It’s been a slow month (August, that is) for running as different things came up which prevented me from running. But it seems like I’m getting my endurance back. It suffered a bit from the time off from the injury, but what suffered the most is speed. I was never really fast to begin with, but I was faster than what I can pull off now. I’m a little embarrassed with myself about it, but that’s what happens when most of your running is really slow due to an injury. You body starts adjusting to that speed and that speed only. So the other day I’ve decided the best think to do is put aside endurance training for now and and concentrate on speed.

Things are also incredibly busy with school and traveling, so that doesn’t help matters. At the moment, I could only presume the rest of the semester will be speed training (i.e., short, fast runs) and a few longer runs scattered randomly throughout. But I’ll be around the trails and I hope to see others in the near future.

MS

My sister recently had a graduation party and I took this opportunity to test out some available running in the Chicago suburbs. I have to admit, it was quite impressive. I never expected such elevation for the area. There was even a really mean hill that is truly amazing for hill repeats — it was about a 65-70ΒΊ incline, easily; almost unrunnable. The only problem was that I never expected to find a trail so I only brought my Saucony’s (street running shoes). But I’m sorta glad I did simply because I can now see first-hand that trail shoes are really made for trails. I was all over the damn place try to run up that hill. Lisa, on the other hand, had her Montrail Mountain Masochists and had almost no issues climbing (other than the fact that it was damn hard, physically).

Aside from the hill repeats, I was able to increase my pace for the first time since my injury. I finally was able to run a 6 mph pace for the entire hour. However, at the very end the pain returned. I wasn’t too worried about it because it felt different this time. Sure, it was there, but it felt as if it would go away as soon as I stopped running (and it did). This is why I never get too excited when I run pain-free. I know it’s still around, just waiting for me to f-up and do something stupid. Admittedly, I pushed a bit too hard because I was excited about my 6 mph pace, but fortunately nothing serious came from it. I’m pretty good now. Taking Advil as a precaution, but pretty good.

Congrats to everyone who competed in the PCT 50-miler. You guys all did very well. And good luck to those in the upcoming Leadville Trail 100. I’ll be keeping track online. I’ll even go out and suffer for a bit just so I’m not too comfortable. I always feel this is necessary. The same was true for Badwater and Hardrock. When others are suffering, I feel compelled to suffer along with them. It’s a disease.

A brief update, so that I don’t neglect this blog and my ultra-friendsπŸ™‚

Things are looking up for me. As I’m certain all of you are familiar with, at this stage of the recovery process is really all about motivation. After so much time off — well, I should say “after so many sub-50 miles months” — motivation starts to deteriorate. As with almost everything in life, I believe it’s all mental and this is a block. Blocks and barriers can be overcome with work. And work is what I try to do. It may not always be the best (some days are worse than others), but I’m working at it slowly.

That said, I should end up with over 50-miles this month! I’m shooting for something like 60-65 (originally I thought I can do 75, but those damn barriers). Running is becoming less painful, and that is awesome for me. My longest so far since the full-time injury is 7.5 miles. Low, but it’s progress. I’m happy to report that this morning’s 5-miler was completely pain-free. To me, these things are exciting, as with any other progress one experiences.

Once I feel comfortable that this healing is not something temporary, I will increase mileage and try to get back to my old self (well, better, actually!). I don’t know what future plans are, but I’m always thinking about Rocky. Sure, it’s many months off, but you can never plan too early, especially when there’s injury involved. Again, this is just a thought. There are always many pressures when racing/competing.

Good luck to all my friends who are competing in the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) this weekend! Take some photos for me. And kick some ass.πŸ™‚

It’s been several weeks and I think it’s time for an update on how things are clearing up for me.πŸ™‚

If my memory serves me correctly, in my last post I had only started that patch that delivered ibuprofen with electrodes. Well, since then I’ve had two more of those 24-hour sessions, totaling three. Those were a good choice to go ahead with, but I should say that the physical therapist is also pretty remarkable. I can tell she actually gave a crap about the problem (which is a bit uncommon, especially since it’s from our on-campus health center). Every time I’d come in she would always have some other ideas about what might be causing the injury and therefore a new exercise for me to try. During my last session with her, which was last Friday, I was prescribed my best exercise yet. While leaning on a desk, stretch out my injured right leg to where only my toes are touching the ground. Then slowly lift the leg until it’s roughly 90ΒΊ to the ground, and then slowly release it back down, but do not let gravity take over. 100 of these per day. I sometimes do a tad more only because I feel that doing a tad more will help speed up the recovery for me. I can’t help but overdo myself all the time, no matter what it is. You know how it is, we think we know better than the PTs.πŸ˜‰

