jayfurr: (2010 3-Day Walker)
I'm one of those cocky jerks who takes pride in having walked multiple Breast Cancer 3-Day walks without ever needing to board a sweep van or SAG bus. I have nothing against the sweep vans, nothing against the buses, and respect those who give their all and still have something untoward come up like a shin splint, stress fracture, severe blisters, etcetera, and as a result, wind up on the van or bus. Things happen. Injuries occur. But I'd just as soon they not happen to me... and so I train, train, and train some more.

Each year since 2008 -- my first 3-Day year -- I've anxiously awaited the end of the long Vermont winter and the beginning of what, to me, is "3-Day training season".   Unlike the lucky folks in Florida and Texas and California, we simply can't start training in Vermont the minute the 24-week countdown to the Boston 3-Day in July starts.   In March we still have snow piled high along the shoulders of roads.  Our sidewalks may have been plowed... but may also conceal black ice in patches that will yank your feet right out from under you.  I lost a cell phone to black ice on a walking path just a few weeks ago, obstinately determined to go for a walk outdoors despite the frigid weather.   On a stretch of apparently bare and clean blacktop along a community recreation path, my feet went right out from under me and I came down hard flat on my back.  I was fine, though a bit shaken, but my Droid smartphone, in my pants pocket, was not so lucky.

Yesterday, with temperatures in the high 50s and sun everywhere, my wife and I went out for what we thought would be a nice eight-mile training walk on a recreation path in Stowe, Vermont.    What fools we mortals be!   After a few hundred yards we realized why everyone we'd seen heading down the path was coming back only a few minutes later and leaving.  There was six inches of snow along long stretches of the path, tromped down by snowshoers and skiers, but snow nonetheless.   And not even just in the shady spots.   Pretty much everywhere.   The clean dry pavement at the beginning of the path was a deceptive lure, getting our hopes up... but once around the first bend, GOTCHA.

We did two miles... a mile out, and a mile back... on that path, planting our feet carefully.  It wasn't all that slippery, surprisingly.  It was kinda slushy... providing reasonably good traction but simultaneously doing a bang-up job of getting our shoes and socks just plain soaked.    So there we were in shorts and t-shirts, tromping along on a warm (to us, anyway) sunny day through endless fields of snow.   Eventually we gave up and turned around and went home.

It may have been a blessing in disguise, though, for what it's worth.   I've had another, non-weather-related, cross to bear lately: an uncomfortably painful and stiff left knee.

I never had a knee problem in my life until this winter when I decided to start training for a 5K by doing laps on an banked indoor running track.   The gym alternates the track direction daily to avoid having runners putting too much strain on their knees by always running in the same direction with the same banking, but I was playing it smart, only trying to run every other day... which meant that when I ran, I was always running clockwise.   And somehow, that really put a strain on the iliotibial band on the outside of my left leg, right where it meets the knee.  The second to last time I tried to run it started stiffening up painfully after a couple of miles, but I finished my 3 miles and went home.  By the time I got home, it was so stiff and painful I literally could not put my weight on it.

The next day it was fine and I thought "OK.  That was odd.  Hope it doesn't happen again."  And two weeks later, when I said "That's a long enough break, let's try running again" it became stiff and painful after two laps.    I stopped cold and went home, feeling very gloomy.  I thought, naively, that the leg would benefit from some cross-training: walking, maybe some bicycling, before trying to run on it again.  And I took a wait-and-see approach.

The leg didn't give me any trouble when I did a few 3-Day training walks at our local mall in March, nor did it stiffen up when we did a four-mile walk outdoors on the Burlington bike path last weekend.  But on Friday, I tempted the fates by sitting down on our crunch board at home and doing a series of crunches... and apparently pulled so much on my I-T band that within an hour I was limping and in great pain.

"Just !%%#!@$ great," I said.  I sat down at a table with an icepack around my knee and my foot up on a chair and thought dark thoughts.  Eventually I realized I was out of ideas and called a local physical therapy clinic to ask for an appointment.   I feel a little weird about asking for help with a problem that seems to only occur when I do certain injurious things.   When I go in after work on Wednesday for my appointment, for all I know, my leg may feel absolutely fine.    I wonder: are they going to have me run or do crunches or something to start it hurting so I can point and say "Yep, that's where it hurts?"

Sigh.

