my Hammer supplements during the last few days since the issue arose, taking closer to the normal dosage each day (I normally take just one pill a day, way below the recommended dosage). I’d like to think they’re working but it’s hard to tell. Am I healing more quickly than would be normal? Am I healing normally and it’s having negligible effect?

I’m holding out hope for Saturday’s trip into altitude, and Friday by 6pm is the V1 date to decide on cancellation. Obviously if my condition worsens in any way before then I should shut down for the weekend and cancel.

But there’s a large gray area where I may be pain free (well aware of a possible relapse at any point) or may have lingering pain, and could run with it. Saturday being a scheduled rest day before Sunday morning’s scheduled long run is also a factor. Could a full afternoon and evening of relaxation with a night’s sleep improve the situation further?

Tonight I’ll return to the elliptical and chase it with a hopefully brisk effort on the spin bike, before strength training.

Even if this heals up and is just a blip, it’s also a welcome rest for the rest of my body after a few weeks of solid training.

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Checking In 7/27/2021

I went for a lunch run yesterday and my left hamstring started hurting, more than random aches and pains or lingering soreness. The pain while not that bad did not subside and I shut down the run after 0.3 of a mile.

It was the same hamstring I hurt two years ago on the treadmill, though I’m not totally sure if it’s the same spot or related to the same injury.

It certainly isn’t anywhere near as bad as that injury, in which I felt a pop and the pain was immediate. I can also walk fine, and in fact I can even jump with no pain. It’s only when I attempt to run do I feel it at all. It’s a dull but slight ache and when I do feel it it’s high, near the buttock.

As I did when I got hurt two years ago, I tested multiple cross training machines at the gym to see what I could do without pain, and it turns out I could use everything I tried with no problem: The rowing machine, the elliptical, the spin bike. (I also strength trained, though that was all upper body and core work.)

I still feel hamstring pain this morning, though a bit less so than yesterday, and it’s my hope a few easy days will resolve the issue. In my experience, total days off don’t help as much as continuing to train however I can, as the bloodflow is important to spurring recovery, not to mention being able to maintain aerobic and whatever neuromuscular fitness I can.

I won’t run today, and if feeling better I will attempt light jogging tomorrow (a brief test at home this morning found I could do that pain free, but I’ll give running a rest instead of chancing it today).

Today, I’m going to give the elliptical 45-60 minutes, and that’s going to be a workout as I found my 20 minutes on it yesterday a bit of a challenge. But again, I felt no pain on the elliptical, so that’s going to be the trainer of choice for now. And maybe sustained training with the different whole-body motion will provide some sort of breakthrough once I’ve returned to normal.

If it lingers or doesn’t fully improve before Thursday, I may consider cancelling this weekend’s road trip since the goal of that trip was to run.

My hope is that this isn’t a cumulative stress reaction, that I just unduly tweaked something while out running at lunch, or perhaps aggravated something tweaked during Saturday’s long workout… an isolated incident.

Rest and recovery has not been an issue. As mentioned yesterday, I’m sleeping much better lately, and recent nutrition has been more consistent and supportive. I slept well last night.

As usual, I am not taking any NSAIDs or drugs to deal with any pain as it won’t help with recovery, and feeling any pain is important feedback.

I also have over 14 weeks until Indy, so it’s not like if I must take a break for a week that it would derail anything. But, if I can cross train through this to stay aerobically fit and progress, then I will do that however much I reasonably can.

Hopefully, in a few days of work and rest, this is all a moot point.

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Preliminary strength for key bodyweight exercises

Photo by Karl Solano on Pexels.com

I imagine that the Coronavirus lockdowns closing gyms has something to do with this, but there’s a growing movement towards bodyweight strength training (also known traditionally as calisthenics).

I ran into this recent Medium Elemental piece, which as recent others have done says that you don’t need weights to get in shape. It basically recommends you stick to basic exercises like push ups and pull ups.

And yes, in principle, you can get swole on as little as the Fundamental Few: Push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges, core exercises e.g. planks, sit ups, crunches, Russian twists, etc.

All of these exercises are safe, healthy and useful for most to do, except for push ups and pull ups. Most people do not have the needed muscular strength to minimally complete push ups or pull ups.

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