Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Curing a Calf Muscle

I strained my calf during an interval workout on 8.12.10.  Since then, I've been working to rehab it in the hopes of salvaging a respectable fall season.  The doctor's diagnosis was a muscle strain which takes anywhere between 2 and 6 weeks to heal.  Key points to aid recovery:

  • Give it time to rest/heal.  It was a mistake to run a few days after the initial injury.  I encountered two setbacks, each a week a part, because I wasn't being patient enough.  The setback surfaced as a muscle spasm in the strained area while running (and I was running slow).  For me, I need to take a minimum of 2 weeks off from running to get the healing going.
  • The resulting spasms after the initial injury were the effect of the body protecting itself.  They did not do further injury.  The calf spasmed to tell me to stop running.
  • Speed work likely caused the injury.  Not an increase in mileage.
  • Immediately after the injury, for two days or so, do not stretch the muscle.  Massage is fine.
  • After a few days, begin stretching.  Also use a massage stick and foam roller over the muscle.
  • Good news: once the injury is fully healed you can start increasing quickly.  Increase the miles but not the speed.  A typical progression in running time would go something like this: 20 mins, 30 mins, 45 mins.
  • See a physical therapist as often as possible.  The therapist should work on releasing the knotted area with painful tissue massage.  This is good pain.  The therapist should also use a combination of laser, ultrasound, and stim treatments.
  • Ice frequently.  But don't just ice.  Do contrast treatments: 5 mins ice, 5 mins heat, repeat, repeat.
  • If you decide to take an anti-inflammatory, only take it for a few days after the initial trauma.  
  • Cross training is fine and can begin immediately after the injury.  Things that can be done: bike, swim, water jog, elliptical (although waiting a while on the elliptical is a good idea b/c it closely mimics the running motion).  
  • To prevent this injury, strengthening exercises are necessary.  You can't start the strengthening exercises, however, until the muscle is fully healed.  Things like calf raises need to be done in the volume of 3 sets of 30 reps.  I was doing 10 reps and that wasn't enough.  Jump rope is good and so are high knees.  I need to find more of these types of exercises.
The above list of things could do could work for all muscle strains.  These are just the things I know about.  I'm no doctor so the list is probably exclusive.  If there are other good tips out there, please let me know so I can try them out.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

This Week: 8.23 to 8.29.10

Monday 8.23
AM: core
PM: 5k in ~26 minutes
Nice and easy.  Started real slow then the calf muscle cramped up again.  I wanted 30 mins but only got 26 and another step backwards.  Frustrated.
Tuesday 8.24
AM: Doctor visit
PM: lifting and leg core
Doctor says the strain will take 2-6 weeks to heal.  That's a long time.  He did some deep tissue massage.  Painful but I can see how it's going to help.
Wednesday 8.25
AM: core
PM: 80 minute bike
Thursday 8.26
AM: 80 minute bike and core
PM: 50 minute bike
Friday 8.27
AM: chiro visit
PM: lift and leg core
Doctor said to try a twenty min jog over the weekend.  Good news is he said that once the calf is healed you can start building back up again pretty quickly.  The trick of it is that you have to make sure it's fully healed.  He thinks it's the speedwork that is causing the calves to tighten and cramp and ultimately strain, not the mileage.  Once ready, I'll start preventative maintenance which will include two different variations of calf raises at a clip of 3 sets of 30 reps.  I do some calf stuff now but not in that volume.  I'm hoping this adjustment to my supplemental work will prevent this from happening again.
Saturday 8.28
AM: 1:44 outdoor bike
PM: 32 min outdoor bike
Sunday 8.29
AM: 21 min jog
Step in right direction.  The calf did not spasm.

The Week
5 1/2 miles running
5:46 on the bike
3 core workouts
2 lifts

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

  --William Carlos Williams

Sunday, August 22, 2010

This Week: 8.16 to 8.22.10

The calf muscle spasm/cramp from last week has affected my training this week for the worse.  I saw a doctor on Tuesday and he told me to not even think about running until the weekend.  His diagnosis was a calf strain and called it "as hard as a rock."

Monday 8.16
AM: 90 min bike and core
PM: .5 mile run
This "run" was not a good idea.  I thought I'd go for an easy jog to test it out b/c it didn't hurt while walking.  Well, 6 slow minutes into the run the calf seized up again.  Now it hurts all the time.  Walking included.  Very upset with myself for "testing it out" especially when J advised against it.  The lesson here boys: listen to your wife.
Tuesday 8.17
AM: doctor visit
PM: lifting sequence
Doc says take ibuprofen for a couple days.  No stretching for about 48 hours.  OK to bike, swim, elliptical.  He thinks Monday's spasm was the calf protecting itself from further damage.  His diagnosis is strain and not tear b/c prior to Monday I could walk without discomfort.
Wednesday 8.18
AM: 1:45 bike
PM: core
I'd rather be running.
Thursday 8.19
AM: 61 min bike
PM: core
Time crunch on am bike.  Starting to fear that I'm getting way out of shape.
Friday 8.20
AM: lift
PM: 30 min of elliptical machine
Calf didn't feel too bad but not pushing it either.
Saturday 8.21
AM: 1:50 on the bike for 28+ miles
Sunday 8.22
AM: 21 minute easy jog
PM: 45 minutes on the bike (indoor trainer)
Calf felt tight at start of jog but got better as I continued.  Pace real slow.  No re-injury.  No spasming.  Encouraging.

For the Week
2 3/4 running miles
6:51 on the bike
3 core workouts
2 lifting sequences
Analysis:  I'm setting a September 1 goal for myself.  If I'm not back to real running by then, I'm in trouble for a fall marathon.  

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bridge of Flowers: The Race That Wasn't

The muscle spasm I incurred in my right calf on Thursday never released enough for me to be able to race.  I jogged a warmup hoping the knot would untie itself but that never happened.  If anything, it tightened a little after I stopped.  My mind told me to race; my body told me to scratch.  I did what my body told me to do despite feeling like a wuss.  I rationalized, telling myself that I wouldn't been able to help the team anyway b/c I wouldn't have been able to go all-out.  I think my decision was the right call b/c here I am four days removed from the spasm and still not able to run.  The calf is all kinds of locked up.

Good news is that I was able to cheer on the team and take a few pictures.  The bad news is my camera ran out of batteries after taking only ten.  What a day.  

CMS managed second place by a mere two seconds.  BAA took first and Whirlaway took third.  The guys did a good job of pushing through to the end to eek out a second place finish.  

Click here to see eleven measly pictures.

Below: Bob and DoubleJ between mile one and two.  Bob mentioned that he may have flipped the bird during the race and this picture might capture that moment.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

This Week in Running: 8.9 to 8.15.10

Goal for this week is to get in quality miles.  To train right through the Bridge of Flowers 10K while still posting a respectable time.  I'd like to be able to help out the team.

Monday 8.9
AM: 14 miles in 1:46.44
2 x 2 mile w/ 2:10 recovery.  3 mile warmup then the 2 mile repeats then another 7.  I wanted to finish this 14 miler with fatigued legs and hold a respectable pace.  The repeats were hard (I only got 2 splits: 5:18 then 5:52--accuracy of markers?) but I could not sustain a respectable pace on the backhalf of the run.  It was hot and I was thirsty.  I did this run in Alexandria, VA(home of the Titans from the film Remember the Titans) on the Mount Vernon trail which runs along the Potomac.  Awesome views of the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial and planes landing at Reagan Airport.
Tuesday 8.10
AM: core and 4 easy miles
PM: 3 easy miles
First day experimenting w/ doubles. 
Anniversary #3 for J and me.

