Tag Archives: strength training

Physiotherapist taping up someone's knee

Week 2: I’ve been here before

In less than three months it will be one year since the knee reconstruction surgery.

Some say writing down a goal and making it public will help achieve it. Other research says talking about a thing becomes (in one’s mind) a substitute for actually doing it, thus undermining motivation. But I’m determined —

On Saturday April 9, I’m going to run at least 5 kilometres.

My physiotherapist says absolutely I will be able to run 5K by April 9th, and then, possibly, pull off a sprint triathlon in the summer. He gave me my first two weeks of workouts, written on a piece of paper which I promptly left in the treatment room. But no matter, I have them committed to memory. It’s pretty simple: at least 2 track workouts per week jogging the straights and walking the curves, ramp up length/intensity as long as I’m relatively pain-free. Do my strength routine on off days (as well as swim and ride bike and get on the elliptical trainer).

I’ve come back from debilitating injury before; I KNOW how much work this is going to be. It’s going to involve change, and dragging myself to workouts I “don’t wanna!” do in order to be consistent. It involves elliptical machine, and the track, neither of which are my favourite places to work out, but if it gets me to my goal, I’m there. I’ve been there before. I can do this.

I’m not completely pain-free. When I overdo it, my knee hurts like a bugger – but the good news is I’m giving myself a chance to overdo it (with the oversight of my physiotherapist, and a clean bill of health from my surgeon, I hasten to add). I’m not sitting around working myself to death anymore – not since the Christmas holidays when I deliberately started increase my physical activity because I knew I had to get my stress levels in check. When I do overdo it, I back off, ice it, and hit the pool instead the next day. Working on a campus built on a hill helps. Stairs make me stronger, according to my physio guy.

I’m going to start by dragging that box full of running gear from the storage room. Wish me luck and cheer me on.


Shifting goals

Woke up with a sore SI joint this morning. I’ve been afflicted with it since he marathon training last year. I had a good physiotherapist and soldiered on, getting a 3-minute PB.

But then things just kind of went to hell.

I stopped doing my bootcamp class, I went on vacation for a month. I started to get weak. My injuries just don’t heal like they used to. In October, I put in my worst Half Marathon performance ever. Then I moved to Vancouver,

I’ve seen a PT here, but my last “treatment” consisted of showing me exercises that I won’t do every day like I’m supposed to. I can’t pay $70 per session for that.

I’m starting to wonder if my goal of putting in a sub 2-hour half marathon this year is doable. Getting faster means putting in some consistent fast mileage. Consistent fast mileage means injury. Injury means more time and money to PT and massage, neither of which I can afford right now.

So why can’t I be satisfied with a modest 25-30k of running per week at a moderate pace? Why do I have to set an ambitious goal? (Hey – I KNOW I’m slow. For me, 2 hours is an ambitious goal. I’m not you. Deal with it.) Why can’t I sign up for a race without a goal in mind? Why sign up for a race at all?Target

Well, because the best part about racing is the experience of the day itself: lining up with hundreds, if not thousands, of other runners excited about their performance. Race day is a victory lap, a reward for training, for putting in the miles no one sees. Half the fun is cheering for the other runners on the course, especially team mates you’ve been training with for months.

In racing, my time does not count. I’m just another mid-to-back-of-the-pack runner in a sea of spandex. I’m not even going to place in my age group. Ever.

It’s the journey, not the tape. Hell I won’t even see the tape.

Training hard also takes away from other things I want to do: writing, cooking spending time with my man (who just moved in), maybe even performing slam poetry again.

Someone with ultra-stamina could probably do all that and more. Not me, not any more. I know my energy levels and my priorities.

So, just as I’m reflecting on my priorities for 2012, I’m taking a good hard look at what I really want to accomplish this year, and I’m adjusting accordingly.


Digging down for my marathon spirit

Spirit has fifty times the strength and staying power of brawn and muscle.

Here’s the deal: I’m boarding a plane to Regina this afternoon and I’m running a marathon there on Sunday.

Here’s the catch: I’m limping.

Here’s the story:

I have been feeling fantastic: training went well, taper started a couple weeks ago, I’m feeling strong and well-prepared.

I went for a run Monday night: 10-11 km was all that was on the schedule, including a 5k pick-up at about a half-marathon pace.So I warmed up for 1.5k, ran 3k tempo and slowed it down a bit for 2 k. Then I met up with Scott (the loyal, consistent member of my Running for the Truly Terrified group) and we ran an easy 6 k from there.

Towards the end of the run I noticed my calf was a little stiff. We stretched when we finished, it went away. Then when I got home I iced my feet and had a hot shower – no stiffness. The next day I felt great – nothing hurt or was stiff.

It was rainy though, and I broke out my winter shoes and walked around all day in them. I don’t have a car, I live close to downtown, work, grocery stores, etc. so mostly I walk to where I need to go.

That night though the pain came as I lay in bed: upper calf just below the knee. Ouch. I iced it, then I heated it. The next day: same thing, but I though it’s just those pre-race nerves you get that amplify every little creak and grown in your body. I laughed it off — sort of.

I flew to Vancouver, where I walked from the Helijet terminal to our office downtown, and back at the end of the day. It was a beautiful day, I wouldn’t think to take a cab or shuttle!

Except my leg kept hurting. I started to get worried, but I thought – no problem, I have my pre-race massage booked for Thursday afternoon.

Nicola, my massage therapist, explained as she worked on it, that it’s a little sausage-like muscle right behind the knee that has stiffened up. She tells me if I heat it, and work at it myself, a couple times a day today and tomorrow, I should be OK to run.

As I walked to meet up with some friends last night it was acting up again, hours after Nicola’s magic touch. Discouraged, worried, sore, on the verge of tears, I hailed a cab home, put a warm pack on my knee and commiserated with my daughter.

What if, after all that training, that one little sausage-like muscle keeps me from finishing the race? What if I can’t even run at all? How am I supposed to run if I can’t even walk without a limp?

Well then, I wouldn’t be the first runner felled during a race because of an injury. One wise marathoner told me the true test of my mettle would come the day I had to DNF (“Did Not Finish” – it’s what they list you as if you drop out in the middle of a race). I’ve never done it, not over a number of 10k, four half marathons and one marathon – not finishing is just about the worst thing I could think of doing.

I keep going over my past week wondering what I could have done differently. Did I push the pace too much Monday night? Was it the winter shoes I broke out on Tuesday? Why couldn’t I just wear old runners in the rain and bring other shoes to work? Did I walk too much thinking it would loosen up?

Woulda coulda shoulda – what’s done is done. Even as I write this I realize all is not lost. I will follow Nicola’s instructions. I will be there at the starting line on Sunday. I will probably finish the race – but the dreaded DNF is an option if I’m completely crippled by injury on race day.

It wouldn’t be the end of the world, just another story in my running/life journey.