Posts Tagged ‘Running Injury Prevention’

Boston Training Time

I have barely run in six months. I spent the last three shuttling between my exhibitions in Kansas, New Jersey, and New York. The three before that working in the studio day and night. Additionally, this month I emptied out my Manhattan apartment to facilitate its imminent sale. Here I am, in the first week of Boston Marathon Training having run less than 20 miles in the past month. Two problem, 1. Not running  2. The ongoing, three-year injury, if you can still call it that, where the middle of my IT Band freezes up every time I try to run  up  even the slightest hill. It has become  depression to the point of wanting to quit all together. I have had so much physical therapy that I could pay for my PT’s kid’s Ivy league education. So today I made a decision, and a very good one, beginning with no more PT.

I have always scoffed at walk./running. (never scoff at anything because that guarantees one day it will be you!) But I thought, I have an 8 mile run, longer than I have run since August. It could be really slow and painful, or I could run 2:00 and walk 1:00 for the whole 8 miles. Why would I do this? Well, instead of slogging about for 8 miles and possibly walking home in the cold with little HR or muscle training, if I alternate I just may actually have a faster pace in the running section, then in the walking section give my leg a rest, and maybe reprogram my body from feeling this pain. (I never feel the leg pain when walking, snowshoeing, rowing, hiking or any other activity. When I do feel it during a run, it stops immediately when I stop).

For a little background, while I did not have on my heart rate monitor today, it would have worked in what Coach Roy Benson call’s heart rate fartlek. To build base and improve endurance, after one calculated their 60% and 75% maximum heart rate, you start running until your HR reached 75%, then back off until it goes down to 60% then go back up and so forth. You can pick up speed faster after your slow period, yet it is relatively short so there is no lactic acid build up and you build a nice base and less prone to injury. After years of running I know what both those heart rated feel like and while I was using time rather than HR, it was pretty close to the same result.

Guess what didn’t happen and guess what did happened? What did not happen was my leg never froze up. It was the first time in almost three years my right side did not cease in the first mile or on the uphill. And second, you guessed it, my run selections became faster as I went along, in the last four miles, about 25 seconds faster than marathon pace. I was delighted.

By walking one minute I loosened up my hips, but being only one minute, I kept my HR at a decent level and it allowed me to run faster but with an overall longer workout time. On a really good day, I would run 8 miles in 64 minutes, (not racing just running)  I have not had one of those days for a very long time. On a bad day, I may not even finish. But today, walking for one minute after every two minutes, I exercised for 84 minutes. In fact, I like stretching out my mileage over a longer period of time, while running faster. This is going to be a very interesting training season and I am going to feel good about it! I already can’t wait until tomorrow.

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I have had a lot of people ask me if I am sad when I sell a drawing. I always find this a ridiculous question and want to ask them if they ever tell their boss not to pay them because they enjoy their job. Fortunately I love my job and I get paid for it. If I never sold work  I could never pay the rent on the studio or buy supplies. Plus I would end up like the Collyer Brothers with thousands of papers stacked floor to ceiling. I want my work out in the world, in homes, in museums, etc.

I have to admit though I will miss this drawing a bit. I sold it last night to my teammate and friend Blossom, hence the title, “Boston for Blossom.”

I gave you previews of this drawing some months back. “Boston for Blossom”  traces, literally, my rehab runs after breaking my foot in 2009, (my first major running injury) up to the 2010 Boston Marathon. It is a 7 month journey beginning with  alternating 400 meters walk/ run on a soccer field, to 22 mile runs along Manhattan’s west side many months later.

The process is very simple, but  time consuming. After my run, which I wear my garmin 305. I download my data to my Gramin Training Center, from there I upload the data to garmin connect. I output the mileage from garmin connect to google earth. I hook my computer up to a video projector and project the maps onto the large 60″ x 44″ paper on my wall, 10 feet away. I  draw over the map lines with either black, red, pink watercolor or pencil. Track work is almost always red, tempo runs usually pink and long runs black. Pencil, put in there for extra texture are recovery runs. Yes there are a couple of black loops on the track and this does not include every mile I ran for those seven months. But it does include the most important ones.

