Saturday, 30 June 2012

Karen writes: My recovery plan for ITB injury

Kate is right, I so wish I was running too.  This morning I had an early trip in to the Quay Street bus-stop in Auckland city to visit with my young cousin as she changed buses on her journey north for school holidays.  As I drove home I envied the hardy city runners, and admired the frosty paddocks in the country. I wanted badly to be pounding those pavements with the sun coming up over the harbour, or foot-printing across the white grassy expanses, breathing in that cold air, and just running.

There is positive news on the running front though.   I am feeling better after a few weeks of things all seeming a bit much.  After getting into a state of mental misery from overdosing on all the gloomy stuff online about recovering from an ITB injury (months and months), I decided to be more proactive about getting better...we do have a marathon to run (walk?) in 8 weeks and I plan on getting there one way or another!  So I have formulated my strategy using lots of the stuff I read about that did work for other people and yesterday was thrilled to manage 6km without pain which is the best I have done in weeks.  Remembering that this is my thinking, untested, and not medical advice...here is my plan...

1) run short distances and if possible increase in tiny increments.  Don't run on consecutive days.
2) Stop/walk/stretch at the first sign of stiffness or discomfort, everything I have read and my experience so far is that pushing through pain makes things much worse, if it hurts walk home! I have had 2 x 3km runs in the last week and had to stop towards the end of those and walk/run but didn't seem to have ill effects after.  In the 6 km yesterday I had no pain....YAAAY!  
3) strap before running -  who would  believe how many different sorts of tape there are, and different ways of doing the strapping.  See here for an example of some printable taping instructions.  There are also velcro ITB straps which go around the top of the knee which I might look at if I need to.
4) forget working on cardiovascular fitness with the running, cross-train for this - ie, long bike-ride - IF it causes no discomfort.
5) ice and brace knee immediately after running - I wrap a flexible ice-pad in a cloth and tuck it inside a knee brace and sit down for 10 minutes.  I read that oral anti-inflammatories are used by some people, I can't tolerate these myself.
6) use a roller (I have a rolling pin with a towel taped over it) to loosen off the ITB band twice a day.  This HURT to start off with, it is still uncomfortable but getting better.  You lie on your side with the roller under your affected thigh and sort of scoot back and forwards ten times...see here (page 3) for example.  Don't forget to do the other side too and try the back of the legs if you are really brave.
7) self massage during the day - apply anti-flam or similar twice a day, and 'knead' outside thigh from knee to top of leg at intervals.
8) during attempts at running experiment with different gaits.  I read that more 'toe pushoff' helped so I tried that on my last successful run, 'faster' was also suggested along with 'shorter stride'.  I concentrated on all these things, but the thing I found pulled me back when there were twinges was to pull my stomach in, straighten up (like 'looking over a fence') and put shoulders right back.  All of that stuff is tiring, but something worked.
9) stay away from hills, cambers and uneven surfaces for now.  Fortunately the Sunshine Coast marathon looks to be pretty flat anyway.
10) Stretch after exercise, and during the day. I'm trying different stretches, there are lots around and many are really complicated and don't seem to really affect the right place...
10) on in-between days focus on strength - core/glutes (things like 'the bridge', plank, side plank)
11) most important - my poor shoes are past their best...new shoes of the right sort!

That seems like a lot of work to manage a quick hobble up the road but I didn't realise how much I would miss my running plus I don't want to drop my run conditioning too far.   Will let you know how the plan works... if it doesn't pretty soon (or anything gets worse) I will be off to the magic physio.

Kate writes: beautiful run

I'm not one to say I love running, but today I went out for a 2 hour run. I planned to run up Matakawa road, down Hatton road, accross the ARC Park and up Brook Road across the top and back down Matakawa road. 21k ish. The sun was shining but it was cold I mean really cold. My hands were cold for the first 5 k. It was a slow run but I throughly enjoyed myself. Came home had a hot bath and put my skins on and watched a movie with Sophie. What more could I want it was a great day. I'm very lucky to be able to enjoy the running, it was not that long ago that I had an injury. I hope karen feels better soon. Its not so much fun talking about what youve been up to if your friend is not running too. By the way it took me 2hours 45minutes to do. I did stop to talk to Marie Anne on her horse for 10 minutes and saw David at Bhanas and bought a drink.So its not all running you have to add in the social side of it too. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Karen writes: Thankyou means a lot

There are sometimes things you know you need to write about, they might be really important things, but just getting what you want to say out of your head and into understandable words can be tricky. One such entry I have delayed and delayed is related to something which occurred last month.  

