Lessons learned from a habitual outdoor runner

Tag: recovery Page 1 of 2

March 2020, COVID-19, Stayin’ healthy

If you’re on planet earth you already know what’s happening in the world, so I’ll only share my March updates.

As I mentioned in an earlier post I was able to run a little again and how wonderful that is. I’m still taking it easy and trying different routine alterations to see how my knees react. I found three contiguous days of running about 5 miles, even at a slow pace, was a bit much for the knees, so whenever possible, I’m alternating running and cycling.

Yes, I am calling what I do as running, even though it’s slow and likely looks like a character Tim Conway used to play on the Carol Burnett show. It’s still dark in the morning when I run so at least I’ve got that going for me. Not that there are many people out in the fields where I’m running, or even in the town segments.

The March activity report shows that I’m still moving! I’ve learned a lot about recovery the last 6 months and continue to learn what works and what was a bad idea. If I can look for benefits from this period, it would include additional stretching (Yoga/Pilates) and strength exercises that I’ve incorporated. Also, just how amazing our bodies are at healing if we give them the proper help along the way.

It was a great thing this morning…

… I ran. Like most of the 5 mile route.

My Quads ache. This is great! This means my knees can actually support a multi-mile run again. The average was a 10.21 min/mi which would have been sad to report previously, yet now, it’s exciting! A few of the miles were under 10 minutes, woo-hoo!

In case you’re wondering, I’ve been nursing knee issues for six-months now. Doing all the rehab I could and trying my patience more than it probably should. Yes, I’ve made some over zealous mistakes along the way, but things have been improving during the short and slow runs, so today I just kept going.

I did stop frequently to examine the knee and leg situation, just to be cautious.

I must say that it was so freeing to complete an actual run!

With our current social restrictions it’s great to have my country run time back. And yes, I’ll take it one day at a time plus I’ve gotten used to the bicycle now, so that will remain in the mix.

January/February 2020

Here are the January and February 2020 stats. I will qualify these months as continual improvement yet rather plain. It’s still winter here and that changes the outdoor activities. I don’t even attempt to ride the bike when there is the high probability of ice, especially in the dark. Call me wimpy or overly cautious, I just don’t like the idea of crashing the bike in freezing temperatures a few miles from home.

This means there has been a lot of foot-on-the-ground time, which is alright as I’ve been slowly getting a little jogging blended into my walks. My knee recovery continues and I’m very cautious on that as well. After the “blow-out” in 2019, I really don’t want to risk that again. So when I “run”, I probably look like a duck or a hundred year old and I sort of envision those old Tim Conway skits playing the old-timer, but I press forward with the desire to run again. Like most things, you don’t appreciate them as much until you lose them and I miss the freedom of being on a long run in the country.

Here are the numbers for January and February, I am so grateful for the mobility to exercise!

Knee status – 12/1/19

I keep saying… it’s getting better and it is. Normal movement pain is down to 1-2% range, flexibility is +90%, strength is over 90% as well. Yet, I cannot run without significant discomfort and fear of re-injury.

The picture above helps with my explanation of this injury. All of the soft tissue items were impacted by this injury event.

The meniscus was the original damage back in July, then when I overdid it by running 6 miles in September everything else was damaged.

The ligaments on both sides and the patella have caused the most pain throughout this recovery. We take our working knees for granted way too much, well, at least I have not been as grateful as I should have been for working joints.

After the 6 mile mistake, kneeling and bending that knee included extreme pain. Mobility, range, and pressure were very limited. There were even periods where pain would shoot through the knee just sitting still.

The weeks following have been a series of mat exercises, yoga, Pilates, and any other gradual stretching it allowed me. Daily bike rides and walks have been instrumental in the healing process.

I’m not going to press it. Now that we’re into December we’ll continue to adjust to whatever winter brings and I’m hopeful this may be the month I can attempt to run again.

A few weeks on the bike

I am grateful to have a bicycle! I’ve had to convert to a cyclist while this knee injury recovers. I am using the bike as part of my physical therapy. My Sports-Ortho was cool about me doing my own therapy once I explained what I was doing and my recovery plan. Of course, he offered to be of further assistance if I needed it, we’ll see.

Picture of the Mongoose Bedlam bicycle
The Mongoose Bedlam

The knee is getting better day-by-day, I can do my regular stretching/yoga/pilates again and have been able to walk a few miles at a time without issue. I’m not ready to give it a run though as the memory of that pain is keeping me cautious. My plan is to attempt a slow run, two weeks after it doesn’t bother me doing these other low-impact activities.

I have over 375 miles on the bike since August 4th (3 weeks). I’ve been averaging 19 miles each morning at an average pace of 14.5 MPH. Maintaining this pace keeps me exuding an effort almost the entire ride, with very little coasting (not that we have much for hills around here). The rear tire is showing a little wear but overall the bike is holding up well, even today while the entire ride was in the rain.

This bike has the shock-absorption front forks and the rear independent suspension. Most bike have similar front forks nowadays, but the rear is not as common. Personally, I like the extra impact reduction of the rear suspension.

You may wonder why I use a mountain-style bike as basically a road bike. The answer is that the roads I ride are not city streets, they are country roads, sometimes dirt and often rough. These are (to use the common term) tar-and-chip roads which are maintained by adding oil and loose rock during the summer months. This loose rock adds a certain element of “surprise” to a road-ride in which those narrow road-cycle tires don’t perform well at keeping you upright. Plus the rock accumulates at intersections and roadsides for additional excitement.

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