Running Injury

Warning! I’m not a doctor so please don’t read too much into this post. If you are having knee problems go to the doctor! Don’t follow my lead.

A week and a half ago I began to have knee problems. The pain came about all of a sudden when I was at work. I simply turned in my chair and felt a sharp pain in my knee. At first I thought I pinched a nerve and it would be fine after a few minutes. Later that day while walking to the train I was in excruciating pain. I racked my brain trying to figure out what happened, this just didn’t make sense.

I finally came to grips this was an injury I had to deal with and take it seriously. If I shrugged it off and tried to continue my running schedule I could jeopardize the entire running season.

So what’s going on? I felt the pain when moving the knee laterally. Also, the muscle above the knee was a bit weak. What do I do about it? Do I take the time to go to the doctor? My “man” gene took over and I decided to rehab myself. If the pain didn’t subside in one week I’d make a doctor’s appointment.

The problem couldn’t be MCL or ACL related because the pain would be much different. I did a bit of research to validate my assumption. I found a good knee self-diagnosis guide on the internet (everything you read on the internet is true 🙂 ).


I recalled a runner’s camp I attended a few years ago. The objective of the camp was to build strength and prevent injuries runner’s typically experience. Fortunately I still had the list of knee strengthening exercises. I iced my knee each night and did a knee strengthening routine each morning.

My knee began to feel better after a couple of days of treatment but I kept up the routine. After a week’s time I went out for a 3.5 mile run and felt fine afterwards. The key was how I’d feel the day after. Fortunately the next day I didn’t feel any pain whatsoever.

Hopefully I’m past this knee pain episode, only time will tell. I’ll keep you updated.

Posted in Injury Report, Running Tips | 1 Comment

First Race of the Season

Last Sunday’s Shamrock Shuffle was the unofficial start of the running season in Chicago. I really enjoy the race because it represents the end of winter and an opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy nature and the benefits of running. This is my eight year running the race and have appreciated each one.

Okay, let’s talk about the race. My objective was to finish the race in 40 minutes or an 8:00 min/mile pace. It was a perfect day for a run – 45 degrees, no wind, and a bit overcast. There was no reason I shouldn’t meet my goal.

Wouldn’t you know it, right before the race start I had to go (really had to go). I drank too much water and was starting to feel the affect. Hydrating before a race is a delicate balance. You don’t want to under hydrate and cramp up, at the same time you don’t want to over hydrate and feel bloated, and continually have to go to the bathroom. Obviously I over hydrated that morning. I quickly found “facilities” (I’ll call it that for the sake of this blog post) and returned to the start corral.

My strategy was to run the beginning of the race by feel, then take the rest of the race based on how my body was responding. I did exactly that the first mile – relaxed and listened to my body paying particular attention to my breathing and form. I was surprised when I saw my pace for the first mile was 7:48. I decided to keep that pace for another mile before pulling back.

During miles 2 and 3 I did a bit of crowd watching. It’s interesting reading the t-shirts runners wear and the inspirational signs spectators have on display. With 33,000 runners there are so many stories of perseverance  and motivation. I often wonder what makes other runners take on these races. As I started to get in a reflective state of mind I came across someone throwing up on the sidelines 🙂  That visual got me back into a racing state of mind – visualize the finish line.

I knew there was an aid station at mile 3.5 so I picked up the pace until I reached it. Immediately after the aid station I pulled back my pace for a minute then focused on getting to the finish line. The challenge was weaving in and out of the crowd because there wasn’t a clear lane that allowed me to keep a good pace.

My time for the race was 39 minutes and 20 seconds (7:55 pace). I was happy with the time because I felt I could have gone harder but since this was the first race of the season I didn’t want to risk injury. I’ll push harder later in the year when injury is less of a risk.

If you get a chance to run the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle, do it! It’s a well-organized race for runners of all levels and a great experience.

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March 2013 Training Summary

I achieved my training goals in March. The objective was to get back into a reasonable routine of running four days a week and extending my long run to 8 miles. Pace wasn’t a focus during March training, just running with good form and not pushing too hard (don’t risk injury).

Monthly Running Summary

  • Monthly Total: 69.5 miles
  • Long Run: 8.5 miles
  • Long Run Pace: Comfortable 8:50

Admittedly I wasn’t as motivated as in year’s past to start the running season. I’m still trying to understand why. I think it has to do with the additional weight I put on during the off season but I’m not totally convinced. It can’t be that I’ve aged because one year doesn’t make that big of a difference.

This is my ninth straight year of running and training for marathons. Over the nine years I’ve averaged ~1,200 miles each year – that’s a lot of running. Maybe all of the miles are taking a toll on my body. I don’t believe that but it’s a possibility. If that is what’s going on I have to focus on taking better care of my body to achieve my running goals. This means better diet, strength training, and better flexibility.

My diet isn’t the best. As my sister tells me “I don’t eat like a Kenyan” 🙂  I have to cut out the occasional Harold’s Chicken, the occasional soda, and other junk food that I find myself eating during a challenging day at work. My biggest challenge is my evening meal. I can’t eat a meal at 7:30pm and go to bed an hour later – that’s not good.

In year’s past I’ve done a lot of yoga to build strength and flexibility. The focus was more on flexibility than strength training so it’s time to step up. I don’t know what’ I’m going to do yet but I have to figure it out. I welcome any suggestions.

