I have just realized that Google searches for “rehabbing itbs” are returning this site highly ranked. So I should point out that as far as rehab goes I am not a physical therapist, haven’t even bothered to see my doctor regarding this, and in general have no idea what I’m doing. In general I expect to continue running, and thus expect some day to be “over” (at least temporarily) my little bout with knee pain, but that is not at all to say that the particular things I am doing or not doing should be considered advice for anyone facing a similar problem.

However, feel free to read and commiserate. Not being able to run (hard, or far, or daily) sucks!

More Aggressive ITBS Rehab

So yesterday’s run concluded with that bit of tightness in my outer knee that I’ve learned to associated with ITBS. Although it was a hill run and a bit longer (4.5 miles) than I’ve been doing lately, I’m still a bit worried. I think that I need to get more actively involved in rehabbing this thing, not just sitting back and icing and taking Ibuprofen and waiting for it to go away. (I was hoping that the new shoes would help more than they seem to, though. Oh well.)

This morning I started trying a set of exercises that I found here. I’m going to alternate those with a set of core stability routines I read in Runners World a while ago. While the first set of exercises seems tailored to my particular problem, I have noticed that since I stopped my core routine at the start of rowing season I don’t feel as centered or stable on runs, particularly long ones, and I wonder if that has something to do with my knee problems. Anyway, its frustrating to have these problems, but hopefully some additional strength and stability will go at least part of the way to mitigating them.

4.5 Mile Hill Workout

Today I ventured back on my Monday run to the “comfortable” confines of Spring Hill, less than that really yesterday as it was hot in addition to the proffered hills. I managed to drag myself up and down the hill a few times, using different approaches to stretch out to maybe 2.5 up-and-down miles. Good times.

It occurs to me that I run slower on these hill workouts, even at a pace that I’d like to be able to relax at on other runs but usually find myself pushing past. Today I was wondering how much of my river-side pace is due to familiarity, whereas when I race off into new parts of town my reckoning of distance becomes more uncertain and the fear of the unknown (and how far it is back to the known) drives the pace down a bit. Of course, it could also just be the hills…

Start Time: Around 6PM, late to let the heat dissipate a bit.
Distance: 4.5 miles.
Time: Don’t have that in front of me but it was slow, maybe averaging out to 8:45 mi/mile pace or so.
Workout Structure: Ran up and down Spring Hill a bunch of times, and also did a series of four 10-second hill sprints on one of the steeper sections on Belmont St. (Which I like because from just about the tippity-top you can get a glimpse of the Eliot House tower.)
Route: Out-and-back to Spring Hill, then up and down a bit, just wandering around looking for inclines. Paying attention yesterday I noticed that it’s about a mile to the base and about a quarter mile up Lowell St. all the way to the “summit”.
Pre-Run: Bagel and peanut butter about 90 minutes prior, water, very light stretching, almost none really.
Notes: Started to feel my knee again a bit on the way back, but just gently. Hadn’t really been icing today, but need to get more aggressive about rehab (see next post).
Post-Run: Stretching, icing, Vitamin I, shower, dinner.

Tomorrow I’m going to dial down the mileage a bit but dial up the intensity with a couple of tempo miles.

Two Rest Days

Given that I’m still rehabbing my knees, and also that Suz is leaving tomorrow, and combine those two reasons with unusually high alcohol consumption during the heat of today and I think that the Sunday long run is off of the schedule. Hopefully will return next week, but for now I think I can use the rest.

Hard 5-Mile Fartlek

Today was Fartlek day, and with my knee starting to not even twinge on similarly-sized outings I decided to go for it and try and get through the 5+ mile Harvard Bridge loop. The first mile and Fartlek intervals went fine and I felt good, and then coming off of the final interval leg I decided to try and cruise in at a respectable pace, maybe something around my GMP or 7:15 mi/mile. I was running comfortably, hard but comfortably, and after just under half-a-mile looked down at the score: 6:40 mi/mile. Whoops. But at that point I figured, what the hell, and brought the last mile in in a scorching 6:20. So much for an easy warm-up and cool-down.

