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Monday, June 30, 2008

20 minutes

I warmed up on a walk with Amber and then ran/walked my 3 mile course along the RR tracks. I ran (OK, jogged) 20 minutes of it in 5 minute increments and walked the rest.

All is well with the calf. Not a tinge of tightness or pain.

I will continued to go up slowly for another week or so. If I don't blow it, I should be up to normal by mid to late July.

The Long Walk

Between walking Amber in the morning and a long trek in the afternoon, I covered close to 100 minutes on Sunday. The one nice discovery about walking is that I can do it every day if I so choose. I don't know if it helps my running but the idea is to burn some calories and keep my legs fit. When I get back to my regularly scheduled running, I would like to walk long on the intervening days if possible. I just don't know how it will effect my recovery.

Walking Amber is not optional. At 12 years old she needs the exercise and seems to just float through our 20-30 minute jaunts.

Walking these days reminds me of long slow distance back 25-30 years ago. No pressure or expectations and it doesn't leave me stiff and sore.

Note to to myself. This summer, 30 years ago I came out of the hills and with almost no speed work or racing ran a 9:44 two mile on the track in a Los Gatos all comer's meet. I also ran 18:21 on Farwell. Typically Walt added a second to my time so officially it is 18:22 but not in my running diary.

I always ran better on little or no speed work.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

18 minutes running and a whole lot of walking

I walked about 25-30 minutes this morning with Amber. In the mid afternoon I came back with another 60 minutes of walking and running. I capped the running at 18 minutes. I did this by jogging 2 minutes nine times. No pain or tightness. I did have a ghost of a sensation in my left calf. Very much like the last time I went through this. Nothing really. But Sunday will be walking only. Then we'll see on Monday.

I know this injury can recycle rather suddenly. I am being cautious.
Jake back in town. Don't know if we'll get a chance to run or not. He's coaching at Lynbrook and that might mean we don't sync up for a while.


I love playing the "if" game.

In this case if I were to come back. I was watching The Roaring Twenties a great old Cagney movie the other day where Panama tells Eddie that they finished out of the money. They weren't going to be on the top anymore. Personally I think my days are over as far as competitive running is concerned. I haven't been in that mindset for 13 years.

Not really.

But anyway.....IF....

I would have to get down to a good fighting weight. Probably 135 pounds. I was never really that skinny even in my best days. Probably closer to 138-142. But 135 would lower that body fat one gains with age.

I would run every other day. Sorry but no contest here. Everyday running wears me out. So I would have to run huge every other day. Huge is probably 10-12 miles. Doubles whenever I needed them.

Heart monitor would rule. I would need to keep this on most of the time so that I didn't over train.

Time trials and tempo over intervals. Intervals rip me up. I liked the program I was on early last year focusing at 1600-2400 and 3200 and working the times down. Of course there is always just running those 3 mile of 5K AT runs that tell me the truth about what shape I am really in.

Racing..ugh. I am not race-fit. That would take getting use to again. Probably a year and an acceptance of the desultory early results. I am not in Kansas anymore. My guess is that I am in poor 5K shape. Several years ago i could still run under 21 minutes (not too bad for a 60 year runner) but I think I have fallen off big time.

And of course understanding that even with all this work there may not be much there anyway.

I would need to keep my mouth shut about this if this is the path I choose. I would have to work into it and see if the commitment is there in any form. DSE races and obscure fun runs would be good places to practice my craft. Run at 85-90% and just get sued to being back in there. later on I could begin to intensify things up into the 90-95% range.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The road back seems open

I walked and ran 60 minutes this afternoon. The running portion was 12 minutes done in six 2 minute increments with plenty of walking in between. So the road back seems open.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Medicinal workouts continued

Ho hum.

50m minutes of walking with 9 x 1 minute thrown in for come-back medicinal purposes.
Amber with me for the first 20 minutes then I went on by myself.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Medicinal Workout


After 3 days or 95-100 degree heat the temps dropped down to normal.

I walked for 60 minutes on Sunday with the first 30 minutes with Amber. On Monday I went out for a walk with Amber again and then dropped her off at the house and walked over to the college. Once I arrived, I trotted on and off in one minute jogs interspersed with my normal walking. 70 minutes all together.

