Larry's Blog Pages

September 24, 2012

All dressed up and nowhere to go...

The last few weeks have been actually pretty productive for my run training. The neck and back issues have not left me 100% but I feel good enough to train my legs so that keeps me happy for now.

I still have limited range in my neck so riding a bike is not very safe out side of my short commute to work. I would really love to get out there on the open roads again but do not want to risk another accident to set me back as therapy is really not fun (or cheap).

Over the past two weeks I have put in close to 200km on foot and feel that my endurance is back and my speed is getting close to where we left off a few months ago. Also, with the extra running my weight has been come back down to a level that I enjoyed right before the crash. Some of this I imagine is from lost muscle in my upper body and the rest is actual fat reduction from a month of pure pigging out while sitting around doing nothing at all.

With this total layoff right after the accident, and the recent fear of re-injury in my upper back area, I had not worked many muscles above the belt for quite some time. Last week, I decided it was time to get back to the gym and strengthen some of these zones, specifically the core, as we all know how important this is for running. It took a few days to get back into the routine but I am already feeling much better about this region going into a possible race week (more on this below).

The other muscle regions of the upper body may require a lot more time and patience to get back to previous levels, it seems. Although, I was never a very buff person by any stretch of the imagination, I personally still see a reduction in mass in my chest, arms and shoulders. I think this has accounted for a little of the lost weight and may be a welcome new look as the two sports I focus on (cycling and running) do not require super strength from these areas. I am sure if I was swimming, it would be much more important but I think I may just try to keep the smaller me and see how it translates in my results down the road.

Back to my potential race schedule...

When I got back to running, I was using the Chase the Coyote trail race (this Saturday) as my first test event. With some new family commitments, this may be tough to work into the mix as the kids both have skating lessons and my wife and I have been invited to help out on the ice. Given my back ground and training in teaching this sport, it is a very cool opportunity to have ice time with the kids as they get their skates up to speed before their future days of hockey or ringette (if they decide to continue in those paths?).

On Sundays, my daughter has a lengthy, morning tumbling class so I usually choose to keep our son busy around the house as hanging out at the gym for three hours is far too much for his attention span. With these two activities, weekend mornings are crazy busy so I must be very considerate when trying to plan a race to attend. It would be awesome if some events were in the afternoon so I can keep the routine at home but I am not seeing many of those. If I am going to add some extra work to my better half, it is most likely going to be a Sunday morning which is exactly the opposite of my original plan so I need to plan my fall again.

As I am very interested in testing my current race fitness (was preparing to race this Saturday as a lead up to a bigger event in late October or early November), I am looking for something this Sunday? There are several options out there but I am trying to pick one that is close to home, is the least disruptive to family and is not just a flat hammerfest.

I have been scouting all the races on and but if anyone knows of a run that is posted somewhere else, please send the info my way!

Talk soon,

September 11, 2012

Time to get back to business...

It's been a while since I was able to spend some time on the blog. Firstly, a crash in a local cycling race just after the Cobourg Duathlon made things very tough to sit around at a computer due to the pinching sensation in my neck and shoulder area. All I wanted to do was lie down and keep as much pressure off the area for as long as possible. I started with all sorts of physical therapy as soon as the accident happened so, thankfully, things are now starting to get back to a more tolerable state.

In the first couple of weeks, I did absolutely nothing athletically and just tried to catch up on other aspects of my life, as long as it did not require any lifting. In the third week, I was on work assignment in California so I had some extra time to attempt to get back into the swing of things. I tried to run early in the week but the pounding of the activity was forcing the nerve to pinch again so I just stuck to the recumbent bike in the gym for the first few days.

At the end of the week, our group had the opportunity to travel to South Lake Tahoe. Being surrounded by such amazing landscapes, I could not help but force myself to get in at least one awesome run at 7,500 feet. I warmed up on the bike in the hotel gym and then coated my neck and shoulder with deep heat before heading up to some serious trails that snaked through the mountain side at the Heavenly Ski Resort.

It was quite an incredible experience to run at this altitude on these extreme trails. By the time I returned to the hotel, I was ready to cancel my flight home to relocate to the mountains, immediately. Although, I am sure my family would not be too understanding of this decision...

The next day, my body was asking for a break so I just went for a long walk along the scenic lake before the town woke up. This was the perfect break I needed to get my focus back before allowing the bad habits to take over.

The week of August 27th, I was back in Mississauga but on vacation to look after my son as our daycare provider enjoyed some much deserved time off. Getting back on the scale, I started the week off much heavier than before the crash. My new goal was to get back to race weight as soon as possible so I would be ready to run when things allowed for that movement.

Seeing a few emails flying around regarding the weekly track workout, I decided being around a group setting would be a nice, motivating boost. On the Tuesday, I did a solid brick session with the FMCT Falcons at the track where  we set up our trainers on the side of the track and then did laps around the circuit in various intervals. From this effort I could tell cycling was still out of the picture for me (I could not look up while seated on the bike) but at least the running was coming along.

When running, my neck and spine are straight so the pressure is released from the joint, therefore, I am not in as much discomfort. During the brick, I watched the others around me and fed off their efforts, driving my intervals beyond expectations. It was a key moment in my desire to push myself to get better, faster.

Since then, I have been working a lot harder to shed the pounds, get back the mileage in my legs and now to start ramping up the speed. Last week, I got up to 80km of running in 6 days and started to feel a bit more like my old self so I am currently planning my fall running schedule.

As my kids are getting a little older, and becoming more involved in their own pursuits, I have to get creative in putting things together to avoid timing conflicts. As I look at the available runs coming up, I am not feeling ready for a fall marathon or even a half marathon, at this point in time.

One thing I did promise myself earlier this year was to start taking more risks on the races I pick to run. I always get so wrapped up in trying to better a previous PB that I end up settling for easy and fast courses. As I looked over the list of things to come, I think I will tackle some trail runs and cross country events to push myself a little more. I need to get comfortable with the feeling of exhaustion again as I seem to be taking things too easy in recent duathlons, which will not cut it at Worlds in 2013.

A few years ago, when I was really testing my limits in weekly club Time Trails, I knew how to deal with the hurt. In races, the pain did not scare me and I pushed my limits through the entire race. I know easing through duathlons has been an issue to me and know for a fact that my running and cycling are much stronger individually compared to a few years ago. Problem is, this is not translating in the duathlon and it shows in my result times in recent events.

So, if I want to hit my long term goals (which are almost upon me), it is time to toughen up!