Sunday, March 16, 2014

Physical Therapy = O-V-E-R

On Friday morning, I went to PT as per usual & was glad to be able to report to him that my 20 minute runs had been going well & I hadn't had any pain during or after. We started out with all the usual strength tests, which we haven't done in a few weeks--hip flexors, glute meds & max, hamstrings, general posterior chain, etc. For many things he gave a satisfied nod and a decisive "Good" or "I like it." When we got to hamstrings, it was "Awesome," and my hip stabilizers (where you lay on your side, raise your top leg up to ~30 degrees a la Jane Fonda, point your toe up and in, & try to resist force from above), "Wow, I could probably stand on your leg and not break this." (For this, I credit the 200-300 clam shells I've been doing each week.)

Not everything was perfect. There is one particular movement pattern where I lay on my back, raise one thigh perpendicular & shin parallel but angled inward at the knee, point my toe, & try to resist inward force with my knee, where I am rock solid on the left side but noticeably weaker on the right; apparently this is 100% related to how my right knee often wants to collapse in a little, which my body tries to compensate for using my sartorius muscle (the one I tore last summer, not a coincidence), so I still have some work to do there. Also I am still to keep doing a little extra work for the right glute. (Hello donkey kicks!)

After the strength testing he put me back on the treadmill, yellow sticky dots strategically stuck to various joints (knees, hips, SI joints, heels, ankles, etc.). I ran & he videotaped, & afterward we did a quick run-down of what looks good and what still needs work.

  • Forward lean is MUCH improved, but 2-3 degrees more would be a big help in terms of protecting my insanely tight hip flexors. (This is amazing to me--I've worked on it so much, and gotten so much better at it, to the point that it sometimes feels like I'm about to face plant right into the dashboard, and STILL on the video my torso looks almost straight up-and-down. Even though I'm a confirmed forefoot striker, which is fine, not having enough forward lean still results in just the tiniest bit of over-striding.)
  • Foot strike & general leg position/alignment looks good.
  • Pulling through with hamstrings & glutes much MUCH better.
  • Keep working on the inward-drifting right knee. Probably forever.
  • Left hip drop also MUCH improved but still noticeable; working on the right knee should help with this.
  • Left foot is currently pointing almost straight forward throughout my stride, which is bad & also a risk factor for both over-supinating & stress fractures. (For those keeping score at home, that's a yes on both counts.) Work on just a *slight* bit of turnout on the left foot; watching from the back, they like to see about two toes' worth sticking out on the side.
  • Cadence is not bad, currently hovering around ~178; try to get it up to ~182 consistently (which should also help with that tiny bit of over-striding).

"But this is all really, really knit-picky stuff," he told me after. "Overall you're very strong and looking fantastic. A thousand times better than last summer." Which is always great to hear after you've gone through a giant list of things you still need to fix. Then, "I think we're finally ready to graduate you."

Oh, I could have whooped for joy.

He mentioned that I can still make appointments at the Human Performance Center from time to time for a quick check-in or a bit of cupping or ionto or what have you, which doesn't require a referral. I brought up RunSafe & how people keep telling me I should just do it sometime, which he agreed with. "It's not urgent, but you would still probably get a lot of useful information. Just, y'know. Wait for a discount or promo or something. They run those sometime." Check.

As far as running goes, I am to continue with my 4-5 days a week as long as I the pain doesn't return, increasing by ~10% per week & keeping up the cross training in the mean time. While I am a bit skeptical of the 10% rule as some all-powerful charm for magically preventing all injuries, I can still roll with it as a general guideline from my PT as I work my way back up to what I think of as "normal" mileage.

"Oh, one more thing," he added. "I don't like those shoes on you at all. Too narrow & aggravating the supination issue. I think I'd probably get rid of them." This in reference to the Hitogamis, which is pretty much the conclusion I'd already arrived at after less than 10 miles in them.

Sorry, guys.

As I've discussed before, I'm in the process of looking for my "it" shoe, & the two current candidates are the Mizuno Hitogami & Mizuno Ekiden. I promise to do actual reviews after I've put more miles on both, but right now the 30 second story is that both are serviceable & have their uses, but it's unlikely that either of them will become my new favorite. (Why'd you have to go, Musha? You were 99% of everything I wanted in a running shoe. I promise I'll never forget you.)

First Impressions on the Ekidens

  • I know there is a fine line between flyweight trainers & racing flats & people draw the line in different places, but to me, the Ekiden absolutely comes across as a racing flat, no question. The Musha was sold to me as a racing flat when I first bought it which was how I used it at first, but over time I became a better runner with stronger feet & eventually moved to using it as a mid-distance road shoe. (It was great up to 12-13 miles, but I don't think I personally would have ever run 20+ in it.) Not so with the Ekiden. I'd wear it on the track & for racing 5K/10Ks, but that's probably it (at least until I have feet of steel & looser calves & pitch-perfect mechanics).
  • Along the same lines, they do fit snugly, which I feel like racing flats generally should, BUT are weirdly not as snug as the Hitogamis & definitely have a slightly wider toe box.
  • Fairly stiff & with precious little cushion (again see: racing flat).
  • Comfy enough on the treadmill. I can't imagine why you would ever be tempted, but just in case, do not wear on the elliptical. This is a no-good-very-bad idea. (I've been doing 20 minutes on the 'mill & 25 on the elliptical, & just wore them because they were what I had on. Now I know better.)

