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Odd Week, Adjustments, and Musings

Saturday, February 02, 2013

It's been an odd week. Because I'm working full time plus putting in 8 hours of volunteer time, blogs tend to get squeezed out of the day. I can live with that pretty easily when things are routine, but there were a lot of adjustments on the fly this week.

Where I left off, I had a nice run in the rain on Tuesday. Tuesday was very good weather for January.

Wednesday was drop dead gorgeous weather for January, with a record high of 64° F and a lunch walk in a light jacket. On January 30. At the time of year when, statistically, Rochester should be at its coldest. Wednesday's weather was a gift, marred only by the bad foot not being as good as I thought it should be.

Thursday, winter returned. Thursday was a work at home day, and I found some black ice on my walk before work, at 32°F. With the forecast calling for falling temperatures and high winds, I figured the black ice would still be around at lunch. Between the prospect of black ice, winds reported at 34 mph gusting to 60 mph, and the bad foot being a bit worse than I expected it to be, I decided to walk instead of run Thursday noon. It turned out I *could* have run, as the black ice went away; but those wind gusts were ferocious. When I was headed face first into the teeth of the wind, it was strong enough to noticeably slow my walking pace.

Friday I took the day off for an appointment with a financial planner in the morning. In the back of my mind on Thursday, I thought I'd use part of my Friday off to run, then shift the weekend long run to Sunday. Friday's weather featured lake effect snow for the morning commute. The good news was, I didn't have to drive to the office. The bad news was, I had to drive to meet the financial planner. I got there on time, got a lot to think about, and had an early lunch at Taco Bell on the way home. Throw in a couple of work related calls in the morning, because my office phone was forwarded to my cell phone. At least it was better than being hit with that stuff on Monday.

Friday afternoon I ended up doing some work at home stuff, because it seemed better to get it done than to deal with it on Monday. I got out for my run about 4 PM. By this time, the salt trucks and plows had been past, and there was sunshine. I ran around the section to the west in early evening commuter traffic, which was okay because the shoulders had been partially cleared. That's where the doubts started.

A mile and a half or so into the run, I got an odd feeling in my right hamstring. It wasn't properly a pain, but more like a weakness? At this point, it would be a long, cold walk back. So I kept running, but moderated my pace a bit. I paid a lot of attention to that leg the rest of the way, but managed to run the full distance. By the time I got done, the clouds had returned and the cars had their headlights on. Turning the planned 4.6 mile route into a long run was out of the question, both because of the hamstring and because I was wearing black while dusk was approaching. Did the walking cooldown, came in and stretched.

The stretches didn't point out any disabling injuries, but I couldn't walk normally Friday evening. There was that weak hamstring, which got somewhat better, and a weak inner thigh in the same spot the thigh had been sore a while ago. It affected my walking gait when I went out to get a few groceries, which was worrisome.

The odd weakness was better, but still there this morning. More accurately, the hamstring felt fine but the inner thigh sounded some warnings. Because I ran yesterday, I walked this morning. Making the walk gentle to be kind to the thigh and the bad foot resulted in a walking pace of about 16:10 per mile, which is a very slow walk for me these days. As I was walking, I had my doubts about whether I should bag the 10K steps per day streak and just rest the legs, but I kept going.

This afternoon, it was another volunteer shift of mostly standing and some walking, indoors. By the time the shift was done, the leg felt normal. I'll see how it is tomorrow, before I run in the afternoon. I'll make a decision then whether to do a short run or attempt a long slow run. This will depend in part on the weather.

I'm beginning to have some sympathy for hypochondriacs. As I try to listen to my body, I don't know whether I'm reacting appropriately, blowing minor problems out of proportion, or not being conservative enough about real problems.

Random thoughts and worries:

I seem to keep getting these odd strains that keep me from running a day or a couple days. I wonder if I can't really run regularly long term.

I wonder if there's something about running in the winter that makes this stuff more likely. Maybe I don't warm up long enough in the cold weather?