Start Time: Around 5:30PM.
Distance: 5 miles.
Time: Total time was 35:37 for the running portions, or an average of 7:05 mi/mile.
Workout Structure: Intended to be a slow first mile, followed by 30 second Fartlek intervals embedded in half-miles for a total of 6, followed by another recovery mile. The first mile came in around 7:45 IIRC; I tried to keep the Fartlek intervals down around 5:30 pace and then bring up the total pace for the half to around 7:15-7:30 or so; the last mile was fast, not much of a recovery at 6:20.
Route: Harvard Bridge loop. I found that if I started right at the Weeks Footbridge (shortening my usual 5 minute warm up walk by a minute or so) then some of the speed intervals laid out pretty well: the first is right coming up to the B.U. bridge (as opposed to just past it). The third is right coming up to the Harvard Bridge. The fourth is right coming off of the Harvard Bridge and I paused my watch to avoid having to sprint down the ramp. The last is the most problematic, because it’s just coming in to the underpass of the B.U. Bridge on the Boston side. Rather than sprint through that curvy area I delayed the last Fartlek by 0.15 mile to get off of the boardwalk.
Pre-Run: Water, not much stretching but iced by knee in the afternoon. Half-bagel with peanut butter about 90 minutes before.
Notes: Whole run felt good, strong. Lots of other similarly-paced runners out there today, which was fun. Was a bit worried about digestion issues since my stomach felt odd all day but that didn’t turn out to be a factor.
Post-Run: Stretching, shower, water, dinner.

Tomorrow’s a rest day, and then Sunday is a “long day.” We’ll see how long that actually gets.

5-Mile “Ladder”

Today my workout schedule called for “2 to 4 miles easy, plus 2 miles moderate”. Given my recent bout of injuries, I held the mileage down to 5 and worked in the easy and moderate miles with a little ladder. Actually originally my plan was to do 5, but then at about mile 2 I felt a few twinges in my knee and so short-circuited the route to get back faster. Turns out that that (thankfully) was a false alarm, and so I tacked on another brief loop at the end to get the mileage back to what I had wanted.

Start Time: 5PM.
Distance: 5 miles.
Time: Pace was 7:45, 7:30, 7:15, 7:30, 7:45 mi/mile.
Workout Structure: Should be obvious from the pace numbers above, but I did a little ladder back and forth to 7:15, my goal marathon pace (GMP). The idea was to try and get my body really zeroed in on the fine distinctions between these paces, particularly once a bit fatigued. And it does make a difference, since my 7:45 on the rear-end felt a lot like my 7:30 going out.
Route: Out-and-back to the Harvard Bridge aka yesterday, with an additional little loop tacked on at the end to bring the mileage up a mile.
Pre-Run: Light stretching, water, Clif Bar.
Notes: Other than that little twinge the knees felt O.K. We’ll see how they hold up tomorrow at similar mileage.
Post-Run: Stretching, shower, water. Going to eat a bit later tonight, and by that point I will be hungry!

On tap tomorrow is my favorite run of the week, the 5-mile Fartlek.

2 Easy Miles; 2 Tempo Miles

Rehabbing my knee after my recent bout with ITBS today was in theory the hardest workout I had attempted. That’s not exactly true, given that some of the “easy” 3-milers I was doing last week were fairly lickety-split fast. But today was the first day that, according to my workout theory, I was supposed to be going fast. And, strangely enough, it was harder to be supposed to be going fast than it was to, like, actually just be going fast because it was fun and the distance was short. I guess that’s too be expected.