* * *

Grand Total: 61 miles

    * 10 running
    * 44 bike
    * 7 elliptical

Monday: a.m. strength / afternoon 12.6 bike / p.m. karate

    My feet & shins were still sore from my first run without walk breaks on Saturday (kind of surprisingly so), so I decided to give them another day to recover before I tried it again.

    To be honest, I didn't think it would be that big of a deal when I switched from doing 4-6 short intervals of running interspersed with walk breaks to running for 20 minutes non-stop. And from a cardiovascular standpoint, it wasn't. I've been doing so much biking & elliptical-ing that even at quicker paces, 20 minutes didn't even have me breathing hard.

    But OH MAN. The foot muscles. The anterior shin muscles. I think these are what they call "shin splints"? Not in the medial tibial stress syndrome sense (which is different) but the honest-to-gods-brand-new-runner type of shin splints. As in, walking is uncomfortable. My Saturday run felt great, but I needed two full days of recovery before I could even *think* about another 20 minute run.

Tuesday: a.m. 2.2 run + 3 elliptical / p.m. bike

    What I learned on Tuesday: Don't wear racing flats on the elliptical. I'd been trying out the Ekidens (which are *so clearly* racing flats) for my twenty minutes on the treadmill, then After 10 minutes, my feet & calves were uncomfortable. After 12, they were crying out in pain & I had to pause briefly to ditch the shoes. Barefoot was better, but ultimately unsustainable; I had to quit after ~20 minutes because there was just no way I was putting up with it for five more.

    I woke up feeling kind of crappy & by lunch time I was convinced I was getting sick so I went home & to bed. I hate skipping workouts but I hate feeling sleep deprived / generally like ass even more.

Wednesday: a.m. strength work / afternoon 2.3 run + 7.3 bike / p.m. karate

    I was feeling mostly better Tuesday evening but still decided to skip Wednesday morning strength & invest in a little extra sleep. By afternoon I was feeling normal again & did the rest of my normal Wednesday stuff. I wore the Hitogamis, which felt like, y'know, shoes, but a bit on the narrow side.

    In karate news, I have a sweet new bo, custom made from impact-grade laminated hickory. I've been in a bo moratorium for several years due to losing two (cheap, mass-produced) bos in the dojo bathroom in the same year & have been using an inappropriately sized one of Don's since then, so having a real, proper one feels beyond luxurious.

    I'll try to get some action shots this week. Because bos are sweet.

Thursday: a.m. 10.5 bike / p.m. 2.3 run + 4 elliptical.

    I wore the Ekidens again on Thursday, but was smart & brought a different, cushier pair for the elliptical. To be honest, though, I am soooo over the elliptical. It's really starting to get on my nerves (literally, my feet keep falling asleep & getting that gross pins-and-needles feeling), so I may just do run / bike from now on, especially since I'm starting to run more.

Friday: a.m. PT (1 mile on the treadmill? Ish?) / p.m. 13.5 bike.

    Obviously Friday was a great day for reasons previously explained.

Saturday: Race day!! 3.1, um, NOT easy. Race report soon to follow! Then, wine tasting. :)

Sunday: Rest


  1. That's all really good news from your PT. He must love you - my son's a physiotherapist and there's nothing he likes better than seeing a patient do their exercises and coming back stronger and healthier.

    1. I always tried to do my best! And definitely felt guilty any time I knew I hadn't been doing my exercises enough. Like not doing your homework. :P

  2. Congrats and YAY times a million!
    Can't wait to read your race recap!

  3. Congratulations! On the shoe front, back to the drawing board then? :( Try the NB 1400v2 perhaps, or hunt online for all remaining pairs of the original 1400 in your size! Looking forward to that race recap, too.
    Oh, I have a question I forgot to ask through the last few weeks of training logs. How much clothing do you go through by doing multiple workouts per day? Do you have somewhere to air the sweaty things? Or bring several changes of clothing?

    1. Well, I have a few more options to try. I think the 1400 v2's are probably too tall & foamy for me, but I am very very tempted to grab a pair of the original 1400s & see how those fee. I have run in the Altras a couple of times, and while I do think the pair I have are slightly too big, I've enjoyed them otherwise.

      Uggghhh, workout clothes. Indeed, the laundry never ends. I've thought about doing a post about it, but it seems kind of gross / narcissistic? Anyway, on M & W I put on my gym clothes, pack my work clothes, afternoon biking clothes, & karate clothes, & always keep plastic grocery bags on hand for stowing the sweaty ones. At the end of the day I basically spread them out on any surface I can find to dry, & definitely do not have enough space, so it's far from a perfect system. By the end of the next day yesterday's set is usually dry, so into the hamper they go, replaced by the current day's nastiness. The hardest part is definitely being alert enough at 6 am to make sure I have everything I need (and sometimes I fail).

    2. Oh god, the laundry. I have to respect this. I have enough trouble being whole and human and getting sufficiently organised in the morning; it's all I can do to remember to bring my underwear on gym days. Adulthood, psh.

    3. Last week I forgot pants one day. Not joking.

  4. I must say that I agree with your PT. Barring that particular problem with your knee, it seems like you have improved overall. That’s great! I would also have to agree with your PT about your running shoes. It looks too small for your feet. That could cause injury.

    Alan Siegel