Friday, August 31, 2007

The Road to Recovery...Pt 8 (Getting it on tape)

Saw my PT today. After explaining to her about the issues encountered from yesterday's run, she has taped my knees, the tape is designed to pull my kneecap round towards the inside and away from the femur where it tends to rub, there is probably a psychosomatic response to it as well. She watched me running on the treadmill; my gait is, well, my gait, I have a tendency to “spoon” my right foot which collapses my right knee to the inside, to address this I have to concentrate on keeping my feet parallel, as if I am on cross-country skis.

The response to the tape has been positive; I had an interval session on Walter and my trainer without any issue and managed a five miler without incident with the exception of some niggling on the sole of my foot, but nothing that was not manageable. I only have a few more days till I have finished bedding in my orthotics and then I will be able to wear them for running, which should address the sole issue.

It’s a long road but the destination will be worth it.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Road to Recovery...Pt 7 (One step forward, two steps back)

Went out this morning trying to get my PT prescribed 8 miles in, but I was running short of time. So I decided to, instead of walking down the hill as I have been doing, drive down and start running from the flat. I had already stretched at home before I left so I jumped in the car and drove down the hill, parked, locked up and set off.

From experience the first couple of miles are always a “pipe opener” and this morning felt no different, overnight cobwebs were being blown away and I was enjoying listening to the latest downloads from Endurance Planet on my iPod. Mile three rolled by and my right knee started to feel, well, just not right, three quarters of a mile later the feeling had grown worse and I was sensing the occasional twinge, none of this was on the outside where in the past my pain had stemmed from the IT band rubbing, by mile 4.5 I was starting to get a constant low level pain from the inside of my knee cap, by mile five I was done, time to walk. The pain was not intense but was constant and I was now feeling so sort of pressure point on the inside of my right heel. Got back to the car, drove home, stretched, and wrapped an ice bandage around it for 20 minutes, that numbed the soreness and it gently wore off during the next hour. It still fells tender to the touch but it is independently pain or discomfort free.

I am back to the PT tomorrow, so let’s see what she has to say, call me suspicious but am thinking somehow it will involve less running than more…I am starting to become official bored with being injured now.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Road to Recovery...Pt 6 (The Sensor is dead, long live the Sensor!)

It is with sad and heavy heart that I have to write and report the passing of my Nike+ sensor. After performing a steadfast duty in both the US and UK, in rain and shine, on trail, treadmill or tarmac it has finally passed into that great recycling facility in the sky (well, the trashcan/bin in the corner of the kitchen). We accumulated over 1100 miles together, which I understand is above average (reports are they last as low as 500 and as high as 1500, so we’re pretty much in the middle). The good news is that Apple now sells a replacement sensor for $19 (plus shipping and tax etc) but it’s still $5.00 cheaper than buying a whole new kit. I got the early warning "battery low" message on Sunday, ordered my replacement Monday, the sensor died yesterday; my Birthday; is there a message there? The new one arrived 10 minutes ago.

So I only actually missed out on the data for one run; Sunday’s, which was an eight miler, bookended with a 0.6 mile down and up the hill from my house to the flat. Of course the “rechargeableGarmin 305 was there to pick up the Nike slack. Here's the Garmin graph, it was almost a there and back with a little loop to make the correct distance. I am not sure why there are the pace spikes along the way, I certainly was not sprinting. My body is starting to remember what this running thing is all about but it will take some time to get back to where I was pre-injury.

The good news is that I completed it pain free, the bad news is that my pace sucked; an average 8:50, still I have to remind myself that it’s all about just running for now and has nothing to do with running fast.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tagged, I'm it

I got tagged by Monk_Monkey, totally non-running but hey what the hell! All answers are alphabetical.