No pain. I will walk tomorrow and go medicinal again on Wednesday.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Desert

I walked for 62 minutes today. It was already in the 80's and it wasn't even 8 AM yet. The heat is oppressive. Amber gave the look. And why aren't you taking me out for my walk? At 12 and half I just can't see subjecting her to this sort of weather. It's no country for old dogs even though she seems in pretty good shape. But that look is still there developed over thousands and thousands of years since her ancestors risked coming inside the ring of fire.

Drove over to Carrows for breakfast. Only Todd and Dimitry were there. We still had a great time chatting things up. Strange though, where were the other dozen or so folks who usually show up?

Turns out that Danny had bled a number of them off for the corporate cup (or thimble as I like to call it these days). It's usually Lock-Mart, SCVAL (whatever that is) and another company who goes about picking up ringers to compete for them. This is dying event like The Holy City Race but somehow like the late Byzantine Empire, it stays alive. I would put a bullet it its head and move on. Danny just laughs when I say something like this but Madelyn would pounce on me with claws out. So if I say something it just with Danny around. Those claw marks take time to heal up.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

No hurry

June 19th: No running for a while. I have been walking though. All the way up to 90 minutes. No pain or tightness. Now and then I will get those phantom pings in my calf but it seems to be nothing really. When I stand barefooted in the house, the calf feels normal. I can bounce up and down a few times and feel nothing. I think all systems are go but my plan is to wait a little while longer before beginning the medicinal workouts. I may start next week. We'll see.

No hurry.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Calf Heart Attack..Again

So what does back to stop mean?

It is good to keep a log even if one is no longer the runner of yore. I re-read the whole section from the very end of January through to the end of March. It imperfectly documents what I had to go through to get running again. I swore up and down like some condemned prisoner that I was not going to run for 6-8 weeks but in the end I went back way before that. In the early stage I fooled around and kept running way too much pushing out the begin the healing date. So I won't make that mistake again. I will start medicinal workouts After about a week of nothing. I should be able to walk around and up and down stairs with no tightness.

This is the program I will follow. I have already started by doing the self message.
I will have to figure out the stretching part. Never been good at stretching. Also not included here is hills. I will have to stay away from for a good deal of time.

Anyway, here it is from John Parker if you are interested. Otherwise it is just for me.

It’s possible to diddle around with micro-tears for months. One miscalculation and you might be back to square one.

About ten years ago, I started having a lower-leg problem that I assumed was a pulled calf muscle. The calf would get tender, sometimes knotty, after hard training (usually intervals); then a few days later, while out on a run, I’d feel a sharp pain very deep in the gastroc, and bingo, I’d be out of business.

The injury would respond to massage and rest, and after a few days, it would seem to be fine. Here’s the tricky part, when I’d start back running after a few days off, things would go well for a mile or so, and then, yikes! The sharp pain would be back!

So I’d take a few more days off, more massage, and then start back. Deja vu all over again. And I found I could repeat the cycle as many times as I wanted, and the injury would just keep popping back up. It was the most frustrating injury I had ever dealt with.

I finally mentioned it to my old mentor, Roy Benson, and he set me straight.

"It’s probably not a calf pull at all", he said. "More likely, it’s a microtear deep in the muscle. A spasm forms around the torn muscle, that's the knot you feel in there. It starts to heal; that’s when you think you’re OK. But the process takes longer than we usually think – several weeks at least. When you start back too soon, you’re simply re-injuring yourself".

Roy was right. I found that I had to say off the injury for several weeks, and even then, I had to take it easy when I started back. One miscalculation, and I was back to square one. It was possible, I soon discovered, to diddle around with this injury, literally, for months. (Ironically, I did pull my calf muscle in a skiing accident a couple of years ago, and though it seemed to be a fairly serious injury at the time, I was back to running much sooner afterward than with this pseudo-pull).