We have made it clear that we are on our Ironman quest to help raise funds for people working with diabetes in Christchurch, these are our colleagues who continue to face post-earthquake related issues in their own daily lives while they go to work to support people with diabetes.   Their problems were compounded earlier this year when their purpose built diabetes premises were declared unusable, and while it didn't make national news being just one of the many things faced on a daily basis down there in Christchurch, it was a further blow to diabetes care.  Well, you know we didn’t reach our target of Ironman 2012 because it was cancelled and downgraded to a half Ironman, so we didn’t achieve what we had promised.  We can report now that we have some money in the bank from stalwart supporters and our intention is to continue to fundraise for diabetes in Christchurch, it a cause important enough to motivate the tiredest legs at the end of a long race and clearly unfinished business.

What brought Kate and myself up short however was what happened at the NZSSD (diabetes) conference in Auckland at the beginning of May. Our Christchurch colleagues thanked us.  With a lovely card came beautiful hand crafted crosses (for more about these crosses click here).  I wanted to cry.  So Kia Kaha our friends and colleagues in Christchurch, we continue to think of you, and thank you so much for your generosity of spirit in acknowledging what we are doing (trying).  And the rest of you lot out there…almost exactly a year ago we kicked off our Ironman fundraising drive with a marathon in Perth...thankyou to those who have made a donation, to others, we are starting again so how about sponsoring us a even tiny bit per km (42km) for the Sunshine Coast Marathon at the end of August. We will be keeping you posted!  

Friday, 22 June 2012

Karen writes: Really slack week

I thought I was being slack before, just running when and for however long I felt like, 4-5 days a week, no interval training or any of that 'tempo pace' stuff which I never did figure out, what with being permanently stuck on 'slow'.

This week I have managed two runs of less than half an hour, both times starting off with good intentions but turning around and heading home when the knee started complaining.   Between the sore knee and dodgy shoulder I am feeling rather limited, but not worried enough (or heavy enough) yet to hop on the dreaded spin bike for some cross training.   I finally recalled that my leg problems are often associated with shoes past their best. Sure enough, I picked up my current pair and the wear is obvious and they flex more like sandshoes than good supportive runners. Come to think of it they probably have about 800km on them considering I bought them in January and trained for and did the last half Ironman, and a marathon in them.  Lots of memories in those shoes, but I must be hard and get rid of the things...I need a new pair.

The thing to remember about these sorts of injuries though is that it is highly likely they will go away as long as you don't do anything too silly.  Like leap madly back into training, or keep wearing old saggy shoes.  Ultimately you will also probably get another injury and forget about what you were worried about before, one displaces another!

It is hard to take it easy though, when I look at the last marathon programme, at 9 weeks out (next week) I should do gym, run a 60 minute, 70 minute, 45 minute, and a 20km.  Sigh.  And of course Kate is racing ahead, she is swimming and cycling and running.  Go Kate!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Kate writes: I've forgotten it all !

I'm back into my Friday swimming. I have my head in a good place and know i can do it! We had a session on technique. Free style  with stretching out as far as you can go. No problem with that. But I was sinking! tuck your chin in says the coach. Wow what a difference. I can not see where I am going but I do not sink anymore. It seems strange after theses years, it seems , of swimming that I have so much to learn.
On Sunday I went biking with the group. It was the first time out on the road bike since the half ironman in March. First I had to wipe the cobwebs off the bike. It was a cold morning but the sun was shining, so off we went. I got left behind as usual, but that was ok. But it was hard work going up the hills. I had the gear in the big chain ring, after all that was the easiest one! It must have taken me most of the ride to remember how the gears worked. It really is sad at how quickly we forget.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Karen writes: A week of ups and downs

I am glad we still have a whole 10 weeks to go before our next marathon.  The last few weeks have been a bit hit and miss in terms of training, with my dodgy shoulder, Kate's brush with surgery etc.  4 weeks into my new training diary there have been a few high points, but mostly I seem to be describing more treatments than training activities.    

Unfortunately I went a bit mad last week and got over-enthusiastic about running up and down big hills, too much over too little time and this resulted in an upset left knee.  Picture from Thursday recording my pace over a 10km run - it shows what happens when the ileotibial band gives up trying and pace degenerates into a miserable hobble.  Funny how much worse it is going down a hill!