Jobs I’ve held
Business Analyst - trying to break into it (hint ;-) )
Director of Business Development
Landscape gardener
Operations Director
Professional Show Jumper

Movies I can watch over and over
American Pie
Black Hawk Down
Once upon a time in America
Step into Liquid
The Matrix Trilogy

Guilty pleasures
Galaxy chocolate
Gadgets and Gizmos’ Blackberry, Nike+, Garmin 305 etc

Places I’ve lived
Beckenham. Kent UK
New Malden, Surrey UK
Orpington, Kent UK
Putney, London UK
Nispen, Nr Roosendaal, The Netherlands
Brentwood, Pacific Palisades and West Hills, Los Angeles CA USA
New York, NY USA

Shows I enjoy
According to Jim!
Any reality show on Bravo: Top Chef, Top Designer, Project Runway, Shear Genius etc
Anything funny that lasts 30 minutes (or 20 with a TiVo!)
How I met your Mother
So you think you can Dance; I feel so inflexible!
Still standing – but I’ve seen them all now!
The Office (the jury’s out on which is best the UK or US version)

Web sites I visit daily
Any on my RSS list that are updated
BBC News
Buckeye Outdoors
eBay – if I am bidding etc
Nike +

Places I’ve been on vacation
All over the UK, Scotland and Wales
In the US: Alabama, Arizona, DC, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Utah, Washington, I have had road trips from: Portland OR to Los Angeles CA, New York NY to Los Angeles CA and Raleigh/Durham NC to New York, NY
Borneo - climbed My Kinabalu
Canada - mostly Alberta; Calgary and the Rockies
France - for Summer and Winter (snowboarding)

Gambia - learned to windsurf here!
New Zealand - learned to snowboard here and bungy-jumped!

Malaysia - Tioman Island
Mexico - Yucatan and Baja regions

Peru - walked the Inca Trail

Tenerife - partied way too hard!
Turkey - partied even harder then Tenerife!

I've also been to China (Shanghai) and Japan (Osaka & Kyoto), but not for vacation

Never had one.

Loads of business awards, most sales etc. Some ‘Best…’ awards while in the Military and I was also the recipient of an Honorary Colonelship for the state of Alabama.

Passing the baton on; Doug you're it

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Road to Recovery...Pt 5 (Pedal, run & plan)

It’s been a busy week or at least it felt like it. Sunday’s long ride had a delayed start due to a very early start by my son who decided to get up at 5:30am I was up and stretching etc when I heard the pitter patter of feet coming down the hallway. I was able to get out the door at 9:15am some three hours later than planned; the downside of the late start was the heat, the temperature averaged out at 82.4F some 16 degrees warmer than the week before and I really felt it coming back up through Topanga Canyon, fortunately it is quite shaded. I wasn’t really sure why but I felt fuzzy about the ride, maybe it was the increased level of traffic, there’s something very selfish about having an open road all to yourself, unfortunately by ten in the morning open road is a hard thing to come by. Once I got my head facing the right way I was able to enjoy the ride, the only event happened during, inevitably, one of the fastest sections where I accidentally hit, while traveling at 35mph or so, a cat’s-eye in the road. The impact partially buckled my rear wheel, still it could have been a lot worse! So poor Walter spent 24hours in intensive care and emerged looking sparkly clean with two new tires (I had managed to eek out 1000 miles on the old ones), a re-trued rear wheel and regripped handlebars, however I will need to invest in a new wheelset in the not so distant future.

Wednesday I picked up new orthotics, which feel great, I have to break them in (or break me in – I am not sure which) gently over the course of the week and I am not allowed to run in them yet. I told my podiatrist that they made me feel like my feet where rolling out; apparently Asics have an asymmetric design which rolls you foot out and the orthotics are exaggerating that, it’s amazing what info you collect as you go about life. The good news is that I can stick with my Asics 2120s and will not need to step up (no pun intended) to motion control shoes, although I found out this week that the 2120s are being retired next month and 2121s will be released in October.

Friday was the only day I was able to get to my PT, however I have been able to do all the stretching and strengthening exercises at home, she cranked up the Sex Pistols for the massage element and the good news was I wasn’t climbing the wall, well at least not as high as last week! The progress report is good news, after a short spin on the treadmill and some suggested changes to my gait and foot placement I was given the OK to run; conditions: a moderate pace, six miles only and no uphills or downhills. I managed to squeeze in the run later in the day. After walking down the hill to get to the flat, I set off, suffice to say my knees grumbled and moaned for a couple or miles but once warmed up they loosened up nicely, that only left me with the weather to contend with, a balmy 98F; whoops! Anyway six miles later at a very moderate pace I was finished and walking back up the hill home, I reported into my PT to give her my feedback and get a green flag for what I would do at the weekend; I have permission to run again on Sunday…note to self; go out earlier than 3pm!

