Week of 6/17/13 – 6/23/13

week of 6/17/13 to 6/23/13

This week did not start off well; my notes from Nike+ say, “Easily the worst run ever.” I wasn’t planning to run on Monday, after having done 6 miles on Saturday and 3 miles on Sunday, but the weather was cooling down and I wanted to take advantage of it. I decided that I’d just go do a mile, maybe trying to top my PR time. My body wanted none of that. After my warm up, as soon as I started running, I got a side stitch. I stopped, walked it out, and reset my watch. Then started again. Side stitch again. I decided to ignore it. But I had more pressing problems. My legs did not want to do anything. My “run” was more of a shuffling jog, mixed with walking about every minute. It was bad. Basically, a few weeks ago, I noticed that my groin muscle was a little sore. I figure I’d probably pulled it a little, taped it up, and went on my way. But it really started to bug me on this run. Yay another injury!

Thus is why I went to the free injury screening on Wednesday. After hearing what they had to say, I decided to take a week or so off to see how I felt. Now it has been a week since I last ran, and my thigh/groin/hip area feels much better. I’m walking without limping, yay! However, as you can see by the countdown on the right, I only have a little over a week until I’m supposed to run a 10k. Thus, I’m giving myself till the middle of this week to determine if I will actually attempt it or not. I plan to go out for a short run on Wednesday or Thursday, see how I feel after that. Then I will determine if I need to go to the doctor or if I should continue training. Either way, I will probably take some time off after the 10k to get all healed up and then go to physical therapy and get a gait analysis done to make sure I am doing everything I can to not get injured when I start half marathon training.

So it may be a little quiet in the month of July around here. I’m so ready to get back to running regularly. I still have the appetite of a runner (in other words, I want to eat everything all the time) and fear I’m going to start gaining weight soon, ha.

Injury update!

Yesterday I went to a free injury screening at Fleet Feet Nashville. They hold 15 minute sessions twice a month to see if your running injuries are serious or not.

I first spoke with Dr. Clarke Holmes from Impact Sports Medicine. I explained my two problem areas to him: my soleus strain (which seems to be doing better) and the pain in my upper thigh/groin area (which seems to be getting worse). He first told me to hop on my left leg (the side with the groin pain). I probably looked at him like he was crazy because it pretty much kills me to do anything with that leg. But I did it, grimacing the whole time. Then he had me lie down and he tried bending my leg in a variety of ways, none of which hurt. Then he poked at my soleus, which almost caused me to scream once.

He concluded that I may have a stress fracture in my hip causing the groin pain. He said that I should have an X-ray and/or MRI done to rule that out because if it was a stress fracture, then continuing to run on it would make it worse and I would need surgery. He said he thought there was about a 60% chance that I didn’t. Not very comforting.

He seemed to agree with my assessment of my calf and didn’t seem overly concerned about it, though he did mention the possibility of a stress fracture there too.

Next I saw the physical therapist, Perry Smith from Pro Motion Physical Therapy. He had me stand straight and poked at my hips a bit. Apparently they are misaligned and this is probably what is causing my injuries. Hearing that my posture was a little messed up was not a super surprise to me, since I’m pretty sure that carrying a heavy backpack on only my left shoulder all those years messed it up. (For example, I’ve never been able to carry a purse on my right shoulder. It just slides off.) I was a little sad that my Wii lies to me though.

wii balance

Today I learned that having a perfect center of balance does not mean that your posture is awesome.

So I guess no more running till I see about my hip. Assuming that I actually don’t have a stress fracture, I will gingerly continue 10k training and then probably take some time off. Of course, if I do have one, time off is the only option.

