Monday, March 10, 2014

Training log - Week ending 3/09/2014

This week was 55 miles of running and 10,000 yards of swimming  -- training log is here.  

The week started out much the same as previous weeks – easy, careful running.  The 8 miles on Monday isn’t a typo, BTW – I got myself out to the Whitehurst freeway before the worst of the snowstorm hit (Brian thinks I’m crazy).

On Wednesday, I went to PT for a comprehensive “let’s find out exactly why Cris’s gait is funky.”  Huge thanks to Robert Gillanders of Sport and Spinal PT, who spent a ridiculous amount of time and effort trying to get to the bottom of this.  What did he find?  Well…

The physical exam showed that my left leg is weaker than the right.  Now, that’s been the case for years, despite all sorts of strengthening work.  Lunges are harder on that side, and my knee reflex is much weaker on that side.  In the past, it’s been diagnosed as a nerve issue somewhere – I’ve had lumbar MRIs (clean) and a cortisone shot near the sciatic nerve (helped some, but not completely, and may have contributed to my torn hamstring tendon).

But now the weakness is more pronounced.  For example, my left big toe is very weak when lifting against resistance.  Robert said that the various places where I was weak were all pointing to issues with the nerve roots in the lumbar area of the spine.

Then, we went on to the gait analysis.  And it’s subtle, but I’m off.  Basically my left leg is tensing up to protect itself since it’s weaker, with the result that my left knee doesn’t flex or swing through like the right does.  It’s hard to notice when you’re watching me run – all the rehab and core exercises have made me VERY good at compensating.   But slow me down on video, and it’s much more clear.

So, why is this happening?  Robert believes strongly that this comes from my swayback – when I let my back arch, the nerve roots are compressed and damaged.  He’s believed this about me for several years now – a few years back he told me to cut out any exercises that arched my lower back (i.e. wheel  or upwards facing dog in yoga).  And…looking back on it, when I was strict about avoiding back bends, I ran injury free for a LONG time.  I will fess up that I’ve gotten a bit slack about avoiding back bends in the past year (which just about matches this period of injury – oops).

Now that the weakness is more pronounced – the ties between back, gait, and injury are much clearer.  Crunch the nerves, left leg starts working worse, and then everything from right Achilles to left hamstring gets angry.

So… the prescription is:

-pare back my rehab routine substantially, and cut out all rehab exercises that could possibly encourage me to arch my back.  I can’t stretch or strength train my way out of a nerve issue – compensation is not correction.  And all those glute bridges and hamstring curls are opportunities to arch my back.

-focus very hard on correct posture when running.

-do a few exercises that either develop the habit of running with correct posture or loosen up the lumbar region.
A nerve problem is never good news, but at least I’m a bit closer to an answer. 

The silver lining?

I’ve run several times since, focusing on good posture and keeping the effort easy, and…it seems like I’m actually running much faster than before for the same level of effort.  Which makes sense, in a way.  If your left leg isn’t getting all the signals it should, then when the messages start going through, it functions better.  It’s like I’ve been running on a flat tire.

I’m pretty interested to see what the next few weeks will bring.


Monday:   In the morning, injury rehab work and 8 miles easy running under the Whitehurst Freeway (assume 8:30 pace).  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday:  In the morning, injury rehab work, 5 miles easy running under the Whitehurst Freeway (assume 8:30 pace) and 3500 yards in the pool, including a workout of 3 sets of 3x100 hard on 2:00, with 2x100 on 2:20 very easy between each set (splits for the hard were 1:39.96, 1:40.02, 1:40.61,1:40.20, 1:40.02, 1:39.03, 1:39.00, 1:39.74, 1:41.49), followed immediately by 12x50 on 1:00 (48.82, 50.11, 49.14, 49.55, 49.62, 49.82, 49.52, 49.92, 49.55, 50.97, 50.75, 49.50).  Foam rolling at night.

Wednesday:   Injury rehab work and 8 miles easy (8:24 pace).  Later had a gait analysis done, where I ran another 2 miles on the treadmill.   Yoga at night.

Thursday:   In the morning, injury rehab work, 4 miles easy (8:04 pace) and 2250 yards of swimming, including a workout of 250,200,150,100,50 on a 2:00 base, followed by 6x50 on 1:00. Added an extra 50 between the 250 and the 200, due to being interrupted (splits were 4:15.87, 48.62, 3:28.71, 2:33.39, 1:39.95, 48.51, and then  48.20, 48.37, 48.45, 48.52, 47.52, 48.89).   Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  In the morning, 10 miles easy (7:49 pace).   Yoga and foam rolling in the afternoon.

Saturday:   In the morning, injury rehab work, 3 miles easy (8:04 pace) and 2750 yards of swimming.   Foam-rolling in the afternoon.

Sunday:   In the morning, injury rehab work, 15 miles (8:06 pace) and 1500 yards of swimming.  Foam rolling at night.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's really awesome that you are truly addressing the root causes of your injuries and taking them seriously. 55 miles is awesome!!