Ramp Or Taper?

26 11 2007

The physio rehab on my left knee has been going well. Still no definitive x-ray results though. Since re-injuring the knee on the 17th, I took a full week off with no running. The timing has been particularly annoying because I’ve got a 5k race on December 1st, so on the 24th I ran 30 minutes on the treadmill at a slow pace (covered 5k in 30 min). Then today, I decided to run outdoors on a flat gravel pathway but just for 3k. Given that I have run only about a third of my October mileage this month, I feel like I need to ramp up this week to get ready for the race. But at the same time, if my knee is still tender at all, I don’t want to wear it out. I think I’ll do one more training run on Wednesday and then take two days off leading up to race day. Something tells me I shouldn’t hold out hope for a sub-25:00 5k, but I did just set a new 3k PB of 14:21 today when I was trying to take it relatively easy. With any luck, there’s still some residual benefit to be mined from my October training even after I’ve been coasting all of November.


Let’s Get Physio

20 11 2007

Well, my run this past Saturday was a little bit of a disaster. It had been two full weeks since my left knee injury; one week off entirely, and the second was symptom-free on the treadmill. About 4k in to my Saturday run and in the middle of a long climb, I could tell my knee was still messed up. Once I made it to 4.43km (half of my intended 5.5 mile Ryan Shay memorial run), I reversed course and backtracked instead of facing the longer and steeper hills had I continued.  By 5k the pain was every bit as bad as it was two weeks before and I resorted to walking. This was tremendously frustrating, but the ‘smart’ (i.e., rational) thing to do. Of course, as soon as I started walking I was seeing more and more runners on the path. Once demoted to a walker, I felt the double humiliation of no longer being worthy of the Runner’s Nod/Wave, while also progressing slow enough to draw “Hello”s from dog walkers and stroller-pushers. So, whenever the path would approach any semblance of flatness, I ran again. The flats were virtually pain-free, but any incline reawakened the daggers in my knee. With this combination of mostly walking and brief running spurts, I made it back home in a surprisingly quick 57:00 for 9k. This was helped greatly by a first 4k in just over 20:00, which I think is a new PR for that distance. My short-term goal is to get under 25:00 for a 5k, but that’s all moot if I’m injured.

I want to treat this injury as effectively as possible and it seems serious enough that two weeks of taking it very easy didn’t fully alleviate the problem. So today I went and saw a physiotherapist for the first time. While there is a little bit of hamstring tendinitis towards the outside of the knee, this wouldn’t be the source of the severe pain. The physio recommended x-rays to see whether I might have a little bone fragment floating around back there after I bashed the kneecap in at the end of October. That’s a little more serious than I thought, but at least it would be a logical explanation for why I can walk and run on a treadmill with no problems but the hills kill my knee. It will be a while before I know, but in the meantime they put me on this muscle-twitcher device that provides pulsing electrical stimulation to the area to reduce inflammation. Weird sensation, but so far so good. I’ve been told to take it easy, but I’m just keeping my fingers crossed I can get a few decent training runs in before my next race on December 1st!

Ryan Shay Memorial Run – November 17th

16 11 2007

The Complete Running Network is promoting the Ryan Shay Memorial Run for tomorrow, November 17th. Shay was the U.S. elite marathoner who tragically died during the olympic men’s trials two weeks ago Saturday. There is no formal organization to this run. The concept is simple – dedicate your Saturday (or Sunday) run to Ryan’s memory by commenting on the CRN post HERE and let others know you have done so. Ryan died at the 5.5 mile mark, so that is the suggested distance but it is obviously the thought that counts and any distance will do.

I will be returning to my main training route, which happens to be almost exactly 5.5 miles.

It’s A Small (Running) World

13 11 2007

My left knee seems to be almost 100% back to normal now, but I’m still taking it easy and running on a treadmill instead of outdoors this week. This blog has been up for a little over a month now, and it’s been a great venue to meet fellow running fanatics and read their blogs too. Since this is my first real attempt at a public website, I’ve been blown away by the variety of visitors I’ve had from around the world (even with my modest 200 or so hits in the past month). Barring any glitches in my Statcounter, this blog has been visited by runners from:

  • The Bronx, New York, USA
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Sydney, Australia
  • London, England
  • Trento, Italy
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Malaga, Andalucia, Spain
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tromso, Norway
  • Fredericia, Denmark
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Santiago, Chile

…among others. Hello! Maybe I’m being a little slow to realize that the web really is world-wide, but it’s awesome to have you all as visitors. I hope you enjoy your stay and I would love to hear about your running experiences too!

