Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Peroneal Tendon injury

Somehow or another I have stressed/injured the Peroneal Tendon on my left foot. It turns out that there are two Peroneal Tendons (Peroneus brevis and Peroneus longus, i.e. one short, one long). These tendons run from my lower calf muscle (I'm confused about which muscle exactly) along the outer edge of my left ankle, under the ankle bone (that part that protrudes out from your foot), ultimately connecting the calf muscle to bones in the ankle itself.

The pain in my ankle is directly below that outer ankle bone that protrudes out from the ankle and to some degree, tender along the back of my lower calf/ankle area.  But I don’t remember an event (like tripping, slipping,  or stepping on or through an uneven surface that would have caused the injury.  I just remember that it started to hurt some hours after running (never during) and especially the day after. And it hurts enough for me to not run for a while.

So, in doing some research I found what it was that was hurting me (the Peroneal Tendon) and the standard therapy is simply rest, as in "don't walk, run, stand.."  Obviously very impractical.  Nonsteroidal anti-inflamatory drugs, aka NSAID’s, such as ibuprofen seem to help, but I tend to try not to use it during the day since I worry that it will mask the discomfort, leading me to overstress the injury – so, when I use ibuprofen I’ll do so at  night.   But the bottom line is that I am forced to ease up (as in “not run”) for a while.

(I found this image at http://footphysicians.com/footankleinfo/peroneal-tendon.htm)

The tough part is that I don’t know for how long I need to ease up for.  I’ve read reports ranging from a week to 3 months (that won’t do….).  As long as it hurts, I’m definitely not running.  I posted the question on the active.com/community forum, and although its gotten a lot of hits, no one has ventured an opinion yet.

In the meantime I’m occasionally wrapping and massaging my ankle, along with some gentle stretching.  Icing doesn’t seem to help, but the use of a pressure wrap makes it feel much better.  I’m hoping for a quick recovery – too much good stuff to eat and drink during the holidays and besides, I really miss being out there…

Monday, November 14, 2011

An “Iron Turkey” run

A local running store (Tortoise and Hare -  http://tortoiseandhare.com/) sponsored a Thanksgiving Day/Veterans Day run this past weekend at a local metropark and offered up a 5K and a 10K race (www.a2turkeytrot.com).  But to make things interesting, they staggered the starts so that runners could run the 5K race and then line up to run the 10K event as well, and if you completed both events you would be awarded an “Iron Turkey” race medal (and be the envy of the running community….).   So naturally, I had to sign up for this.

I figured that since I was probably going to run 8 or nine miles on that day anyway, I may as well contribute an entry fee for a good cause (a couple of different veterans organizations), and get another t-shirt.  And it was fun.

The way it worked is that the 5K started at 9AM and the 10K would start an hour later.  Out of the 1400 or so people that signed up for either the 5K or 10K event, only about 300 ran both events (which kind of surprised me….).   I planned on running an easy but aggressive (now there is an oxymoron) 5K, finishing somewhere between 27 and 30 minutes.   That would give me 30 minutes to rest a bit before lining up for the 10K, which I would want to run a bit harder.

I wound up doing the 5K in 27:13 (a 8:47 min/mile pace).  I then did the 10K in 52:27 (a 8:28 min/mile pace) and I was really happy with that.  I was hoping for less than 52 minutes, but it didn’t happen (I got a little screwed up with my timing and made a math mistake while calculating my pace during the run).   Overall, for the “Iron Turkey” I was 99 out of 304.  Separately in both the 5K and the 10K I managed to be in the top third overall.

I am still very frustrated with regards to speed and my inability to place higher in my age group.  For the 10K I placed 13 out of 35 runners (in the 50-54 age group) – which is ok I guess, but for comparison, the top three positions in that age group were 53, 53, and 51 years old respectively and they all ran 6:xx min/mile.  They literally finished 10+ minutes ahead of me.  How do they get to be so fast?

In conversation with a guy who came in first in the 55-59 age group in the 5K event, he explained to me that many of the guys in our generation era were high school track runners, and so they learned at an early age the subtleties of running fast.  His advice to me was to stay healthy and continue to work on speed, but most importantly: stay healthy.

The only thing of particular note that happened during either event occurred during the 5K.  Around Mile 2 there was a guy coming up behind me that seemed to be yelling at people.  First I need to explain that the race was along a park path, which given the number of participants, was somewhat narrow (10 feet wide) and sometimes in order to pass slower runners it was necessary to run on the dirt or grass – no biggie – in fact I took to running on the grass when possible since it was softer than the asphalt.  But this guy coming up behind me was yelling at people to get out of his way as he passed them and clearly did not want to run off the path. He was huffing and puffing and being, in general, just a nasty asshole.   My first inclination was to not let this bonehead pass me – I had the juice – but I decided to continue to run my race plan.  As this guy came abreast of me I asked him why he had to be such a rude  asshole – and he just sort of looked at me like I had 2 heads and huffed and puffed his way past me.