This weekend is the Bulldog50k which I will obviously DNS, I am now starting to think about next season and planning out my training program and races, the Los Angeles Marathon is in March and would serve as a good training run for the Lenora Divide in April, I would really like to get a 50k in early as well so I was looking at the Twin Peaks in February, I am very fortunate to have a great series of ultras in Southern California; they are organized into a the SoCal Ultra Runners Grand Prix Series. In addition to this a group of runners from Nike+ are discussing pulling together a “real” team to run The Relay which is also in April…so much choice! I need to box clever to not overdo things, while it’s relatively easy to run a 5k, 10k or even a half marathon, these longer distances definitely require more up and down time and compressing the peaks and troughs too tightly is a recipe for disaster!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The road to recovery...Pt 4 (Stretch, strengthen & punk rock)

This is the end of Week 2 of Physiotherapy. My PT says that it’s going well but my IT band is putting up a good fight. My therapy has built up from a base of 30 minutes of stretching three times a day, specifically my hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes from week one and now includes strength training concentrating on my glutes and quads. I am fortunate to have a lot of the “tools of the trade” around the house; swissball, ankle-weights, floor mat and a stretching band etc, it's amazing what you accumulate as you go!

I am still banned from running and so I am concentrating on cycling: with a long ride at the weekend currently 40 miles and then a short speed circuit of 10 miles, (increasing to 15 next week) three times a week. In addition each session I am getting deep, and I mean really deep tissue massage, suffice to say; if you think of massage as scented candles and soothing pipe music, this treatment would be accompanied by the stink of fresh asphalt and the roar of the Sex Pistols!

I have my orthotic fitting next Wednesday and I hope to return back to some form of running next this space.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More pluses for Nike+

This week the Nike+ forums have been abuzz with news of free gifts appearing in the mail from Nike HQ in Beaverton OR. The first 500 Nike+ runners in the world to reach 1000 miles have been awarded a customized iPod arm band, with a special swoosh and 1000 logo, not available in stores!

I reached this milestone back in June but I wasn’t holding my breath given that I had heard from runners as far east as Kansas who had already received their’s earlier this week, respectively LA is just down the road from Oregon.

Imagine my delight when I checked my mailbox today and found a padded envelope from Nike, and yes inside was my very own customized armband along with a congratulatory letter.

Nike, thank you, for my gift and for having the imagination to conjure up Nike+

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The road to recovery...Pt 3 (cross-training)

Living inland from the Pacific Ocean you can guarantee that to get there is a matter of going downhill, of course the downside (excuse the pun) is that to come back it’s all uphill. Being that I am sidelined from running it was time to unbuckle my road bike; Walter, from the trainer and head out on the roads. I have for the past week been taking a forty minute/ten mile spin most mornings but today I planned to push a little longer and harder.

My planned route would take me from my home through Malibu Canyon , along Pacific Coast Highway and returning back inland through Topanga Canyon. I mapped it out online and it came back at just under 40 miles, about 3 hours riding time as a guestimate.

I set off early not long after dawn keen to miss the heat of the day and although it was a little breezy on some of the downhill’s I was wearing a windproof which I removed at roughly the halfway point, so I was left with feeling in my arms and didn't have that "is someone sitting on my chest?" thought after traveling downhill in excess of 35mph.

Along the way I passed a Coyote heading home from a late Saturday night on the town and an eight point Mule Deer and his Doe out for an early morning graze. The sun twinkled on the ocean as I passed my alma mater. The surf was up along PCH but was only breaking 2-3’, still, I guess, if you're a surfer; surfing is surfing. I tentatively turned into Topanga Canyon and checked my cycling computer up to that point I had maintained an average speed of 16mph. I have driven through Topanga Canyon maybe a 1000 times and know the twisting and turning climbs well enough however on a bike everything looks very different and climbing at a steady and slow pace I got to see the landscape in significantly more detail, although the steepest part is just before Topanga Village itself and that section was definitely spent with my head down and the “bit between my teeth”, once through the village my pace picked up and the climbing became easier, before I knew it that I was at the top, for a total climb of 1552’ over about 9 miles, I topped out with my average speed having dropped to 13.2mph. Needless to say coming down the other side took all of about 15 minutes. A rolling six miles brought me back to my front door, the time 3:13:32, the distance 40.15 miles

It was a great ride and I really felt that I reconnected with my cycling demons who have taken a back seat this year with the increase in my running. It just goes to show that cross-training can be fun.

