Archive for the 'injuries' Category


A Litany of Excuses

There’s lots of reasons why I haven’t blogged much recently. The main reason? I haven’t been running as much. Since the Fourth of July I have only run a single race, the Twin Cities Duathlon. I was pleased with my performance in the 5k run – 18mi ride – 5k run race, both of my 5k’s were around 23:00. Otherwise not much in my running world. Here’s why:

July was actually a pretty good month. Almost 150 miles of running in. August started off horrible. At the beginning of the month I got the bright idea to do a Friday run barefoot. Normally I do not run on Friday and I do not run barefoot. Needless to say, this did not end well. After 1.3 miles my feet were bloodied and blistered. I could barely walk for the next four days.

I managed to come back a week later with a 20 miler and a good solid week, but then I got the norovirus that I lovingly spread to my wife because I thought it was non-contagious food poisoning. If you haven’t ever had the norovirus, here’s how it works. First, it lies in wait for a day or two. Then it cleans EVERYTHING out of you from both sides and makes sure you can’t take anything else down. Then you’re just left dehydrated and exhausted for a week after. Thus, I missed a whole week of runs.

At the end of the norovirus week I did a 17 mile run and the next day was the duathlon. My knee was killing me, so I took a few days off. Did a 5 miler then a 20 miler. My knee still hurt. To cap off the 20 miler I went and boarded a plane for Europe that evening and spent two weeks in Europe. I didn’t run at all in Europe. Lots of walking, but no running. This was probably a good thing. After some long days of “museum walking” for eight to twelve hours my legs were killing me. Running would have been bad.

I returned to New York yesterday night. This weekend called for a 20 miler, I’m not jumping right into that. I’m going to build some mileage this week after my nice early morning six miles today. On Saturday I’ll run the Fifth Avenue Mile and then on Sunday I’ll do a 20 miler.

This leaves me with a very short taper for Chicago. I had hoped to peak there, now I’m just hoping to finish. Life is like that. I love Chicago, I’m going to love the race. I just won’t be down around 3:30 for it.


What Does This MRI Mean?

I’ve been struggling with persistent pain in my hip and lower back. The doctor initially believed that it was an IT band issue. Three months of therapy and little progress and we concluded that maybe that wasn’t the problem. The next thought was that it might be nerve damage in my lower back. This led to an MRI, which I got done a little over a week ago. After the experience I received a CD with my images on it. Of course, no guidance is provided about interpreting the images.

Lower Spine MRI

One of the images from my MRI of my lower spine. I'm a little concerned because it looks like my spine is curved.

Here’s one of several images that were on the CD. This is my spine looking either down or up, I’m not certain which. What I’m really concerned about here is the fact that my spine appears curved. I really hope that’s just a result of me not sitting completely flat and being slightly twisted, and not actually a curved spine. Oh well, maybe one of these days my doctor will call me back and let me know what’s really up with it.

Until the, well, I’m getting antsy. I’ve been running small to moderate amounts recently and doing some exercises to improve my core strength. I did a seven and eight miler on Saturday and Sunday. Incredibly slow pace and I had to stop and walk a few times, but they felt good and I didn’t have any pain at the end of them. That’s a start. Now, to get rid of this weight that I’ve packed on since I scaled back my training…


Running Goals for 2010: Looking Back

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I regard 2010 as a big fat failure when it comes to running. Something went wrong in my right hip and lower back in May and it took me four months to finally see the doctor. Since then I’ve been in therapy and haven’t exactly made wonderful progress. My hip still hurts, but at least I can run. I’m optimistic about the next year, which means that it’s time to set some goals for 2011.

However, before setting goals for 2011, I’d like to take to some time to go over my successes (few) and failures (lots) of my 2010 goals:

  • Distance Run: 1500 miles
    Nope – injuries limited me to 676 miles this year. Since September I’ve run under 60 miles. I didn’t run at all in June and only ran twice in July. That’s a huge disappointment and has cascaded to other aspects of my life.
  • Marathons: 2 (Big Sur and Chicago)
    Nope – I ran Big Sur and registered for Chicago, but I made the decision to pull out of Chicago in early September because I hadn’t trained enough and was in some serious pain. That was the point where I finally decided to see a doctor. Not like that helped any.
  • Half Marathons: 2 (NYC and ???)
    Yes! – I started out the year with Manhattan Half Marathon in Central Park, followed it up with the NYC Half Marathon in March, and closed the year with a very painful Grete’s Great Gallop in October.
  • Other Races: Enough to qualify for 2011 NYC marathon
    Yes! – I did 10 NYRR races and volunteered at one. I’ll be running the 2011 NYC Marathon!
  • Weight: 165 lbs
    Nope – Utter failure on this one. Not running made me FAT. Seriously FAT. Next year I need to really watch what I eat.
  • Fastest Marathon: sub 3:50:00 (Chicago)
    Nope – I didn’t run Chicago. Big Sur was brutal on me, but I was still happy with my 4:22:49 time on a challenging course.
  • Fastest Half-Marathon: sub 1:50:00
    Yes! – I managed this twice, both for the Manhattan Half Marathon at 1:48:26 and then two months later clocked a 1:43:44 for the NYC Half Marathon. AWESOME!
  • Marathons ran with friends: 1
    Nope – I was hoping to run Chicago with some friends. That didn’t materialize.

It’s refreshing to see that I managed to complete some of my goals, but I’d still say that this year was disappointing. It’s really difficult to say what 2011 will hold. I’m still injured, but I’m getting a better idea of how to deal with my injuries and what I need to do to ensure that I stay healthy. Primarily this requires taking a more holistic view of running and my personal health.


