Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Heel Healed ... Thanks Randall!!!

I've been struggling with a sore heel  - most likely a touch of Plantar Fasciitis - for the better part of a month.  Most things you read on Plantar Fasciitis recommend stretching and stretching and stretching the calves.  And while this may relieve some immediate pain, most professionals will tell you the root cause is often weak or tight hips. In fact, on one of Michael's recent visit to our ART guy, who is also a high school cross country coach, Dr. Wisner reiterated this same thing and gave her some hip strengthening and flexibility exercises.

 Besides running, I try to incorporate quite a bit of lower body strengthening to my weekly regimen, which of course, includes a lot of hip exercises.  So like my friend Char recently commented, I didn't think actual hip strength was the cause of my heel pain.  However, I must admit that hip flexibility had recently fallen off a little.

So earlier this week, I really began focusing again on hip flexibility.  I stretched after runs a little more than normal, and a couple of additional times per day, making sure not to over-stretch. Additionally, my friend Randall, who is a frequent contributor to the blog, recommended some calf and foot banded foot exercises you can find HERE.  And what do ya know ... my heel pain is pretty much completely gone!!!  I'm running ... and walking around during the day ... more comfortably than I have in a month.  What a relief!

So I'm not actually sure if it was the hip stretching, or Randall's recommendations ... all I can tell you is I feel great.  And with only a month left until my first Spring race, it didn't come a moment too soon.  Hope your training is going great ... have a wonderful week!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Building A Base

I typically don't race a lot in the Winter ... but I do run a lot.  A lot.  Like a lot of runners, I try to build a base for the rest of the year during the colder months when there's not much else to do anyway.

With my 10 mile recovery on Sunday, I totaled 254 miles ran for the month of January.  Quite a few, yes, but 19 times before I've ran more in one month.  Still, it felt good to bulk some mileage again and hopefully get stronger for Spring races.

But the problem with so many miles is the minor aches and pains that often accompany them.  I've been blessed that I've  never had to deal with a serious running injury, but during the Winter months it just seems like everything gets weaker, tighter, and more susceptible to damage.

The issue that I've been dealing with this year ... for the first time ever ... is some left heel pain.  It's mostly from tight calf muscles, which is most often related to weak & tight hips.  I just can't shake it, and I'll probably get ART treatment for it this week.  It's mostly just really annoying.  I mean it really hasn't affect my runs too much.  But I know if I don't have it taken care of, it can be a problem for quite a while.  So hopefully a visit or two to doctor Wisner will make things better.  I've been stretching my calves more than ever, which I'm not sure is really helping ... and often after visiting Jared, I find one simple movement that helps drastically.  But all in all, it really hasn't prevented me from keeping my schedule and pace for the most part.

Hopefully I'll remain healthy throughout the remaining days of Winter.  And hopefully building a strong base will help with faster races in the Spring.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Winter Inconsistency

The biggest challenge for me with Winter workouts is consistency.  Both the weather, and my work schedule make it tough to maintain a normal regimen.

Take last week for example.  Part of my job requires me to speak to architects and engineers about new industry technology in an effort convince them to write my products into their project specifications. Typically, this happens at their individual firms with a group of 10-20 attendees being the norm, But one of my customers hosts large-scale seminars where many different firms are in attendance, and the groups are typically over 100 in attendance.  Last week, I spoke to three of those groups in Lincoln, Omaha, and Des Moines on consecutive days.  About 300 in total.

While it's a great opportunity to speak to such large groups ... as you can no doubt imagine, it's nerve-racking.  It's not like I'm lecturing school children, these are professionals, and my peers.  It takes a lot of preparation and energy to be on top of my game, and in the weeks leading up to the events, I'm typically very distracted during my workouts.  And while I've been very consistent in keeping up with my workout schedule, on some days, the quality of the workouts has lacked a little.  This was especially true last week when I'd skip one last set of a particular movement, or cut my runs short by a couple of miles.

Over all though, I've done a pretty good job this winter of staying on track and trying to gain strength and speed.  I'm 100% certain that I've gained considerable lower body strength and a little upper body muscle.  But I'm not sure about the speed.  I "think" I'm about where I need to be with my first Spring race only about five weeks away ... but it's just been difficult to gauge with most of my runs taking place on the revolving belt.

Hopefully, with the biggest speaking engagements behind me, and the weather warming a little, I'll get outside a bit more this week.  I really need to hit the pavement more often and begin adding as much speed as I have strength.  We'll see how it goes ... have a great week!

