Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I *will* be a runner.

My running "career" has been full of ups and downs and I still have not yet figured out a solution. But it's not for lack of trying.

If you've been reading my blog, you can skip this brief recap and scroll down to the What's Next section.

Jan-June 2007
Started couch to 5k walk/run program. Ran 2-3 times a week. Built up to 5k run in 29-30 minutes avg and ran my first 5k race in 26:16 in June. Wasn't very knowledgeable and went too hard/ fast on that race, then didn't stretch or anything after. Ended up with fairly bad shin pain after the race. Life got busy so I stopped running altogether until the fall.

Sept-Dec 2007
Started walk/run program again. Went to massage therapy and physiotherapy, then finally had gait analysis - overpronator - and was prescribed orthotics.

January - June 2008
Continued walk/run program and had varied success. Continued to have foot/shin pain. Had orthotics adjusted several times. Overall, some improvement when I didn't run too far, or too often. Seemed to do best if I had 2 days off between runs. Mostly ran 3-5km at a time, still took some walk breaks on days when things were sore. In June, I did my 2nd 5k race in 26:26 and had shin pain after.

Summer 2008
I did 8k race in 46:17. Shin pain after. For rest of the summer, I babied my shins and only ran twice a week, no speed work, no long runs while training for my tri at end of August. Cont some physio and stretched and iced. My 5k time at my tri was 29:45. Not great but ok.

Sept-Dec 2008
I focused on running and worked toward a 10k for the WWFOR. I had hoped to do the half marathon but was unable to build up my long run during the summer. This time, my ITB locked up at my knee during 10k in Oct. 1:06 including walk breaks. I continued to run with walk breaks and going easy through the winter. I bought Zensah shin compression sleeves and sometimes wear them during or after a run.

February 2009
Bought new shoes that were a half size larger. Pain on top of foot disappeared. I hoped this would also cure my shin probs.

Spring 2009
I was coached for my May tri but every time he had me do some running drills, speed work, plyometrics etc to strengthen my shins/legs, the shin pain returned and I had to cut back my running. My run time in my May triathlon was crappy, 32:09, and I had ITB pain again. In June I ran an easy 5k race with my daughter and had to walk some due to shin and ITB pain. 33:00

Summer 2009
I continued to run easy, slow, take walk breaks, tried trail running, and continued to have pain if I did a brick or ran a bit faster, or a bit longer. My 5k time in my tri in August was 31:07. ITB pain slowed me down. I also went back to massage and was given more strengthening exercises to do. They seemed to be working and for a few months, I thought the shin problems were solved although I hadn't yet figured out the ITB problem that only hit me once in awhile on a long run, or a race, rarely on easy or short runs.

Sept 2009
I decided to try a different approach. Run short, easy, more frequently, and do long runs on the trails. Don't go longer on long runs until the distance feel easy. So for two weeks, I ran 3-5k every second day, slowly (11-12 mi mile). I did a good warmup, and took walk breaks when necessary. I avoided hills. I stretched and did ice massage on my shins after every run.

On the first weekend I did a long run (8k) on the trails but had to walk after 30 min due to ITB pain. The second weekend, I did another 8k trail run on a flat trail and managed 6k before the ITB pain started. This time I was wearing an ITB strap which may or may not have helped. The day after that long run, my shins hurt a lot. I took 2 days off before I ran again but I was unable to run longer than a minute at a time without bad shin pain. Did 2.5 k of mostly walking that day.

2 days after that, my shins are still sore. Not sure if I should run today or not. I am thinking I might go to the gym and do the elliptical instead.

So what to do now?

Possible things to try next:

I've had loads of suggestions from people who have shared what worked for them.

• go back to Okaped and get orthotics adjusted again.

• go to a different place and get new gait analysis to confirm diagnosis

• toss orthotics but wear corrective shoes for overpronation.

• toss orthotics and wear minimalist shoes like Newtons or Nike Free.

• try barefoot running.

• try forefoot running (with current shoes, with new shoes, with and without orthotics, so many options...)

• continue using the foam roller on ITB and doing yoga and doing strengthening exercises for hips flexors and shins.

So what am I going to do?

• Hire a running coach. The one I have in mind encourages forefoot running. My understanding is that he philosophically disagrees with orthotics although he wouldn't tell someone not to use them. He says he's not a doctor and can't make that call. Interestingly, he also thinks Newtons are a crutch to be avoided as well because of the little thingies on them that encourage forefoot running. He says it's better to learn to mid-foot/forefoot run without them.

