Progress!

Second visit to Fast Track for my leg. First did the hamstring exercise he had given me for homework, then we did some squats, because the glutes are such an important muscle in running. He said that he’d watched the video of my running again and noticed that I lean forward a bit, which brings the momentum down rather than forward. Matt (the coach) had also mentioned that it looked like I was bent a bit forward. I don’t feel like I’m bent forward, but my quads and hip flexors are so tight that I have a natural forward bend at my hips, even when I’m standing straight. So, this put the focus on stretching the hip flexors daily. He says it’s fixable, though I have my doubts. He says everything is fixable, age has nothing to do with it. We’ll see!

So, I spent some time stretching, and then doing more squats with dumbbells. (I didn’t even think until later that I was able to hold the dumbbells with no problem, even with my bad arm. Progress there, too!) He also had me do some adductor leg raises, always my favorite exercise. (Haha….) Then he had me change into some shorts so that he could do some actual work on the muscles.

I don’t know what he did exactly (I couldn’t really see), but he focused right on the muscles at the very upper of the back my inner leg. It was just the right spot. He could tell from his instruments, and I could tell by how it felt. Then he also did cupping therapy there. He promised it was not the sort that would give me those awful red marks the Olympians had! But it would help. I’m really not sure if it had any effect itself, but something did. I pretty immediately felt that ache I’d been feeling for a week since I’d tried running again had gone away, and it did not come back for the rest of the day.

I had another physical therapy appointment for my arm a couple of hours later. Between the two I felt like I had gotten a pretty good full-body workout for the first time in a month.

I am back to walking the dogs. Because I’d been so sore I asked Andy if I should be walking, and he said I most definitely should be. I need to get back on my feet, get the legs moving again, get my joints used to pounding a bit before I get back to running. I am really hoping now that come Jan 1 I can be back to it. Even if it will be cold.

Running Coach

I contacted a running coach a few weeks ago and finally met with him today. He’s fairly active in the Indianapolis running community, so I was a bit intimidated, and not really sure this is something I want to do. I feel like I need help, with all the challenges I’ve faced this last year. I want to make running a part of my life. I enjoy it. My dog enjoys it. I miss it now that I can’t do it. And I am frustrated that I have spent the better part of this last year healing from injury.

I first contacted Matt before I had discovered that I can do physical therapy, so the timing of that and then this was kind of interesting, but I decided I just want to see what my options are and what will work for me.

Matt was very low key and easy to talk to, and he did commend me for still being here even with all that’s happened this last year. I didn’t feel silly for being a 47-year-old newbie runner.

He had a lot of good things to say, good suggestions for how I should proceed once I’m back on my feet. We won’t do anything official together until I am ready to start running again. He asked me what my goals are, and my main goal is to stay healthy! I have three training races and two half marathons already on the agenda for next year, and I’d like to add at least the Monumental Half as well. But mostly, I want to get running and stay healthy. That’s where I think a running coach will really help, because it will keep me from doing too much too soon. Andy also said he has a plan to work with this.

Matt had me run also, and he reminded me of cadence–shorter stride, faster feet. This will lessen the amount of heel strike all on its own. I remember seeing the magic number of 180 steps per minute, and when I try that it does not feel too fast, as long as the stride is shortened. Something to remember once I’m back to running. I remember during training for the Mini Marathon, when I was nursing shin splints, the training coach then mentioned that my walking stride was too long and that was exacerbating the shin splints. So that short stride, faster feet rings true for both running and walking.

I told Matt that I am an interval runner/walker. I am faster when I run this way, rather than running at my sustainable pace of about 15min/mile. I can’t walk that fast, but a lot of people can. When I do intervals of running and walking I can get closer to 13min/mile, when I am healthy! I had gotten that under 13min/mile, but injuries are keeping me at that 1:00 run / 2:00 walk split, and I had hoped to improve that. One suggestion Matt had for trying to increase that speed/time is to change up the intervals during part of the run. Maybe for the last mile trying 2:00 run to 1:00 walk, or something like that. I have done some of that during some of my runs, and that felt good, so it’s a good suggestion.

