Monday, May 31, 2010

May In Review, Strike Two

The best thing I can say about the month of May is "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out."  This was the worse month of (non)running I've had in over three years.  I started the month with severe knee pain brought on by a bad case of ITB syndrome.   My failure to recognize the injury early on and my attempt to run through it only made matters worse.  I finally stopped running when the pain started to interfere with normal everyday activities, like walking and sleeping.  Too bad it was too little, too late.

After three week of rest and PT my knee pain was beginning to subside.  I made a commitment to myself not to try running again until I went 10 days pain free.  I'm sure you know how well that went.  After five days my impatience won out and I went for a very slow and easy 20 minute jog.  It felt great to be moving again even if it was for a short time. I was encouraged that I made it through the "run" without any knee pain.  The day after the run I had some minor discomfort but no real pain.  Things were looking up!

Today, after two rest days, I tried another run.  This time around it didn't go as well.  I stated to feel some discomfort during the run and then the pain returned at the 20 minute mark. I immediately shut it down and walked about five minutes before the pain disappeared.  This was the second time in May I tested the knee and the second time I swung and missed. It's obvious I'm not ready to take on running in any form, no matter how slow or short it may be.  It looks like I'll need to take another month off which will totally blow all my summer race plans.  

It's going to be a long, boring summer....

Sunday, May 30, 2010

North Shore Trail Series

There's a new 2010 trail race series on the North Shore starting with the first race next weekend. It consists of six local races ranging in distance from 5K to 26.2 miles. Three of the races are held on private property so this series is a great opportunity to run on trails not generally open to the public.  Here is an excerpt from the race website.

"The North Shore Trail Series features six local trail races spread across six months. We've worked hard to put together a series that showcases the best trail running the North Shore has to offer. Over the course of the series you will experience gentle carriage roads, rocky single track, ocean vistas, and private estates normally closed to the public. With races ranging from a 5k to marathon, by the end of the series you will have experienced the full gamut of trail racing here on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Though the emphasis is on participation, we will be offering awards to top overall finishers and to top age group finishers."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Test Run

I have little patience when it come to dealing with running injuries.  I suspect most runners are that way.   It's one thing to be injured in the dead of winter when there's not much happening but totally different to be injured in the middle of race season and missing out on trail racing and fun times with friends.  My impatience got the better of me over the weekend and I decided to take a test run to see how my ITB would react to some very easy jogging. I've been treating the injury for three weeks now and I've taken the past two weeks off from running. I thought maybe I would be ready to resume training, easy training that is.   I was wrong.  I jogged for five minutes and then the knee pain returned. It was a short test and I failed it.

I'm disappointed it didn't go well but I'm glad I tried it anyway.  I think it was good for me to get a dose of reality.  Before taking the test run I was thinking I could get over this injury quickly and get back to running and racing this summer.  Now I'm ready to accept that it's not going to play out that way. The Nipmuck Marathon is definitely not going to happen for me this year since it's only three weeks away. The Wakely Dam Ultra, my key race for the summer, is likely to become another race casualty to the ITB demon.  Oh well, life goes on.

I'll continue with my current treatment plan an maybe try another test run in three weeks.  If it goes well I may be able to salvage Wakely by using the run/walk method to get me through the 33 miles of wilderness.  If it doesn't work out, I'll set my sights on the Pisgah 50K  or Vermont 50M in September.  

I feel much better now that I've given up hope.

Friday, May 14, 2010

This Weekend On The Trails

There's only one race in the area this weekend and it's the Soapstone Mountain race in Staffort Springs, CT.  This is a great race and is part of the Grand Tree Trail Race Series. I am registered to run but will have to pass on it.  I still have tightness and pain from my ITBS so it's preventing me from running.  

Course Description:
The first mile of the 24k travels along a slightly downhill dirt road before turning sharply onto a more 'traditional' hiking trail. From there it starts a slow accent towards Soapstone Mountain. After crossing the first road, the trail makes another sharp right where participants are challenged with the first difficult climb - a very steep 1/2 mile trail named "Killer Hill". Once at the top of the hill, runners travel by the Soapstone Mountain observation tower and then run down a steep descent. Following the downhill, the trail becomes a series of switchbacks and rollers through the woods - though it's challenging, the rollers aren't steep enough to dramatically alter one's overall pace. There are brook crossings and a muddy stream decent. There are lots of rocks and roots to twist ankles on. Watch your footing! Towards the latter half of the race, the course has one more significant climb up a single track, followed by a steep descent on a dirt trail continuing on dirt road and finishing on single track to end the race in a grassy field. The entire course is marking with painted white dots on rocks and trees. In areas where the trail splits or is tricky there will be additional flagging.

My 2009 Soapstone race report.

My 2009 Soapstone photos.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Product Review - Inov-8 Flyroc 310

The Flyroc 310 is one of Inov-8s first trail shoes.  It has recently gone through some changes that improved on an already good design.  The 310 is light enough for racing but also offers enough cushioning to make it your everyday trainer. The upper webbing support provides a secure foot hold and the meta-flex grove in the sole allows the fore foot to flex naturally.  Both of these design features make the shoe very nimble on technical terrain. The mid sole is fairly stiff and offers good protection from rocks and roots.

The Flyroc is wider than the Roclite models and has a very generous toe box. This makes the Flyroc and excellent go-to shoe late in a 100 mile race when your feet are swollen and you're looking for some relief for your tired, aching dogs.  Another noticeable difference is the height of the heel.  In the Flyroc, your heel sits very low in the shoe.  This gives you an excellent feel for the trail and allows you to pick your way though a mine field of rocks and rocks more surely than with other trail shoes.