I took a couple of days off running...got that decision right.  The decision I didn't get right however was the one I made on Friday night when I picked howling small daughter up off the concrete after an un-witnessed fall. I wiggled, poked and then bandaged the offending limb, gave her a cuddle and a pat and sent her off to play.  Play she did, very happily too, until Saturday evening when I had another look, oops, broken.  Another nurse laughed when I told her and warned the child that having a nurse for a mum could be a disadvantage. Sorry small person.

So me and littlest daughter spent hours last night in town at the after hours clinic, got home late, and this morning I dragged myself up out of bed while the rest of the whanau had a much deserved sleep-in.  I headed out for a run to test the knee and while it had been hard to get up it turned out to be the most gorgeous antidote to such a dubious week. Cold and beautiful Auckland just waking up, I ran for 4km along the coast feeling the woes work themselves out. Couldn't resist stopping to take this picture at Te Puru, the footprints weren't mine, I had seen a troupe of scout-like people scuttling about wrapped in blankets and dressing gowns making tracks and squealing in the frost...I was feeling a bit wimpier than usual and didn't want to get my feet cold.  Gorgeous though isnt it?  Anyway, I managed 8km in total before stopping because of warning signs from the knee.  It feels a bit better, but I'm not going to be daft and push it to a self-destruct point like I did last week.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Karen writes: Perfect run recipe

I wish there was a recipe to ensure the perfect preparation to guarantee a great run.  Sometimes though it is perfectly accidental that you get things right and come back from a hard effort feeling just plain "YES!".  I did my fastest 10 km tonight, there were a few big hills, road-works, it was cold and getting dark, but I was flying.

I thought about it while one leg was following another with unusually little effort and concluded there were plenty of reasons for a poor performance, and no reasons for a good one.  Like the heavy duty run yesterday should have meant the legs were tired, a sedentary day at work today would normally make me stiff and cranky, the shoes are at the end of their lives and have lost much of their bounce, and this afternoon the shoulder was feeling a bit stressed after a trip to the physio.

I know...the secret just has to be the sneaky custard square from the Hollywood bakery down the road from the physio, it was the only thing I did different! You see I was feeling a bit miserable having made the decision that I should just harden up and get the steroid injection, and do it sooner rather than later. I walked into the bakery still clutching my referral form and told myself some lies about custard being a healthier choice because it had some dairy in it.  I ate it in the car on the way home, direct from the bag, with unashamedly sticky fingers.  Bliss.


You know what this means though, I can ignore all the conventional wisdom next time I prepare for a run, all I need to do is have a custard square. Right?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Karen writes: Toys to make training easier

There are running essentials, like the right socks, shoes etc.   Then there are the non-essential things which just make the kilometers more fun and help make some sort of sense of it all.

In this latter category comes my Nike sports-band.  It was a whim type purchase off Trade-me, I put in a silly bid and was surprised to win the auction and even more surprised that it actually worked. It is a little USB thingy which sits in a wristband and talks to a sensor attached to your shoe.  It tells you...time on the road, roughly how many km you run, and more importantly it gives a pace.   When you get home after your run you stick it in the computer port, it uploads the information and pretty graphs are drawn, comparisons made with others in the 'Nike community' and you get little supportive messages saying well done etc when you meet certain milestones.  Scarily it also does sinister things like connecting to facebook, do I really want everyone knowing that I ran 5km and it took a whole hour because I forgot to turn the thing off when I stopped for a natter?

I went out for another dog-assisted bush run tonight, we had a lovely 14.7km thrash through the bush only coming home when it started to get dark.  I got teased by some mountain bikers who thought I was cheating having the dog tow me up the hills...she wasn't really...much.  Anyway, we got home and I plugged the thingy in, there is a brand new updated website so I looked at it in a bit more detail than I usually do.  Apparently I have spent over 66 hours running since January (probably a lot more actually as I often forget the sportsband or don't charge it up, still seems like a lot though), burned off 41000 calories just with running alone (that is 20 full days worth of energy!), and my speed is going up according to the graph at the bottom of the picture.   New resolution.  Charge the dratted thing up, remember to put it on for every run, set some goals and see if I can make it actually work for me!

