Monday, July 02, 2007

Summer of my discontent

OK sports fans. I need some help. First, I really appreciate your comments over the past several weeks while I'm been nursing my sore back. I'm still not at 100%, but rolled out of bed this morning with only a slight bit of stiffness. I also took a quick look at the calendar and realized that I need to get my butt back in gear if I'm going to do as well as I want during the Carlsbad Marathon on January 20, 2008 and I'm going to need to be running a lot faster ( 3.7% or 20sec/mile)


So here's my basic problem:


1) I beat up my quads big time during the Carlsbad Marathon this past January. The down hills just tore them up. I didn't have any trouble with the relatively flat San Diego R&R marathon course. I can't have them fail again.

2) My gut muscles (I've never figure out specifically which muscles these are) still hurt every time I run. The pain subsides after a mile or two and doesn't seem to impact my running; however, I shouldn't be running in pain everyday.

3) I hurt my back sleeping in an odd position on a 10 hour airplane flight. This has kept me from doing any serious running for the past two weeks. I got in a 4 mile run on Saturday, but it felt more like 14 miles near the end; I was shot. Whine, whine, whine.

4) I'm strung as tight as a banjo. When I was 30, I could put my palms on the floor without bending my knees. This weekend I could barely touch my knees.

5) I'm in a rut. My mission in 2006 was to get out beyond 10,000 meters, which I did and I committed to run two marathons in 2007, which I did. But I'm going nowhere fast at the moment and although I improved my marathon time by 4 minutes between January and June, I can attribute much of the improvement to running smarter over a much flatter course. So something has to change.


Assuming I'll need at least 24 weeks to get ready for Carlsbad, I  have to be running 40+ MPW comfortably again by August 6. So, what should I do now? I think 2, 3 and 4 above are interrelated, but I need to get these addressed before I hurt myself again and put myself out of commission for a long time. In addition, I need to add something to my usual (Pfitz) training regiment to get beyond 1 and 5.


Many of you seem to be improving and staying healthy. Any suggestions?


J~Mom said...

I am hardly an expert at fitness, LOL, but I have some suggestions...

You seem to bring up the theme of your flexibility quite a bit. Any chance of a basic yoga or pilates type of class? Even the ab class that I take incorporates stretching which really helps me stay loose for the running. I think doing that once or maybe twice a week would help tremendously. Or have you tried the foam roller on your legs? It is good for the myofascial (sp) release that is awesome for leg tightness. I really thought it was a gimmick until I did it...I couldn't believe how much it loosens everything up.

Also, I didn't know this but at the physical therapy place I went my PTman told me that they will do a one hour/one time consult. It's a flat fee to come in and have them help you come in and consult and come up with a mini plan.

I hope those at least give you some ideas to work with. I know some of the others will know more. I hope you are up to full force soon.:>)

J~Mom said...

Hopefully this will paste right. It's about the foam roller:

ASK THE EXPERT - ANNETTE LANG, MA, NASM-CPT Director of Annette Lang Education Systems
1) How does flexibility help overall recovery and results in a training program?
Flexibility is an important component of achieving and maintaining healthy, full range of motion around the joints. It’s important to check the range of motion, and only stretch muscles when the fi bers are short and tight as opposed to long and tight.

2) What is self-myofascial release (SMR)?
Myo refers to muscle, fascia to the tissue that surrounds the muscle fibers. By putting pressure on tender areas along the muscle tissue, the golgi tendon organs help trigger the relaxation of the muscle spindles, helping to dissipate the adhesions, increase blood fl ow, and enhance overall movement.

3) How can I use self-myofascial release to enhance the training program and recovery?
Try this sequence: release the knots or adhesions with a foam roller, by putting pressure on the knots for 20-30 seconds while breathing. Then, stretch the muscle fibers with either static or dynamic stretching. After this, pick a mobility exercise to encourage proper movement patterns, and follow with a strengthening exercise.

miss petite america said...

one word: yoga.

it helps with flexibility and believe it or not your overall strength.

you don't know how many times in yoga we'll do a pose and i'll be like whoa i didn't even know you could stretch those muscles. a yoga class after a run is like the best feeling on earth.

also i don't know what you do for cross training, but swimming or something in the pool also helps. you get a bit of resistance from the water and your motions are much more fluid.

just my two cents.

Laufenweg said...

hi! my only suggestion to add is to get over your ailments first before you start hard-core training. see a specialist. don't wait. :-) (advice from the person who sets her own broken bones. do as i say, not as i do. ha)

ReneeMc said...

As someone who is neither improving or staying healthy, I can proffer not even the smallest amount of advice. I do hope you feel better soon, though.

Michele said...

Crossing training!!!!

Bike, swim, weights...

Less burn out too.

Addy said...

