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Health
By technician (Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 11:06:45 AM EST) (all tags)
Finally injured, sidelined, forsaken.


January, I think it was January 4th, I started running. I did this using the Couch to 5k methodology, specifically using an app on my iPod that told me when to run and when to walk. The idea is, you run a short period, and you walk a short period, and then you gradually...very gradually...lengthen the time of your running, squeezing out the walk breaks, until you're running 30 minutes.

There is nothing in my background that implies that I can run. I have four degenerating disks in my lower spine. I weigh as much as some motor scooters. When I started running, I weighed 285 pounds, had high blood pressure and a host of odd issues that only popped up when I hit my late 30s, but seemed to be made worse by the extra weight. When I was younger I'd always lifted weights. I'd always been capable of short bursts of strength over long periods. I could hike twenty miles carrying my body weight as long as the pace was slow, back when I was in my early 20s. After my back injuries, though, and after the surgery that fixed the main issue, after realizing that I'd gone soft, I sort of stopped moving.

Before running, I'd been doing body weight workouts that had rebuilt some of the muscle but did nothing to make me lighter. If nothing else these exercises increased my density and reduced my flexibility along certain long muscles in my back. So, at some point I decided to throw my old fitness memes away and try something entirely different. Running seemed to be the thing.

In that first month I was almost immediately injured, developing "runner's knee" in the first three weeks. The weather was actually cold (an oddity here in the swampy south) so it took everything I had to get out of bed, ignore the ache, and go. I addressed the knee pain by changing my stride to be more of a barefoot style, and changed my footwear to be as minimal as possible. Took about four weeks to get the muscles in my feet and ankles strong enough to work in this new config. Over the months of February and March I marked my progress by tracing the pain crawling up my legs, muscles going from atrophied disuse to built and working. First my feet, then my ankles, then my calves, then my quads and hamstrings, my hips, and finally sometime in April my back went out. By then I was covering 2.5 miles without stopping, and my lungs and heart were almost caught up with my legs. By then, I'd lost 35 pounds.

Down for a week with a badly jarred back, the muscles stitching back together with numerous exercises, I set a goal of 5 miles for May. My back being down was a reminder that what I really needed besides strength was less weight...regardless of the nature of that weight, muscle or fat. If I started running 5 miles, I could lose weight faster.

One thing to note: I have a certain amount of paralysis in my calves and feet. There are parts of my legs and feet that I can't feel due to nerve damage from my blown out disk and the resultant scar tissue from years of dealing with it. My balance isn't great because of this; the fine motor movements required to make balance don't fire as quickly as they should. I seem to make up for this with sheer horsepower, and this sometimes works but my calves are almost larger than my quads. Popeye's forearms have nothing on my calves. This does make the work a little harder, I think, than it would be if my legs and feet worked as designed.

In May, I ran five miles for the first time. My wife thought this was nuts, a distance that just seemed too far for my body. That first five miles, I did stop and walk twice...and I still stop and walk, for some very good reasons...but the walking lasted maybe 45 seconds. I was completely cashed at the end of that run, and it took me half a day to recover. From five miles. I immediately set another goal of ten miles in two months.

In the winter, I had run in freezing rain and bitter cold. I'd run wrapped in layers of cloth, and had a few occasions of face coverings freezing to my beard. Winter in central Texas is very brief, though, and I didn't have to deal with ice for long. Summer, however, covers eight months. Summer, in the worst of it, is a sauna-like humidity and heat combo that just shuts down any thought of physical activity. I run in the morning, waking at 6am to be done before the sun has too much time, but at it's depth, summer holds overnight keeping the temperatures in the high 80s or low 90s.

My first run around Town Lake was an attempt at 6 miles, which I made in June. The conditions that morning weren't bad; it was like running with a hot wet towel wrapped around everything. By July, I was putting in 7.5 miles despite the steam.

My first ten miles was also a trip all the way around the lake, a mental milestone that allowed me to really see the distance I'd come in terms my brain knew well. A problem with distance, see: five, six miles doesn't sound like a lot, but laid out and seen from above, it really is. I'd flown into and out of town enough to know what the lake looked like from the air. To run around it...in 90 degree heat and 70 percent humidity, without carrying any water? Not just crazy, but a real sense of complete success.

