Monday, March 9, 2009

Stalled Out but Looking Forward

Well I have come to realize 2 things in the past week. First, something seems to happen to me every March, which sets me WAY back and forces me to miss time.  Second, I CANNOT and WILL NOT do any more mid-week workouts. None. Zero. Mario called me out on it and he was right... '...what the hell were you doing a workout for? Stick to races!'  I race too much and have realized that I know what works for ME and what doesn't work.  Everyone is different and no one philosophy or training schedule works for everyone.  I've learned more by experiencing setbacks, than in any running/training book or article I've ever read.  For my old, tired, and extraordinarily inflexible frame, I cannot continue to try to show up to a hill or track workout 2 or 3 days after racing, and 2 or 3 days prior to racing when my schedule is already keeping me doing a fast day at least once every 7 days...  I've tried it and it doesn't work and I continue to SCREW MYSELF.  Why do I continue to do this?  What do I all of the sudden think I can do it without getting hurt?  Well, I'm writing this to try to convince myself that it will NEVER work.  I don't have a number, but I'd say I'm batting about .200 or less when it comes to doing a successful workout without the back, calf, or hamstring going on me.

Why am I mentioning all this?  Well, last Tuesday I attempted to do a hill workout after doing the Claddagh Pub 4 Miler (which was a good enough workout)... Instead of running long, I figured I'd go down and meet up w/ some folks and do the planned hill workout at River Rd.  BIG mistake.  My hamstring went on me on either the 2nd or 3rd hill out of 15.  Like a schmuck I did all 15 and killed my hamstring.  I tried to quickly stretch it in between sets and ended up doing way more harm than good.  I could barely do the cooldown and had to completely bag Wednesday.  Yep, a frickin ZERO.  Then, Thursday I was able to do two 5 mile runs easy...with tons of pain, but the hamstring stayed in place and didn't pop all around like usual when this happens.  Friday I was able to do an easy 10 but had to stop half way and then again at about 7 miles to stretch and massage the lower part of my hamstring behind my knee.  At that point my entire hamstring hurt from ass to knee.  It was so tender on Wed, and Thurs that I could barely touch it.  Friday it appeared to be getting better.  Saturday, I again was able to get out in the beautiful weather and do 10 and this time was able to do it almost without issues.  Pain is tolerable, but the clicking and popping out of place behind my knee makes it unrunnable.   Yesterday I had plans to run an easy 9 and salvage 60 miles for the week (on 6 days).  No dice.  I got 2 miles out and the hamstring went on me.  Couple this with throwing my back out (yes, throwing it completely out on both sides) and I had to hobble back to the house.  4 miles on the nicest day of the year so far.

So I wrapped up my lowest week of the year as I should be increasing my mileage... Part of me is acknowledging the fact that I have to heal and it is necessary, but the other part of me is p*ssed and nervous.  I hope this gets better.  The worst of it is my back.  Yesterday I could barely walk, I couldn't sit or lay down, and found myself on the floor for most of the day.  I had to pick Kristin up at the airport in Boston and I could barely stand it.  Sitting in the car and driving into Boston was brutal.  Last night I barely slept as I had to lie flat on my back but with a pillow folded up and under my lower back, arching my body in a way where the muscles in my back weren't tweaking and spasming.  Icey Hot, Advil, heat pad, and tons of water the past two days now.  2 Epsom salt baths and a hot whirlpool today with constant sticking, massaging, and kneading (with a hockey ball up against the wall) to try to loosen up my back.  As I type this I am kneeling on the ground as I can't even sit in a chair....  The only bright spot is that the weather is balls.  Yesterday was 60 and sunny, today its been a blizzard all day and it's been snowing here all day.  At least 5 inches plus of snow has fallen today.  A good day to bag it and try to get better, but the mileage will suffer again.  I'm starting to realize there is really nothing I can do about it.

All this said, I am still planning on giving New Bedford a go even if I can't run all week. The most annoying thing about this all is that it happens to me EVERY year at this time:

2007: My first year running since early 1999 and I had been back running for 6 months but for about 3 or 4 seriously (meaning every day).  I pulled up w/ major calf issues the week of New Bedford and I had already registered and paid for it.  Didn't race.

