Sunday, December 31, 2006

One Last Workout for 2006

It seems like a long time since my last workout. I needed some time to recover from a knee injury then went on vacation. I really wanted to get a few workouts in while visiting family in Argentina but I caught a cold, my heel swelled up (probably an insect bite) and my knee was still hurting a bit.

So much for excuses, today's workout:
1 Mile - 11:07

It was only one mile because I'm breaking in the orthotics and it should have been under 11 minutes but I had to stop and wait for a car to clear an intersection. Oops, but those are more excuses.

I'll postpone the marathon distance workout for later as I ease back into my routine. Three miles for tomorrow, six for Tuesday and I'll be back on schedule, more or less.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Meet the Feet

So today I had my appointment with the podiatrist.

He kneaded and twisted my feet then ordered some xrays and told me that I had a problem that could be solved with surgery but since it wasn't severe I should try orthotics first. Basically, my feet flatten out instead of hold their shape properly. Since the 2E width shoes seem to fit me better I asked if I had wide feet and he said no, it's just that they spread out. He mentioned that the Superfeet insoles that I bought were his favorite so at least that was a good choice. He then ordered casts made for the custom orthodics and gave me some calf stretching exercises--which happen to be the ones I've been doing anyway, I just have to do them more often.

So is this the magic bullet I've been looking for? We'll have to wait and see, the orthodics arrive in a couple of weeks, right when I'll be away on vacation.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tired of Resting

After a couple of weeks of resting a sore knee I finally got out and did my six mile training walk.

My schedule calls for six mile walks every Tuesday and Thursday, speed work with the Southern Cal Walkers on Saturday, long distance on Sunday and strength training on Monday (depending on Sunday's distance) Wednesday and Friday. With the holidays and vacation plans coming up this well planned schedule will probably fly right out the window.

Tomorrow I've got an appointment with a podiatrist, that's a good thing because he might be able to determine why I've been hurting my knees everytime I push through a 10 minute mile. Then again there is also a DreamWorks Animation company party tomorrow night and that could be detrimental to my training. It was hard enough getting up this morning, I can't imagine doing the six mile walk the morning after a holiday party.

Here's how it went today:
Mile 1 - 11:49
Mile 2 - 12:22
Mile 3 - 12:41
Mile 4 - 12:58
Mile 5 - 12:34
Mile 6 - 12:11
Average Pace - 12:26 minutes per mile
Total Workout - 1:14:38

It is going to take a while to get used to doing six miles instead of the usual three and I took it a bit conservatively this morning. I do have an excuse for that slow mile 4, my shoelace came untied--yikes! The laces on my new size 11 Loco Banditos are a bit long for the way that I lace them so I'll have to either get shorter laces of find an alternate way to tie them.

Time for some more research:

Ian's Shoelace Site

New Scientist Article: Mathematics unravels optimum way of shoe lacing.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Holiday Postal Photos

Saturday night I decided not to walk the one hour postal and take some photos instead. I was hoping to see a few hot shots at the race and I wasn't disappointed. Rick Campbell showed up all decked out with a holiday hat and bells on his shoes. Fortuantely for the sanity of the other racewalkers his bells fell off so they didn't have to hear jingling bells for the duration of the race. I don't have the official results, but he went further than 10k in the hour so that means that his average pace was under 10 minutes per mile--quite a performance.

A moment just before the start. It rained the night before so the track was soggy. The bathrooms were all locked so the start was delayed a few minutes after sunrise which made for better light for photography.

The start of the race.

It was probably best I didn't enter the race. Just walking across the field so many times made my knee a little sore.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Getting Back up to Speed

This morning I worked out with the Southern Cal Walkers. There's a club postal tomorrow, that's a race where they see how far they can go in a one hour time limit, and that made the workout today rather light. I said that I wasn't doing the race tomorrow so I did a somewhat more strenuous slow, faster, faster, full-speed, lap sets. The way it works is to do an easy walk for a lap (400 meters) followed by an easy racewalk lap, then a racewalk at about a 70% effort and finally an all out effort on the fourth lap. Then--do it all over again. I walked with Carl Acosta and Sylvia Ellis, Carl showed us how on the first set then let Sylvia and me go off and do another set. I didn't time myself but the last lap my heart was beating 187 bpm, Sylvia was at just 87 bpm--go figure. I wish I would have run the stopwatch because it felt like we were under 10 minutes per mile pace.