Shortly after that run, though, I picked up a water belt. There are water stops along the lake, but that day only half were working, and the back half of my run happened in a state of complete dehydration. My runs are always happening in a state of attrition. I don't eat before or during, and I'm normally barely awake. I'd learned my lesson, though, about running without water; that ten miles took three days to recover from, and stopped my progress: the next three weeks my max distance was 7 miles.

Then I did ten again, with water, and it was perfectly OK. Tough but not impossible. Then I did it again, in higher heat and humidity, on a day when only a few hundred people were out running (instead of the usual few thousand). I moved to the next goal: 12.5, on my way to 15.

By now you'd think, hey, after losing 35 pounds between January and May, you must have lost more weight. Nope. I stopped losing weight in May, wobbling between 249 and 252. Every single day, the same 3 pound range. Every. Single. Day. My average week was now 18 miles, and my diet, which started at 2000 calories, was lowered to 1700. I changed the frequency of my meals, the nutritional profile of my meals, and for one terrible two week period stopped drinking alcohol. My diet doesn't contain crap; I don't eat bad food. I don't eat processed sugars, I don't get any white flour into my diet (outside of the occasional tortilla). I tried high protein / high fat to low protein / low fat and every combo in between. My body had decided to be this weight, and nothing was changing it. Even when my weekly totals hit 30 miles, nothing changed.

On that first 12 mile run...my first long run away from the lake...I covered more of the city than I thought I'd ever cover on foot for any reason. Ran from where I work to downtown and back. Had to stop for water refills halfway, and had some juice to help with energy. The total that day was 12.5, after a week where my shortest run was 5.5. I never thought I'd see my car again. Just two extra miles had nearly done me in.

Two weeks later, I did it again but in my half-aware haze forgot to turn around at the right point, so I unintentionally completed 13.25 miles, a half marathon.

Since then, I've been unable to get the miles. My last 12 mile was too much; my body is finally being injured at a rate that it can't recover from quickly enough. I seem to have found a natural limit for me, for now, of ten miles.

Last week on Thanksgiving, I "ran" 5.5 miles. I didn't actually run most of it...within the first mile, I had to walk, and I had to walk for longer than I'd had to since I started. My left calf muscle was torn / separated, and my right foot was bruised, my right ankle twisted from a push off the trail I'd received from some brain dead jerk-ass amateur in marathon training who decided to play chicken with me (he won) on a crowded pavement. I struggled to make a mile at a time.

So I've stopped. While my legs heal (and I get over whatever damned illness struck me Sunday), I'm sleeping in, ignoring the itchy impulse to throw the shoes on and go go go.

In the last four days, I've lost five pounds.

That's a long way to go for a punchline, but goddamn.

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Maybe I'll come down. | 40 comments (40 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
I liked running by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #1 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 11:58:23 AM EST
but stopped a few years back, I found myself too prone to shin splints. Nowadays if I exercise ten minutes on the Wii, I'm doing good.


Shin splints. by technician (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 12:23:56 PM EST
I've heard (and noted, for myself anyhow) that the barefoot-style stride helps with knees, shin splints, and IT band issues. So if yer ever interested in starting again....

lm is a barefoot runner. A true barefoot runner, from what I gather, though he'd used the Vibram Five Fingers shoes for a bit. I can't use those...my toes don't work that way...so I use Nike Free 5. Need to get a third pair, too, since I've put something like 250 miles on these.

[ Parent ]
Vibrams look cool by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 12:27:57 PM EST
but with my abnormally wide feet, I'd have to try a pair on first.

When I get a chance to use a machine, I pick the elliptical with the arms, so I can do my whole body.


[ Parent ]
REI by me stocks them. by garlic (4.00 / 1) #9 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 03:56:16 PM EST


[ Parent ]
one foot is eee and the other is eeee by lm (4.00 / 1) #29 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 10:22:15 PM EST
Yet I do fine in Vibrams. I do reccommend uying your first pair in person. They have a nifty measuring device and ou can walk around in the store for a bit. Most stores will also take them back within the first month as long as you don't wear them outside. So you can buy a pair, wear them around the house for a week and if they aren't comfy, take them back.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
SS: by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #6 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 01:16:48 PM EST
Largely avoided by adequate pre- and post-run stretching.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Pre-run stretching and warming up by technician (2.00 / 0) #12 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 04:16:32 PM EST
are both myths.