Kate writes: Hauraki Rail trail

I was all ready for my week end away. What to pack? It was going to be cold, wet and sunny! We started off at the Kobu bridge, well that had changed since I was last there. A big flash new bridge, with two way traffic. There was little signage and a bit pot luck as to which way to go. But there were other cars parked with bike racks on the back so I must be in the right place. Under the bridge I went and off along the side of the road. The rail trail is on the old railway line, covered in stone so a little hard on the tyres. There were loads of stops with gates to go through, but otherwise great for riding. stopped at Paeroa for lunch and then on to TeAroha. beautiful weather, although it threatened to rain.  It took 4 hours to do 54K. But it was fun. we spent the evening at a camp site in a small cabin, had food and beer at the pub whilst watching the All Blacks slaughter the Irish. What more could a girl want! 
The next day we decided to drive back to Paeroa and ride the 14k to Waikino. It was slightly up hill, but I did not notice until we came back and how fast it was down hill. At one stage we go through a 1k tunnel. I road into it thinking how dark it was and shouted at other riders" watch out riders" as I could not see them. I then took my sun glasses off and it was much brighter! There is a great coffee shop at the far end of the gorge, a welcome stop.
This picture is of me, in orange and my friend Rachele and her family.
Its a great ride and I would recommend it to anyone to have a go.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Karen writes: Happy dog

I feel guilty sometimes because the foxy-cross dog misses out on exercise because I am either doing too many km, running on dangerous narrow roads, or feeling a bit paranoid and unwilling to take the risk of having a cowardly-dog-induced accident.

Tonight was different though.  Me and the dog went for a 10km bush run along one of my favorite trails, she was so excited she was quivering and that silly skinny tail with its absurd white tip was like a separate animal.  I ran with her lead tied to my fuelbelt, she let me know that she wasn't keen on any mucking around, any attempts on my part to walk up the bigger hills were met with clear dissatisfaction.  I even managed to get to a dog-assisted 5min/km pace at times which is unheard of!   The sight of a distant pukeko got excited whiffling and a speed-up, a curious sheep meant a slow-down with the lead getting wrapped around my legs, and convenient puddles required immersion up to the belly and every single one in reach had to be tasted.   Pippa is now stretched out on her beanbag on the deck after having sneakily cleaned up the cats biscuits...a tired, happy dog.

I can't say I'm quite as content as Pippa.  Having got up to 76kg, the heaviest I have been in ages, I figured it was time for action as when training gets more intensive cutting the calories will not be an option.  So today was day 3 of a plan to eat better.   I'm mostly on track...but hungry!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Karen writes: Strange run

Now that was a really strange run.  It started off normally enough for a night-time run...ie, reluctantly.  The whanau were happily eating dinner in a warm house as I donned the running gear and headed off into the dark.   It wasn't cold once I had been running for a few minutes, the little blob of light from my headlamp zigzagged energetically along the road, and as unhappy muscles warmed up I thought "yes, I can do this".

I ran along the Maraetai beach waterfront and picked my way through the sand and seaweed washed up over the road and over the footpath, evidence of the predicted super-high tide.   I thought about how the sea used to wash into those houses and shops but they are progressively getting replaced, lifted up, or are prepared with their polythene bags of sand in front of low doors.  It was deceptively quiet at that hour, but there must have been some drama earlier in the day.

I headed back towards Omana, and enjoyed the effect of the thickening mist, then looked out to sea towards Waiheke at the twinkling lights in the distance and wondered what they saw looking back.  Then I realised that at that point they weren't seeing anything, all of the houses along Omana were dark.  What an eerie thing that turned out to be once I noticed that I was in a bobbing island of light all by myself, in the mist, no people, no cars, and the sea must have been still because there was no sound either.  Once I started looking I could make out little flashing red lights which were the alarms on the houses, and looking closer still there were flickering candles in some windows.   Everything suddenly seemed much less friendly and enjoyable and I felt a long way from home.

I did my 60 minutes and turned round to head back to Maraetai.  There was sheet lightening to the South, I felt safe enough because I couldn't hear thunder, but by now I had had enough of the weird and wonderful and my imagination (result of adolescent addiction to Stephen King) was working overtime.  Fortunately the lights were still on in Maraetai and it was nice to get home to the warm, have a hot shower and something to eat.