Anyway, tomorrow is the postal. I said I wouldn't do it, but I'm feeling pretty good and my knee isn't complaining. I probably won't make the final decision until just before the 6:45am start. If nothing else I could take it easy and call that my Sunday workout.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Therapy or Broken Promise?

I said that I wasn't going to do any racewalking for a couple of weeks--but I was feeling pretty good so I decided to go out for a therapeutic walk. Just an easy three miles, here's how it went:
Mile 1 - 13:18
Mile 2 - 13:11
Mile 3 - 13:02
Average Pace - 13:10 Minutes per Mile
Total Workout - 39:32

Things were obviously going well because I kept increasing my speed but the sore knee isn't quite 100% yet. Tomorrow is strength training day and Saturday morning is Southern Cal Walkers. There is a one hour postal on Sunday and although I'd like to do it, maybe it isn't a good idea to do a race right after coming off an injury.

This week I had an appointment with chiropractor, Dr. Bill Bravo. He massaged my knee and gave some tips that seemed to help things along. Next week I've got an appointment with podiatrist Dr. Gary Briskin, one of the founders of the Foot & Ankle Institute.

I'll probably put in the distance training starting on Sunday but will keep the speed down until I feel the knee is 100% healed.

My training schedule will come to a screeching halt starting on December 15 because of holiday plans but I'll still try to get a workout in when possible. In the meantime, maybe I'll make a goal of completing a 26.2 mile training walk before the end of the year.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Longer Than A Marathon

If a marathon seems like long distance, try a 50 km--that's 31 miles compared to the marathon's 26.2 miles.

I'm not thinking about entering this race, but it might be a good opportunity to see some world class athletes in action.

So how long does it take to walk a 50k? The world record was just broken in Australia. Here's the story.

Deakes destroys World record for 50km Race Walk
Saturday 2 December 2006

Four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Nathan Deakes has broken the World record** for the 50km Race Walk in Geelong, Australia, this morning. Deakes recorded a time of 3:35:47.

Competing at the Telstra Australian 50km Road Walking Championships in blustery conditions, Deakes took 16 seconds off the World record previously set by Poland's World and Olympic champion Robert Korzeniowski at the 9th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Paris, France in 2003 (3:36.03).

In a big day for Australia’ walkers, Duane Cousins set a personal best and World Championships a-qualifier of 3:53.19 to finish second, as did Victorian Jared Tallent who walked a time of 3:55.08 to finish in third place.

Deake’s smashed his previous best and Australian record of 3:39:43 which he set in Melbourne in 2003.

Overcome by tears, an emotional Deakes fell to the ground after crossing the finish line, his wife Annette and parents rushing in to congratulate him.

“It’s obviously quite a surprise. I didn’t think I was in that kind of shape. To break a World record is really special. To do at home is even nicer. The best prepared athletes walk fast anywhere,” explained Deakes after the race.

“I had a great training camp at altitude in US but the key has been the fact that I have been injury free for the last 6 months. My hamstring has been really good and I’ve been able to get through a lot of work.”

“I’m getting older and it’s getting harder, but right now I’m very very content.”

In a dominating performance, Deakes demonstrated his class above the field taking an early lead before destroying his opposition to take out the Telstra Australian 50km Road Walking Championships title.

In front of an ecstatic home crowd, the Geelong local was ahead of the World record pace by over 2 minutes at the 40km mark, however he tired over the concluding stages dropping the frenetic pace in the final 10km.

The 50km distance has not always been a favourite of the 29-year-old on the Olympic and World Championship stage, disqualified in 2001 in Edmonton and at the 34km mark in Athens when walking side-by-side with Kozeniowski. The duo were under World record pace at the time of the disqualification.

Based at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, Deakes is coached by Craig Hilliard, whose credentials as one of Australia’s leading track and field coaches continues to grow. Hilliard was behind the success of super walker Kerry Saxby-Junna in the 1990’s.

It’s been nearly seven years since an IAAF World record has been broken by an Australian athlete in Australia. Emma George leaped 4.60m in Sydney to break the women’s Pole Vault World record in 1999.

Michelle Cook and David Culbert – Athletics Australia Media – for IAAF

**pending the usual ratification procedures

Monday, December 4, 2006

Knocking Knees

Guess I'm not the only one with knee problems. World class athletes including Curt Clausen and John Nunn had to have knee surgery. In fact it seems that the most common injuries in racewalking affects the knees.