Not that I have all that much experience in this category (my improvements are mostly from going from non-runner to runner and increasing my mileage). However, I'd second (or third) the yoga suggestion, or at the very least just make sure to have a good stretch after every run. Also, crosstraining once a week (and making sure to focus on core stuff) is really good. Strong core = happy back :D

Glad you're feeling a little better!

Jim said...

Sounds like:

1) You need more rest.

2) Stretching would be good.

3) Agree you should see a specialist.

Love your blog, Phil.

Love2Run said...

Wow, lots of good advice here. I've got my 2c worth since you asked for it:
1) train on some downhills and learn to run hard going down but be careful you don't get hurt (or do 1/2 squats against the wall)
2) crunches (do as I say not as I don't)
3) stretch and strengthen with shoulder raises from the prone position
4) stretch daily, yoga? (not me) but it's obvious you need a regular routine
5) You need to stay healthy and create a plan with only a few tweaks I think. Up the miles a bit, start with more tempo and pace work to teach yourself the new faster paces. Pfitz is still good, just move up a level.

Are we having fun yet? Hey, there's a tough but cool marathon coming up in Maine on Oct. 14. Want to come?

Thomas said...

1) the best way to build up your quads for downhill running is to do a lot of downhill running. You can also add weight training (e.g Mike's half squats are very effective).

2) 3) 4) Sounds like you should do some stretching. Or yoga, which obviously includes stretching. A massage for your back might help, too. And especially for 2) some walking (warm-up) might help before your runs.

5) You could change the training program, or you could switch to the 70-miles Pfitz plan. It's not as bad as it looks once you start on it.

Deene said...

i'm ready to starting reading about your experiences in yoga classes

DawnB said...

Phil, great advice being given. I hope some help to relieve your agony and you are back on track soon. The best advice I can add is listen to your body.

Mike said...

Can't add much to what these good folks have told you already. I think your front hurts because your back hurts. Once you get your back in good order some of the load should come off the abs/adductors etc..

As far as what to add to the training, I'd look to the log first. I honestly believe CONSISTENCY is paramount, which is why when I first made training suggestions I mentioned running slower. By running slower I think you were able to run more often and longer than you had been. Now that you're faster, it might be time to really examine the log and see where the gaps are. If the zero days exhibit a pattern (say, day after a long run, a tempo run, or some of your extreme, back-wrenching travel), find a way to make sure you can get a run in on these days. Just a few ideas here.

I think Pfitz still has lessons to teach with another go-around.

Jim said...

Phil, IMHO I beleive that sometimes going back to your roots is the answer. Why did you start running? Why are you driven to do Carlsbad?

Yes . . . everyone here is offering good advice for the physical Phil but what about the emotional Phil? You know that you are falling behind on a daily basis and you know you have physical symptoms that you need to address yet you are hellbent on diving into one of the more aggressive plans I'm acquainteted with (Pfitz).

Are you running to qualify for Boston? Are you trying to beat fellow competitors in your age group? Are you wanting to enjoy yourself on an early morning run while listening to the birds sing and watching the sun rise?

Sort through you physical problems but also look inside. Adjusting your attitude is not weakness. In fact, learning what makes you tick takes a lot of effort. I think you taught me that about a year ago.

good luck!

Ewen said...

Phil, I agree with Mike about the importance of consistent training. I attribute my good half to consistent training with lots of much easier running than in previous years. These are my other tips...

Just do easy running in the build-up to 40MPW and then keep most of it easy. Do much easier runs as well. For me, these are 9.45 to 10.15 mile pace. Use the HRM and slow down or walk if the HR gets over 90%. Most of your runs should be between 70-80% of max.

With speedwork (apart from short races), do longer reps (miles, 2ks) below lactate threshold pace (about half marathon race pace). Keeping lactate out of the muscles helps recovery for the next day.

For the quads, do weekly easy running over hilly courses. Even though it's fun, don't race in training.

Anne said...

Have you been to see someone to rule out such ailments as a hernia (for the chronic abdominal pain)? It can be tough to mentally stay in the game when the prospect of pain-free running seems to dim at the moment.

Jamie said...

I have nothing much to add as all of the ideas previously mentioned sound great. I particularly like the ideas of yoga, cross training, and keeping the runs slow and steady. Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

you need to see a PT that specializes in running issues!
In the meantime I would get a runner's massage to work out the kinks and start a stretching program - yoga or i really like phil wharton's book. he is a PT and writes for runner's world and has a stretching program for runners in the book. Best of luck! Take it easy and rehab.

Josh said...

Wow... lots of great advice here:

Xtraining is going to be key as is the stretching, yoga and foam rollering.

One last item. Remember the 10% rule. Don't ramp the mileage too quickly.

Bex said...

Two words: Bikram Yoga. Okay, two more: core conditioning.

They help strengthen and stabilize your core, which makes your running form more efficient and takes the pressure off your smaller leg muscles.