Friends who are runners act like this sort of thing happens to runners all the time, but that doesn't make me feel all happy-happy about it happening to me.  I have a hugely pessimistic attitude right now about my leg.  If I manage to make it hurt that badly just by running three miles, or, for God's sake, doing a short abdominal workout... wow, that's just pathetic.   And I have a fear that I'll keep injuring it and eventually get told that I need to really cut back on any activity that'll stress my leg, indefinitely.

The reality is almost certainly much less gloomy than that.  But I do tend to think gloomy thoughts when a reversal like this comes along.  It's a personal failing of mine.

So as I said, above, having to terminate yesterday's training walk after only two miles may have been a blessing in disguise.  Walking a full eight miles the day after making it hurt so badly that I couldn't walk on it might not have been such a smart idea.

I can't make up my mind how to think about this.  I walked just under eight miles on Thursday night -- eight miles on the roads of our little Vermont town -- and had no pain afterwards.  I did crunches the next day: severe pain within a few minutes.    Did the walking followed by the crunches do it, or was it the crunches alone?  I don't know.  I may never know.  My knee felt mostly okay after our two miles yesterday and it feels mostly okay today, but (perhaps because I'm thinking about it) it does feel a little tender.

I really, really hope I don't get told by the physical therapist to cut way back on the walking.  I like long-distance walking.  It helps keep my weight down, it keeps my blood pressure low, and it toughens up my feet and hips so I don't have any pain or discomfort when the time comes to actually walk 60 miles in 3 days.   If I had to give up long distance walking on the advice of a doctor, I'd be one sad guy.   As far as I can tell walking isn't what caused it.  It was almost certainly the running on a banked track after a lifetime of not being a runner... and the crunches may have exacerbated things on their own.   The eight miles the previous night probably had nothing to do with it... I wasn't stiff at all afterwards.

But I don't know.   And that peeves and annoys me.  I want to be healthy and able to do my normal very active summer stuff: walking and hiking and kayaking and you-name-it.  I don't want to be laid up every time I step outdoors and do anything that raises a sweat.

So I'm looking forward with nervousness and anticipation toward Wednesday's physical therapy appointment.  I want them to wave a magic wand and make it all better, or failing that, give me things to do that will keep it from recurring.  I do not want to have to cut back on my walking and I really don't want to get told that the walking caused the pain ... especially if it didn't.   But if it did, then I need to know.

Yes, I'm getting very neurotic, aren't I?

 
jayfurr: (2010 3-Day Walker)
I'm one of those cocky jerks who takes pride in having walked multiple Breast Cancer 3-Day walks without ever needing to board a sweep van or SAG bus. I have nothing against the sweep vans, nothing against the buses, and respect those who give their all and still have something untoward come up like a shin splint, stress fracture, severe blisters, etcetera, and as a result, wind up on the van or bus. Things happen. Injuries occur. But I'd just as soon they not happen to me... and so I train, train, and train some more.

Each year since 2008 -- my first 3-Day year -- I've anxiously awaited the end of the long Vermont winter and the beginning of what, to me, is "3-Day training season".   Unlike the lucky folks in Florida and Texas and California, we simply can't start training in Vermont the minute the 24-week countdown to the Boston 3-Day in July starts.   In March we still have snow piled high along the shoulders of roads.  Our sidewalks may have been plowed... but may also conceal black ice in patches that will yank your feet right out from under you.  I lost a cell phone to black ice on a walking path just a few weeks ago, obstinately determined to go for a walk outdoors despite the frigid weather.   On a stretch of apparently bare and clean blacktop along a community recreation path, my feet went right out from under me and I came down hard flat on my back.  I was fine, though a bit shaken, but my Droid smartphone, in my pants pocket, was not so lucky.

Yesterday, with temperatures in the high 50s and sun everywhere, my wife and I went out for what we thought would be a nice eight-mile training walk on a recreation path in Stowe, Vermont.    What fools we mortals be!   After a few hundred yards we realized why everyone we'd seen heading down the path was coming back only a few minutes later and leaving.  There was six inches of snow along long stretches of the path, tromped down by snowshoers and skiers, but snow nonetheless.   And not even just in the shady spots.   Pretty much everywhere.   The clean dry pavement at the beginning of the path was a deceptive lure, getting our hopes up... but once around the first bend, GOTCHA.

