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IT Band Rehab - One More Time

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Almost every runner I know has nagging recurring injuries. Some have trouble with feet. My daughter battles plantar fasciitis. Knees give a lot of runners problems. My wife has knees that tend to pop and swell. A guy at my work is a triathlete. He has weak ankles and is often limping after an event.

My injury of choice is iliotibial band syndrome, also called IT band friction syndrome. The IT band is a strong thick fibrous tissue that runs on the outside of the leg from the hip to the knee. The IT band stabilizes the knee and the quadriceps. The IT band is attached to a muscle above the hip called the Tensor fasciae latae muscle, or TFL for short.

The TFL muscle and the IT band are vital when lifting the foot and driving it forward, aka running. The TFL and IT band stabilizes the leg so other more powerful muscles can drive the runner forward.

A tight IT band causes excessive friction over the hip bursa. The bursa becomes inflamed. The TFL can strain and tear. Then it is sayonara to your knees, hips, gluteal muscles and hamstrings. What does this feel like? It feels like a red hot spike has been driven into your hip and your knee has been hit with a hammer. The area between your pelvis and hip is on fire. An article I read said, "Pain can literally bring a runner to his/her knees". I think that is an understatement!

I really have no one to blame but myself. The pain is always on my left side. I had a flare-up last summer and went into intense physical therapy. Once I was able to run again, which took 6 weeks; the therapists gave me a set of stretches and strengthening exercises to prevent a future injury. I did those exercises for a while, but they were really boring so I stopped. Bad idea!

So what have I been doing to recover? Nothing! I am resting to give the inflammation time to subside. Tomorrow I start a regime of stretching and therapy band exercises. I can do some cardio on my elliptical trainer, but not too much. I can't run.

This really sucks!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SSMITH456 2/18/2011 2:46PM

  It may be late, but I went through the same thing training for a Marathon last year. Just a few thoughts, things I did, and things I have found.
Best thing to do is stretches. Keep doing them. Also make friends with a Foam roller. It helped me. I also started to se a chiro that was certified in ART. That helped. I discovered that my hips were out of alignment making one leg a little shorter (thank you bad posture sitting behind my computer). I got some realignments done through my chiro and worked on my posture. Also check out this link
there are a lot of good tips.

This year I will be doing my first full marathon

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DAVEW175 5/17/2010 1:13PM

    Sorry to hear about your IT band problems. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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RAINTHIEF 5/17/2010 1:41AM

    Aw, that stinks! Rest, stretch it out a bit, and focus on arm and core exercises to give your legs a rest. Feel better soon!

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STEPHANON 5/16/2010 4:31PM

    oh, how awful. i hope you recover quickly and are able to run again soon. sounds like a painful lesson learned.

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NWFL59 5/16/2010 10:03AM

    Congratulations on already know the proper steps you need to take to restore yourself back to running condition. Godspeed in yourself directed therapy and let hope this time you'll stick to the preventative stretches/exercises you learned previously.

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LKEITHO 5/16/2010 8:48AM

    Hope you are back in top form soon! And you're right, sometimes we don't take proper care of ourselves for all the wrong reasons. Hope getting back onto your stretching program helps keep you out of trouble down the road!

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RUNNINGPFUHL 5/16/2010 8:36AM

    I am so sorry. "no running" does indeed suck!

SPEEDY recovery to you my friend! Healing Vibes comin' your way!

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PRINCESSNURSE 5/16/2010 7:34AM

    The hardest thing I had to do during my hallf marathon traing was REST when my IT band flared up....keep doing the exercises and rest. Even though it totally stinks while you are doing it, it is worth it!

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MOMJMGR 5/16/2010 7:16AM

    I feel your pain, literally! I have IT band problems too and it is always on my left side as well. I think it is because of the running outdoors towards traffic that the road is slightly slanted so with all of the running with my foot slightly turning outward it really does its toll on my left side. I ran 10 miles yesterday and was feeling good, no pain, till the 5 mile mark then I could feel it tightening up in my left hip and glute muscle. By the time I got home and had stopped running my left outside of my knee is HURTING!! I have to ice and stretch it after almost every run but usually by the next day it is better. I hope you heel soon and get back on the road. I have been using the IT band stretches off of runners world site to know what to do and I hope to get a Foam roller in a couple of weeks.