Unfortunately the low heel was my undoing. I suffer with plantar fasciitis and I think the lower heel must place addition strain on the plantar fascia.  After wearing the shoe for the first time in a 10 mile race I had a moderate flare-up in symptoms after being nearly symptom free for 3 - 4 months.   Although I don't recommend this shoe for sufferers of PF, I feel this is a very good trainer/racer on hard-pack and technical trails.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Me and my ITB

It's been a week since I stopped running due to a severe case of Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome.  I've been icing, stretching, performing strengthening exercises, using my foam roller and getting treatments by my chiropractor using Active Release Technique. After seven days, I have only a very slight improvement in symptoms.  I still have knee pain when walking down stairs and some days have pain when doing absolutely nothing!  My hopes of a speedy recovery are fading but I'm not ready to completely rule it out. My advice to anyone with symptoms of ITBFS is to get it treated right away and do not wait until it becomes a Grade 4 injury like I did. Stupid me!

Grades of Iliotibial Friction Injuries:

Grade 1
Pain does not occur during normal activity, but generalized pain is felt about 1 to 3 hours after sport-specific training has ended. Tenderness usually resolves within 24 hours without intervention.

Grade 2
Minimal pain is present towards the end of a training run; performance is not affected. Appropriate treatment may be necessary to prevent a grade 3 injury.

Grade 3
Pain is present at an earlier onset of training, and interferes with the speed and duration of a training session. Treatment and training modification are necessary to prevent a grade 3 injury from progressing to a grade 4 injury.

Grade 4
Pain restricts training and is also noticeable during activities of daily living; the athlete can no longer continue sport-specific training. Low-impact training, such as swimming, running in a pool, and biking, can be implemented for cardiovascular fitness and aggressive muscu- loskeletal therapy can reduce the severity of the injury. The goal of therapy is to reduce inflammation and restore strength and flexibility of the hip and thigh musculature, allowing for the athlete to return to pain-free sport-specific training.

Grade 5
Pain interferes with training as well as activities of daily living. Aggressive therapy is required and surgery may be necessary.

I hope week two goes better than the first.

Friday, May 7, 2010

This Weekend on the Trails

There are plenty of race options this weekend so get out there and enjoy the trails.  I'm still under doctor's orders not to run due to an injury but I'll be lending a hand at the GAC 6 Hour run on Sunday. Working the aid station will be almost as fun as running, almost. 

Saturday, May 8:

Mt. Tom Road to the Pogue 10K, Woodstock VT - Run through one of Vermont's most beautiful landscapes, under the shade of sugar maples and 400-year-old hemlocks, across covered bridges and alongside rambling stone walls.

Samuel Fuller School Trail Run 5K & 10K, Middleboro MA -  The race is an adventurous course through some beautiful conservation land in the town of Middleboro. The trail winds through the forests of the Pratt Farm, across fields, over streams, and past ponds and bogs.

MorFun Wapack Trail Races 21M, 42M & 50M Ashburnham MA - The race covers the challenging and technical 21 miles of trail from Mt. Watatic to North Pack Monadnock and the several mountains in between. Approximately 14,000 feet of elevation gain for the full 50 miles.

The North Face Endurance Challenge 10K, 50K & 50M Bear Mountain, NY - Runners can expect technical terrain and rocky footing that cuts to the chase, with some trails heading steeply uphill rather than zig-zagging at a gentler grade. Descents end in wooded hollows before the next rapid climb ending with a breathtaking view. Make no mistake: this will be a tough test of off-road endurance.

Allegany Adventure Run 22K Salamanca, NY - Beautiful and challenging trail running in deep woods on wide, rolling xc ski trails.

Shad Bloom 10K Trail Run Block Island, RI - 10k course over magnificent, rolling, protected hiking trails on the scenic south end of Block Island

Sunday, May 9:

Gil's Athletic Club 6 Hour Run - Topsfield, MA - A 5K loop in Bradley State Park consists of gravel paths, carriage paths through open fields, and trails along the Ipswich River,  

Saturday, May 1, 2010

April Review

The month of April was good and bad to me.  It started off poorly with a very bad run at the Northern Nipmuck 16M race.  The heat got to me during the second half of the race.  I cramped badly and walked quite a bit over the final four miles.  Following Nipmuck I ran three good races at Merrimack River10M, Traprock 50K and Blue Hills 10M. At Merrimack and Blue Hills I ran negative splits and at Traprock the last 10K was my fastest of the race.

The day after Merrimack River I awoke with moderate knee pain.  I ran through it for a few days but when it didn't improve I rested for two days and the pain disappeared.  I thought I was in the clear but the pain returned at mile 21 at Traprock.  Again I ran through the pain and raced again at Blue Hills the following week.   Looking back, running four races in four consecutive weekends was not very wise given the knee pain.  I may have injured myself to the point were I'll have to take an extended amount of time off.  I should know for sure next week when I go for treatment.

Here are the numbers for the month.  Not bad, but I was shooting for 150 and could have reached that if I stayed healthy.

Total Miles: 139
Best Week: 47
Longest Run: 31
# of Runs: 18
Avg. Run: 7.2
# of Races: 4
Race Miles: 67

I have a strong feeling the numbers will look much worse for May.
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