There are a lot of other things that serious runners do that I am unfamiliar with. Things like Tempo Runs, Speed Runs, having a 5k pace, a 10k pace, etc.. I hear the words and terminology but they’re still foreign concepts to me. I can see that a 5k pace would be faster than a half marathon pace, for a “real” runner, but for me, I just have my pace. So I am not really used to thinking like that. But I am curious if doing these other types of runs can help me improve. While I’m not looking to win my age group, I am hoping to at least better my own times, and maybe even reach a better than 3 hour half marathon.

Fast Track: Getting back on my feet

First appointment with Andy at Fast Track Physical Therapy has me very hopeful that this will work. My arm/shoulder is still healing from my fall, so I’m a little limited what I can do. This first appointment was an overall evaluation.

The best thing about Andy is that he is a runner, and he runs marathons, so he knows exactly where I’m coming from and understands where I want to go (and that I want to go there sooner rather than later). First, we talked for a bit about my history and about my goals. He has a “back to run” training plan that I can follow once I’m back up and at it. He had me run a bit and recorded it to look at my form. He measured my feet and concluded that I don’t have any issues there that are worrisome. He did note that I am a pretty strong heel striker. I know I land on the heel, but I didn’t realize it was that pronounced. Then again, since I haven’t been running some of the things I started to do (shortening stride, increasing cadence) are not natural anymore, so I was running slower than usual. But he said this is something we can address down the line.

He then did a physical evaluation, moving my leg, making me resist to see where it hurts. When he had me lay on my belly, knee bent and foot in the air, and then he told me to resist him pulling my foot down, and it hurt, I remembered something I’d forgotten to tell him. It’s something I’d completely forgotten about. A couple days before that race I had done deadlifts. The weight had been light, but I overstretched (as I am prone to do), and I was a little bit sore the day before the race. I told him that, and that helped him to know what I had done, and what to do. Everything he described fit in exactly with the conclusions I’d made myself. I’d injured the hamstring or adductors right up at the top where muscle and tendon meet. The pain I feel is high up in the groin, near the pubic bone, more rear than front. The most annoying thing about it is there’s no pain to the touch, no stretch touches it, but I feel it very clearly when I run.

Andy gave me exercises to do at home, focusing on hamstrings, abductors, and stretching the front of the upper leg. Stretching seems to help a lot. I am a little sore from trying to run again. 🙁

Injuries galore

I’ve spent a lot of time injured this last year. I’ve always sort of prided myself on being pretty healthy physically, and this year has really been a challenge as I’ve tried to get off the couch and get more fit. And now I add a shoulder injury to the mix. I fell and sprained/strained my shoulder at work and am having to do physical therapy in order to help it get back in shape.

One good thing that’s come from this is that I’ve looked into physical therapy and discovered that in Indiana you do not have to have a doctor’s referral in order to see a physical therapist. This is what I am pretty certain I need for my leg. I still cannot run, and the ache is still in the same place and only flares up when I try to run. So, I talked to the people at Fast Track Physical Therapy and I will be going for a consultation/initial appointment on Friday. I am looking forward to this. I am so tired of just sitting and waiting to get better, and being unsure what I should do, all the while fearing that I’m going to lose all the progress I’ve made these last few months on strengthening my body. I am now stronger than I probably ever have been, and I don’t want to lose it.

2018 Goals

So, as 2017 begins to draw to a close, there were many achieved goals, and some that I failed to achieve. I was unable to run either the Ft. Ben 5k or the Monumental Half Marathon due to the injury I sustained during the Women’s Half Marathon. That was a huge disappointment, as those were the races I was really aiming to finish. However, I have continued to work out and try and improve my health and fitness. November brings to an end my six months of personal training. I am hoping to start December, or perhaps the new year, with a running coach in an effort to improve my fitness and stay injury-free. Races for 2018 that I am already signed up for are the 500 Festival Miler Series (3, 6, and 10 mile races) and both the 500 Festival 5k and Mini Marathon in May. A race that I am considering as a sort of training race is the Carmel Half Marathon in April. And then later in the year, again, I hope to do both the Ft Ben and Monumental Hal Marathons. That is my goal.