We did two miles... a mile out, and a mile back... on that path, planting our feet carefully.  It wasn't all that slippery, surprisingly.  It was kinda slushy... providing reasonably good traction but simultaneously doing a bang-up job of getting our shoes and socks just plain soaked.    So there we were in shorts and t-shirts, tromping along on a warm (to us, anyway) sunny day through endless fields of snow.   Eventually we gave up and turned around and went home.

It may have been a blessing in disguise, though, for what it's worth.   I've had another, non-weather-related, cross to bear lately: an uncomfortably painful and stiff left knee.

I never had a knee problem in my life until this winter when I decided to start training for a 5K by doing laps on an banked indoor running track.   The gym alternates the track direction daily to avoid having runners putting too much strain on their knees by always running in the same direction with the same banking, but I was playing it smart, only trying to run every other day... which meant that when I ran, I was always running clockwise.   And somehow, that really put a strain on the iliotibial band on the outside of my left leg, right where it meets the knee.  The second to last time I tried to run it started stiffening up painfully after a couple of miles, but I finished my 3 miles and went home.  By the time I got home, it was so stiff and painful I literally could not put my weight on it.

The next day it was fine and I thought "OK.  That was odd.  Hope it doesn't happen again."  And two weeks later, when I said "That's a long enough break, let's try running again" it became stiff and painful after two laps.    I stopped cold and went home, feeling very gloomy.  I thought, naively, that the leg would benefit from some cross-training: walking, maybe some bicycling, before trying to run on it again.  And I took a wait-and-see approach.

The leg didn't give me any trouble when I did a few 3-Day training walks at our local mall in March, nor did it stiffen up when we did a four-mile walk outdoors on the Burlington bike path last weekend.  But on Friday, I tempted the fates by sitting down on our crunch board at home and doing a series of crunches... and apparently pulled so much on my I-T band that within an hour I was limping and in great pain.

"Just !%%#!@$ great," I said.  I sat down at a table with an icepack around my knee and my foot up on a chair and thought dark thoughts.  Eventually I realized I was out of ideas and called a local physical therapy clinic to ask for an appointment.   I feel a little weird about asking for help with a problem that seems to only occur when I do certain injurious things.   When I go in after work on Wednesday for my appointment, for all I know, my leg may feel absolutely fine.    I wonder: are they going to have me run or do crunches or something to start it hurting so I can point and say "Yep, that's where it hurts?"

Sigh.

Friends who are runners act like this sort of thing happens to runners all the time, but that doesn't make me feel all happy-happy about it happening to me.  I have a hugely pessimistic attitude right now about my leg.  If I manage to make it hurt that badly just by running three miles, or, for God's sake, doing a short abdominal workout... wow, that's just pathetic.   And I have a fear that I'll keep injuring it and eventually get told that I need to really cut back on any activity that'll stress my leg, indefinitely.

The reality is almost certainly much less gloomy than that.  But I do tend to think gloomy thoughts when a reversal like this comes along.  It's a personal failing of mine.

So as I said, above, having to terminate yesterday's training walk after only two miles may have been a blessing in disguise.  Walking a full eight miles the day after making it hurt so badly that I couldn't walk on it might not have been such a smart idea.

I can't make up my mind how to think about this.  I walked just under eight miles on Thursday night -- eight miles on the roads of our little Vermont town -- and had no pain afterwards.  I did crunches the next day: severe pain within a few minutes.    Did the walking followed by the crunches do it, or was it the crunches alone?  I don't know.  I may never know.  My knee felt mostly okay after our two miles yesterday and it feels mostly okay today, but (perhaps because I'm thinking about it) it does feel a little tender.

I really, really hope I don't get told by the physical therapist to cut way back on the walking.  I like long-distance walking.  It helps keep my weight down, it keeps my blood pressure low, and it toughens up my feet and hips so I don't have any pain or discomfort when the time comes to actually walk 60 miles in 3 days.   If I had to give up long distance walking on the advice of a doctor, I'd be one sad guy.   As far as I can tell walking isn't what caused it.  It was almost certainly the running on a banked track after a lifetime of not being a runner... and the crunches may have exacerbated things on their own.   The eight miles the previous night probably had nothing to do with it... I wasn't stiff at all afterwards.

But I don't know.   And that peeves and annoys me.  I want to be healthy and able to do my normal very active summer stuff: walking and hiking and kayaking and you-name-it.  I don't want to be laid up every time I step outdoors and do anything that raises a sweat.