Wednesday 8.11
AM: 15.75 in 1:44.58
PM: core
Solid tempo-progression on Forbidden Drive in Philly.  Some splits: 7:30, 6:51, 6:39, 6:48...6:28, 6:01, 5:51, 6:12...6:01, 5:50, 5:45, 5:56.  Like on Mount Vernon trail I question the accuracy of some of the markers. 
Thursday 8.12
AM: 10 miles in 78:30
PM: core
Muscle spasm midway through a 1200m workout.  Had to limp home.
Friday 8.13
PM: 3 slow miles
Right calf is still locked up from the spasm.
Saturday 8.14
AM: 2.5 miles
Did a warmup for the Bridge of Flowers race but my calf was still tight and affecting my stride.  I didn't run the race.
Sunday 8.15
AM: bike 29 miles
PM: 45 minute bike on indoor trainer

Weekly Totals
52 1/4 miles on 3.5 real days
2 1/4 hours on the bike
4 core workouts

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Muscle Spasm

On the 5th of 6 1200 meter repeats, I caught a cramp in my right calf.  It pretty much came out of nowhere.  I had to stop mid-repeat. I briefly considered restarting but thought better of it.  That ended my workout.  I'm a bit concerned.  Bridge of Flowers is less than 48 hours away.  I've been massaging it and icing it and will continue to do so.  I don't think it's anything major but still concerning with a race so close. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This Week in Running: 8.2 to 8.8.10

This is a cutback week. Right now my training cycles are 4 weeks; build 3, cutback 1.
Monday 8.2
AM: core
PM: 12.5 in 87:15
3 x 10 min pickups
Tuesday 8.3
AM: core and chiro visit
First non-running day since 7.3.10.  Need to foam roll the hips to keep the IT bands supple.  
Wednesday 8.4
AM: 9 miles in 61:50
PM: core
Maybe longer than 9.  Ended just above 6:00 pace.
Thursday 8.5
AM: 9.25 miles in 63:31
PM: core
Sub 6:00 by end of run.
Friday 8.6
AM: core
PM: 11.25 miles in 78:00
Trail run.  Steady state.
Saturday 8.7
PM: 5.75 miles in 42:43 
Easy run w/ ins and outs on the track followed by strides some of which were shoeless.
Sunday 8.8
AM: 7.25 miles in 55:30
Easy run.

For the Week
55 miles in 6 runs
5 core workouts
Analysis: This cutback week went as I expected.  Was thinking I'd hit between 50 and 55, and there I was right at 55.  The energy has been pretty good but the legs are not quite as poppy as I thought they'd be.  It's back to building for the next three weeks with a goal of getting into the 80s.  That might be hard to do this week as Bridge of Flowers will take the place of a Saturday long run.  

Sunday, August 1, 2010

This Week in Running: 7.26 to 8.1.10

Monday 7.26
AM: core
PM: 15 in 1:41.44
7 of the 15 was at threshold pace.  Bumped into U. of Hartford runner Eric Flaman and we ran together for most of the run.  Good conversation.  Good thirst-inducing effort.  
Tuesday 7.27
AM: core
PM: short bike then 3 slow miles
Wednesday 7.28
AM: 12.25 in 81:20
PM: core
Progression Run.  ~7:30 to ~5:50.  Pace felt good.
Thursday 7.29
AM: core
PM: 13 in 95:20
10 x "1000" w/ ~90 sec recovery.  I didn't do this on the track. I did it on grass and trail.  I'll hit the track in another week or two.
Friday 7.30
AM: lifting and 4 mile jog to/from gym
Saturday 7.31
AM: 18.75 miles in 2:14.06
Cool, unhumid weather really helped me on this one.  The miles came relatively easily.
Sunday 8.1
AM: 7.5 miles in 58:52
Easy trail run.
For the Week
73 1/2 miles in 7 runs
~10 miles on the bike
4 core sessions
1 lifting session
Analysis: This has been the third week in a building phase and I'm happy to get the miles into the low 70s.  This upcoming week will be a cutback week.

Below are two pictures from Stowe.
Photo courtesy of DoubleJ Running.
Photo courtesy of Krissy K.