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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.]

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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. 😉 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. 😉 Ha!

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

Lately my time has been taken up with school-related issues and therefore has slightly removed me from the running scene. This was back in April, by the way (well, March, too). Now that May is here, my thesis is still hovering above my head, but I fell more organized about it and also feel like there’s a better direction, so I’m not so overwhelmed.

I mention this because April was a rough month for me with school and trying to stay in shape for the two races I took part in. In a way, this was a good thing because if it were not for the races and the need to feel like I needed to get out there and train, I think I would’ve slipped off the wagon for several weeks. It’s unfortunate but I think it’s true.

After the first race, Rockin’ K, I told myself that after Free State, I will take it easy from the racing scene simply because I felt like there was too much stress/pressure to train. I’m not against training, but when my time is consumed by school-related things, it’s hard for me to make time (I have a very hard time dividing my focus when doing something; I either do it the absolute best I can or I lose interest in it after some time—I’d like to think I’m getting better, though). Now that I feel more relaxed and the fog has lifted, I have this urge to compete again. Running and training just to the heck of training and running is great, don’t get me wrong. But there’s something more to it when you involved a level of competition. I feel that’s when we push ourselves the most and truly find out what we’re about. When times are easy, you can’t know who you are or what your limits are. I see it like wartime vs. peacetime. A platoon can train as if in wartime, but mentally they’re not in that moment of stress and therefore it’s hard to truly say what they will do. Now, I’m a firm believer that a platoon or team can train as if in wartime and get incredible results from it. However, the true test is actual wartime. How well was your training in order for you to combat the conditions of war? If the answer is great training, then your results will most likely be in order with your expectations of winning and surviving to tell the story. If the answer is below average, there is a serious issue and one needs to reconsider his intentions or the penalties are dire.

I don’t mean to stray off point, but I see that thought as parallel to casual training and training for something which eventually turns into a race. So needless to say, I’m starting to consider my next race. As of yet, I have no idea what it’ll be, but my guess is that it’ll be something in July (50k at WyCo or something around the range of 50M). Strangely, it’s something I’m craving.

If anyone has any thoughts on summer races, please feel free to drop me a line. I’d be happy to hear about them.