Be the fire.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Winter-Time Grinding

It's cold out.  And getting colder.  So instead of track workouts, trail runs, outdoor plyometrics, and unending yard-work that helps keep me stay in shape during the warmer months ... I'm confined to the home gym and treadmill on most days.

However, I did enjoy the rare opportunity to complete an outdoor 10 mile Tempo Run this morning.  Here are the splits ...

8:32, 7:26, 7:00, 6:57, 6:48, 6:41, 6:42, 6:41, 6:27, 8:38

Not super-super fast, but respectable during the winter months and colder air.

After my uptempo Tuesday and Thursday runs, I typically also get in a leg strengthening workout.  I started doing leg workouts after my hard runs early last year ... and I LOVE IT!!!  My muscles are warm and loose, which really seems to help minimize DOMS in the following days.  The only downside is I have to be careful not to try to lift too much weight as my legs are usually pretty wobbly after a fast Tempo or Speed workout.

For example, I free-squatted the most weight I've put on the bar in a while this morning, and the four sets were only 8 x 120 lbs, 8 x 140 lbs, 8 x 160 lbs, and 8 x 170 lbs.  I know ... laughable from some of you heavy weight lifting people.  But I'm really only focused on long lean muscle ... not linebacker quads that slow me down.  Plus ... I'm 47 years old.  In my opinion there's not much to gain, and a whole lot to lose, by loading up the bar with too much weight.  I'll increase the load a little in the coming weeks, but I'll probably not venture too much over 200 lbs during the multiple reps.  I'll never win any weight-lifting awards ... but wanna race? Lol.

Hopefully being much stronger will help with the Spring running, and most importantly, continue to keep me healthy all year long with all the miles I log.  Have a great week!

Be the fire.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Our Masterpiece Is Complete

Weatherly home gym
Last winter we started cleaning out the unfinished portion of our basement, and turned it into a home gym.  And with arrival of the last 45 lb dumbbell today, it's finally finished ... and we couldn't be happier with how it turned out!  I tried to spruce it up a little by adding some paint here and there, and actually installing some trim on the wood panel wall, which Michael laughed at me for ... but I think she would agree that it's probably our favorite room in the house, and we use it daily.  We use it so much that we've canceled our membership to our local gym, which will save us about $400 per  year!  I can't tell you how nice it is to have almost everything a professional gym has, right in our basement.  It's so convenient!

So feel free to come over and work out.  Just know in advance that there's a $25 daily drop-in fee ... I gotta start getting some of my money back somewhere, lol.

Be the fire.

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Little Bit Stronger

More jumping and plyometrics with my homemade box
I'll bet 99% of you who read this blog didn't know that was the title to a country music song by Sara Evans.  Why don't you like country music?  What's wrong with you?  Anyway ... I think it also somewhat accurately describes my fitness journey at the moment.  Because although my left heel basically hurts non-stop, and I'm not exactly thrilled with my running ... I AM getting stronger ... at least in my lower half.  Which also makes me question if the added leg strength is actually slowing me down.  Hmmm, something I'll ponder later.

At any rate, I've been spending a lot of time cross-training with plyo and leg strengthening after runs.  This morning I did about 100 box jumps on the 24" side of the box, probably 150 toe taps, followed by burpies, and speed skaters ... and some other plyometric exercises my friend, Melissa, gave me last year.  Yesterday was a light leg day, but tomorrow is heavy again.  I decided at the end of last year to really overload my bottom half and get as strong as possible to find out if there was any speed correlation.  So far I'm not sure because I'm still about 10 pounds over race weight.  But every time I run my legs feel lifeless and dead ... so it's still a work in progress. 
I'll be a lot more detailed in future posts about what I'm actually doing, but for now it's really new ground as far as adding this much strength over the winter.  I mean, I've been strong before ... like with high school and college athletics ... but I mean strong for an old man.  We'll see I guess!

Be the fire.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Freezing Cold 18 Miles

Pretty good, but not great 18 mile run on Saturday

It was only about 25 degrees, and Dummy wore shorts and froze his butt off the entire run

My left heel is sore off and on ... specifically related to calf tightness

I can't build any speed on the road right now, and certainly can't sustain it

Today's splits...
8:05, 7:50, 7:25, 7:30, 7:25, 7:17, 7:09, 7:24, 7:05, 6:47, 6:46, 6:40, 6:50, 6:42, 6:29, 8:30, 8:43, 8:33

The splits a lot better on paper than they were because I stopped fairly frequently during the second half of the run

The positive side of the run is that these paces on a warmer day will be a little faster ... but I just can't go very far at these speeds right now

Still got in 18 miles though

Be the fire.