So I'm looking forward with nervousness and anticipation toward Wednesday's physical therapy appointment.  I want them to wave a magic wand and make it all better, or failing that, give me things to do that will keep it from recurring.  I do not want to have to cut back on my walking and I really don't want to get told that the walking caused the pain ... especially if it didn't.   But if it did, then I need to know.

Yes, I'm getting very neurotic, aren't I?

 
jayfurr: (Taco)
I has STUPID FITNESS PLAN! Details below! ZOMG!

I am scheduled to fly home tomorrow night from Los Angeles and arrive home around noon on Friday. Assuming nothing untoward comes up, Carole and I will then drive down to Boston for two events: ROFLCon II and the Boston Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure Preview Expo. When the weekend is over, I'll actually be working out of the office for three straight weeks before beginning a few back-to-back-to-back weeks of travel.

So here's my lame-o fitness plan for the month of May and June:

When I'm at home, every non-teaching day that it's not predicted to snow, rain, or be excessively windy I will bicycle to and from work: 18 miles one-way, 36 miles round-trip.

On days I'm teaching or that the weather forecast doesn't look good, I will have Carole drop me at the office and then I will walk home from work: 18 miles.

On May 9 I'll be doing a 30-mile bike ride for the Lund Family Center.

On Friday, June 11 I'll be doing the Chittenden County, Vermont Relay For Life -- and I won't stop walking all night long to take any rest breaks. We'll see how far I can walk in 12 hours strolling around a track with a bunch of other people. I don't expect to be rocketing along at a 4 mile an hour clip, but you never know. This will be my first RFL and I get the impression that it turns into a slow plod in the middle of the night.

I hope to also lead some 3-Day training walks for local 3-Day walkers -- too bad we don't have more of 'em in Vermont but we are sort of the rural back end of the universe and we usually do well to get even a handful of people to join us.

Finally, on either Saturday, June 19, or Sunday, June 20, I will walk 60 miles in one day. I'll have Carole drop me off at midnight at the USA/Canada border (for her sake, I may start the walk at 10 pm so she's not driving all the way back home after midnight) and walk home, Alburgh to North Hero, North Hero to South Hero, South Hero to Grand Isle, Grand Isle to Milton, Milton to Colchester, Colchester to Essex, Essex to Jericho, and Jericho to Richmond. Sixty miles. 24 hours. Should be fun.

jayfurr: (Taco)
I has STUPID FITNESS PLAN! Details below! ZOMG!

I am scheduled to fly home tomorrow night from Los Angeles and arrive home around noon on Friday. Assuming nothing untoward comes up, Carole and I will then drive down to Boston for two events: ROFLCon II and the Boston Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure Preview Expo. When the weekend is over, I'll actually be working out of the office for three straight weeks before beginning a few back-to-back-to-back weeks of travel.

So here's my lame-o fitness plan for the month of May and June:

When I'm at home, every non-teaching day that it's not predicted to snow, rain, or be excessively windy I will bicycle to and from work: 18 miles one-way, 36 miles round-trip.

On days I'm teaching or that the weather forecast doesn't look good, I will have Carole drop me at the office and then I will walk home from work: 18 miles.

On May 9 I'll be doing a 30-mile bike ride for the Lund Family Center.

On Friday, June 11 I'll be doing the Chittenden County, Vermont Relay For Life -- and I won't stop walking all night long to take any rest breaks. We'll see how far I can walk in 12 hours strolling around a track with a bunch of other people. I don't expect to be rocketing along at a 4 mile an hour clip, but you never know. This will be my first RFL and I get the impression that it turns into a slow plod in the middle of the night.

I hope to also lead some 3-Day training walks for local 3-Day walkers -- too bad we don't have more of 'em in Vermont but we are sort of the rural back end of the universe and we usually do well to get even a handful of people to join us.

Finally, on either Saturday, June 19, or Sunday, June 20, I will walk 60 miles in one day. I'll have Carole drop me off at midnight at the USA/Canada border (for her sake, I may start the walk at 10 pm so she's not driving all the way back home after midnight) and walk home, Alburgh to North Hero, North Hero to South Hero, South Hero to Grand Isle, Grand Isle to Milton, Milton to Colchester, Colchester to Essex, Essex to Jericho, and Jericho to Richmond. Sixty miles. 24 hours. Should be fun.

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