Post run stretching does seem to be a pretty good idea; I always feel slightly better if I stretch after running. Stretching before a run does nothing at all for me (and many sports physiologists agree). You have to be a pretty scary high level of athlete before it makes a difference.

That being said, if stretching beforehand makes a difference to the person doing it, that's all that matters.

[ Parent ]
The military by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #21 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 07:20:46 PM EST
has spent millions to determine the veracity of my claim. I think you should stretch more.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
No really. by technician (4.00 / 1) #24 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 08:06:53 PM EST
The military also is spending millions trying to win a war in Afghanistan. They're not so smart.

A soldier, in wartime, has the same performance demands and resting-to-80-percent stress (and way more) than an Olympic athlete. I don't.

[ Parent ]
There's lots by technician (2.00 / 0) #25 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 08:09:54 PM EST
I see by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #33 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 12:11:23 AM EST
that Army doctrine has shifted on this topic since around 2003. Carry on, trooper.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
spent millions and the results were? by lm (4.00 / 1) #30 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 10:25:21 PM EST
Pre-exercise stretching damages muscles.

Warms ups are good, but real stretching before you exercise makes injuries more likely.

Stretching after exercise does have some benefit.

If you want articles, I'd be glad to send them yout way.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
yeah, five miles a day monkey-footed by lm (4.00 / 1) #28 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 10:19:13 PM EST
I do break out the Vibrams when the temps drop into the thirties. It hurts to run barefoot on cold pavement.

When I started shifting to barefoot, I did get shinsplints for a bit. But my knees are loving me these days. In running shoes, I coukdn't run more than 3 miles regularly without joint pain in my knees.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
your body by clock (4.00 / 1) #3 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 12:26:25 PM EST
makes no fucking sense at all.  that's just...well...it's fucked up.


I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

Yep. by technician (2.00 / 0) #13 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 04:18:03 PM EST
(Though to be fair, in the last four days I've been very, very ill with some sort of gastrointestinal malfunction...those bulimics are on to something).

[ Parent ]
I love running by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #5 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 12:47:55 PM EST
My knee doesn't.

It's perfectly fine when I am running, but if I run more than a mile or so, it aches every time I sit for long periods.

Makes me sad.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

I started running about four months before you did by 256 (4.00 / 1) #7 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 02:30:21 PM EST
In my life I have been in good shape and I have ben in bad shape. More often bad. But I had never run more than the mandatory 2.5km jog once a year in high school phys ed.

I read the Couch-to-5k website, thought to myself "that sounds achievable" and then promptly started a running regime of just running as far as I could five days a week. At first I could barely get a quarter of a mile without having to stop and walk.

Within a month I was running two nonstop miles every weekday. By month six, I was up to five mile runs and was down 48 pounds. Then my daughter was born and it got a lot harder to get out on the road every day. I basically stopped running for six months and gained back a little more than ten pounds.

But now I've got a jogging stroller. So I'm one of those dads. We live almost exactly one mile from the Schuylkill River Trail, so I load the babe into the stroller and do a brisk walk down to the trail head, followed by an 8.5 mile run around the lower loop and a one mile walk back. I've been sort of thinking of the 8.5 as my limit, but that never lasts.

Oh, and I was won over by the barefoot style shoes very early on. I run in these:
http://www.zappos.com/saucony-shay-xc-2-flat-blue-black-citron

They are some of the best money I have ever spent.
---
I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni

Do those shoes by technician (2.00 / 0) #26 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 08:19:35 PM EST
work on pavement? Most of my running is pavement...the lake has a decomposed granite on packed sand path.

I need some new shoes. I really like the Free 5s except 1) they pick up every rock in the street and 2) they really only last 200 miles.

[ Parent ]
damn near 100% of my running by 256 (2.00 / 0) #37 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 08:32:48 AM EST
is on paved paths. And I've put more than 250 miles on my Shay XCs and they are just now starting to show wear. I'll probably get to 350 before I have to replace them. That said, I already have a backup pair in my closet because I was terrified they were going to discontinue them.

---
I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni
[ Parent ]
Hrm. by technician (2.00 / 0) #38 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 09:29:18 AM EST
On recommendation from a fiend...er..friend, I ordered a pair of Pumas. Apparently, the way to go is the Terra Plana Evo 2, but those cost as much as two pair of Frees. Still, Terra Plana is a good company. The person who was selling me on Terra Plana's has also run with those odd Finnish shoes, the Sauconys, and the Soft Star Runamoc, oh and those crazy expensive Newton shoes that are apparently hand made by expensive hippies in Oregon.