I recall that last year's sore left thigh that I ran on too much started with a sudden move recovering from a step on a slick shoulder. The other regular runner in the office tells me that adjusting to road conditions quickly (e.g., avoiding a patch of ice by shortening the stride or jumping over it) can take its toll. That makes sense to me, and it makes sense that this effect should be greater for someone who runs faster. If this line of thought is correct, it's not cold weather so much as the uncertain surface conditions that is hazardous. With the shoulders not always being clear, I end up dodging traffic more than I would with full shoulders to run on. That's in addition to whatever sudden moves I might make because I hit a slick patch.

I wonder if a half marathon is simply too long a distance for me, personally. Maybe if my long runs max out at 8 miles and I never run an organized race longer than 10K I could stay healthy?

But most of all, I wonder if I'm to the point Mom was talking about when she said, "Getting old is not for sissies."

Oh, well. I won't know about any of the stuff I worry about without trying to do things and seeing what happens. Next step, a run on Sunday afternoon. See what my leg and foot are like, see what the weather is like, then decide what kind of run to attempt. Repeat on a Tuesday - Thursday - Sunday schedule until either it seems like normal training or I'm forced to admit the schedule is too aggressive.

That, and deal with having scheduled myself full. Part of dealing with that will be getting to be early enough to get enough sleep, which in turn will mean fewer blogs. Fewer blogs is okay as long as I can hold eating discipline and get regular exercise of some sort; so far, so good. The weight trend is sideways.

Speaking of getting enough sleep, it's time to wind this up and get to bed. As much as I'm attracted to staying up late, it's really no better for me than eating junk is. Sigh. Maintenance is not for sissies.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    All I can say besides "I can totally relate" is "better safe than sorry!" I think we all tend to push through if we can, and it isn't always the best choice. Hope things resolve themselves!
    1846 days ago
    Keep listening to your body. If the weather would
    be perfect year round, the road conditions optimum,
    and all other things fell into place, your body
    would still signal you that something is a bit off.
    Take care!
    1847 days ago
    Listen to your body. Be cautious. Push toward your goal. These are all difficult to balance. Warm up, stretching and cool down, as you know, are all very important.
    Make sure you are doing the correct stretches for the sore spots in your leg and foot.
    Best of luck to you as life gets busy.
    1847 days ago
    Not sure if the hip (you mentioned in an earlier blog), thigh, hamstring and foot trouble are all on the same side, but if so, perhaps you should have it checked out by a doctor. I don't have a lot of faith in doctors, but if you have that many different points of pain in the same quadrant of your body there may be a greater underlying cause tying them together. From what I understand, the general rule of thumb for high impact cardio exercisers experiencing leg pain or injury is to ease off on the high impact stuff and replace with gentle strength training exercises specifically targeted to strengthen the problem areas until you've recovered. It's frustrating to want to work out and be inhibited by some unexpected pain, so I'm sorry you're going through this. Hang in there!
    1847 days ago
    Your running is certainly keeping you in great shape. I don't think you're at the "sissy point" yet. :)
    1847 days ago
  • MAGGIE101857
    Great update/assessment on what's going on. Yes, this getting older stuff is not for sissies! But it's much better than the alternative, and if we have to taper off a bit and stick to shorter runs/races, it is what it is! At least we are moving and really, moving quite well!!

    Hope things feel great tomorrow! I plan on a bike ride before church, and hopeful that the doc said I could plan on starting back using the treadmill this coming week. I've missed it, so I hope he's right!!!

    1847 days ago
    I recognize those doubts... how long *is* my max distance? Of course, I am NOT an outdoor runner in bad weather. Don't like doing dark, cold, and slick, and become a wimpy treadmill runner under those conditions.

    And when life gets busy? Kind of hard to fit all the pieces in. Still... life is good even if NOT for sissies! emoticon Rest well.
    1847 days ago
    All I can say is, "WOW!" I too find my body is "talking" more now than when I was younger. I'll have a pain and I don't even know what I did to have it! I do think you need to listen to your body. I'd rather be able to do a lot when I'm older, than push myself now and "break down." (That's my left knee talking after 30+ years of getting on and off horses.)

    Do what you think is best for you, but listen to your body as well!

    P.S. Take some time for rest and relaxation, too! emoticon
    1847 days ago
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