Well, I believe that easy, easy runs and a bit of time off (about every other day) is helping. I’m terribly ecstatic to announce that just yesterday I was able to run about 5.5 miles relatively pain free! Granted, it ended up being like a 13-minute pace and I wanted to walk for one minute every mile, but believe me, this is progress. I really want this to go away, so I’m taking all the necessary precautions, which is why I included the walking even though the pain wasn’t returning. So far, I think it’s helping.

Before yesterdays run, I’ve only been doing 3.5 miles at most. And during those runs, the pain would return around mile 1. But even in those instances, I would walk for a minute or so when the pain level would get to about a 3 out of 10, as the PT had recommended. So a relatively pain-free 5.5 is progress and excitement for me!

So this is my latest news. I’ll be back in almost no time at all. I can feel it. What kills me the most is that I still have great tastes in my mouth from long runs, and I’m craving the hell out of them. To know that your body can handle a 20-miler but you’re debilitated by some ridiculous injury is something that is probably one of the worst feelings anyone can endure. The joy of suffering really knows how to linger in your mind.

So I went to the Physical Trainer today to get my knee looked at after having a doctors appointment yesterday. As I’ve stated before, I’m not big on going to doctors. There’s no reason for it, but I feel they charge you for things you can figure out on your own. But this situation was different. The pain was going on for far too long.

It turns out that it’s a hamstring injury (yes, even at the point behind that little ball on the side of the knee). The therapist said that it could have originated as a IT-band injury and it had somehow moved to the back of that area. The reason it’s hard to say if that’s the case is because when it first started, it was very difficult to localize — all I felt was a generic, “side of my knee area.” So it’s possible that it was IT-band. But after all the tests, she determined it cannot be the case.

So what I got was this large band-aid looking thing that delivers electric pulses and therefore some medication to the area. I have to keep it on for 24 hours. Afterwards, I’m supposed to ice, ibuprofen, and stretch often. What surprised me about the therapist is that she was actually against not running. She said I have two choices at this point: I can run somewhat “normal” injury mileage (~4 – 5 miles) several days a week, or I can run everyday but keep the mileage low (~2 miles or so). But if I run, I MUST ice after the run. If not, I can get by with icing once a day. Moreover, when I start feeling the pain (on a scale of 1 — 10) at about 3, walk and let the inflammation subside.

I think I’m gonna get about three more sessions of this electric pulse band-aid. I don’t feel anything, but if I let the leg rest, I can feel the pain in the area. Not terribly, but nevertheless feel it. I sure hope this will take care of the pain. I’m tired of the pain and my inability to run. I hate having to do low-mileage runs, but if it’ll make me feel better in the long run, then I’m all for it. I believe the hardest part will be to actually run those low miles. I tend to think, “Well, I feel good, so I’ll just go another half mile.” As you all know, a half mile turns into 5 miles.πŸ™‚

I may head out to RFP with Lisa tomorrow morning for a short walk/light run. She’ll run while I do my light thing. I think it’ll hurt tomorrow, but I’m willing to take her advice and go easy, if for any reason, to see how it feels and behaves.

Hope you’re all well and strong.

Well, I went out as planned yesterday for another run at RFP. It wasn’t a great as the day before, but it was nice. Got in a little over 5 miles at a slower pace than the day before, but I’m not too concerned with speed at this point. I just need to fully heal up. Needless to say, the pain more-or-less returned (not that it was ever fully gone)

I’ve decided I’m gonna see a doctor this week. I need to. I mean, this problem has been with me for far too long and I’m honestly starting to even reconsider whether it’s actually an IT-band problem. I’m sorta pinpointed the problem. If you place your thumb on the ball of the knee (on the side of your leg), slowly wrap your thumb around it until you get to the back of that ball, and press, that’s where my pain is located. So the actual pain is not on the side, but rather in the back of that small ball area of the knee. It’s hard to tell what goes on in that area, but it can be painful as anything else. When I arrived home from that run yesterday, I took off my right shoe and actually fell over from the intense pain. My knee just gave out from the pain. It was a sudden thing that came out of nowhere. This incident, I believe, put the final nail in the coffin in my decision to go get it checked out. But I must admit the pain is not as bad as it had been in the past several weeks. So there’s progress. I just wish it were better and faster progress.