I'll check out the Pumas and when I hate them, I'll return them for a pair of Saucony. The only bad I've heard about these Pumas is that the sole is only good for 180 or so miles.

[ Parent ]
I hate running by brokkr (4.00 / 1) #8 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 03:23:19 PM EST
Hate it. Biking is good; it requires less thinking.
--
Deyr fé, deyja frændr, deyr sjalfr it sama,
ek veit einn, at aldrei deyr: dómr um dau∂an hvern.

no. by garlic (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 03:58:40 PM EST
you can run at night without lights. you can run in all sorts of weather. running doesn't require equipment (even shoes!) to be in working order.


[ Parent ]
Shoes matter. by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #11 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 04:02:53 PM EST
During my much lighter years I needed real (basic) running shoes to survive the weekly mileage mentioned in the article. Didn't worry about barefoot style, but did need to worry about foot height (don't run on a trail worn deeper on one side) and foot angle.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
Lights? Weather? by brokkr (4.00 / 1) #22 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 07:42:55 PM EST
What are you on about, man?

Okay, a basic pair of lights are good for not being run over, but I haven't ever seen car-like lighting on bikes until I moved to Germany. It seems nifty, but I know I can do without.

I don't know what weather would stop me from cycling but not running. To wit.
--
Deyr fé, deyja frændr, deyr sjalfr it sama,
ek veit einn, at aldrei deyr: dómr um dau∂an hvern.

[ Parent ]
Defeated by hubris! by brokkr (4.00 / 1) #34 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 05:04:23 AM EST
This morning my bike lock was frozen solid. Score one for the bus.
--
Deyr fé, deyja frændr, deyr sjalfr it sama,
ek veit einn, at aldrei deyr: dómr um dau∂an hvern.

[ Parent ]
running by garlic (2.00 / 0) #39 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 11:32:41 AM EST
is at a slower pace, and therefore can handle ambient lighting at night in a much safer manner. bicycling on sidewalks can't really, and on the road is dangerous in a different manner to not have lights.


[ Parent ]
To me, biking is more difficult. by technician (2.00 / 0) #14 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 04:23:45 PM EST
Both physically (the 'nards and the position of my lower back, as well as the structural function of a spine on a bike rider) and mentally. My neighborhood is relatively small...if I run on every single street, I can run 6.8 miles. It has no bike lanes, and 6.8 miles doesn't last long on a bike. I get bored going the same route again and again and again....

The area around my neighborhood: an interstate highway, the areas busiest four and six lane roads, and an access road that leads to the interstate. One of those roads has recently received a sidewalk that leads (inches away from 65 mph traffic) to the local Dell facility. In short: not a great bike ride.

Plop the bike in the car, you say? Easy to do on a weekend, but at 6am, the time it takes to drive to a suitable bike location, bike, then reload, go home, shower, change, and go to work? Nope.

I do wish I had a better bicycling option. I'd learn ho to ignore the numb weenie and bike to work (it would only be 15 miles). Sadly, I'll be at this house until I die.

[ Parent ]
Fair point on your back by brokkr (4.00 / 1) #20 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 07:20:16 PM EST
The infrastructural issues ... well, the US was built around automobiles.
--
Deyr fé, deyja frændr, deyr sjalfr it sama,
ek veit einn, at aldrei deyr: dómr um dau∂an hvern.

[ Parent ]
I'd rather bike, too by StackyMcRacky (4.00 / 1) #23 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 08:05:02 PM EST
but a) I have to walk the dog daily, so it's logistically easy to add running in and b) my neighborhood is a ~2 mile loop, so like technician i'd be doing the same 2 miles over and over and over again.  The roads around here are NOT bike friendly, neither are the people.

[ Parent ]
I've been hit by a truck while biking by lm (4.00 / 1) #27 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 10:15:22 PM EST
Running, I've had close calls, but no actual impacts. I'll stick with running.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Yeah well by brokkr (4.00 / 1) #35 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 05:36:06 AM EST
If I can live with the monotony of driving the same route out and back, I have easy access to a couple hundred kilometres of almost continuous segregated bike path along the Rhine. Trucks aren't a problem here once I've negotiated the first 300 metres down to the river.