Since that initial injury, I’ve had this problem, in both legs, many times. It was always extremely frustrating because it always seemed to happen just as I was getting into halfway decent shape. But each time it happened, I learned a little more and cut my downtime by a few days. I now consider myself one of the world’s experts on this injury, which my buddy Tom Raynor calls a "calf heart attack", and I’ve managed to avoid it altogether for several years now.

The root cause of this injury, according to my orthopedic friends, is compartment syndrome, which means that the sheath around the calf muscle isn’t flexible enough, and when the muscle swells up during exercise, it can’t expand enough to accommodate the necessary blood flow. The muscle becomes constricted, and eventually some fibers tear. Even after it heals, scar tissue often remains, which makes the site a prime candidate for reinjury, thus the cyclical nature of this problem.

If you’re prone to this injury, you’d do well to focus on it right from the beginning. Otherwise believe me, it will frustrate you for years.

Here’s a program for dealing with calf heart attack syndrome, including both short-term treatment and long-term prevention and maintenance:

Step 1.

Stay off it for as long as it takes to heal completely. I recommend at least a week. Do some wet vesting or cycling, but don’t run just because it feels better after a day or so.

Step 2.

Get as much massage – including self-massage – as you can, TheStick massage tool has been invaluable to me in this regard (because this injury is in deep, icing has not been as helpful as it has for most injuries). Definitely don’t stretch your calf yet. Let it heal first.

Step 3.

This step is the real "secret" to recovering quickly from this injury. I’ve found that it can cut recovery time from weeks or months to days. After a week of no running, start back with a "medicinal workout" on a track or another flat, controlled surface. Start by walking a mile, then jog very easily for a few hundred yards, and then walk again. Alternate between walking and jogging for three or four miles or until your calf begins to feel numb or sore. Then stop immediately. Your goal is to get as much circulation to it as possible without re-injuring it.

Step 4.

If you get through the whole session and your calf still feels good, you’re still probably not healed, but you’re on your way. Take a day off and then repeat the procedure. Do this every other day for a week; increasing the jog portion of the workout as your calf improves.

Step 5.

After a week of the medicinal workouts, try a short, very gentle run of three to four miles, on as flat a surface as possible. As always, if your calf gets numb or the sharp pain reappears, stop immediately and walk back. Remember the cyclical nature of this injury. Keep adding to your mileage and intensity day-by-day, but be ready to retreat at the first sign of trouble. After a few such runs, if you haven’t overdone it, you’ll be back to your normal routine.

Step 6.

The long-term key to prevent a recurrence is just to stretch the hell out of your calves and Achilles tendons. I use a homemade, 45-degree stretching board in my office, which I try to get on several times a day, standing on the high end and lowering my heels as far as I can.

Again, make sure the injury is completely healed, and then make serious calf stretching an integral part of your routine. Continued use of TheStick is also highly recommended, both to mitigate any scar tissue and to keep the muscle and sheath as flexible as possible.

So take it from a long-time sufferer, the next time you "pull" your calf and it doesn’t seem to heal, consider changing the diagnosis to "calf heart attack", and get yourself back on the road to good health.


John L. Parker Jr. is the associate publisher and editorial director of Running Times

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Back at Stop

I ran 3 loops starting at Forbes Mill and on the 3rd one I yanked my lower calf again. I ran in but I know I am back at STOP again. This is the same place I was at back in February. I told Jake that I am putting myself back on IR* until the pain is gone.

I am almost positive that it was the Rancho run. It was first time that I was on somewhat challenging hills since last winter and obviously the "tear" is still there. The last time it took me about 3-4 weeks to get it right. Maybe if I stop right now I can come back more quickly.

* Injured Reserve

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

68 minutes in Rancho

I ended up running in Rancho for the first time in about 6 months or longer. The area is always a treat but tends to be crowded on weekends so I rarely go there. Monday around mid day was perfect. Upper parking lot basically empty, Clear skies in the 60's with only a slight breeze. Not too many people on the trail. I ran 68 minutes hitting various combinations of trails, staying off the big hills but still having to deal with some nice rollers. Saw deer, cotton tails and quail. My legs were a bit tired but not enough to have not gone on if I had wanted to.

Not sleeping as well as I would like. Waking up early. Some issues floating out there I probably need to resolve.