And of course, something else to write up in week 3 of my training diary!

kate writes: spin

 I caught up with my coach yesterday. He said it was ok to be apathetic at the moment but would only allow that for another week! I was tired on Monday as I had been studying for an exam and did not go out for a run. Yesterday I had spin, and I only have it once a week so off i went. They did a hard session building up long endurance I think we got to 110 cadence and 90% heart rate. I only got up to 80% and most of the time 75%. but I got home and sat on the couch and just wanted to go to sleep. Then I could not sleep as I was too tired.
Today I need to go for a run. But the weather looks like rain! maybe I should just go now and get it over with. But work has got to come first. Still the excitement will come back I'm sure.
 I'm off to do the Hauraki rail trail at the week end. That should be exciting. As long as it does not rain.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Karen writes: Winter starts and training starts


We have been having the most extraordinary winter, the shortest day is week after next but it doesn’t feel like mid-winter all.   Summer this year didn’t really happen, but winter 2012 may be remembered for patches of perfect, clear, mild weather, with beautifully flat seas, and the wearing of summer clothes long after they would normally have been put away.   Case in point, Sundays 25km run was in a singlet and tri-shorts and sunhat.  I left home in the near dark, and didn’t even think twice about plastering on the sunscreen and carrying extra water.


Today however it looks like things have changed.  It is getting increasingly wild outside, and the run planned for later tonight after the children are in bed is not looking like a pleasant prospect in the blustery wind and rain.  Do I remember how to dress for bad weather?  Not sure, I think there is a merino hat in a drawer somewhere, a running jacket buried in the spare shoe-box, and the water-wicking socks can’t have disappeared completely.    


We are less than 12 weeks out from the next marathon, Kate tells me she has been on the phone to her coach and is stepping up her training. I have been playing around with a run-here-a-spin-there-here-a-run-there-a-run and eating everything and anything and waiting for that inspiration (panic?) to kick in where I suddenly start to take things seriously again.  


I have made some sort of start though.  Food diary…re-re-re-started again.  And the training diary…it actually shows a marginal improvement, I did more hours of training last week (6) than I did the week before (4).  There is the advantage of having a hard-copy diary to record things in in that I can take it to bed and make a ritual of filling it out at the end of the day.  The disadvantage is that said diary is usually not where I am when I want it at any other time but it is still working better for me than the computer version. I am feeling the need to spend some time divorced from my computer.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Karen writes: Two arms.

My flash training diary is looking decidedly unimpressive on the exercise front.  But it does have other stuff in it, like yesterday I went for an ultrasound scan of the problematic shoulder.  I sat with all the people who looked sick and looked like they should be lined up in that waiting room, and the pregnant ladies who didn’t look sick but also looked like they had a reason to be there...I felt rather out of place.

Anyway, in the darkened room it was time to bare the shoulder, get slathered in gel, and contort into various positions with varying degrees of discomfort while the deep dark secret things normally hidden from sight inside me showed up onscreen.

As luck would have it, the scanner man was a tri-athlete, emphasis on 'was'.  He had stopped due to that life thing interfering and now his tri-athleticism squatted in the back of his head under the category of ‘just too much hard work’.  He gave me a run-down of what he was seeing as he worked his scanner …healthy tendons, no obvious muscle tear, but a bursitis with obvious inflammation was there. Ok. Options…anti-inflammatories, and maybe a steroid injection…hmmm, don't much like that idea, do I really need both arms working anyway?  And given my age, I now apparently had a good chance of it coming back if I didn’t take sensible precautions like good stretching, strengthening the right muscles, good posture and avoiding things which put the aging shoulder at risk of injury again.  Oh dear, that means I will never take up professional tennis, I won’t become a weight lifter, and digging holes (which I did do at one point in my life) just isn't a career option anymore. He did say something which made me feel a little more optimistic, he commented that most 'mature' athletes who line up at these events will have their own weakness, an injury they have and are actively managing or actively preventing, I may just have to watch this shoulder myself. My parting shot was that the scanner man should start his own exercise again, it only gets harder if you don’t.

I sent a text to Kate.   Pharmacology Kate teasingly responded “steroids, might make you go faster”  In my dreams I thought.  So I sat on the spin bike for an hour last night reading a book.  ‘Light spin’ I call that, coach type people would probably call it ‘time wasting’.   Today I went to the physio and after some ‘stretching of the capsule’ and other things outside my understanding of anatomy we agreed I would leave the decision about the steroids for another week.

Tonight I went for a fast run, in the dark, on a cold and clear and beautiful night. I pondered getting a needle stuck into my shoulder…until I forgot about it and just thought about running in the dark on a clear and beautiful night.