Well, That’s Not It…

I’ve been basically sidelined from running since the beginning of May.  I think that I’ve run about 180 miles since then.  It’s been really disappointing.  Back in September I finally saw a doctor and the preliminary diagnosis was bursitis in my hip caused by the IT band.  I believed him, he’s the doctor. But the diagnosis didn’t address all of the injury, I had pains in my lower back after about 7-8 miles of running too. Nevertheless, I proceeded with physical therapy.

Today, after about 10 weeks of physical therapy and a lack of response to the anti-inflammatory drugs I was on it became clear that if I do have an IT band related injury, that’s probably not the root cause of my injury. So, possible diagnosis number two is…

Nerve Damage in the Lower Back!

I had a bunch more x-rays shot through me and nothing was immediately visible.  Now it’s time to think about getting an MRI.  That should be fun. Well, in theory if it’s a nerve, then it’s not like I’m doing damage if I run, right?


Barefoot Hippie Running

It’s no secret that this year has been incredibly frustrating from a running point of view. I only ran one marathon, although I had hoped to run two or three. Nevertheless, I’m positive for future running. By the end of the year I’ll have 10 races with the New York Road Runners, the Big Sur Marathon, and a handful of other runs. Not too bad.

I’ve been in physical therapy for my IT band injury since I was diagnosed in September. I haven’t made a ton of progress, so I’m thinking that it’s not actually the IT band. We’ll see when I visit the doctor tomorrow.

In any case, it’s been killing me that I haven’t been able to do longer runs, so I’ve been sneaking in shorter runs. One way to ensure that I don’t go too far is to do the runs in my hippie shoes, err…Vibram Five Fingers.

My barefoot hippie shoes

My Vibram FiveFingers KSO Remix

The main that they keep my mileage and thus additional pain down, is the fact that it’s really hard to run really long distances because of the difference in impact. When barefoot running you strike with the ball of your foot instead of the heel. This, in turn, gives your calves one hell of an exercise. Unfortunately, when you live at the top of a 220 ft hill that you climb in 0.3 mi you’re going to be in serious calf pain. I can barely walk today.

Any tips for barefoot hippie running?


More Injured than I Thought

In my last post I talked about how good it felt to get back to running — and it did. Unfortunately, after running about 100 miles in August I realized that I was still injured. After about 5 miles I experienced excruciating pain in my right hip and lower back.

I’ve concluded that I’m not going to run in the Chicago Marathon. It was hard as hell and in some ways it’s like I’m admitting defeat, but it’s something that I need to do. Also, I finally saw a doctor and the ailment is…the IT band!

I’ll spend the next couple of months doing some physical rehab and a couple of short races to hit nine races for the NYRR and qualify for the 2011 NYC Marathon. Next year I’ll do Chicago and NYC. Yeah, it’s gonna be brutal, but it’s gonna be awesome.

Here’s to looking for a better 2011.


Coming Back From Injury

For a runner getting injured almost always does two things: slows down our overall pace and messes with our mental state when it comes to running.  Since mid-May I’ve been moderately injured and too lazy to see a doctor about it. I’m not entirely certain what the injury is, but I do know that my right hip hurts and sometimes my lower back also hurts.  I only ran about 80 miles in May and didn’t even run once in June.  Last week I started running again, and it was painful.

While there is some pain from the horrible heat in the New York area, and some pain from the fact that I my hip still hurts and that my pace has fallen about two minutes per mile since I hit my best back in May.  However, the biggest pain is that I now question myself.  I question whether or not I can run Chicago.  Heck, yesterday I was questioning whether or not I could complete what used to be a very routine seven mile training run.

What I needed was confirmation that I could complete a good run.  Today I had that.  The New York Road Runners had their first long training run in Central Park. Comprising of four loops runners could choose to do either 6, 11, 16, or 20 miles. It seemed as though most people were looking to either 11 or 16, with only a few die-hards doing 20 as the NYC Marathon training schedule doesn’t have people at that distance yet.  I joined a pace group that was slower than I thought I could run — 10 minute miles, and ran at a moderate pace and finished 11 miles without any major difficulties.

The race started, however, with some significant concerns.  I was worried about whether or not I could even complete one lap of Central Park.  I was worried about maintaining pace. I was worried about my hip hurting too much. I was worried about my knees and ankles.  Luckily, I spent the entire race talking to another guy who was doing the NYC Marathon for his first marathon.  This (and the pacers ahead of me) forced me to not over exert myself and not try to be a superhero.  As we came around from the first loop after six miles I was still feeling great.  Around mile 9 as we were coming up to the east side of the Reservoir I began to wonder if maybe I should go sixteen.  Were it just me I might have been stupid enough to try. However the guy I was running with, who I never got his name — sorta like an seat buddy on a flight, reminded me that I said 11 miles was going to be my max. I realized he was right, and at the end of the second loop I pulled over, grabbed my pretzels, bananas, and some recovery gatorade and bowed out.

I realize that three months I was doing 20 mile runs on the weekend for fun, and at a much better pace. But this, even at it’s reduced pace and distance, felt good. It was the first time that something good happened while running this summer. Sometimes that’s the most important thing.  The mental wall is cracked. And equally important, I think that I might be able to run the Chicago Marathon in October.  We’ll see how the next two or three weeks go before I make my decision and book tickets or decide to let the registration fee go away.

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Marathon Times

2011 NYC Marathon3:57:45
2011 Hartford Marathon3:58:17
2011 Chicago Marathon4:20:16
2011 Grandma's Marathon4:07:43
2010 Big Sur International Marathon4:22:49
2009 NYC Marathon4:37:05
2009 Twin Cities Marathon4:43:28
2009 Pittsburgh Marathon4:14:38
2008 Erie Marathon5:11:40

Upcoming Races

  • Nov 6 - New York City Marathon, New York, NY
For previous races, check out my Race Log