Week of 6/10/13 – 6/16/13

Nike+ isn’t showing my Sunday run on the graph, once again, but the totals are right.

week of 6/10/13 to 6/16/13

After taking Monday as a rest day, I knew I needed to head out on Tuesday. However, driving home from work, my car told me it was 96 degrees outside. Ninety. Six. Not counting the 50% humidity. I didn’t want to die, so I opted for the treadmill, which I suspect I will be living on through July and August. It’s been a couple months since I had ran on the treadmill, so I had forgotten how much easier it is. Pacing is no problem since it controls your speed. I don’t have to worry about hills. No wind. I also forgot that it’s boring. Especially when Roomba ate your headphones and you haven’t gotten a chance to fix them. It didn’t matter. I blew through my 28 minutes I was supposed to run for Couch to 10k and did 33 instead. Still only 2.5 miles since I paced myself slow on purpose. On a 1% incline, I started at 4 mph and increased 0.1 every 2.5 minutes, ending up at 5.1 after 30 minutes. Then I ran 2.5 minutes at 6 mph, using the last 30 seconds as a jogging cool down. That workout would have destroyed me three months ago, but it was a piece of cake now. Although the workout room didn’t feel a whole lot cooler than outdoors, and I had sweat literally flinging off of me as I ran.

Wednesday was even hotter than Tuesday with the heat index topping out around 100 degrees, so I took a rest day and went out on a date with myself to see “Spirit of the Marathon II” for inspiration. The documentary follows seven people running the 2012 Rome Marathon and leading up to it. Inspirational, it was! I don’t know if I’ll ever run a full marathon, but I’m convinced I need to do it in Rome. (Paris would be cool, too, but I’ve never been to Rome.) I got a bit of a laugh when one of the runners went to buy some “runner torture devices”, aka the foam roller and the stick. It also managed to make me tear up in parts. Just see it if you get the chance.

I wanted to get up early Thursday morning to fit in a mile, but my soleus was still kind of hurting. Will it ever heal? I went to see She & Him at the Ryman Thursday evening, so it turned into another rest day. Probably for the better, since I really need my calf to get better.

Friday I drove up to Clarksville to visit my parents and got up early on Saturday to put in 6 miles of intervals. Strava had a challenge to run a 10k that day, so that is what I did. For the first mile, I did 2 minutes running, then 2 minutes walking. For the second and third miles, I increased to 3 minutes running. Then went up to 4 minutes running for the fourth mile. I wanted to increase again for the last full mile, but I was on a section of road where I was running into the sun and was low on water, so I ended up doing more of a 1:1 ratio again.

10k splits

Overall, I finished 10k in 1:17, which isn’t too bad considering it’s only the second time I’ve gone that distance. Hopefully I will be a little faster at the actual race in a couple weeks.

strava any way 10k finisher

My legs weren’t feeling too bad, so I went out on a recovery run on Sunday evening. I didn’t have an exact distance/time in mind, other than I wanted to do at least a mile and if I did a full 5k that would be pretty cool. But I didn’t want to push myself. It was supposed to be recovery, after all. I paced well on the first mile, but sped up after that and wore myself out after 2.8 miles. So just short of the 5k, I walked for about 3 minutes before finishing it out with a light jog. Still, I ran for over 32 minutes straight. Does that make me a Couch to 5k graduate since the last day is to run for 30 minutes straight? Even though I didn’t really run a full 5k? I’m counting it. On to the 10k!

The Science of Recovery

In my search for things to help with my calf strain, I learned that there’s lots of conflicting research about what actually helps in recovery after exercise or running and what is mostly in your head.


It’s the “I” in RICE (rest-ice-compression-elevation) that is the standard for injury treatment. Many runners enjoy ice baths after long runs to aid in recovery. Icing is thought to reduce swelling and pain from constricting the blood vessels. But does it actually do anything? One recent study says it can actually slow recovery. While it has been shown to aid in pain relief (for about 15 minutes), it can restrict your body from doing the things necessary to heal itself. Another study tested ice baths and found that they made little to no difference in inflammation and swelling, and, in fact, may have actually caused more delayed on-set pain. Yet another determined that it helped recovery if you believed it would. Overall, icing hasn’t been study very thoroughly. It’s hard to do blind tests (one can typically tell if they have ice on them), and sample sizes have been small. The jury is out on this one.