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IRONGRANNIE 5/16/2010 2:54AM

    That is awful! I hope you will soon be up and running and doing those exercises, boring or not!

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ELYMWX 5/16/2010 1:55AM

    Yeah, that really sucks! All I can say is I wish you a SPEEDY recovery.

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Race Report - Lake George 5K

Saturday, May 08, 2010

I am really starting to like quirky little mountain trial races. These races are not listed on any web site. Advertisement is largely by word of mouth. The organization is informal and somewhat amateurish. There are no race packs or electronic timing chips. Races do not start on time. Bibs are made with ink jet printers or by hand.

What do you get for your $15 entry fee?

You get to run on interesting and challenging terrain. The settings are beautiful and remote. The fields are small. The racers are extremely friendly. The organizers are happy to see you. There is a bond among the runners. These are hard races. Just showing up earns you respect. Nobody cares who wins. Even the winner doesn’t care.

High-altitude mountain races are not everybody’s cup of tea. The runners tend to be confident, poised and usually pretty darn fast. There is no such thing as a PR. The conditions and terrain are so variable that time is irrelevant.

Earlier today my son and I ran the in Lake George 5K. Ben is my oldest boy and is pushing 30. He can’t resist a trail race. I called him last night to invite him to the race. I knew he would be hooked. We had to leave at 6:00 am this morning to make the race. The race was a fair distance away over winding mountain roads.

When we arrived at Lake George the temperature was 33.8 degrees F. The wind was 11 mph gusting to 19 mph. I really didn’t know what to wear. The wind was very cold but the sun was shining. I considered wearing my fleece pull-over and long pants. In the end, I decided to wear a heavy long sleeve T-shirt, shorts and a headband. I was plenty warm during the race.

Lake George is at 8,200 feet of elevation. The course varied between 8,200 and 8,700 feet. There is not a lot air this high. At least I live and train at this altitude. The air is dry. The sun is bright white. Sunburn and cracked lips are a problem. In the cold a runny nose is annoying.

The field was pretty normal for a high-altitude race. There were 37 runners. I bet this was the smallest race on May 8th in the state of Colorado. Right before the race started, Ben looked around at everyone lined up at the starting line. He said to me, “Hey dad - I think you are the oldest and heaviest runner here!” I looked at him and shook my head, “Thanks Ben – that is exactly what I needed to hear!” The Starter blasted over a bull horn, “Runners get ready - GO!”

The course started on a narrow dirt road and was flat for ¼ mile. After the flat stretch the course went up a long hill. Why do these courses always have a long hill at the beginning? My Garmin recorded that this hill was ½ mile long at a 10% grade, which is not bad. After the first hill the course started to roll up and down. The course would go up for an 1/8 of a mile, and then down for an 1/8 of mile. Eventually we dropped down near the water and ran across a flood control dam near the west end of the reservoir. This was really pretty. The water was clear and crystal blue. The top of the dam was flat and I could really get rolling. At the end of dam the course turned left and went down a narrow path. The path went through Buck Brush and Pussy Willows. These scrubby trees smacked against me and hurt a bit. Since I was the widest person in the race, I think I took the worst of it!

The course then went over another flood control dam at the eastern end of the reservoir. At the end of the dam and course went up a very steep hill. When I got to the top of the hill I saw the most amazing sight. A long set of stairs snaked up the hill in front of me. These stairs were made of railroad ties and dirt. The stairs were equal to about 5 flights. Each stair was 2 to 3 feet long. I tried to bound up the stairs. Man did that hurt!

After climbing the stairs I could see the finish line off in the distance. I was really hurting! This last part of this course was hard. I drove to the finish line. Ben was already there cheering me on. As I crossed the finish line the time keeper called out 27:36! I thought that was pretty fast. I was pleased.

I moved out of the way, bent over and put my hands on my knees. I was breathing like a freight train. Ben came over and asked, “Do you want to know how you placed?” I gave him a breathless, “I don’ care!” He said, “You would care if you knew.” I snapped, “Ok Ben, how did I do?” He goes, “Well if you don’t care, I won’t tell you that you took 4th place!” I was shocked, “No way!”