I’ll post when I find out what the docs diagnose it as.

Two things today. One, after a long debate with myself, I’ve decided to change the name of the blog. Life changes, therefore things associated with me and my life also have to follow suit. There’s no way around that. Of course this isn’t anything drastic or life-changing, but it was something that had to be done for personal reasons. To me, it’s no different than changing the layout of a blog; sometimes you are feeling one layout, and other days you just feel a change or shift in your thoughts and beliefs or whatever else is moving you. Therefore, change must happen. Anywho, suffering in silence is the way a lot of us ultra runners operate. Sure, people whine when pain becomes almost unbearable, but for the majority of the time we suffer in silence. The way it’s supposed to be. It’s your own journey, so who needs to hear about your crying and whining about a decision you made to run?

The other thing: I believe my knee pain is finally subsiding! I was able to run a relatively fast-paced 7.75 miles yesterday at a really easy trail here in Lawrence (River Front Park). Because it’s so easy and non-technical, I believe it helps my knee and at the same time allows me to continue running. I can’t express how wonderful it felt to finally get a run in longer than 3.5 miles. Too good to express with beautiful words. In fact, I wanna get out there again today for a run as long as my body allows me to go — nothing exaggerated, but maybe another 7-8 miles.

I think I will continue running RFP until I feel I’ve healed completely and then I’ll head back to something more technical like Clinton Lake. Until then, I wish everyone well and hope summer’s treating everyone fairly (with great weather, of course).

Some pretty decent/good news. On Sunday I was able to run 3.5 miles with relatively no pain in my knee/IT-band area! I did, however, take it pretty easy just in case the pain would become aggravated. I don’t wanna mess around at this point. Moreover, I took my XT Wings out of retirement, so perhaps that helped as well. The cushioning on those shoes are just amazing for my feet. I’ll continue running with them.

It felt good to get out there and run again on the trails; it really did. I can feel I’ve lost a little bit of my “oomph” factor, but it’s not terrible. I mean, I knew it would happen, no questions. I just don’t wanna lose too much of what I’ve worked so hard to achieve.

All that said, I think I’m gonna take it easy this summer and not race at all. The Fall may be the first time I race again. I also want to do Rocky Raccoon 100 in February, so training for that can slowly start this summer. But I think with all this time off from “real running,” it’d be silly of me to try to sign up for a race this summer, even a 50k. Although it would be totally doable for one in July, I don’t wanna push it. Besides, I don’t like rushing these things.

Thank you for everyone’s support during my time of struggles. It sucks, but I’ll be back soon enough. Until then, I hope everyone’s training is going as planned.

As some of you who have contacted me recently know, I’m in a bit of a slump/rut and it’s mainly due to my recent IT-band issue. Yes, it’s still an issue. And the fact that it’s still an issue is doing two things, really. One is that it’s starting to really annoy me since I cannot get out there and run a normal run. Instead, I have to resort to mountain biking and/or nadda. The latter is not a pleasant option for me, but I take what life has to offer. The second is that it’s really starting to mess with my mind. What I mean is that it’s starting to make me think that this will never go away. Yeah, it’s a strong statement to make or believe in, but that’s how things like this end up making me feel in my gut. From the gut it travels to my heart. And from there to my mind. Once it’s in there, a war ensues. The battle is between my motivated side versus a side claiming to be the “rational side.” The former says it’ll be fine and to continue waiting it out and staying active; it’ll be over soon. The latter says this is your life, loser. This is the way you’re going to be for good and there aint shit you can do about it! Not a fan.