I kept my eye on him, and as we got closer to the finish line I was speeding up, and so he never really got that far ahead of me.  On the final straight stretch I finally decided that enough was enough; I dug deep and I went into a full out sprint, running as hard as I could for the finish line.  I passed him about 30 feet from the finish line and whispered something like “see ya” and finished ahead of him.  He was huffing and puffing so hard I’m not sure that he even noticed me, but after the finish, as we were all milling around, he kept looking at me funny and I just let him be.  I was tempted to go over and talk to him, but didn’t….  perhaps a missed opportunity for something. 

Unfortunately, my right knee and left ankle are bothering me – and it bugs me because I don’t really know why.  I’ll baby them for a day or two.  In the meantime, I need to find a new event to run!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Arb hills

I decided to do some hill repeats at the “Arb” (a public park with some good trails) yesterday.  I had about a mile plus run from a parking lot to the Arb and tackled one of the better hills in the park.  There are steeper trails, but I picked one that had about a 5-6% slope that runs about .65 of a mile.  I had already decided that I would do at least two repeats, and that three would be a homerun.  So naturally I had to do three, although as I was working on my second one I was thinking that I had had enough of that fun.  But I did all three up and downs and obviously felt heroic about it (you know – the mind over matter thing). 

After coming back down and during the first quarter mile of the mile and a half run back to my truck I was so tired and remember thinking “ok, this is supposed to be fun?”  and I forced myself to look at the trees and listen to the birds and such (I wasn’t listening to music on this run), but it was still hard.  By the time I got to the paved trail with about ¾ of a mile to go I had somehow gotten myself to run faster and faster, to the point where I was running a sustained 7 min/mile pace (awesome for me) and I remember thinking “now this is fun…”.  It was hard, but it was somehow really fun.

Post Chicago Marathon…

Now that the marathon is over I’m going over thoughts of “what did I learn” and “what am I going to do now”.  With regards to the “what am I going to do now”, the weird thing is that I almost feel compelled to find another race/event to run near term, but my choices, unless I am ok with traveling, are somewhat sparse.  Regarding “what did I learn”:  lots.

One of the biggest things I learned was that doubt was ok and that once in the moment I have tremendous reserves for reaching my goal.  Doubt just made me think more about how to accomplish the objective.  And perhaps “doubt” is the wrong word; perhaps “concern” or “anticipation” might be more appropriate.  I never assumed that I could accomplish the goal, although I was always confident that I could. At the starting line at Chicago I was certainly confident that I would finish the race, but was also aware that there were at least two things that could derail my attempt (cramps and my hamstring issue) – plus there was always the unknowns things that might happen, none of which I will mention for fear of bad karma….  I did not “doubt” that I would finish, but I might have been concerned or held some level of anticipation.

Another big thing was that strength and endurance are critical.  I wish that I had been able to get at least one more 20+ mile run in along with several 16-18 milers.  I’m beginning to believe that the (limited?) conditioning of my calf, hams, and quads were part of my cramping issues.  I’ve done a lot of reading and asking experienced runners regarding cramping and I’m reaching the conclusion that, at least in my case, that my cramping is due to both electrolyte imbalances and muscle conditioning.  The net result of that is that: a) I have to pay very careful attention to my nutrient intake on long runs, b) I need to super-condition my legs (put more long distance runs in prior to a long event), and c) make sure that I vary my stride during a run.   That last item was insight from a 55+ woman, a multi-marathoner, who happened to mention that she varied her stride during long runs in order to fully stretch out her calves, hams, and quads.  Not doing so, she noted, tended to cause her muscles over time in the run to tighten up – which is exactly what was happening to me.

So my next order of business is to work on strengthening my legs (hills, stairs, maybe even weights), and build endurance (more longer runs and maybe do more of the Plyometrics on P90X).

I’m wanting to run more events next year, preferably half marathons, and I would love to run another full marathon if for no other reason than to prove to myself that I can do the full distance without cramping.  I’m drawn to HM’s because they are a respectable distance and I wouldn’t be tempted to run as hard as I would for say, a 10K (which I think can be really hard if you are running for a Personal Best).  We’ll see….  It’s also really weird that I don’t see HM’s as being that long.  A HM is a long way, 13.1 miles, but the effort required to run that far pales in comparison to that required for a 20+miler or a marathon.  Amazing.