Two high school cross-county runners took 1st and 2nd. These guys were wearing their cold weather Cripple Creek cross-country uniforms. I found out later that 1st place kid has an athletic scholarship to run for the Air Force Academy. Ben took 3rd and I took 4th. There was another guy running that was 50. (I am 53) He came in about 5 minutes behind me. I gave him a high-five and said, “Old guys rule!”

This is Ben. He is having shoulder surgery on Tuesday. He said his shoulder was "wonky" but he could run.

Here I am after the race. The temperature had warmed up to 36 degrees F when this photo was taken.

This is Lake George. I had this photo in an earlier blog. I just think it is a really pretty picture.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MOMJMGR 5/16/2010 11:37AM

    emoticon job!! Wow 4th place that is fantastic. I wouldn't make it a mile in colorado, lol I live in FLAT Kansas. Sounds like such a beautiful run.

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HARRINGTON5 5/10/2010 7:37PM

    Bruce, You are fantastic! Your pictures are wonderful and you must really be so proud with that fantastic time. I honestly don't know how you run in those conditions. My races are all pretty flat and I still find it a challenge. On the 29th, I am running a race with my friend that is a cancer survivor and has asthma. It will be her first race and I will be so proud just to run by her side and keep her encouraged. I know she will be so pleased just to finish the race.

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    You've gotta love those kids that just keep poking you, right?! Well done! You actually make this sound so fun that I think I want to try one. Very cool little runs. Wonder if they have them in my area? Hmmmm.....

Congrats, "old" guy!

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ON2VICTORY 5/9/2010 4:21PM

    DUDE! that had to have been cool and that is an impressive time in spite of the terrain. Ironman anyone? :) Woo Hoo!

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TRIGRAMPS 5/9/2010 2:43PM

    My race was a little jaunt compared to yours. Still haven't done any trail runs. They do them ever so ofter at Clifton Gorge near here, but the trail is so narrow, seems like passing would be rough. Plus, they usually think that running across the creek is fun. What kind of shoes do you wear? Have you done an Xterra triathlon?

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RUNNINGPFUHL 5/9/2010 9:03AM

    What an excellent Race report! emoticon for 4th place!! AWESOME!!

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JADERUNNING 5/9/2010 6:52AM

    Awesome! Nice run! Happy Trais to ya! Way to go! Hey was you bib number "1" ? Wow an elite runner! Woo Hoo!

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DAVEW175 5/9/2010 6:25AM


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GSCOTTC 5/8/2010 11:07PM

    Very, Very Cool I join the 50 crowd this year. I hope to do 1/2 as well as you do!

Congrats on the race.


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LKEITHO 5/8/2010 10:49PM

    What a spectacular place to run a race! And what a great finish! Congratulations!

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WILLOW_1956 5/8/2010 10:46PM

    Wow! That is quite an accomplishment! Sounds beautiful.


Thanks for sharing!

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NWFL59 5/8/2010 10:43PM

    Wow what a terrific account of your run. Congratulations on doing so well!

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TRIGRAMPS 5/8/2010 10:42PM

    Old guys rule!

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DAVIDMU89 5/8/2010 10:37PM

    Nice work, great race! And the scenery wasn't bad either!

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Proposed venue for 6 month run-off challenge with ELYMWX

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

My good friend ELYMWX and I have embarked on a running challenge. Both of us will train hard for 6 months. In the first week in October we will race to determine who is faster.

My fellow athlete is determined to run so fast that he will make me "weep". Please see my friend's blog for additional details:


ELYMWX notes in his blog that the details of the run-off are TBD. I have a modest proposal regarding the location of where we settle the challenge. I invite ELYMWX and his lovely wife L3DESIGNS to come to Colorado. I have an ideal location for our race. We could run Segment 23 of the Colorado Trail — Rio Grande Reservoir to Carson Saddle. I know I don’t stand a chance against my tough and determined foe. Here are the specifics of Segment 23:

Distance: 15.9 miles (25.6 K)
Starting Elevation: 8,005 feet (2,440 meters)
Final Elevation: 12,360 feet (3,767 meters)
Elevation Gain: 4,355 feet (1,327 meters)

This is a photo of Carson Saddle.