Blossom came and got the drawing last night and it is on it ways to Dot at Rabbet Framing in NJ. They are my favorite framer in the metropolitan area having framed over 30 pieces for me in the last couple of years, including one over 120″ long.

I now have room on my big wall to start a new long-term drawing. This one will be methodically color coded and include ever single mile I run from October 1 on. I am not sure of the end date but I have an exhibition in March that it could show up in.  I will also do a few “one-off’s” that is drawing that are of a single time run or race.

When you get sick of those terrible Brightroom photos and want to commemorate your race or your training in a high art kind of way, impress your friends with your athleticism and culture, call me, perhaps we can make a deal and you can have your very own GPS drawing.

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I am back in NYC, and yes, wondering why. That is easily answered with my job, but it seems that New Mexico has so much  to offer, number one on that list is expansive space. This is especially noticeable when my  neighbor’s window is only about 25 meters from mine.

Anyhow I ran yesterday, the first time in 3 weeks since last trying to run.  It felt  good. I did 30 minutes, 1 walking  / 1 jogging without any pain, I will take anything I can get. It was a fantastic feeling and gave me optimism. If only I was in NM, I bet I could run all the time. My dogs could run all over the trails rather than drag me around on the cement putting extra torque on my bones, and I would have 1000’s of miles of dirt. I decided to put myself on the 5 year plan to move there, or if I am lucky the expedited 3 year plan.

Hilary with neighborhood dogs

I often hear the comment that runners are a superstitious bunch, and I am going to add to that. On my last day in NM I went to Chimayo a town famous for  El Santuario where it is believed by many to be the site of a miracle which occurred about 200 years ago. Miraculous healings are believed to have occurred at the site where a wooden crucifix was unearthed. Almost half a million people come every year to this tiny church where you can collect “holy dirt” from a hole (no pun intended) in the sanctuary floor. On the walls are lines of photographs of ill or injured people, crutches, walking boots, prosthetic limbs, all kinds of medical aids. You can bring a bag or buy a little box in the gift shop to collect the dirt and take it with you. The day I was there they had free used up candles from the offering stations. I took one of those, gave a money offering and gathered some dirt wiping off the excess on my hands and arms. I thought it would not be a good idea to stick my hand down my pants to rub dirt on my hip while in the church so I waited until I got in my car. I should note I am not religious and know little about catholicism but holy dirt sounds much more interesting than holy water.

Now my morning routine included, side leg raises, clams, single leg bridge and rubbing dirt on my groin and hip. Hey, you never know it just might work.

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Booked flight to New Mexico.
Booked boarding with my favorite dog wrangler and trainer Kat Berger.
Booked my labral tear repair surgery

Today I saw my orthopedist, Dr. Donald Rose. I knew already what was coming. I had my followup MRI done last week on my left hip which has a stress-reaction injury on my femur. My first MRI was in May and  I am surprised that I was not 100% by now. I have run a little bit, starting with 100 meter jogs and spending 5 weeks to build up to a mile. Talk about a slow build-up. But I was bugged by a nagging ache along the inside of my hip-bone that intensified whenever I squatted down.  I kept digging at it thinking it was my psoas but it never changes.

On August 27th I went for my follow-up MRI. When I got the report  I went into a rage and depression. The second report included “unchanged ganglion cyst and  tear at the base of the anterior labrum.” What do you mean “unchanged” there was never a cyst nor a tear reported! Dr. Farzam Kashanian at Lenox Hill Radiology read my May MRI.  He wrote about three vague sentences and my injury did not sound too bad. But when my doc looked over those films he said it was much more severe than Kashanian stated. The report was less than 2/3’s of a page. My second MRI read by another doc in the practice (I have look  his name up Greogry ??)  is two pages long and not only details the tear, he specifies which film sequence it is in. He compared the two films stated what is unchanged or changed. Oh man I am pissed. I would have had this taken care of back in May. But rather I sat here all summer healing my bones while the tear is what is holding me up. So now I am going to NYC Hospital for Joint Disease Sept 14th to have that fixed and then going back to the 100 meter build up.

Hopefully it will be better than that. I had a friend get both hips done. The first one she was on crutches one week, the second one she walked home with a cane and was off it the second day. The good thing is you have to work the leg immediately, no sitting around. I asked if I should board my wild dogs and  the doc said, “no, it will be good for you to hobble around with them and if they are too strong, get a friend to walk them and you hobble along side.” In other words I hear 30 minute surgery, go home, sleep an hour, get up and get the leg moving.

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I am sitting at a picnic table overlooking a beautiful lake with miles of rail trails just beyond that. I rented a little house that was once a gazebo, I suppose you could still call it a gazebo but it has indoor plumbing and a kitchen.  The dogs have been running non-stop and swimming in the lake. The owners of the property have had it in their family since the 1930’s and there used to be a hotel and several cottages. All but three of the cottages have been removed and the hotel was made into a home. It is 90 miles from NYC in Mapleridge near Monticello. If I could stay up here all summer and run the rail trails it would change my whole running life.

It makes me especially happy to be in the country. I can lick my wounds here. The race I have been so looking forward too, Transrockies, is out. I will not be healthy enough to run 120 Rocky Mountain trail miles. I am so sick of getting hurt, this last year  really sucked. More strength training, better nutrition and less miles is the only answer I can come up with. I consoled myself today watching the Resurrected Runner. Any runner knows exactly what he is going to say. My favorite part is about his family. I won’t spoil it, take a look.

That is it for now. The dogs and I are going swimming!

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I got my MRI results. My extreme calf cramp make a small tear in my gastroc and appears to have ruptured my plantaris tendon. However the report also made mention of a “prior plantaris tendon rupture.” Either way I no longer have one nor need it. I have been going through aggressive treatment, acupuncture, massage, ultrasound ever day since Friday plus two days of sauna/ice baths. Thank goodness I put piles of money into my flex spending account. It is there for just such an emergency. Too bad I can’t use it to hire a dog walker.

Friday I could not walk one step. Today I walked several miles and was on the stationary bike for 30 minutes as a trial. I still have a bit of a cramp in my calf but I am clear to try out a run tomorrow. My Acupuncturist Bruce Mandelbaum also a very accomplished runner, said he has never seen anyone heal as fast as me. I think I do get injured a little too often but my docs always tell me they can’t believe how fast I heal. Also thanks to my Chiropractor Jamie Blau and Massage therapist Monica Polanca. Monica was amazing working on Easter weekend both Saturday and Sunday gave me  the best massages I have ever had, spending maybe 40 minutes in my calf alone trying to get it to settle down. The are all part of Upper West Side Chiropractic in NYC, on Amsterdam and 74th street. Jamie the Director of UWSChiro does not work on weekends but she came in just to do ultrasound therapy on my calf Saturday.They are just the best!

So will I make it to Boston? Coach Benson said I need to be able to run a 20 miler 8 days before the race. A tough proposition no matter how you put it. I don’t want to become more of a lunatic than I already am, so just in case I am looking int May marathons probably in Canada where it is cool. I am just taking each day as it comes and we will see what happens. Boston will be there next year.

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I was off 4 days from running because my hip flexor went a little crazy but I was getting it worked on and it was going well.  I went to the track, not to run but  do a few walk through drills, marching instead of skipping, etc. I had a straight knee and when flexed my foot it felt like a bullet tore through my calf. I could not walk, I could not massage it out. I couldn’t do anything but I could circle my foot which was my limited knowledge test that I did not rupture my achilles. There was a team workout out and I almost went to them to see if they had a doc or trainer  because I was stuck 1/2mile from home. But I didn’t. I am also one of those people who refuses to ask directions if lost on the highway.

I was able to slowly walk lightly on my heel and I got home. Unbelievable pain. I had to lay a towel on the floor, kneel on it and use my arms to pull myself across the room. It was hideous. Friday morning I went to see my docs, while doing diagnostic tests my muscle went into a huge contraction state that felt like a vice grip around my entire calf. My chiro was holding my leg, I went white as a ghost and almost vomited from the pain,  you get the picture. She had a grave look on her face, but still she thought there was a minor tear but not serious as the condition of the muscle felt good.  She consulted with the podiatrist in the practice and grew worried that a tear would go into a rupture so she sent me Friday night to the MRI. If there was a tear the podiatrist recommended casting it. I freaked when I heard that and broke down sobbing for the 10th time in two days.

Then I called my Coach Benson. I love this man. His incredible years of experience and phenomenal way of explaining things “brings me right back off the ledge” as he likes to say. Here is the very abbreviated scoop on tears and spasms. Distance runners rarely get achilles/calf tears, sprinters get tears when they are running at high speeds in a fatigued state. There needs to be a high level of lactic acid build up and the sprinter is in an anaerobic state. It is common for distance runners to get a spasms, Charlie horse, due to dehydration and electrolytes being out of balance conversely you can drink way too much water and wash out all your salt. In my case I had begun drinking 2x as much water in the last week, because somehow I thought it would aid in healing my hip, and since I was not running I eating very little, and no salt. To support this water-logged mineral deficient theory I got out of bed Friday night and kneeled onto my towel to pull myself across the floor, sexy right?, and for about 3-4 seconds my other calf went into a mild spasm.

So what does Coach say to do. First take aspirin to thin the blood then take 100% RDA of calcium, magnesium, and potassium and stop drinking so much water. Coach said all those water commercials claiming we need 8-10 glasses of water a day is nuts, we need 8-10 of liquid; liquid is juice, water, tea, watermelon, even coffee and wine. Of course not recommending drinking 8 glasses of wine and coffee as your liquid. Next massage. On a scale from 1-10, 10 being the pain is so bad you will fly off the table and punch the massage therapist, it needs to be an 8. It will hurt very badly but the muscle fibers need to be relaxed. And light stretching. The problem is once this spasm gets out it will feel good to walk but once I start running it could come immediately back, therefore,walking, then light running with walk breaks, daily massage and keep the minerals coming.

So while there is a sigh of relief that my muscle is not torn, though I do not have MRI results to back that up yet either, I am walking a bit today. You might be thinking what a big baby it is only a charlie horse. Well do this. Have a friend stand next to you with a Ruger loaded with hollow point bullets let the person shoot you in the calf. That is what this felt like. Full disclosure,  I have never been shot with anything stronger than a b.b.gun. I may have the most extreme taper for a marathon, no running or a couple of weeks, but hey, I can go to Boston and have a great time running, and who knows maybe I will PR. And if you are wondering what the heck I was doing with a b.b. gun, I grew up in Michigan and in those days it was a common Christmas present for 10 year olds.

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I can’t believe that I still have 8 weeks and  350 miles to run before the marathon.That is pretty nice since I am already feeling good about it. Yesterday I had a 20 miler to run and Saturday  I had to move my art studio. One of the reasons I have not posted much is that I had to move out of my studio.  I have been spending my non job, non running time with building a new space and  preparing for the move.  After 8 hours of hauling boxes on Saturday I had 12 hours to rest before my run.

My brilliant idea was to run at the Rockefeller State Park in Westchester, NY just 30 miles north of the city. There is an excellent website by Joe Garland that lists all the trails. I read Joe’s description of the trails and figured it would be an excellent change of scene. Plus running 20 miles on asphalt is not ideal, whereas trails are always super fun. I called ahead to see what the trail conditions were.  I was told the cross-country skiers where having problems because they were hitting dirt patches. How my brain actually processed this information was, “it is mostly dirt and a few snow spots.”

After a 40 minute drive I arrived at Rockefeller and paid my $6.00 parking fee, there are many alternative free parking places as well as metro-north transit. I jumped out of my car and hit the Sleepy Hollow Trail. A nice downhill, 100% snow and slush. After about one mile I turned onto 13-bridges loop. I will spare you all the gruesome details to say, there was no dirt and only about 800 meters of mud in the whole 20 miles. At mile 9 I was so frustrated with the slow pace of slipping and sliding in the snow that I almost quit, but I knew I would hate myself if I did. Joe said in his website, “The Rockies has very few flat stretches. There are loads of little ups-and-downs, often in switch back format.” That did not scare me, I like running hills and come on it is NY how hilly could it be? Well at the end of my run, I had covered 5948 feet of ascents and 5886 of descents. Between the hills and the snow it took me 30 minutes longer to run than it should have. And while 30 minutes does not sound like much time to regular people,  those of you long runners out there, know what 30 minutes means at the end of a 20 milers. Let’s just say I could have completed a good fast marathon in the time it took me to run this 20. Joe was  accurate in describing it as loads of little ups and downs. The other thing is there are no long stretches. You do not get  5-10 mile trails but rather lots of twists and turns sharing 26 trails over about 1100 acres. At one point I ran into a cow barn, and later a pig farm. That was kind of cool. This is a beautiful place to train-when the snow is gone. This would be the perfect spot to run a 5-10 milers, but for me I like nice long stretches rather than running around in circles which I felt like I was doing.

So my goal to save my feet from the pounding of the asphalt was completely sabotaged by the snow. My feet were soaked early on, blistered, and water-logged.  I have never seen them look worse, but today, today they feel great and I am a bit tired but feel strong.

I can’t wait to run there again.

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Rain, sleet, ice, mud, 25 degrees. A perfect day to enjoy a 15k cross-country race. My scheduled run  was 9 miles so I took advance of the NYRR race in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. It was excellent brain and body training as I was not going to race after racing yesterday, nor am I in shape to run a 15k X-C well. Mainly I do not want to chance injuring myself but I love running in the woods.

We waited in the usual mass start group, the rain pounding down harder than ever. Instead of lining up in the front and shooting off like a cannon,  I lined up in the very back and trotted my way through the first mile or so staying in the back of the pack and not worrying about getting boxed in. I just went with the flow and it was very relaxing.   It was raining harder ever minute and it was cold but it felt great to have no agenda but to enjoy my miles. Normally I run my 5k X-C at a 7:00 ish pace, my last race ranged from 6:40 – 7:15, but today I wanted to stay around 9:00, my long run pace. I forgot my Garmin so I kicked my feet along and checked the clock after each lap of the park, promising myself to slow own if I was running faster than planned. I ran all three laps  consistently while trying out my new red  Saucony Kilkenny X-C flats. Man, I love those things.   I could scamper of the steep rain-soaked hills like it was nothing.  I love running x-c so much that I had a little wish to run a 4th lap.

In the final stretch, coming out of the woods it is all flat dirt  for about 300 meters. My legs were a bit tight from the hills so I decided it was a safe place to unwind. Most people were pretty tired by then, so as I quickened my pace I passed 6 people who I had strategically stayed behind to keep my pace in check. But I really needed to unwind and it was a good feeling to leg it all go in the last 200-300 meters. I am not sure of my time since I did not have a watch, and I did not start right out when the gun went off, but I would say I was around 8:50 pace which was my target range.

Now the time it took to get home on the subway in dripping wet freezing clothes and thaw my body out in the hot tub was a whole other story, that took a long time, about a 40k.

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My first race back after a 6 month break.

My first race back since May. The Holiday 4-miler in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. My plan was to be conservative on the first mile to warm up my legs and not burn myself out. The first mile was all uphill followed by a nice downhill. My body felt good, nice and easy running,  checking out the people around me. I focused on mile two to three to use the down hills to my advantage. Mile 3 is always hard to keep focus and keep pushing the pace.  I felt very heavy. I felt a couple of people attach me to and rather than let them suck some of my energy I focused on grabbing theirs and soon lost them. Mile 3 – 4 was all concentration to keep the pace. I got a small cramp under my right rib cage in the last 1/2 mile. I felt a few dry heaves wanting to come out in the last 500-600 meters but calmed them down. I focused hard to keep the pace going to the end but felt like I was really pushing without much reward. Mile 4 is all uphill with the last 400 meters being the toughest. I had no kick that I was aware of. So what is the verdict of my current fitness levels? I will let Coach Roy handle that but here are my stats with the run distance  since I never run the tangents and have extra mileage:

mile 1 – 7:31, mile 2 – 7:18, mile 3 – 7:14, mile 4-7:32 and the last 140 yards – 7:08. for an average of 7:23 pace, 4:08 miles – 30:10 total, my current weight is 120, 17.5% body fat. That is 3 pounds heavier and 2 minutes slower than my April 4 miler, but only 10 seconds slower than my February ’09 4 miler. And guess what?! It is 16 seconds faster than my 2008 Holiday 4-miler.To top it off it was 26º!

I am okay!

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