• I won't do barefoot running. It's not something that can be done year round or safely here so I'm not going to bother. However, I may try it on the treadmill in short spurts for awhile so my body can learn the feel for forefoot running, with the hope that it will transfer to running with shoes on.

• It looks like it would be dumb not to try to switch to mid-foot/forefoot running despite the possibility of having to deal with new aches and pains during the transition. I have been trying it in 30-60 second segments but I don't know if I'm doing it right.

• I have made an appt at my orthotics place to make one last-ditch effort to correct the problems with my current orthotics. I don't know if I want/need to try going to a new place to get a second opinion gait analysis or not, although the place comes highly recommended.

• Shoes - I have not decided what to do. Current shoes (which are very comfortable), with or without orthotics, or minimalist shoes or ??

• I will continue shin strengthening and hip flexor work.

• I will continue to do short, easy runs every 2-3 days. I will cut my long run back until the short runs are comfortable again.

• I will use the elliptical when running hurts too much.

• I will try not to complain too much. (I am so frustrated, this one is hard...)

I will try to remember Randy Pausch's saying:

"Roadblocks are only a test of your commitment to your goals."

Friday, September 4, 2009

Last weekend of the summer...

I've had a busy two weeks since my race and have mainly focused on running, and getting ready for school.

After my race on August 23rd, I took a few days off to rest my sore body and then:

Thu, Aug 27 - I ran 3.5 km. My shins hurt at the end so I stretched and iced. Still stiff but ok.

Sat, Aug 29 - I ran 8.3 km on the trail above my house. I hiked up the first 1.3 km, then ran for 30 mins. My HR was really racing and I felt breathless at that point so I walked the rest of the way home. I think it was a combination of heat and fatigue. My ITB also started to tighten up by the last 2 km as well but since I was walking, it wasn't really an issue. Stretched and iced shins when I got back.

At this point I decided to do some easy short runs (3-5 km) every 2nd day instead of 3 times a week, and one long run on the weekends for the next few months, in order to build up my running stamina. I'll do a 10 km run or longer for the World Wide Festival of Races (Oct, 10/11) and if I'm lucky, I hope to do the New Balance Half Marathon in Vancouver on November 15!

Mon, Aug 31 - 3k run in am, felt stiff, sore. Ran 9/ walked 1. Iced shins after.

Wed, Sep 2 - 4.3k run in am, still felt a bit stiff. 1 km WU then 3 km at 11 min mile pace. Felt ok. Iced shins after, wore shin sleeve.

Fri, Sep 4 - Felt crappy all day, had long nap in afternoon, then felt better around 6 pm so went for a run. Did 5.3 km and felt pretty good. 1 km WU then 4 km steady at 11:30 min mile pace. I wore my shin sleeve during my run, and also tried out an ITB Strap so see how it felt. I plan to wear the strap for my long runs only until the issue is resolved. I will continue with stretching and using the foam roller as well.

During the week, I've also been doing some stretching and yoga but nothing on a planned/regular basis. This is my last week of vacation so I plan to get back into a schedule when school starts on Sept. 8th.

My goals include:

• Run every 2nd day if I can fit it in, and then do a long run on the weekend.

• Add 1-2 km to my long run every weekend, cutting back every 4 weeks.

• Continue stretching and using the foam roller.

• Ice shins after every run until they are no longer a problem. Wear shins sleeve during and after.

• Wear ITB strap on long runs.

• Return to healthy diet 90% of the time on Sept. 8th, and maintain weight throughout the winter. No more than 3 lbs gain over Christmas. (I'm up 3 lbs right now so must lose that again by mid-Oct)

• Plan strength and conditioning workouts to be done on alternate days, focus on core.

• Use the gym and home equipment.

• Bike and swim for fun when I have time.

• Try to get 8 hours of sleep every night. Go to bed earlier during the school week.


I finally got into my classroom on Aug 26 and spent about 16 hours in the next 3 days, unpacking and setting up. The school will be open but not finished on the first day of school. Should be pretty exciting. I have a beautiful room with vaulted ceilings and open beams. Everything is clean and new and bright - so nice. The staff is young and fun - I'm really going to enjoy them. I'm about the 2nd oldest on staff now. Weird.

Here's the view from my desk.