斗破苍穹h+insight and observations from running the streets and trails

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Patience: How to Return to Running after an Injury

After knee injuries that came about with my training back in the spring, I have taken a bit of a vacation from running. Coming back has been extremely slow and well- measured. I am not the same runner that I was in high school or in college, my body has taken on most likely thousands of miles, and it's telling me to return with extreme caution. Remembering this and actually practicing this approach however, has not been easy, at all. I want to run straight out of the gate most of the time. To rein things in, I've forced myself to remember a few key things to keep positive, injury-free, and successful. All of these things stem from one thing only, patience.

Here are acouple of ways to confidently return to the sport you love with a healthy, patient approach:

- Ditch the watch. When you run with a watch, you're automatically setting expectations. Will I hit the one mile mark at 7:45? Can I do this three- miler in 22 minutes? Unless you are doing a timed workout or want to run for say, 40 minutes, using a watch for the sake of timing yourself is not a good idea. Without it, I feel that I can breath easy, run at different paces based on how I feel, and run with little stress. Be forgiving of your return by running based on feeling. 

Listen toyour body. When returning from an injury your body is in a fragile state, it'simportant to do a "check-in". To go about this, I usually do a thorough stretch before I head out for my run. What's feeling tight? What's a little ache-y? Spend a little more time on the area that needs it. If you can roll it out before, that will help get the blood flowing. Lately I've been using this puppy, the rumble roller. Then, when you're on your run, start out at a very slow pace so you have time to "sink" into your run. Once everything feels good, you have the liberty to amp up the pace.

Keep a log. When you write all the details down, like how you felt, what was difficult, what your favorite part was, you are keeping a history and study of your own running. You are your own experiment. A running log is also a great way to see how you answer changes within your running, whether you are fiddling with the mileage or intensity. Once you've got it all figured out, the next move is to keep consistent.  

- Take baby steps. Returning from an injury can be like starting from scratch, depending on how long you have been out. Slowly increasingthe workload is key. This ties into the keeping a log. It's good to increase your mileage by small percentages (I recommend 5% a week), find out where you respond best (without pain), and keep with it. And, if you are hitting the track for a workout, start with an easy workout that is flexible. For example, 6x 400m, 2 minutes rest, 80 second laps. You can take away two reps, one rep, or increase your rest. Make it fluid.

- Set practical expectations. If you rush towards lofty goals, you will only be disappointed. Write out them out, make sure they are realistic, attainable, yet challenging. You may not be same sprite runner you once were in college, but perhaps now you have more time to train, as opposed to the three month period of a track season.

- Seek a second opinion. Consult your coach, doctor, or physical therapist so you're notdoing the work alone. Having someone to check- in with along the way will give you confidence and security. When I was getting back to running after surgery, my physical therapist was a great resource. She told me the clear can- dos and cannots. And we were both able to rejoice when I made a huge step in recovery. Find your knowledgeable fan. 

I hope you find these helpful! Please feel free to comment below, I'd love to hear from you. 


Monday, June 17, 2013

Writing for Runner's World

I recently had the opportunity to write for the wonderful running publication, Runner's World. I've been an avid reader since the age of ten, it's been very cool watching the magazine evolve over time. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing it...


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The First Run

It's been a bit over a month since I went on a run. Due to a partial tear in my right knee, I opted for PRP injections, a fairly new alternative method to surgery (that requires its own post).  I had the opportunity to test out the results this evening. So far, so good. No pain.

Yet, there was the unavoidable pain of the First Run that I met. I choose to write First Run as a proper noun because it's a holy initiation of sorts, I'm happy just to survive it. We've all experienced it. You set out on the road and in ten minutes it's as if a bear grabbed onto your shoulders, your breathing pattern turned to sound like that of cat heaving a hairball, and you don't give a damn that people passing by  stare at how disfigured your face looks.

My choice of a First Run was a two miler, to Ocean Avenue and back. I returned home defeated, yet simultaneously elated. Initiation was over.

I have a few tips to share so you can get past your own First Run without feeling 30 years old your senior.

1. Choose a reasonable distance.

My rule is to do a quarter of what you run on a daily basis when training at top shape. For example, if you're highest weekly mileage is 70 miles, you average 10 miles a day. Take a quarter of that 10 miles, and you have a 2.5 miler of a First Run. You'll most likely be comfortable yet still challenged with this distance.

2. Start slow.

Why burst out the gate like a madman? Take it easy. If you're with a friend, you should be able to talk here and there. If you're by yourself, your breath shouldn't be overwhelmingly audible. Again, challenge yourself, but don't overdo it.

3. Warm up before you go.

Do a set of jumping jacks, or take your bike around the block. If the blood is flowing beforehand, your run will be flowing just as well.

4. Don't listen to music.

If you're like me, you get revved up by music too easily. "Thriller" will only make your run harder in the end. So, be in tune with what you hear, your breath, your foot strike. It should all be mellifluous.

5. Lastly, don't set high expectations.

Your First Run is open to a lot of flaws and kinks. It's like putting oil on a squeaky bike. It takes a few revolutions to smooth things out.

- Keep Runnin' Child

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Deskbound Workout

I recently read in the New York Times Well Blog the answer to relieving the deskbound job from the static, stale, and total exasperation of sitting all... day... long.  While they suggested a twenty second movement cycle, stand up work stations, and office ergonomic stations, I have a few more to add.

1. Roll your Ankles, Calf Raises

You can do this as much as you want. Roll your ankles clockwise and counterclockwise for a minute, or bring your toes out and back towards your leg. Do this while you you finish writing your paragraph, while you're on the phone, or as you read this article. You'll notice after about a minute of rotations your lower calf muscles will start to wake up. Now just try setting your feet down and bringing your heels up, toes down. Do 100 lifts. It's a wonderful way to work all those intricate tiny muscles that connect your feet to your lower leg muscles.

