Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ice Storm!

I couldn't resist.  Yesterday saw the first ice storm of the year.  The trails were mid-shin deep in snow and the treadmill was occupied.  For those who don't live with someone who is training for a 100 mile race, here is what to expect:  Your morning's coffee is accompanied my the hum of the treadmill.  Morning chores, blowing the driveway, clearing snow from the deck, all with the hum.  Time to go for a run.  Hmmm, what's that hum?

No problem, the trails beckon.  Post holing is an art form.  A precarious balance between efficient high stepping leg turnover and a face plant.  But let's make it challenging!  Add 1 cm of ice on top of 30 cm of snow.  In this situation the proper technique is to lean far forward and bring the knees up to the stomach.  This allows you to withdraw your leg and foot in a near-vertical direction.  If you use a conventional post-holing stride, the bottom of your shin will be cut open at every step.  However, visualize what it must look like to ice-post-hole.  Yes, a recipe for disaster, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The first part of the trail had footsteps to follow, so much of the effort was directed at spotting an efficient foot plant pattern that incorporated the existing footsteps, while careering wildly in all directions.  Think of ballet.  Almost exactly the opposite!  Did I mention the breathing?  Stentorious comes to mind.

But all good things come to an end.  The footprints diverged from the trail, so I was left to my own devices.  After a mere 200 meters, I noticed that the effort level was exceeding my fitness level.  Breathing became raspy, the pace slowed and I started thinking about the wonderful trail behind me.  Then I had a great idea!  Directly beside me (I was running the Ganaraska trail alongside the Mad river) was a field and if there was any justice in the world, there would be a snowmobile track.  Perfect!  I made my way through the trees and out onto the field.

Snowmobilers are the most crass, self-centered idiots in the world.  Thousands of them around Creemore and they all had the temerity to not lay a track along the field.  A perfectly inviting field along the Mad river and just because of some archaic trespassing laws, they had avoided the area.  Pardon the pun, but I was in deep trouble.  Because of a slight drifting effect and a lack of training, my run had degenerated into a staggering parody of running.  It was also starting to hurt.  The sideways sheering motion was eliciting signals from my shins.  Time to pack it in.

Of course I took a shortcut through the field back to the trail, causing further harm to my protesting shins.  In reality, there was little damage.  8 small cuts to my right shin and negligible harm to the left.  It did feel good to get back to running on the trail with footprints.  Nearing my driveway, I felt what can only be described as a "popping" in my right Achilles tendon.  Not good.  I stopped running immediately, but walking was now a bit painful.

I will have to run roads today...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Back to "Running"

Well, as with all injuries, there comes a day when you have to put your foot down (oh, that hurt even me) and run out the injury (enough - someone take away his laptop now!).  I have always been warned about Achilles injuries.  The typical conversation goes like this:  "Hey Joe, I'm thinking of getting injured again.  Any suggestions on what type?".  "Hmmm.  Have you tried a fractured tibia?  Very cool healing process".  "No, what about a torn Achilles tendon?".  "Um.  No, don't try that one".

As mentioned in the previous blog, I tried a few normal healing procedures.  I also tried a few unorthodox methods.  Some were better than others, but none provided me with a conclusive healing trend.  So I did what I do best and ignored the injury.  I should mention that technically, I did not ignore the injury, as it forced me to once again adjust my running schedule.  Let's just say I didn't put "healing" at the top of the list.  The new methodology was to run until it hurt too much to continue, then stop.  I added a nifty twist, in that every day I would increase the time and/or duration of the run!  I come up with these brainchildren at Honda, when I'm supposed to be working.

So I ran 1.5K on Monday, 2K on Tuesday, 2.2K on Wednesday, took Thursday off, 7.5K on Friday and 10K on Saturday.  No one would consider 23K to be a monumental weekly total, but the important aspect is that on Monday, running was very painful and on Saturday, I felt a tiny little pain reminder on each step, but nothing debilitating.  I'm cured!

So, with 3 weeks until my 24 hour race, all I can joyfully say is "Let the ramp-up begin!".  I think most people who read my blog do so, because it makes their running practices seem reasonable by comparison. 

Well, I have 8 more days to work this year.  Honda provides a significant plant shutdown at the end of December and I had some vacation days to kill, so I took every Friday in December off.  My last day this year is Thursday, December 19!  More time to experiment with healing and recovery.

I'm going to see if I can find a picture of Gino, who won the Trail Runner Trophy Series (ultra) this year.  The previous picture was Dale, who was 2nd place.  Ontario ultra runners are doing some amazing things.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Injury Advice Adendum

I received a notice from Sharon Z. that the advice on injuries was lacking an entry on the achilles tendon.  I should have noted in the article that I am currently suffering from damage to the right achilles tendon, and as it is my first such injury, I was not ready to include a remedy.

However, I am far enough along to state a few notes.  What is not working:

1.  Running up steep hills.  The achilles tends towards the painful side.
2.  Running in 1 foot of snow.  The achilles tends towards the painful side.
3.  Sprinting.  The achilles tends towards the painful side.
4.  Running backwards while carrying a black Russian (the drink, not the human).  The achilles tends towards the painful side.

What has promise:

1.  Running in 2 inches of slush and ice.  This seems to be the ideal running surface to avoid stress to the injured area.  The "toe push" directly before the foot leaves contact with the slush tends to slide the foot back, which avoids loading the achilles tendon.
2.  Easy downhill run.  Same as #1, no stress during foot lift, but it is difficult to find longish downhill sections without (duh!) longish uphill sections.
3.  Running forward with a black Russian.  The alcohol tends to relax the area and mask the pain.  Again, this is slightly problematic as I tend to spill the drink.  Before you ask, I'm one who frowns on filling a water bottle with black Russians.  It's a flavour thing.

That's it!  Short, sweet and of dubious help.