Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In Which I Double My Mileage*

*Not nearly as dramatic as it sounds.

"Okay, just try to relax everything," says my PT as I'm getting into position for our bi-weekly Thomas test. I lay back and pull my right knee up to my chest, letting my left leg dangle off the end of the table at the hip.

He gives my left leg a pitiful look. "That's relaxed?"

Ideally in the Thomas test your shin hangs passively at a 90° angle to your thigh. 60° means there's work to do re: quad & hip flexor tightness. Mine is hovering close to 45°, as it has been for months now.

"I'm rolling my quads for 10 minutes each most days."

He raises his eyebrows. "Don't stop. Switch sides."

I switch. He regards the pathetic angle of my knee with disdain and shakes his head. "That right hip flexor is still terrible. Just terrible."

"I've been using the Lacrosse ball on my hip flexors pretty regularly too. I can only do it about once every three days or so, though."

"Why is that?"

"Because for the next couple of days, they feel super, super tender & bruised. Like I've been in an accident or something."

"You deserve it," he replies straightly. "You've been beating them up like this for years & never stretching them out. That's the price."

We've been seeing one another for nigh on three months now, so we've developed the sort of dynamic where we can be a bit snarky with each other. And he is, of course, completely correct.

* * *

My sister J & her friend C have been hanging out with me in San Francisco this week:

When she was here a couple of years ago, we did a bunch of the usual tourist stuff together, including the eastern section of Golden Gate Park. Don & I thought that this time she & C might enjoy seeing the rest of the park, either on foot or via rented bike / Segway / go-cart / etc. On our way back from Sonoma Sunday evening, we drove through it via JFK drive so they could see where some of the key attractions were (like the de Young Museum, the Academy of Sciences, the rose garden, & the Japanese Tea Garden).

I was wholly unprepared for the experience of driving through that section of GG Park. It's where I do a lot of my running (like 75% of it), and all I could think about as we drove through it was, "I want to be running out there." In the past five years I've racked up hundreds and hundreds of miles on those sidewalks and trails (maybe thousands? I don't even know), and to drive past them after a seven-week absence in cool, overcast, perfect running weather was gut-wrenching in a way that running things rarely are for me.

As soon as I'm up to it, I told myself, I am coming down here and running the SHIT out this park.

When I went to dig out a spare set of keys for J & C, I realized that we'd never made an extra one for our new outer door & I'd need to go have one cut. The closest place that does it is about a mile away, and as I've been advised not to drive my car until I replace the tires (unless I want them to explode), I started toying with the notion of just running there & back.

My hip has now reached the point where, if I were a normal, sedentary or near-sendentary person, I'd probably say it's completely healed. I can walk fine, I can go up & down stairs with no problem, I can do 95% of karate stuff at 95% intensity, & I've even been back to doing a bunch of the eccentric loading strength stuff. I've been running one mile most days (followed by ~20 minutes of elliptical), which is when I can tell that it's not 100% yet. There is a little soreness and some pain with impact that tells me I shouldn't get too ambitious any time soon, but overall it's been going pretty well & doesn't seem to be slowing my recovery.

Yes, two miles would be a 100% increase in my daily mileage, but since one mile + 20 minutes elliptical had been going well for nearly two weeks now, I decided to give it a shot.

The nice thing about recovering from an injury is that every new accomplishment--no matter how insignificant it would've seemed a couple of months ago--feels like a HUGE step. Running .6 miles at a 10:16 pace on July 1 was the highlight of my week. Running a full mile a few days later felt like slaying the Kraken. Running TWO whole miles (with a short rest in between at the hardware store) felt like--er, I don't even know. Something more awesome than slaying the Kraken.

The Oatmeal metaphorically slaying the Kraken with a run.

(Sidenote: If you've somehow managed to go this long as a runner on the internet without seeing The Oatmeal's five-part series on "The Terrible & Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances," just go read it. Go now. I'll wait.)

I also want to point out that clearly the hours and hours of cross-training I've put in have clearly not been a complete & utter waste of time. In the past when I've been sidelined for a month for an injury, it's taken at least that long for 8:30 to feel like an easy, comfortable pace again. So I'm optimistic about my ability to get back into racing shape before the next millennium. #progress


  1. I needed you for my tourist guide when I was down there in April. Next time I am totally hitting you up!

    Glad to see that you are running again. Slowly, but surely it will all come back to you. I learned to be patient even though it sucked and was super hard and I hated my life. If I can do it you can do and then you can go run the shit out of the GG park.

    1. Yes, do!! I will take you to all the best places, including GG Park. :)

  2. Well these are encouraging signs!
    I pretty much always "fail" the Thomas test. I started doing squat sets once a week after being injured, and I include Bulgarian split squats. They do great things for your hip flexors!

    1. Totally agree. I am back to being able to do strength stuff again, and I think it's helping. :)

  3. I think I got the same reaction from a PT/family friend when she did the Thomas test on me in January ... which reminds me that I need to stretch my hip flexors more often! Sounds like you're making great progress -- hope it continues!

    1. Apparently this is just a problem we runners tend to have...

  4. Crazy on that Thomas test results, I'm curious to try it myself now. Sounds like you are getting better which is good. I know what you mean about driving by places that you used to run, ugh. I'm slowly getting better too, I ran .50 miles or so a couple days ago, I'm going to try to run a little bit more each day.

  5. Okay, I just did the Thomas test, I think I got around 80 to 80 degrees on both legs. Crazy that you are at 45! Wow you have tight flexors!

    1. Yep, it pretty much sucks. Stretch & roll post-run, kids!!

      Glad you're seeing some improvement! :)

  6. Boom shakalaka!!!! Doubled!!!!!

    Keep "running the shit out of" things. I hate that you are dealing with this injury, but I am loving your spirit.

    Also, I love the picture of the bridge!

    1. Thanks!!

      If you are ever in SF, go up up up into the Marin hills right after you get off the bridge, until the road turns to dirt. Best views of the bridge & the city. :)

  7. SUCH good news about the progress! Golden Gate Park is waiting for your return :)