Here is something that I found at Journal of Athletic Training website: Injuries in the Sport of Racewalking. Just in case the link dissappears I downloaded a copy of the PDF file here.

Cutting to the chase, knee injuries were the most common. This is a quote from that article:

During informal discussions, several competitors stated that racewalkers rarely if ever suffer knee injuries. However, this contention was not supported by our data. Even though hamstring strain was the most frequently reported specific injury, the knee, shin, hip, and back were more commonly affected by a variety of nonspecific injuries than was the hamstring musculature.

So is there a "cure" other than just to quit walking? Here are a couple of articles by Dave McGovern.

Care and Feeding of Racewalking Injuries

©1995 Dave McGovern--Dave's World Class

A recent, extended bout with a ridiculously misdiagnosed case of sartorial tendonitis in my right knee has prompted me to say a few words on the subject, in the hopes that it may save an anonymous racewalker or two from a similar unnecessary layoff. In the last few days I've finally returned to normal (knock on wood) training again after nearly ten weeks off due to an unpleasant sensation in my knee that at times was remarkably similar to the feeling one gets when an ice pick is accidentally hammered into the area. In the week following the 1994 New York City Marathon I began to experience pain on the medial side below my right knee. I felt fine during the race and didn't feel too bad afterwards, but I did notice a little tightness in my hips and lower abdominal region in the later stages of the race.In the days following the race I was only able to walk for twenty minutes or so before my hips tightened up, and then the knee became very painful. My therapists came up with all kinds of crazy diagnoses: A sprain. A torn meniscus. A torn ligament. An inflamed plica. Chondromalacia. All along I thought it was a simple case of tendonitis, but that was too easy. Two months and several hundred dollars later I decided to take matters into my own hands and began treatment as if I had a simple case of tendonitis. Less than a week into treatment I was able to return to normal training. Occasionally I push too hard and I feel a little pain, but a little extra stretching seems to hold it at bay. The moral of the story? Listen to your own body. Over the last few months I've worked with several highly qualified doctors and therapists, but ultimately the patient has a better feel for what's wrong with him than anybody poking and prodding from the outside. Doctors work in generalities: If the doctor works with a lot of basketball players, a torn meniscus is probably a reasonable guess as the source of medial knee pain. Likewise, a sprain may be a likely diagnosis for a soccer player. Chondromalacia is fairly common among runners. Unfortunately most doctors have never seen a racewalker and aren't sure what kinds of assumptions they should make.In my experience racewalkers suffer relatively few injuries, but nearly all are overuse injuries rather than traumatic ones (i.e. sprains and tears). Tendonitis of the knee (iliotibial or sartorial), feet (plantar fascitis or cuboid peroneal syndrome), shins ("shin splints" or posterior tibial myositis/tendonitis) or of the achilles tendon are all common overuse injuries. Bursitis of the hip or knee is also fairly common. The trick with tendonitis is to remember just what tendons are: They're tough fibrous sheaths that connect muscles to bones. Fortunately, 99% of the time there's nothing wrong with the tendon itself--it's simply being abused by a tight muscle. Racewalking, like running, does nothing to enhance flexibility. The racewalker is propelled forward by contracting muscles. Over time, the muscles incrementally lose flexibility if they are not stretched gently after exercise. As the tight muscle shortens, it pulls at its origin and insertion points (at the tendons, and fascial sheaths). The only way to release the strain on the tendon is to stretch the muscle. Similarly, bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa (a fluid-filled sac) found or formed in areas of friction. As the muscles tighten, friction around the joints increases and bursae are irritated. Releasing tight muscles will reduce friction and allow the bursa to return to normal.We are often ingrained with a quick-fix, bandaid approach to sports medicine: Rest, ice and aspirin will make the pain go away. All true, but these approaches attack the symptom and not the cause. The pain is in tendon or bursa, but the root cause is the tight, neglected muscle. Treatment for these injuries must begin with isolation of the muscle or muscles involved. In most cases the athlete will notice discomfort and tightness in certain muscles that may lie far from the injured area. Don't ignore these sensations! My last serious bout with tendonitis involved the insertion of my iliotibial band into the outside of my right knee. I felt a little tight on the outside of my right hip as well, but thought nothing of it, since it was never very painful. Meanwhile two months of rest did nothing to cure the knee once I tried to return to training. I was in exactly the same stage of pain after two months of rest because I failed to attack the tight iliotibial band and hip muscles. The treatment that finally cured me involved digging at scar tissue in my hip and thigh with the back end of a screwdriver to release the muscle and tendon, and then learning how to ward off further flare-ups with a sensible stretching routine.