Mini Rehab

10 11 2007

Well, unfortunately it’s been a slow week for running as well as posting. At the end of October, I smashed my left kneecap down on a rock while kneeling to position myself better to take a photograph (my other hobby at the moment). This resulted in some bruising, but otherwise I didn’t notice any effects until I was about 7k into my usual training route on November 4th. On a long climb, my left knee started hurting a bit and an outer rear tendon around my knee felt like it was sticking/clicking with every step. I kept running for a while, but pulled up short and walked the last k home. I took the next three days off entirely, and then hit the treadmill for some low-intensity training. The knee felt fine when running on the treadmill, but it’s still a little tender and feels ‘clicky’ when I get up from sitting down for a long time. I’m itchin’ to get back on the streets, but I think I’ll have to be good and stick to the treadmill for the next few runs. I’m registered for a race on December 1st, so I don’t want to blow it and be a no-show. The weather’s making it easy to stay indoors though – our first major snowfall is coming down as I type!

Running Scared

4 11 2007

Top contender Ryan Shay died yesterday at the U.S. Olympic Men’s Marathon trials in New York City. Shay was a 28 year-old elite athlete and collapsed about 9k into the central park course on a cool fall day perfect for running. I really don’t have much useful or meaningful to contribute to any conversation on the matter, but his death will certainly bring the question of whether running is a dangerous sport back into the spotlight (whatever spotlight running commands in the media, that is). I find the idea of collapsing mid-run to be terrifying – doubly so because when I run at least part of my thoughts are about how I’m happy to be doing something that’s good for me, not risky.

No runner can deny that running is a high-impact (bear with me, pose methodists and chi-runners) activity, and that it puts a physical strain on our bodies. The payoff is usually that for the 95% of our lives when we’re not running we’re in much better condition and considerably less stressed/strained. I fear we’ll hear some refrains of “remember Jim Fixx“, but Jim’s tale ought not be a cautionary one but a celebratory one. Fixx had advanced coronary artery disease and a cholesterol count of 250 at the time of his death (from genetic predisposition and 35 years worth of bad habits before he took up running). From what I’ve read, Ryan Shay also had a serious medical condition (enlarged heart) which put him at increased risk. I don’t write this to down-play the risks or say that Jim and Ryan were flying foolishly in the face of medical advice, but that for 99.9% of runners running will add years to our lives, not take them away. The handful of ‘poster children’ for the risks of running should have positive voices or at least be heard in a healthy balance with the risks of inactivity (heart disease and stroke are the #1 killers in North America and Europe).

Target Practice

29 10 2007

Since this is my first year of running, I’m a little leery of losing momentum when the cold comes. The “off season” here in Halifax will probably be from January to mid-March, which doesn’t sound too bad, but extended hibernation can be tempting. I think it will be important to keep a few carrots dangling in front of me; or at least to spell out my intentions so it’s not as easy to backslide. Here are some of my immediate and not-so-immediate running goals:


  • – Join Run Nova Scotia to score a t-shirt and get ready for some friendly competition for the 2008 season.
  • – Register and race in the Halifax Santa Shuffle 5k on December 1 (goal time sub-25:00)


  • – Compete in at least 7 Run Nova Scotia races (year end standings based on your best 7 finishes)
  • – Complete Bluenose International Half Marathon (just double my current furthest distance)
  • – Complete a marathon (if I can do the Bluenose half in May, I’ll probably feel this is within reach)
  • – Finish in top 5 for my age class by 2008 season end for Run Nova Scotia

One Day/Year:

  • – Complete New York Marathon
  • – Complete Boston Marathon
  • – Complete Comrades Ultramarathon in South Africa (ya right!)
  • – Complete Spartathlon in Greece (okay, now I’m really just kidding! It’s 246km for pete’s sake!)

I think today’s post-run high is making this list a tad ambitious, but that’s what goals are for anyway, right? Just to show how there’s always a longer and tougher race out there to tackle, take a look a this elevation profile comparison which humbles a lot of people’s ‘Holy Grail’ race: Western States vs. Boston