2. The Stairs

Each hour take a step away from the desk and go up two flights of stairs. Come back down, catch your breath and recoup. This is a great way to reset your self at the desk, breathe, and feel like you had a bit of cardio added to your day. If you're adventurous enough, do lunges in the hallway.

3. The Shoulderblade Touch

Sit at edge of your chair. Tuck your tailbone, sit tall, and clench your abs and take your shoulder blades as far back as you can almost to touch. Do this about ten times on each hour. It will feel as if you are trying "fly" while seated. That's good. You want to open up your chest and remember that tall posture is the best posture.

4. Squeeze your Butt

You heard me. Your gluts are completely atrophied as you sit, wake them up!! Hold for five seconds and release. Do this twenty times. No one is watching. 

5. Lunchtime Stroll/Workout

Forget lunch at Panda Express and grab some friends for a walk. You can eat at your desk. Take that hour to actually go for a brisk walk, take in the sun, or even hit the gym. Take full advantage of the hour. Anything is better than nothing at all. You will come back to your desk feeling rejuvenated and perhaps even sore! 

6. Stretch Your Hip Flexors

Every time you sit down your hip flexors are shortened. Think of them as being curled into an "L" instead of their natural "I" standing position. Oof right? Try this.  In your chair, kneel as if you were lunging statically. Put one leg back, skooch your butt half off the chair and bring your other leg forward. Feel a stretch yet? Your quad should be stretching and engaged. Now, lean back to the opposite side of the leg that is behind you. That's your hip flexor thanking you. It may look weird but you won't walk out at 5PM feeling all stuffy inside.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Motivation for Miles

It's 6pm, the sun has already set, bringing the sky to a velvet dark navy. It's so cold your snot rocket could crystallize in the air. Your legs are still feeling the lactic acid from yesterday's workout. Dinner and a movie is on the mind. Today's run can wait. You'll be back tomorrow. Who's counting today anyhow?

We've all been there. I especially had this happen to me last night. The guilt -o-meter went to a new high, as I decided to visit a Mexican food truck and the local bar for a dark' n' stormy. The gym could wait. We all deserve a get out of jail free card right?

Yes (because that burrito. ..was... delicious). And no.  I will be back today in a vengeance for that lost run.

Most of all,  I challenge you to go for a run on the day you feel least like running. I bet you, you will return home feeling a sense of accomplishment...in two fold.

Just try it. Let me know how it goes.

Till then, when you feel like you're having "one of those days" and can't step a foot out that door, take a look at the collage I've prepared for you below. It's got movin'ation for miles...



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Massage Maitenance

When it comes to running, the devil is in the details. One devil to tackle and keep away is injury. Nine times out of ten, a  muscle in your body is going to react to your running regimen with a "hey, what the heck" S.O.S call. Keeping muscles calm and loose comes from your stretching regimen but also from what I like to call, "massage maintenance".

There are many massage resources to maintain a healthy, tension-free body. Meet my best friends: the tennis ball, the lacrosse ball, the PVC pipe, the foam roller, "The Stick", and my newest favorite, the "Trigger Point".

In order of least pressure to highest/specific pressure...

1. The Firm Black Foam Roller

You can use this puppy anywhere. My favorite use is to bring it perpendicular to my back and roll it along my spine. Your body will thank you with a couple of audible cracks. The foam roller is an excellent tool for a soft to medium release of your ITB band. Focus on the tender spots by leaving the roller static for 30 seconds. Then release up and down from below your hip bone to above your knee. Never roll out on a joint (ie: knee cap). It can be used along your calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quads with a similar idea.

2.  The Stick

This is a great on-the-go massage tool. You can control the intensity of the massage with your own pressure. The motion is the same as the foam roller, up and down. static holds, to tiny back and forth movements. The best way to use it is with someone else "rolling you out" so you can relax as much as possible. Put this one in your backpack when you're traveling to your race and you'll be perfectly warmed up  before start time. The stick is best used on the calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes.

3. Trigger Point 

What I love about this is it's as easy to use as the foam roller, yet the grid pattern along it and PVC pipe interior allow for a stronger pressure. On a scale of 1 to 10, this is about a 6.5 in terms of intensity. Use this just as you would use the foam roller, but be prepared for a deeper massage. 

4. The Tennis Ball and The Lacrosse Ball

With a monstrous affect on releasing muscle tension, these two tools really get to the root or the knot that might be aggravating your muscles, and thus your aching joints. To really get a full workout on that knot, roll on these on a hardwood floor, there will be more "oomph" that gives back. Really focus on the trouble spot with a good, slow back and forth. Your body will thank you!

4. The PVC Pipe

This requires a bizarre, sometimes, awkward visit to the hardware store. You will say, "Hey can you cut me half a yard of PVC pipe?" to which Bob the Hardware Man, will reply,  "Sure what home improvement project can I help you with?" And you'll say, "well..." and further explain that you are a neurotic runner and need a borderline masochist tool to loosen up your finely taught muscle fibers. Please use with caution and similar motion as with the foam roller. This is a wonderful IT band cure and can be modified depending on the surface you roll on. Here's a good example below with a rug and towel:

Stay loose!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wanderlust Runs

The woods are lovely dark and deep, and I have miles and miles to go before I sleep -- Robert Frost.

The French Alps

Autumn in Japan

Waimanu Valley, Hawaaii
Heaven's Gate, China


Napali Coast

The roads and trails are always open.