For more reading:
Ice Baths: Body and Mind
Icy Bath May Help Sore Muscles Recover
Bathing in ice after intense exercise ‘does not work’, says new report
Should We Ice Injuries?

It’s been proven that massage after exercise is beneficial in recovery (at least in rabbits). But who can afford to go to a masseuse after every run? That’s where self-massage comes in. There are several tools to aid in self-massage, but the most popular are foam roller and the Stick. However, not a lot of studies have been done on self-massage, and the ones are out there are contradictory. There’s probably a small chance that you could overstretch your muscle and impede recovery, which is why it’s still good to see the pros from time to time. This one goes in the “do-it-if-it-feels-good” category.

For more reading:
Does Massage Work? The Rabbits Know
Foam Rolling to Faster Recovery
Self-Massage the Runner’s Way

Kinesio Tape
Kinesio taping got popular after everyone in the last summer Olympics was sporting it. It’s a flexible tape thought to help circulation to injured muscles and supports them to increase range of motion after injury. However, as seen at the Olympics, it’s commonly worn on non-injured muscles for recovery purposes. Does it help? While an Italian study found that it had no benefits with enhancing performance, several studies have shown a modest benefit in its use. At the very least, there are no harmful effects from taping.

For more reading:
Kinesio Taping: Does It Work?
Kinesio Athletic Tape – A New Athletic Tape for Sports Injuries

Compression Tights/Socks/Sleeves
According to RICE, compression is a good thing. And according to science, it is too. Several studies have found that wearing compression garments after a workout can lead to faster recovery. No one seems to really know why, but, hey, if it works, it works! I love my bright red Zensah leg sleeves.

For more reading:
Owner’s Manual: Do Compression Socks Work?
Compression vs. Placebo Tights for Recovery
Zensah Compression Socks Review

You might think, “If we want to reduce inflammation and relieve pain, why not take an anti-inflammatory?” Seems logical, but studies actually show that taking ibuprofen can actually hinder recovery and doesn’t let your muscles adapt in distance running. It is generally okay to take for acute injuries, but not for normal training soreness. And, if you absolutely need a pain killer, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is generally better to take than ibuprofen or aspirin.

For more reading:
For Athletes, Risk from Ibuprofen Use
Taking Ibuprofen before Endurance Exercise is Not Recommended
Ibuprofen and Running

The take-away? We all know the running is a mental sport. Your mind is a very powerful tool. Do what you feel works. If you believe it does, it probably will to some extent. Except for ibuprofen. Stay away from that.

How do you recover from a run?

App Review: 10k Trainer for Pink

10k for Pink is the app I use for my Couch to 10k training. It is a fourteen week program, with the first eight weeks being the normal Couch to 5k program, so if you’ve already graduated from the Couch to 5k program, you would start with week nine.

It is a pretty simple app. You select the day you want to complete, press start, and the app will audibly tell you when to warm up, walk, run, and cool down. You can control your music from it, as with most running apps. I usually start it and run it in the background, so it’s just click a button and forget it.

If I’ve already warmed up before I start the app (so I can take longer than five minutes), you can easily skip ahead to the start.

Sometimes I do workouts that complete one of the days without the app running. In that case, you can just double click any day to check it off.

Also, I have the free version, but if you upgrade to the paid version of any of Zen Labs’ apps, they donate 5% to the Breast Cancer Foundation (hence the “for Pink”).

Negative things? I’ve had one workout that had a typo and said I would be running 20 minutes, when I actually had to run 22. Also, make sure your phone isn’t on vibrate or the voice prompts won’t work. Otherwise, I’ve never had any problems with the app; it does exactly what it says it will do! I was mildly disappointed when I got it that the first eight weeks were Couch to 5k instead of a slightly more 10k friendly workout, but I am happy to have that base now, so we’ll see how weeks nine and on go!

App Grade: A