But looking at accident statistics, I can't blame you USians for choosing not to bike. From Pucher and Buehler (2008) 'Making Cycling Irresistible: Lessons from The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany':

Cycling in the Netherlands is much safer than in the USA. The Netherlands has the lowest non-fatal injury rate as well as the lowest fatality rate, while the USA has the highest non-fatal injury rate as well as the highest fatality rate. Indeed, the non-fatal injury rate for the USA is about 30 times higher than for the Netherlands.

Injury rate per million km cycled: USA 37.5; NL 1.4
Fatality rate per 100 million km cycled: USA 5.8; NL 1.1


--
Deyr fé, deyja frændr, deyr sjalfr it sama,
ek veit einn, at aldrei deyr: dómr um dau∂an hvern.

[ Parent ]
It's not really a rational thing by lm (4.00 / 1) #36 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 08:14:59 AM EST
If you look at the numbers you've provided, the US isn't really all that much worse. From single digit injuries to low double digit injuries per million klicks isn't that large of a difference.

And there are some very high quality bike trails within spitting distance of my apartment.

I just don't really feel comfortable biking anymore. I suppose that if I started regularly getting back in the saddle, that might change. But I mostly lack the motivation to do that.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
stomach flu: easy way to lose 10 lbs FAST! by StackyMcRacky (4.00 / 2) #15 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 04:48:51 PM EST
After miscarriage #2 last spring, I decided I was sick and tired of being in the worst physical condition of my life, so I started C25k.  I had to do it while walking the dog and pushing the stroller, cuz that's my life and stuff.  Anyway, it took me about 6 weeks to move past week 3, cuz I was in really bad shape.  When we hit the week 5 run, Porschea said NO MORE (she's not really built for running distances), so we kept doing the week 4 over and over again.  I had to quit at the end of July when it was too hot in the morning and my pregnancy made me too sick (step-step-dryheave isn't the best way to exercise).  I plan on starting up again next June and seeing what happens (with a double stroller, no less!).

I will also be joining clock in his kettlebell exercises.  Pregnancy has not been kind to my body, and I need to get it back where it was (fitness-wise, it will never be the same physical shape again unless I have surgery).

I lol'd by MillMan (4.00 / 2) #16 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 05:26:55 PM EST
I hate running with a passion that I don't think I've conjured for anything else. For one three month stretch when I was 24 I gave it a try - I worked up to three miles with no walking at an average speed of about 4mph, which is barely jogging. God, the tedium. I love biking and in-line skating, though, for some reason.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

I really dislike it, by technician (4.00 / 2) #17 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 06:56:03 PM EST
but I'm odd that way. If I really enjoyed any exercising, it was weightlifting, but gyms are so goddamn annoying that I can't work up the energy to go back.

No, I do shit that I really hate as a sort of litmus for the rest of my life. Work, running....stuff I cannot stand, I exercise my will and make it happen, regardless of how I feel about it.

That willpower is pretty impressive, when it comes down to it. Yeah, I used a book to quit smoking, but I use a pretty hefty supply of willpower to keep from smoking again. I stopped smoking pot, not because I wanted to, but because I swore to my security folks here that I'd never do it again. I run every morning because my doctor told me I needed to lose 50 pounds and rebuild my fitness levels.

The one good thing...well, there are two good things: I get to listen to some great audio (music or radiolab or whatnot), and after about eight miles I get totally fucking crazy.

[ Parent ]
shit, man. by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #40 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 03:52:00 PM EST
hey we're the same! by dev trash (4.00 / 1) #18 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 06:58:11 PM EST
At least when it comes to weight.  Stuck in a range of 249-253.

--
Click
Stomach flu fixes it. by technician (2.00 / 0) #19 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 07:07:45 PM EST
At least it has so far. BULIMIA, BULIMI-YOU, BULIMI-ME.

[ Parent ]
I can't get sick! by dev trash (4.00 / 1) #32 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 10:41:08 PM EST
At least not til Jan. 1.  But yeah sick for a week will kick me off this plateau, not the way I want to go with it, but hey.

--
Click
[ Parent ]
you are nuts by lm (4.00 / 1) #31 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 10:30:47 PM EST
Twelve miles is a hellova distance. I would only attempt that in dire need such as if Soviet Canuckistan invaded and I had to run twelve miles to warn the president.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
Maybe I'll come down. | 40 comments (40 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback