Too early for goals?

As progress continues, albeit inconsistently, I want to look ahead.

So far my race plans have consisted solely of races I signed up for a while ago – The United NYC Half, The Garden State 10 miler, and The Novo Nordisk New Jersey Half. Given the distances involved and the time I have left to train, I’m clearly not going to be back to full speed before these races and realistically my goal is to get through them without hurting myself.

This week I was once again offered the opportunity to be an official blog partner of the Newport 10k, and accepting this gives me entry into the race. I would not have wanted to miss this race anyway (as I state each year, I’ve consistently run this race ever since I got involved with RVRR and my willingness to take part is not influenced by being a blog partner).

Now that this race is on my mind I am starting to consider whether I can have a true speed target in time. The race is on May 6 which gives just over 2 months. Training has been about building a base, and if all goes well, beginning to incorporate true speed work into a routine in a few weeks could work with that timing (and with the race distance).

I’ll have to see how things go over the next few weeks, but now is the time to be planning for this particularly race. So far the weather is cooperating and we haven’t had the real cold or snow that we would typically expect this time of year, so who is with me? I’ll keep my blog up to date as I prepare incorporating training ideas, so check back over the next couple of months.

If you register for the race, tell them that you read about it on this blog!


When you just don’t want to stop

Last time I wrote I was cautiously optimistic about running. Unfortunately that optimism didn’t continue. Although my ankle issues are mostly gone, a run last week caused me to take another break. This time, the same muscle tightness issues caused lower back pain. The pain started just 2 miles in to the run so it’s unclear why it happened but my calf muscles were very tight after the run.

Four days later I wanted to try to run again – I was feeling pretty good after going to a Bodyflow class (yoga, Pilates, t’ai chi mix) the day before. Perhaps foolishly I decided I desperately wanted to run the 5 miles that was my next planned step up (the distance I had planned when my back hurt). During that run I focused on trying to relieve the back pain (which was only mild) and discovered that my shoulders were often too tense, and relaxing them helped. I ended the run with some discomfort in my back, but nothing too bad (at least after stretching and rolling).

The next day, feeling overconfident, I did a couple of miles of hill climb on the treadmill in the morning and then another 4 in the evening with a similar outcome.

I did take a day off at that point, but yesterday I really wanted to get 5 miles done. Even before 2 miles into the run I could feel the lower back pain again. I’d been dropped by one group at that point but later joined up with someone else. We chatted away until he headed back and it was at that point I realized that my back wasn’t feeling too bad (more evidence that I’m not running relaxed enough perhaps?). By the time I got to 4.5 miles I started to feel pretty good and already had it in my mind that maybe I could run 6 miles so on I went.

Of course, when you’re feeling good, and there’s a predefined course, it didn’t end there and before the cut back for 6 miles I had already decided to try to complete the full 7.4 mile club run course.

Stretching, rolling, and massage have been key for me, and every day I do at least one of these. The added benefit is that I am now very close to being able to touch my toes again – something I don’t think I’ve been able to do for more than 20 years.


Setbacks and restarts

I intended to keep up this blog with my progress as I tried to get back to running regularly. A couple of times I was about to write something and then had a new setback. Looking back I suspect my reluctance to write was because I wanted to have something positive to write.

I’m still not sure, but I am cautiously optimistic as of today.

Over the Christmas period I was off work and my intention was to run 2 to 3 miles every day, as this seemed achievable at the time. It seemed to be going well. Each run started with some discomfort in my Achilles tendon, but the swelling in my ankle was down, and didn’t seem to be coming back. I was also being very good about stretching and rolling (which I am still making sure I do). On the 5th day of running, the run itself was just like the others, but later in the day I had pain on the inside bottom of my foot when I put pressure on it. The next morning it was the same, but strangely, within a couple of hours of getting up, it disappeared as quickly as it started. A trapped nerve perhaps?

Over the next 10 days I only ran a couple of times, testing things out, and when I thought things were okay I started running more often again. I ran every day for a week between 2 and 3.5 miles at a time with no issues so things were looking very positive.

That Saturday I decided to push a little further. I got to 4.3 miles and suddenly I felt pain in my ankle, in the exact spot where it had previously been swollen.

With the ankle swollen once again I should probably have taken things easier than I did. A few days later I went out to run and found that I was in pain after about 2 miles. When I got home I discovered that the muscle along the bottom of my foot was rock solid. It massaged out quickly though.

I took 9 days off completely (from running at least – the Halfbike came into play during that time and did not aggravate my foot in any way). I also had a better sense of what muscles are likely causing my problems and had a massage that focused on that area – my upper calf muscles were very tight. That brings us to this past weekend.

I was unsure about trying to run again but thought I was okay because the massage seemed to have helped. I got on the Halfbike for 5 miles before the RVRR club run, and then I thought I’d start running with the group and see how things went. I intended to cover 2 miles at most. I got talking to someone during the run, and felt good, so went out a bit further, and I did feel a small amount of discomfort at 1.5 miles so that’s where I turned around.

One theory I was toying with was that perhaps my form is not as good when I’m running slower, so on the return part of that run I picked up the pace to between 7:50 and 8:30. I felt no more discomfort. Stretching and massaging the calf through the day seemed to stave off any discomfort.

I wanted to run on Sunday, but I also wanted to be cautious (and I had been out late drinking on Saturday night), so I did not. Today is Monday – I ran 3 miles on the treadmill (keeping the pace in the 7:30 to 8:20 range), and things seem fine.

Now I have to decide whether to run tomorrow, or wait until Wednesday. I think I’ll wait, even though that optimism is trying to tempt me into running again.

Very little running (and the benefits of Skinners)

When the doctor advised me not to run for a couple of weeks he also told me that he knew I would run anyway. It turns out that other things got in the way and I haven’t really had time to run anyway. Over the last 2 weeks I have run twice – today, and 9 days ago.

One thing I noted in my last post was that I was finding it easier to run pain-free in Skinners, and last week I ran about 4 miles (admittedly slowly) with no pain at all. Since I’d had a long break, I wanted to get out again today (the first chance I’ve had to run since then due to other commitments and work travel). As it was way below freezing I thought my feet would be cold in the Skinners, so I put on my trusty Merrell Trail Gloves. Within a quarter of a mile I had to turn around to come home and change – my left Achilles was hurting again. After giving it some thought, I put this setback down to having danced the evening away at my work holiday party last night.

A quick change into the Skinners and I was off down the road again, and things were better. I ran just over 3 miles, and had minimal aches and pains throughout.

I know I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m hoping that the dancing won’t cause too much of a setback. I’ll be out on the Halfbike again this weekend as that hasn’t caused me any issues while I’ve been working through this.

The image below gives a good overview of the skinners – I found I have to wear them with socks but that isn’t a problem, and I’ve got to get used to running on rough surfaces on them, but they seem to be working out very well for me, and have been great to use when travelling as they take up so little space in a suitcase. At the moment this seems to be the only thing I can wear when running, so I’m very thankful I have them.



It could be argued that maybe the title of this post relates to this blog. After all, it does seem to fit with so few posts this year.

Unfortunately though, the “sideline” is about me and running. It’s been a strange year with all sorts of issues, both running-related and not.

Now I just have to plan the slow crawl back, hopefully in time for spring races. The doctor has told me to take some time off and to go to a physical therapist.

I’ve already limited my running, and I had already started to work more on strength and stretching, so the recommendation isn’t much different.

I’m going to try to hold myself to writing about progress on this blog. It could be an interesting journey back to running as much as I want to.

I suspect that some minor issue earlier in the year has caused a slight change in gait, which in turn has caused more issues. My calf muscles are tighter than they have ever been and there has been an impact on other muscles in my ankles from that. Interestingly, I’ve found that barefoot running is much easier and causes fewer issues for me than even wearing my minimalist shoes. Luckily, I also now have some Skinners socks. I will have to write a review of those soon (very soon).