2008: Back full swing into the running scene.  Went to Flagstaff the week before New Bedford.  A combination of the altitude, week long stomach problems, and a slight head cold led to a mediocre race, but I did race!  

2009: Now 6 days out (5 after today) and I have 4 miles in the bank in the last two days and can't walk.  Deep breaths actually hurt right now.  My back is so bad I really don't even know how bad my hamstring is and probably won't know until the race, as I don't plan on running hard from now until then.

My really mediocre half marathon splits from 2008:

1 Mile: 5:24
2 Mile: 10:51 (5:27)
3 Mile: 16:17 (5:25)
4 Mile: 21:48 (5:31)
5 Mile: 27:07 (5:19)
6 Mile: 32:32 (5:24)
7 Mile: 38:00 (5:28)
8 Mile: 43:29 (5:28)
9 Mile: 49:19 (5:50)
10 Mile: 55:20 (6:00)
11 Mile: 1:01:20 (6:00)
12 Mile: 1:07:21 (6:00)
13.1 Mile: 1:13:49 (6:27)

Total Time: 1:13:49 - pace: 5:38 per mile.

As you can see it hit the wall BADLY at Mile 9...maybe even 8.  It was my first half marathon, my 1st race ever above 10 miles, my 2nd race ever above 12k, and my 3rd race ever above 10k (so you do the math on that one ;) ).  Somehow I plan on trying to run faster than that this year, but fat chance at this point.

The image above is from the race last year.  I bought it.  The only online photo I ever purchased.  I didn't get any of me in this race except at the end and they were all blurry.  It was like $40. I'm a sucker.


  1. relax man. (easier said than done)don't let it get to you

  2. Hey if you need to rest a couple of days, do it. Quit getting hung up on the miles. I know, we all do it at all levels, but you're not going to lose any conditioning from missing a few days. You'll be fine Jim. Now, I'll see you at New Bedford!

  3. You could afford a down week heading into the half. Injuries suck and you need to take care of your body right now. The the compensation for the hamstring is pulling on your lower back muscles. Can you get a sports massage in the next few days?

  4. Seriously relax a little. I had a hip injury in college that didn't get any better because all I did was stress over it and school. As soon as I went home for the summer and just started running for fun again, things got better. A little rest can be a good thing. You've been putting a pretty good year together so far. Keep it up.

    And if all else fails, a little "road smoke" might fix it.

  5. Whoa! Okay that f'ing sucks but I agree with all the locals are saying here ... just chill, get it better and don't sweat it. You are fit, and the down week ain't a bad thing. You are going to be fine ...

    Plus better now than in say July. Also, it sounds like you have learned about how your are to deal with your machine, and that is HUGE.

  6. Jim,

    Breath....don't worry about it. Sometimes the body is trying to tell you it's tired and needs a rest. After the break you feel refreashed and will have more energy to run. Enjoy the down time.

  7. In the book The Lore of Running the author examines the running logs of world class runners prior to record setting performances. He concludes that there have been a significant number of world records set by runners who experienced a significant injury leading up to a major comptetion. His conclusion is that many runners are overtrained and that their performance suffers. By getting an injury and cutting back on their running they actually performed better.

    So look at the bright side you should be setting some new PRs in a few months.

  8. Everyone gets nicked from time to time, it is the price of going fast.
    “Easy does it” is the way to prevent you from “SCREWING YOURSELF” and turning what should be a 2 week recovery into of a 2 month recovery or worse, some sort of chronic condition that never heals.

    Racing 13.1 on a flat, fast, course such as New Bedford on a bad hamstring would be a really smart move. I am sure the weather will be perfect and there won't be a cold wind blowing off the Atlantic making stressed muscles more so. There is no way the downhill from 4 to 6, the hill at 12 or the downhill into the finish would affect a tired, tight, injured back either. They have only run that race for 32 years so I doubt they will do it again next year. You are sure to tear that easy course up on a leg and a half with a back that will not allow you sit in a car or sleep.

    Way to think it through.

  9. nice post and thanks for sharing....

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