Monday, February 5, 2007

A Week of Weights

Any other week I would be writing down my long workout results, but I've been limping around ever since my fast 6-miles last Tuesday. I managed to not make things worse, even with the speed work on Saturday, but my knees haven't recovered yet. I'd rather take a week off from racewalking and do strength training and stretching this week than have to take two weeks off to heal up closer to the marathon.

I'm starting to see a pattern to my knee problems. As long as I can complete all the workouts without blistering my heel or loosing a toenail, I continue doing fine. However, if I injure my foot and continue walking, my knees go out. So to protect my knees I'll need to take care of my feet.

I started racewalking after stressing out my knees running. At first I just used my running shoes for walking and I had no knee trouble--I wasn't moving very fast either. Then I started studying the art of racewalking and purchased a pair of real racewalking shoes, NB 111's. The first pair I got were the same size as my running shoes, 9.5, but they felt a little small so I loosened the laces to make them more comfortable. Big mistake--I blistered both heels the first time I worked out with them. I traded them for size 10's and they worked out quite well, though they still felt a little tight on the sides. I wanted to get a second pair in order to rotate shoes but when I found out that they were going to discontinue the 111's I got a pair of 550's, size 10 but in the 2E width to give me a little more room to spread out. Those shoes worked out fine until a long workout where I stopped in the middle of it to get something out of the car and changed to a sloppy, bent knee walk, slipping my feet in and out of the shoes--I blistered my heels again. My next pair of shoes were Loco Banditos, size 10, and they were a bit too tight, but I didn't blister in them. However, I did loose a toenail on a long workout. Guess my feet expanded and had nowhere to go. I ordered a half-size larger shoe, but they weren't in stock so the company "lent" me a pair of size 11's. Funny thing is that I never injured myself with these shoes. They were also the shoes that I got my orthotics fitted. I'm still waiting for the size 10.5's to arrive and I already wore out the size 11's. Several people told me that I should get shoes with more support so I bought a pair of Asics DS Trainers, size 10.5. These shoes worked out fair on my morning walks but for some reason I developed a pain on the top of my right foot. For the long workout I skipped some eyelets to relieve pressure on the sore spot but I made a mistake by not snugging up the laces. The right shoe was just loose enough to blister my heal. Once again some knee pain followed but after seeing some great walkers at the Chula Vista race, I wanted to go hard on my morning workout and again on the Saturday speed work. That brings things up to the present.

Every time I had a foot injury, my knees were next to go. I believe that it is because I unconsciously adjust my gait to compensate for the painful foot and that throws off my leg alignment. The blisters heal even if I continue working out, but a painful knee needs a rest. Strength training and stretching seem to help recovery as long as it doesn't stress the joint too much.

This time I'm going more aggressive on the recovery by massaging my legs with "The Stick" every morning, get a deeper stretch with a Stretchrite strap, use a heating/vibrating pad every evening and take some supplements--Papain (Papaya Extract) and a concotion of Glucosamine Hydrocloride, methylsulfonymethane, Chondrotin Sulfate and Hyaluronic Acid. The Papain is a Natural analgesics recommended in the MEAT vs. RICE article. The Glucosamine formula is designed to help with joint problems. I don't have all that much faith in these "magic pills" but then again they probably won't do any harm either so it is worth the try.

I'm not in terrible pain right now, in fact I feel pretty good--just not 100% especially after sitting for a prolonged period, like when I'm at my job. If I improve enough I'll do my 6-mile workout on Thursday, maybe slow, maybe not. In the meantime I'm hitting the weights and waiting.