An ounce of prevention is worth two in the bush (or something like that...) If the weather is just too lousy to get out the door to train, stay inside and stretch! Attack those tight muscles before they turn into debilitating injuries. There are dozens of excellent books out there on stretching--perhaps Bob Anderson's Stretching is the best known--but each individual must find the particular stretches that work for him or her. Experiment to see which positions get it right where it hurts. Certainly stretching is an important first step in recovery, but gains in flexibility will be short-lived if the involved muscles are weak and atrophied. Strength training is equally critical in injury rehabilitation or preventative care. Whether using free weights, weight machines, elastic devices or isometric exercises, the involved muscles should be isolated in such a way as to ensure that they are being worked through a range of motion that mimics their racewalking action as closely as possible. This may involve a good deal of improvisation with weight machines, or experimentation with postural changes until the perfect position is found. During rehabilitation, resistance should be just enough to cause minor fatigue without hurting the injured area. As strength improves, work up to three sets of 10-12 RM. (RM = repetitions maximum. 1 RM is the amount of weight that you are able to lift one time, but not two. 10 RM is the amount of weight that you're able to lift ten times before failure.) Always allow 48 hours for recovery between sessions--three days of weight training per week is optimum.

A SCARIER Method of Injury Treatment

©1997 Dave McGovern--Dave's World Class

Everyone has heard of the RICE method of injury treatment: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. But RICE leaves out a few important elements: Stretching, Rehydration and Anti-inflamatories. Walkers with injuries shouldn't stop at RICE, but should try something SCARIER: Stretch, Compress, Anti-inflamatories, Rehydrate, Ice, Elevate, Rest.STRETCH the muscles. Most injuries are tendonitis or bursitis-type injuries. The root cause of these injuries is tight muscles that "pull" on tendon insertions.

STRETCHING the tight muscles will relieve the strain on the tendon insertions.

COMPRESS the sore spots to push out excess fluids. Also "compress"--by massaging--the tight muscles to work out any knots, and to break up scar tissue.

ANTI-INFLAMATORIES like Ibuprofin (Advil) to further reduce swelling.

REHYDRATE those dried out, beef-jerky muscles. Muscles are 90% water--a dry muscle is a tight muscle. DRINK!.

ICE 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off for 30 minutes, after training.

ELEVATE the feet whenever possible--try to keep them off the dinner table though. Elevation will allow fluid to drain out of the swollen spots.

REST as a last resort.

If at all possible, continue walking, but take it easy. Warming up the muscles will allow you to get a better stretch, and will circulate lots of healing blood to the area. I don't think of it as "training," but as "therapeutic walking."

Saturday, December 2, 2006

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

This morning Rosie and I went to Cal Tech to workout with the Southern Cal Walkers. We walked together doing 300 meter repeats. Here's how it went, remember I'm still recovering from a knee injury:
1st 300 Meters - 2:34  -  13:41 min/mi pace
2nd 300 Meters - 2:47 - 14:50 min/mi pace
3rd 300 Meters - 2:49 - 15:01 min/mi pace
4th 300 Meters - 2:52 - 15:17 min/mi pace
5th 300 Meters - 2:50 - 15:06 min/mi pace
6th 300 Meters - 2:55 - 15:33 min/mi pace
7th 300 Meters - 2:59 - 15:54 min/mi pace

At this point I went to see Elaine Ward to try and figure out why I keep injuring my knees. She spotted a problem right away--I over pronate*. That's not really news to me but she showed how to shift my weight to the outside of the foot and alleviate the pain. It takes some concentration, but I did a couple of laps at a moderate speed and it helped--at least it didn't make things any worse than before.

Afterwards I bought some Orange SUPERfeet insoles that should help with the over pronation issue. At least until I get my referral to see a podiatrist, maybe get a gait analysis, probably some custom orthoses and finally put this issue behind me.

I'm hurting just a little more than yesterday so maybe I did take a step backward today but hopefully the steps I have been taking lately will eventually move me in the right direction.

* pro·nate To turn or rotate the sole of the foot by abduction and eversion so that the inner edge of the sole bears the body's weight. -- American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary