Life Off The Bike

My ailments

My ailments

Hello, there.  Long time, no post.

Some of you may be mildly interested in what I’ve been up to.  I have been bombarded by literally several inquiries as to my whereabouts.  Basically, I’ve been busy running and since this is a blog concerned with cycling activities, I did not find anything particularly relevant to share with you, Dear Reader.  Still, I shouldn’t have just departed without explaining myself.  That was rude and for that I apologize unreservedly.

After my succussful foray into triathlon, I became a full-time runner.  I had a little over two months to prepare myself for the Army 10 Miler and the Marine Corps Marathon, which are run on consecutive Sundays in late October.  I was nursing a chronically sore calf muscle, so I rested a week and started with the basics:  a three mile run.

A simple three miler is a humble starting point for a fellow who wants to run 26.2 miles in ten weeks, but I felt that was the best course of action.  If I added one mile a week (with a couple of exceptions where I’d add two miles) I could get up to a run of 15 miles.  That was going to have to be enough training because that’s all the time I had.  It actually was slightly better than what I did last year when I unexpectedly ran the marathon on five days notice. I busily studied running and training strategies and became an adherent of the Galloway Method of running, which encourages regular breaks for walking to prevent the running muscle group from tiring too quickly.  I bought new shoes.  I put away my bike and focused on my goal.

What followed were ten weeks of modest success punctuated by regular setbacks.

Despite being almost obsessively concerned about injury prevention, the injuries still came.  Most of the nasty joint-related pains in my ankles and knees failed to materialize, the result (I believe) of superior shoes designed to prevent the pronation that causes those injuries.  Instead, muscle-related injuries occurred.  Slowly, the pain moved up my leg, either do to overuse or compensation or both.

Things started this Spring in my foot (#1 in the above figure).  Severe nerve pain under my toes hampered most runs and made cycling rides over 40 miles an exercise in extreme pain.  Discarding my new cycling shoes and making changes in other footwear largely solved this problem, but not before a chronic pain emerged in my Achilles Tendon (2).  Rest seemed to cure this problem, only to have my old friend the calf strain (3) return during my triathlon training.  I know how to handle this condition and it didn’t disable me the way it has in year’s past.  This is where I was when I finished the triathlon.

The pain moved up my leg as marathon training became serious – runs of eight or more miles caused significant soreness in my quad muscles (4).  I wasn’t going to let that sort of thing stop me and simply increased the massages, hot baths, and stretching in that area.  But then a particularly nasty pain developed in my hip (6).  I’m still not entirely sure if the pain is in the joint or the hip flexor but it hurt quite a bit.  I began taking glucosamine to help with my joints and I must admit I didn’t notice a large improvement.

I battled on, with runs now at 13 miles.  Then, on an innocent four mile run on a weeknight, it happened:  a torn hamstring.  This occured a mere two weeks before the Army Ten Miler.  It was only a slight tear and I stopped running immediately, but this was a major setback.  My only recourse was to rest it for the last two weeks, show up at the Ten Miler, and see what happened.

The Army Ten Miler

The Army Ten Miler

Things felt pretty good on the morning of the Ten Miler.  I was stretching with no pain and my first two miles were at the encouraging pace of 8:20/mile.  As I passed the Lincoln Memorial and the marker for Mile 2, I felt a twinge in my hamstring.  Not good.  I dialed my pace back to about 9:00/minute a mile and found I could continue without too much pain.  My hamstring was letting me know it was there, but seemed agreeable to the new pace.

After five miles, the slight strand of tissue that was holding my hamstring together gave notice that it was no longer going to participate in this charade and stopped working.  At this point, you can see the air slowly leave my balloon in each mile’s pace:

Mile 6: 10:08

Mile 7: 10:24

Mile 8: 10:37

Mile 9: 11:09

Mile 10: 11:55

I got across the line with the disappointing time of 1:38:26, about thirteen minutes slower than I hoped for.  In addition to my hamstring, my hip was screaming at me for the last two miles.  It was obvious that I wouldn’t be able to run the marathon.  My great training schedule had netted me almost nothing.  I had accomplished more last year with far less focus on my running training.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. I’ve continued to rest in the past two weeks and most of the pain has subsided.  Although I still plan to run some local races (and triathlons), I suspect it will be a very long time – if ever – before I make another attempt at a marathon.

I haven’t been on my bike since September 14th.  Much of the nice Fall weather is gone and the onset of cold weather is only weeks/days away.    I think it’s time to go for a ride.

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26 thoughts on “Life Off The Bike

  1. Running, riding, walking, eating, photographing, historical marker informing — no matter what, we just need you posting again!

    Glad you’re okay, leg/hip stuff notwithstanding.

    I think God is telling you that you are a cyclist. Listen to him.

    Good to have you back

    • Cross-training works well for me at moderate distances. However, when attempting to build muscles/endurance for 100+ miles on the bike or 13+ miles in my sneakers, I find it necessary to focus primarily on that event.

  2. I’m with Gerry, get back on the bike and forget about running. Unless you are nine stone (or young), running is a tricky business and bikes are simply made for taking painless exercise on.

    I was pleased to see your post as like the rest of your readers, I was getting worried about your health especially after I had seen the progression you show above on your garmin site.

    If the worst comes to the worst, forget about running or cycling but just keep blogging as we readers need something well written and interesting to read on a regular basis.

    And get well soon..

    • Thank you very much. Armed with a calculator and the internet, I just determined how much nine stone is. Yikes.

      I shall try to do a better job with my posts. I lead a very dull life and my pedals are about the only thing I do of interest.

      • I very much doubt that. You are an interesting writer and will surely write interestingly about almost anything. I look forward to you trying anyway. I am really sorry about your leg troubles as they make life a bit of a chore. How is your better half doing. Is she injury free?

  3. Hey Steve,

    Just home from work, opened my email … and so glad to see your post. It’s funny this internet thing, when we “know” people we don’t know. Glad all is generally speaking well …and glad to hear you are back on your bike.

    Suze

  4. Yes I like the rest am glad to see you back, and that your absence is nothing too serious. I gave up the running some years ago for the bike full time. Every now and then I feel the urge to run again, and soon realise why I gave up, the body is 60, but the head is still 30. In truth the body usually knows better than the head. Good to see you back, stick to the bike.

    • Thanks, Robin. I look around me and see octogenerians running marathons and I say, “Why not me?” I guess I’m not blessed with the genes those guys have. I’m slowly learning this lesson, but I am a very stubborn person and I suspect it will take me a while longer to fully embrace the lesson.

    • For me, there is a HUGE difference between a half and a full marathon. It is much much more than twice the distance. Things seriously begin to hurt/break around Mile 15.

      • Agree completely, the training I had to do just to be respectable in my mind for he half was hard enough…

        Now, I could run 3 if I had to. I can walk and ride forever, but my running days have been set aside.

    • I’ve never torn a tendon but one time I was hit with two tons of rolling metal. To be fair, that was my fault, but then again most of the running injuries are my fault too!

    • I was already pretty sure that marathons (and training for them) weren’t the best thing for you. Better than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, I suppose, but still not ideal. This article definitely reinforces that notion for me!

      You definitely need to be comfortable around crowds for most of the big races around here!

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