Here’s to running happy in April…


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Motivated to Run

I don’t know what it is but lately it’s been hard to get motivated. My preference is to run early in the morning but I haven’t been able to get up and get to it. Maybe it’s the long hours at work or maybe I’m subconsciously holding out for warmer weather. Whatever it is I have to get past it quickly because running season is right around the corner

I have to admit that I do miss that feeling you get after a good run. That feeling that your mind and body is cleansed. A feeling of no stress and the belief that you can accomplish anything. Who wouldn’t miss that feeling!

Hmm, in a weird way I think I just solved the problem. If I just relax and run for the love of running rather than focusing on training I’ll be more motivated to get out there. I think there is something to that because I do long for that “runner’s high” that comes with a great run.

Just writing this has inspired me to get out there on the trail. I gotta go now…

Posted in Inspirational, Running | 2 Comments

2013 Training Goals

I am a believer that in order to succeed you have to set goals and identify milestones along the way. My 2013 goal is to run a marathon in 3 hours 55 minutes. After a run last week I decided to identify the milestones that would help me achieve this goal.

Monthly Goal

Long Run Target Miles Long Run Target Pace Average Weekly Mileage
March 8 8:50 18
April 11 8:55 25
May 13 8:55 30
June 14 8:45 35
July 16 8:45 40
August 18 8:45 45
September 21 8:55 50

My training will begin with a focus on fitness in March and April. I won’t be so concerned about pace, just getting the miles in. May June, and July will emphasize a combination of pace and endurance. The miles will be increased and I will begin to incorporate speed training. The last part of training (August and September) will ensure I have the endurance to run a strong marathon race.

The weekly mileage begins at ~20 and increases gradually to 50 during the last phase of training. I will listen to my body and adjust up or down as needed.

Now I know what I need to do this year, all I have to do is Just Do It! The journey begins. I will provide updates along the way.

Posted in Running Tips | 2 Comments

Getting Back Into Shape

I admit I had a great time during the winter break. The calories were high and the amount of exercise was low – not a good combination. I was afraid to get on a scale but I needed to get a baseline. Amazingly I gained approximately 15 pounds! Unbelievable, 15 pounds in 3.5 months (November – mid-February). I feel puffy even writing this 🙂

Now that I’ve owned up to the error of my ways it’s time to get back on track. My routine this time of year is to begin eating the right foods (and eating at the right time), get at least a 40 minute yoga session in each day, and start running with a focus on fitness rather than endurance. This would be so much easier if I didn’t dig myself a hole during the winter but that’s hind sight and I can’t look back, I can only look forward.

Eating Right – It’s time to cut out the soda, hot chocolate, and champagne (okay, maybe champagne in moderation). I also need to eliminate the morning muffin and afternoon chocolate snack. The biggest challenge will be the dinner meal. I need to eat earlier in the evening and eat a lighter meal. Eating dinner late in the evening then going to bed is very bad – easy way to put on the pounds.

Time to eat more berries, bananas, and salads!

Yoga – Yoga is important to me as a runner. It helps me to relax and focus, just as importantly it gives me the flexibility needed to handle the pounding my body takes during those long runs. There are many forms of yoga, the practice I follow is Hatha Yoga. This is a combination of different yoga practices that focuses on breathing, and building strength and flexibility. I’ll share the poses that help me in an upcoming post.

Start Running Routine – At this time of year I have to be careful not to risk injury by doing too much. My running will focus on putting in the mileage, not pace. The weekly routine is two 3.5 mile runs, one 5.5 mile run, and one 6.2 mile run (all treadmill running). I’ll do this for three weeks then increase each run by half a mile. By this time I’ll be running outside. The important thing is for me to listen to my body during this process and adjust if needed.

I admit this is a difficult time of year because I’m getting back into a routine. How do I stay motivated? I envision myself crossing the finish line during the next race. This motivates me to be prepared to finish strong. I also think about marathon day and what it takes to run a good race. The marathon is less than eight months away, time to get started! 🙂

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Treadmill Selection

I recently decided to cancel our gym membership and purchase a treadmill. Okay, it was really my wife’s idea so she deserves the credit. She wanted a more convenient workout option and I agreed with her.

As I researched treadmills I was amazed at all of the options. There are so many manufacturers and features to choose from. There are entertainment options for TV, social media to share workouts near real-time with friends, integration with popular exercise programs (e.g., Nike), and exercise program options (e.g., cardio). The list goes on and on. It quickly became apparent that I had to step back and treat this as a mini-project, otherwise I’d make a bad decision. I identified the minimum requirements for our family and what features were important to us (see below).

Basic workout programs  – The ability to select hill, random, and cardio workouts was important. We don’t need much more than that. Who uses all of that stuff?

Soft bed – Your body takes a lot of pounding when running and a soft bed will help to absorb the shock. This was very important to us.

Good motor – Our running pace ranges from 3 – 7.5 mph and the motor needed to accommodate that range. Also, our usage will be mid-high during the winter months (~30 miles a week).

Not a lot of bells and whistles – We are focused on running and not all of the other “stuff”. The additional features are not of value to us.

Cost – We budgeted $3,000 for the treadmill.

The next step was to compare manufacturers and narrow the search. I reviewed treadmills from NordicTrack, Sole, ProForm, True and Precor. Of course each manufacturer has strengths and weaknesses. I finally selected the True PS300 treadmill because it met our criteria and was a solid treadmill.  I was especially impressed by the soft bed.

We’ve had the treadmill for a couple of months now and it has exceeded our expectations. I highly recommend this treadmill to any runner, it’s simple and provides an excellent running experience.

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