Start Time: Around 5:30PM.
Distance: 4 miles.
Time: Not sure exactly, but definitely under 30 minutes, probably around 29:30, or 7:22 mi/mile pace. Of course, given the workout structure, it was the pace over the interior two miles that I was concerned about.
Workout Structure: Easy mile (just under 8 mi/mile); two tempo miles at 7 mi/mile; another easy mile (just under 8 mi/mile).
Route: Out-and-back to the Harvard Bridge (i.e., the one crossing by M.I.T.) I like this route for doing these 4-mile tempo miles, since most of the two interior hard miles are contained between the B.U. Bridge and the Harvard Bridge. However, the problem is that this isn’t quite true. In fact, the hard two miles start right on the run-up to the B.U. Bridge, meaning that you just start cranking before hitting that nasty mess of lights impossible to sail through without stopping. And, again, on the return, while I love (hate) that little finishing hill coming up the B.U. Bridge embankment, having a tiny little bit of path left past that light (that again, you’re never going to hit just right) is a problem given that that bit of rest helps crank away and get the finishing time under control. Next time I may try stretching the first mile a bit to get past the bridge and see what happens; I may have to veer out on the Harvard Bridge a bit to get the first tempo mile in the books but that’s OK.
Pre-Run: Little snack at around 4:30. Limited single-leg streching.
Notes: Felt OK, although it was a bit windy. Got the times for the interior miles pegged at around 7 mi/mile flat each, which was cool, but felt much harder than similar miles I had done last week. Brought water this time though, which was a good idea since it was muggy.
Post-Run: Dinner, more stretching, water.

3.6 Miles to Spring Hill

Today I decided to actually try and find a decent-sized hill in order to do the 4 x 10 second hill sprints on my schedule today. Since the river runs are as flat as a pancake several weeks ago I had been reduced to doing these dinky little sprints up and down the “bump” by the B.U. bridge. Hardly satisfying.

So with the help of 20 minutes and a few online mapping tools (one example) I located a hill nearby, “Spring Hill”. (The BackCountryMaps.com interface is a bit grocky requiring manual navigation, and its unclear how to post a link to a portion of the map or I would.) At least from the things I found online it was pretty clear that the topological features in this area aren’t particularly interesting since the maps were all at least fairly old-looking and also not too precise. In any case, lo and behold Spring Hill was exactly what I was looking for: nearby, steep in parts, and blanketed by quiet streets perfect for hill springs. There’s even an emergency bathroom location nearby at Somerville Hospital (probably suitable for other emergencies as well!)

Of course, at the end of the day I discovered what I probably knew in the first place: I am slow on hills.

Start Time: Just after 5PM.
Distance: 3.6 miles.
Time: Around 31:00, or a fairly sad 8:36 mi/mile pace.
Workout Structure: Ran an easy few miles over to Spring Hill, then circled for a bit just taking in the landscape. After a fairly abrupt bathroom break did my 4 10 second hill sprints, then looped back.
Route: Out-and-back to Spring Hill; ran through Harvard Yard up to Kirkland St., crossed to Beacon on Irving, then up to Sacramento, which cuts under some train tracks and turns into Lowell once it crosses Somerville Ave. From there you’re at the base of the hill; run up Lowell to get to Summer at the crest and then across to Prospect (?) at the bottom of the other side.
Pre-Run: Had a bit of a snack around 4PM and probably didn’t give it quite enough time to settle. Focused my stretching on the IT band problem knee (the right) and left my left leg fairly stiff beforehand. Usual bit of water and such.
Notes: Legs felt pretty heavy coming back. Not sure if it was from caloric deficit or just the effect of the hill.
Post-Run: Stretching, shower, water, dinner.

Since this week I’m trying to get back on my non-linear periodization schedule tomorrow’s run calls for some (probably a couple) of tempo miles surrounded by some easy ones, although as usual a lot will be driven by how my knees feel.

Easy 3 Miles; Rest Day

Yesterdays 3 miler should have been easy regardless, but I went with Suz which made it both more fun and a tad bit slower. I think that we came in around 10:20 mi/mile pace, which is breezy for me but challenging for her. In any case, it was a good time, and the fact that I can keep pounding on these knees for over 30 minutes in this new sneaks is a good sign I suppose.

Start Time: I can’t remember exactly, but I think around 5PM or so. Suz and I had a tough time getting out on this run, since we were both about half-motivated, but someone we combined our motivation instead of our lack and got out there.
Distance: 3 miles even.
Time: Around 31:00.
Route: Our favorite 3-mile local river loop.
Pre-Run: Light stretching, water, pre-run nap and a little snack about 90 minutes beforehand.
Post-Run: Stretching, more water, dinner.

I’m still hitting the Vitamin I + icing but so far my knees haven’t really flared up again. Probably in large part because I’ve kept the mileage down this week, but next week we’ll start tweaking it up again and see what happens. Today was a rest day, and we’ll hit the roads again tomorrow.