Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Yoga Bear and no more Boo Boo

No piiiicinik baskets here!  We have embarked on the world of yoga and pilates.  Note in photo number one (well, the only photo), Rip demonstrates a perfect example of the downward, reclining cat, while John struggles in his upward dog pose.  The Yin and the Yang if you will.

My yoga instructor had to, ahem, encourage me in my sideways tilt, and my lame knee won't allow me to do the basic "legs crossed" pose, so I modified.  Wow, is your leg supposed to bend like that?  Why do I want to do the "pigeon?"  I had to explain:  "I'm a runner."  "Oh," he says, "say no more.  Just keep coming to yoga, and you might want to try to roll out your fascia with a foam roller before class."  I'll keep that in mind.  I really will.

Let's not just add yoga, let's add pilates as well.  I've heard that's good for your core and butt.  Whew!  Need that for sure.  Not that it was totally too easy, or slow to progress, but after the first 15 minutes of "warm up" moves, I was feeling a little sleepy.  That is until I woke up this morning with sore everything.  Really?  Really?  It wasn't too bad when we swung our leg forward and backward a few times (boring!) but then, without rest or recovery, she made us hold it out behind and pulse (ouch!) and then without rest or recovery, out to the side, front circles, back circles, pulses (are you kidding me?), and then without rest or recovery, she MADE us contort our leg the other way ... more pulses.  That did wonders for my hip.  Then all over again on the other side.  Pilates are totally cool.

Without a doubt, the stretching and the natural form movements have already helped me.  My hip/low back irritation, inflammation stuff is so much better.  My knee shows very little swelling and is no longer an issue.  As I watched the yoga instructor kneel down to turn on the stereo, I noted that he bent his knees, both knees totally and comfortably.  I can't remember the last time I could do that.  Flexibility is a big part of overall wellness and fitness and I am looking forward to getting my downward pigeon stork working for me.

Cross-training continues but I was able to run a fairly brisk 11 miles last week on a slightly sore knee and still screaming achilles tendon ... but with each run it feels just a bit better and since I don't run that often, I am giving it time to heal.  Tonight I will run in the pool and do a set of 6 sprint 50's swim and some ab work and I will consider it a great workout.

I can't wait until I am able to get on the track for intervals or compete in a race, but until then I am trying to enjoy all the facets of fitness. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Just Another Rainbow, Just Another Pot of Gold

It can be challenging to write a blog about running when you haven't been able to do much running.  That's no excuse though, because there is always so much in the peripheral that can be written about.

Like for instance I could write about the few runs I have been privileged to do amidst injury recovery.  Each one (I can only mange one to two runs per week) is a blessing for which I am truly thankful.  One recent run was with a group of running buddies from San Diego on Memorial Day.  I miss running the challenging hills of San Elijo so when I have the opportunity, I try to take it.  There are always a few willing to join me (or actually a few that let me join them) and it is a blessed reunion and a time to catch up on everyone's recent races and events of life.  Thanks for letting me join you guys and I look forward to the next one.

I have also managed to do a Saturday run for the last 3-4 weeks which has climbed in mileage up to 10 and holding.  I figure, as part of my recovery mindset, that I will not attempt to go farther than this, but will do my best to enjoy the friendly 10 miles.  I crave more miles and I crave faster miles, but I am learning to be satisfied with reality.  In time everything will come back together for me and I will be a smarter runner.

While I have been encouraged by a healing achilles that is a bit less painful than it was, I have found myself dealing with another issue.  Perhaps it is an issue of a compensating injury but I can't know for sure.  About two weeks ago, on a Wednesday, I was at the dark, concrete prison of a gym sweating it out on the "cardio" machines.  I spent 6 miles (according to the computer read out) on the Stairmaster, and then another 3+ miles doing 1/4 miles intervals on the Elli.  I adopted these modes of cross-training about a month ago to give me reprieve from the pool (swimming and aqua-running).  Cross-training is supposed to be helpful, less impacting, and supportive of healing.  But on this Wednesday something didn't feel right afterwards.  I went to the track that evening to coach the Moms in Motion track workout and did a few easy laps during their warm up.  I felt awkward in my gait, heavy on one side, and generally much more out of sorts.  And it wasn't just a stiff achilles.

I later realized my right knee (which is the same leg as my achilles injury) was generally significantly swollen.  I did not injure my knee so I knew it was manifesting a different problem.  Since I am apt to self-diagnose, I soon learned (because it started sceaming at me) that my low back/right hip was tight, locked up, out of whack, tweaked ... these are official medical terms.  In my assessment, I had a flare up of some sort in this area which tightened muscles (maybe the piriformis) which in turn pulled my knee out of proper alignment enough to cause inflammation there as well.  I have a notable leg length discrepancy (functional leg length discrepancy) so I figure ultimately this is the culprit.

So the tight swollen knee on this day made my gait feel off but did not cause me pain.  However, the issue worsened until I not only had tightness and swelling, but also weakness, a sharp pain that ran the length of my posterior knee on occasion which was no doubt a pinched nerve somewhere in the mix, and it began to feel as though it was slightly out of joint/alignment and would, if I was lucky, pop back into place.  Then, as if that wasn't enough, it became painful to run.  At first it only "bothered me" during running, but this last 10 miler ended in complete pain and an inability even to bear weight.  I dragged my leg back the last mile just so I wasn't stranded away from my car.  My kinesiology tape totally came off during the first 6 miles and left my supported knee unsupported and loosey-goosey.  Let me vent - the stupid tape does absolutely no good if it's flapping in the wind.  It gets you half way through your run and leaves it up to you to figure out how to get through the second half.  It's a JOKE!  :) That's about as "venty" as I get.

All of this knee junk sort of peaked out this past Saturday and has since begun to subside as the inflammation in my hip has been resolving.  It was a chain reaction in the function of my right side and I sought to deal with the foundation of the problem as best I could. 

At this moment I'd be happy to have to deal only with an achilles injury, but to have another problem on top of that has been unspeakably frustrating ... especially considering that I haven't even been running much.  This happened while cross-training.

I think there is only so much a runner can take.  I am going to begin yoga this week and I'm encouraged that this will help me in a plethora of ways.  My muscles are likely imbalanced and tight from poor biomechanics due to an altered gait, and this has increased the discrepancy in my leg lengths, which has caused inflammation in my hip and back, which has resulted in tightened muscles and tendons ultimately affecting my knee.  I need my knee darn it.

Ice, Aleve, Traumeel, elevation and tape have been my close companions, and I've taken to almost constant stretching, twisting and torquing.  I see improvement.  Yes I realize that some sort of medical attention, Chiropractic adjustment regimen or physical therapy would be smart, but for the most part, those are not options for me right now. 

Wow.  I was kind of hoping to focus on the positive, so I hope there is something positive in all of this.  At the moment I am thankful to feel the knee/hip stuff resolve, and I'm glad I am finally motivated to begin yoga (something I've wanted to do for years but just haven't).  Another great thing is that John will do yoga with me so it will be something wonderful to share together. 

See, this whole thing is a big, beautiful rainbow with many pots of gold awaiting me.

And soon I will be running pain free again.  Yes.