I tried my luck at running on Tuesday with a lighter run on the mill. I went into it thinking it’ll be a really light run just to see how the IT feels. I kept my word and maintained a light 6 mph pace with my typical starting incline of 3%. Felt great for the first 2/10 of a mile. Then the pains begin. When I reached the half-mile point, I was in pain. I blocked most of it out to get to my goal of 1 mile, but it would always continue showing itself. At the mile mark, I briefly stopped to stretch it out and massage it — a total of about 30 seconds. I then proceeded to get back knowing that heavy inclines are better for me than flatter or downhill running. So I increased it to 10% and did that for a little over two miles. This wasn’t bad for me, but towards the end I can feel the pains again. Granted, they were nothing like at the beginning, but nevertheless there agitating me and hindering my run. I didn’t want to push it too far so I stopped at 45 minutes and 3.3 miles. I never go under an hour on the mill, but I didn’t want to aggravate the pain (instead, it aggravated me!). And I think this was smart on my part. The next day, yesterday, I felt that area more than I have in the 8 days I hadn’t been running. In fact, I can still feel it a bit today. I’m really not happy.

So this is where I’m at physically and in part psychologically. I’m starting to get broken down psychologically. I can take a lot, so I’m nowhere near any so-called breaking point, but I’m on the path in that direction. It’s a dreary path full of emptiness and darkness. But I often look back making sure the light is still visible and hoping that light will make itself visible to me in the front.

[NOTE: The title of this entry really has nothing to do with the content of this post. It’s just a really awesome song by M83.]

On Saturday I went for my first run in one week. I hadn’t run in a week because I was having a weird pain on the side of my knee which caused so much pain I could not run for one mile nonstop. I’m not one to go to doctors — no reason for it, it’s just the way I am — so I decided to give it a rest, take some Advil, yadda, yadda.

I have been walking to school since I didn’t get much running in and also because I prefer not to drive if possible (I like being ‘green’). The first day or so I could definitely feel the side pain while coming down the steep hills we have here on campus. And, to be completely honest, I couldn’t resist but to run a bit, but just a bit.πŸ˜‰ So I knew the pain wasn’t entirely gone, therefore I continued to stay off the running. But Thursday or Friday I was feeling great. No pain in the knee going up or down hills or stairs! So I figured the pain is gone or has subsided enough that it will allow me to run my usual Saturday run. So I tried it out.

I was able to run the first mile, but then I started feeling the knee pain. It wasn’t as bad as it normally was, so I continued on. During the run I was chattin’ with Levi (L-squirrel) and Jim about this problem. Fortunately for me, they knew exactly what the problem was. IT-band syndrome. Oh hell. I remember Levi having this issue and the amount of pain he was in. There was even a time when he started the run with us and quit 100 feet into the run because of the same issue. Nick also happened to mention that this pain typically lasts for quite some time.

I would stop and rest the knee by walking for 20-30 feet and then continue the run. This helped for the first 7.5 to 8 miles of the run, but then I just couldn’t handle it anymore. Around mile 9, when we got back to Land’s End, Levi and Jim suggested I take the trail out to the road and walk it back. I wasn’t sure if I should do that since I feared it would feel better 2 minutes into my walk back and then I’d wish I would have chosen to run the trail. But I got lucky. This was the best decision I had made all day. There were times when the pain on the walk back would get progressively worse, so then I would imagine what it would’ve been like had I run the trail (the mud totally wasn’t helping the pain).

I made it back to the Corp of Engineers slightly before Jim and Levi, washed off, and chatted with Nick about the pains. I think I’m gonna need some time off running, but I hope it’s not too long. For this reason I’m glad I’m not signed up for any races, otherwise the pressure and the stress would be overwhelming.

To maintain a level of fitness (I’ll be damned if I worked this hard to get to where I’m at and then lose it), I decided to get a mountain bike and get busy on the roads (eh, not preferred, but I’ll take it) and trails. This way I’m cross-training and taking it easy on the knee (and, of course, maintaining my fitness). 20-25 miles per day is ideal, but good days maybe 30 miles. Summertime is much easier to work in 400-600 miles per month than, say, during the regular school year. Since I’m obviously not a mountain biker, I can’t do any technical trails like Clinton, but River Front is great and there’s another one on the other side of the river. So that combined with some (non high-traffic) roads will have to do for now. It’s actually pretty fun since I’m not used to going “so fast” if not in a car; it’s a totally different perspective for me. And we have some hills near campus that’ll make you work hard. I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to dominate those hills, but I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe my running had something to do with that.πŸ˜‰ Ha!

Hope everyone is healthy and tearin’ it up on the trails. I’ll be back soon enough. Hopefully by Saturday.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.