ELYMWX is able to breeze through P90X. The run to Carson Saddle would be mere child’s play for my good friend. I think I would need a head start.

I would like some feedback from my fellow Sparkers. Is Segment 23 of the Colorado Trail a good place to settle which one of us is made of iron and which one of us is a cupcake?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

L3DESIGNS 5/5/2010 2:11AM

    An interesting location emoticon... might need to change our summer plans of training at sea level!!! emoticon

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LKEITHO 5/4/2010 10:47PM

    I'm just glad I'm not part of that challenge if this is where you're going to settle it! Good luck to both of you!

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GSCOTTC 5/4/2010 8:24PM

    I this is going to be good to watch. Last time I ran at that elevation, I wouldn't have been surprised to see my running shoes come out my mouth I was wheezing so bad.

Have fun with it guys


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NWFL59 5/4/2010 7:57PM

    Well it will certainly show who has the better lung capacity at those elevations! Hope you're both training for that kind of exersion in rarified air!

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    We will, of course, need film footage.

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  Will their be healthy refreshments and near-track betting?


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    LOL! This will be fun to watch!

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ELYMWX 5/4/2010 4:52PM

    And so it begins...

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Next Race - Lake George 5K on May 8th

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

I am drawn to high-altitude trail races. I live in the Colorado Rockies on purpose. I have been known to gripe about the lack of oxygen at extreme altitudes. Some of you have heard me curse the wind, cold and snow. I really don't mind winter weather. I just don't like nine months of winter weather!

Although I hate to admit it, the nose-bleed zone is my element. I seem to be pretty good at high-altitude running. A dubious skill at best. My next race is a 5K run around Lake George this coming Saturday, May 8th.

At least I will be freezing and gasping for air in a pretty place. Wish me luck.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DAVEW175 5/8/2010 12:40PM

    Good luck with the race. I used to live at over 7,000 feet in New Mexico and running was definitely a challenge.

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ROOT4HOME 5/4/2010 2:17PM

    emoticon emoticon

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L3DESIGNS 5/4/2010 2:12AM

    Looks beautiful! I haven't tried running anywhere but at sea level (or close to it)

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Long Scraggy 4-Mile Race Report

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Yesterday was race day. I dragged myself out of bed at 6:00am. I looked outside. Icy snow covered the ground and wind howled through the trees. The temperature was 14 degrees F. I thought, "Time to go back to bed!" I had gotten in late from California and had about 4-hours of sleep. I felt absolutely terrible.

Oh well, I decided to go run the dang race anyway. The race was scheduled for 9:00am. I hoped it would warm up by start time. I put on my shorts, shoes and a long sleeve T-shirt. I stuffed my cold weather gear in a bag. I downed my pre-race "meal", which is some stuff called "Endurance" by Champion Nutrition.

I fell into my car. I didn't bother to turn on the heater. I didn't want to get used to being warm. I put on "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves and tried to imagine what warm feels like. As I drove to Scraggy Ranch I noticed that the snow became spotty, and then disappeared. The thermometer in my car showed the temperature had started to rise. The sun came out. Maybe this won’t be so bad.

I got to Scraggy Ranch early. My friend, John, was the race organizer. I was there mostly because I didn’t want to disappoint my friend. I helped him set-up the food and registration table. I gave him the entry fee and signed my name on the list of runners. He had the ages listed on the form. I noticed I was the oldest person that had registered, by a lot! People came trickling in. 21 people registered for the 4-mile race. Another 10 people, mostly my age, registered for the 1.5 mile walk. I noticed that the other racers, both men and women, looked extremely fit, lean and muscular. These are crazy high-altitude runners. I was pretty sure that this old guy would be dead last!

The race started late. Mountain people are pretty relaxed. We all stood at the starting line talking and joking. The temperature had risen to a balmy 30 degrees. There wasn’t a speck of snow. A few runners were bundled-up. Most of us, including me, just wore shorts and long-sleeve T-shirts. John explained the course. He said the course record was 38 minutes. I though “How in the heck can that be? That is pretty darn slow.” I would find out later that 38 minutes was blazing fast! John said the first part of the course was a hill. He told us, “That hill will humble you!” He was making a huge understatement.

