Monday, January 13, 2020

Training log - week ending 1/12/2020

This week was 54 miles of running, 12 "miles" of pool-running, and 3000 yards swimming -- training log is here.

This week took an unpleasant early turn when my left hamstring spasmed in the first rep of the Tuesday track workout.  I gave it a lap to see if it was something I could work out of, and then stepped off the track.  It wasn't a hard decision - this is the same hamstring that I tore several years ago, resulting in a lost year+ and multiple PRP injections.  I don't mess with hamstrings.

[looking back on it, I think the broader cause was pushing the envelope just a bit too much last Sunday - I ran 11 miles total the day after my marathon pace workout - significantly more than I've done after that workout in the past.  Granted, I ran it as a double, and slowly, but it was still a bit too much.  So that set me up for something to pop.

[And then, the immediate trigger was running in a big group for the Tuesday workout.  There's always a bit of swerving and such at the start of a workout if people are tightly packed.  When someone shifted in front of me, I hit the brakes to avoid stepping on their heels, and that pushed the hammy over the edge.  One of the risks of training with a large group, I guess.]

The good news was that the spasm and subsequent sore spot was in the belly of the hamstring.  The end points of the hamstring, where tendon attaches to bone, get very poor blood supply and take a long time to heal.  But the center of the muscle gets good blood flow and can heal fairly quickly, if you give it a chance.  Plus, since I had pulled up almost immediately, I had hopefully limited the damage to something that could clear in a few days with some focused effort.

So...I went Defcon on my hamstring.  

The initial stage of Defcon was to do nothing except ice it.  I initially considered heading directly to the pool to do a hard swimming workout to make up for the aborted track workout.  But, after consideration, I decided not to.  Hard workouts generate cortisol, and cortisol is catabolic - it pauses healing.  If I wanted this to clear quickly, the best thing was to rest for the first 24 hours and get my body to calm down.  Assisted, of course, by an ice pack on the hammie and a sports massage that same afternoon to get all the muscles around the hammie to let go.

Once it felt a bit more settled (the next day), I played around with some running.  My personal belief is that when something pops up, you need to reduce your workload to the point where the tissue can recover and heal, but you don't want to reduce more than you have to.    It's not about maintaining fitness (you won't lose much, if any, in a few days).  Rather, the more you cut back, the further you have to travel to get back to where you were - it's more stress to build back up from 0 miles to 50 than it is from 25 to 50.  And there are also benefits to keeping the tissue moving and the blood flowing.

[of course, there are some injuries - tears and broken bones, where you have to reduce to 0, since the tissue can't tolerate any load and heal at first.]

I have a test for whether it's OK to run on something (based on Jay Dicharry's book Anatomy for Runners):

  1. is the pain/soreness a 3 or less on a 1-10 scale (and be honest - sometimes I find myself ranking everything as a 2 or less if it's not a 9 or 10)?
  2. am I able to run normally without altering my gait or compensating?  (Running slower is not considered compensation; altering my footstrike is).  If I can't, then I need to stop, so that I don't end up with a compensation injury worse than the original.
  3. short term trend: Is the discomfort holding steady or even easing during the run?  If it gets worse, I stop.
  4. long term trend: is the injury improving each day (or alternately, holding steady if I increase workload)?  If I'm seeing improvement, then I'm on the right path, and probably won't see faster improvement if I rest more.  But...if progress is stalled or the issue is getting worse, then I need to cut back more.

[for this last point, I keep a log each day of how the injury feels, so that I can review over time and track the trend.]

Here, the hammy was passing all the tests, so I ran on it, carefully and slowly.

I also did everything I could to encourage healing.  More sleep, more water, more protein.  I slept with a gentle compression wrap and a heating pad set on low to encourage more bloodflow while I slept.  I did some nerve flossing, because my hamstring problems sometimes have a sciatic component, and nerve flossing is one of those things that won't make an injury worse.  I also did some voodoo flossing to further increase circulation and keep the tissue mobile.  Voodoo flossing doesn't work for everyone, but I've found that I respond really well to it, in the same way others respond to Graston or A.R.T.

I also got in to see my PT.  Seeing him reminded me: runners (like myself) tend to assess the severity of an issue based on pain.  However, pain is not a good metric - things can really hurt while everything's fine (i.e. stubbed toes or sports massages).  And things can not hurt at all but be quite serious (an example being someone who is shot but does not feel it due to adrenaline).  

By contrast, PTs assess severity based on function - is it working correctly?  And that's a much better metric.  

In my case, my PT sussed out that when I lay on my stomach and eccentrically lowered my left leg with weight on the leg, I couldn't lower it smoothly.  Rather, the motion was jerky.  So that became my homework - get to the point where I could lower it fluidly.

By this weekend, I was there.  When I did strides fluidly and without discomfort on Saturday, followed by solid and SMOOTH eccentric hamstring work at the gym, I knew I was ready to test some faster running.  And sure enough, the hamstring held up well for Sunday's run that finished at marathon effort.

So hopefully that's done with.  I'm a bit annoyed that I missed two workouts.  On the other hand, neither was a key workout, and missing two track workouts plus some yoga and pool-running is really getting off light when it comes to hamstring issues.


Monday:  Yoga and 8 "miles" pool-running. Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: In the morning, 4 mile warm-up, and then an incomplete 1600 before the walk of shame home.  Sports massage in afternoon.

Wednesday: 6 miles very easy (9:11), DIY yoga, 3 miles very easy (9:32).  PT appointment in afternoon.

Thursday: 10 miles very easy (9:12) plus drills, 4 "miles" pool-running, and then full body lifting, core, rehab exercises. Foam rolling at night.

Friday:  8 miles very easy (8:54) plus drills and four uphill strides, 2000 yards swimming, including a workout of 2x5x100 yards hard on 2:00 interval, with 1:00 recovery between sets (splits ranged between 1:37 and 1:39).  Followed with leg strengthwork and rehab exercises.  Foam rolling at night.

Saturday: 10 miles very easy (8:36), followed by drills, four strides, and then rehab work and core.  Foam rolling in afternoon.

Sunday: 12 miles progressive, split as first 3 averaging 8:53, next 5 averaging 7:27, last 4 averaging 6:54.  Followed with leg strengthwork and rehab, and 1000 yards recovery swimming.  Foam rolling in afternoon.  

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