Here's the Motion-Based data in case anyone's interested:

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Road to Recovery...Pt 1 (On your bike!)

Allow me to introduce you to my two new best friends; Walter and Nigel, that's Walter on the left.

I had a long consult with my Physical Therapist on Monday; essentially I have; through running with insufficient cross training, unbalanced my quadriceps with my hamstrings. My IT Band is so tight it is pulling my kneecap off alignment by about 40 degrees. The good new is that all is not lost. Initial treatment consists of ultra-sounding the afflicted areas and a series of stretches that I have to run through three times a day, this I have been told will be followed by strength training. In meantime I am under a “no running” red flag although I was told I could go out for a “light jog”. The good news is that I can cycle and that’s where Walter and Nigel come in, I am fortunate to have the Santa Monica Mountains at basically one end my street and some good road hills, (Topanga & Los Virgenes) which should accelerate my quad development, at the other end.

The short term prognosis is that The Bulldog will be shelved but the good news is that I should get the green light for Long Beach in October.

Today I am off to the podiatrist…watch this space.

Oh and in case you’re wondering Walter is a Raleigh Grand Prix and Nigel is a Scott XTC2.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Road to Recovery...Pt 2 (It starts with straight feet!)

After getting stuck in traffic, more so than usual for LA, I got to see Dr Bob Baravarian who put me through my paces (excuse the pun), his conclusions:

1. Super tight Achilles tendon – I need to mention this to my PT for more stretches
2. Reasonable range of motion in my Plantar Fascia
3. My pronation is more prominent in my right foot
4. I roll at the hips, oh yes and
5. My left leg is ¾” longer than my right!

What!?! My legs are different lengths…well apparently this is more common than you think, in the same way one foot or hand is bigger than the other. This is a contributor to the prominent right foot pronantion as my foot is rolling more to compensate. It’s amazing that nobody has ever noticed this before but I guess they weren’t looking for it. It is probably a major contributor to some of my back issues and is definitely associated with the IT Band Syndrome. So you see they were right; sing with me: “…the foot bone's connected to the knee bone, the knee bone's connected to the hip bone…”

The remedy? Orthotics. No surprises there then. My feet were cast in Plaster of Paris and my Orthotics will be ready in two weeks, it takes 8 days to bed them in and then I will wear them permanently.

Back to Physical Therapy tomorrow and then the Chiropractor on Friday…time to share the news with everyone.

Friday, August 3, 2007

It's Doctor said so!

I have been suffering from a niggling ache in my right knee for weeks now, it really came to a head when I arrived back in Los Angeles from vacation, I thought it was due to the flying and pushing and pulling 200lbs of luggage around, but even after several visits to my Chiropractor, who is excellent, it was still showing no real sign of improvement. For a week I treated it with the runners best friend; RICE; (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) but to no avail. The final straw came during my run last Sunday (see the Nike Widget in the right column), where during the last few miles I had to stop and walk! Clearly something was not right. Anyway a visit to my GP, who is also excellent, confirmed it: I am officially broken!

Iliotibial Band Syndrome in both knees and hips and Patellofemoral Syndrome in my right knee, the latter also explains why driving and sitting with my feet on a footstool is really uncomfortable.

The good news is that it is all fixable. I have my first appointment with the Physical Therapist next Monday and also have a prescription referral to the Foot and Ankle Institute where I expect to be fitted with Orthotics.

In the meantime I have been told; no running!

So now I am mentally preparing myself for a DNS (Did Not Start) for the Bulldog 50k which is scheduled for later this month and quite probably not running the Long Beach Marathon in October.

Let’s see what Monday brings…

Thursday, August 2, 2007


This past weekend I was supposed to run the San Francisco Marathon. However, as the saying goes; “the best laid plans of mice and men.....often go awry”, such was the case here. Friday the 27th started in the normal way, it suddenly became derailed when my son started projectile vomiting, typically he has an iron constitution so it set off alarm bells straight away. Later that day his temperature had spiked to 104 degrees, and we spent a very quiet day together. Friday night saw him climb into bed with us; another rarity, and spend a very uncomfortable night. The next morning I was on the phone to the airline and hotel cancelling everything. He has now fully recovered and is back to his usual self.

Sure I am disappointed but there are just more important things than running in circles.

Of course, now with hindsight, who knows what damage I would have done to myself had I run it?