John’s wife was the starter. She said, “Runners get ready. GO!” She clicked the stop watch. We ran up the Scraggy Ranch access road, turned right, and started up the hill. Oh my goodness, what a HILL! The hill went up and up. The hill went on forever! I found out later that this killer hill was 1.4 miles long with a 20% grade! (20% means the hill rises 20 feet in every 100 feet) I was moving up this monster very slowly. I just knew the whole field was about to blow past me. I checked over my shoulder and found that everybody else was struggling just like me. My legs felt like rubber. I could barely breathe. We were running at 9,000 feet where there ain’t much air! I was sweating profusely. At least I wasn’t cold any more.

I finally got to the top of the hill. The course started rolling up and down. I tried to gain some speed on the downhill sections but my old legs were shot! There was a place where the course made a left turn off the dirt road and onto the Colorado trail. Unfortunately, I missed this turn and kept running up the road. I got to CO Highway 126 just as a semi-truck roared by. I stopped and thought, “This can’t be right!” I knew I was lost. Oh great! I stood there totally befuddled. I heard a faint shout behind me. I turned around and saw another runner signaling toward the correct route. I had lost a couple of minutes at least. I got back on track and caught up with the young man that showed me the right way. We ran together for a while. I found out later he was 26, which is half my age. After a while I sped ahead of him and tried to catch the runner in front of me. My Garmin timer told me I had ½ mile to go. I had burned up 38 minutes! I tried to push it. The tank is was empty. I was dead dog tired! I turned toward the finish line. I gave it everything I had, which wasn’t much! As I crossed the finish line John’s wife told me my time, “42:56. You are number 5!” WHOA – 5th place! There is no way to tell you how satisfied I felt! I came in 5th out of 21 good runners! I wasn't dead last by a long shot.

After the race we ate some good food and listened to a Bluegrass band! The winner got bragging rights and a $30 gift certificate to Dick’s sports. He set a new track record of 37:15. Even though the course was brutal, everybody had a great time.

We are the few, the proud, the insane.

This is my bib. I think the race name is hilarious!

Scraggy Ranch is a Christian camp for wayward youth. The race is a fund raiser for the camp.

Here is the rustic registration building. This is pretty typical of where I live.

This is the starting and finish line. How many starting lines have you seen like this? I was uncharacteristically nervous at the start. I knew this race was really going to hurt!

Here is the big bad hill. The County dumped ground pavement on the road the day before the race. Not only was this hill steep, it was also slippery.

This is the trail sign I missed. The wind had turned the sign backwards.

The high-tech sign was pointing the wrong direction.

Here is where I ended-up after I missed the trail. Where are the other runners? This is embarrassing!

This is the Colorado Trail. Does everything have to keep going up?

You have to watch your step on the trail. Roots, rocks and tree branches make things interesting.

The Colorado Trail pops out back on the road. Is that another uphill section coming? Yup!

This is the last downhill stretch to the finish. There is a trick to running downhill. Don't over-stride. A heavy heel strike is a good way to get injured. Take short quick strides. Fast leg speed really helps. To slow down, take shorter steps. To speed up, take quicker steps. Never lean backwards.

After the race we had a good meal and listened to Bluegrass music.

This race is an annual event. Come on up and run with us!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TREEBW 5/3/2010 10:10PM

    I miss CO; the photos are great. The area reminds me of when we lived in Stagecoach.

Great Job on the race! That is pretty awsome that you got 5th even after going to the highway. I'm impressed!

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TABOLI 5/3/2010 9:43AM


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LKEITHO 5/3/2010 8:45AM

    Fantastic result given the added distance you put in! Congratulations!

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IRONGRANNIE 5/3/2010 6:22AM

    Great result! What would you have done if you hadn't got lost????

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STEPHANON 5/2/2010 11:07PM

    Wow, What a race! Great job finishing 5th!

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LOVEBLACKWOLF 5/2/2010 10:31PM

    I love it. I might have to make the trip and try this killer course for myself next year.

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ELYMWX 5/2/2010 10:17PM

    That which doesn't kill ya....

Good job, and thanks for the invite, but I think I'll pass. I'm Insane, all right, but that sounds just plain NUTS! Maybe if it were in a more temperate time of year. Oh, right, this is Colorado we are talking about!

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