Monday, January 26, 2015

A new Merrell Trail Glove: Trail Glove 3....Yay!!

Wow, just yesterday I was moping about the apparent demise of Merrell's Trail Glove/ barefoot line...

This morning Merrell announced the Trail Glove 3:  It looks great, with a rock plate and burlier lugs.  I can't wait to try a pair.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mt Lowe, 16 miles; Final verdict on my Solomon Sense Ultra SGs

I got up and power walked the Sam Merrill trail again today, this time taking the traverse from Echo Mountain over to the Mt Lowe railway and power walking up to the 8 mile point, about halfway around the north side of Mt Lowe.  It was a spectacular morning with Santa Ana conditions-  the visibility extended out to Catalina Island
The photo above doesn't do the view justice.  It was just spectacular and great to be out.

As I was changing bottles at my turn around point a group of runners led by Ruperto Romero came running past on the Lowe railway.  I quickly got myself put back together and gave chase.  Catching up with Ruperto we shared a couple of miles running down to the Idlehour trail junction, where he and his compadres split off down the Idlehour trail.  It was great to talk with him;  I hadn't seen him since he came charging through in the lead at the Idlehour aid station at the  2014 AC100 which he won at age 50. In a bit of karmic artistry, he ran a perfect strategic race defeating a deep bench of  pre-race "favorites" several of whose  race projections and comments on blog sites and social media were rather hubristic...

I started the run today in my pair of (clearance) Solomon Sense Ultra SG's.  These shoes, which list at $160, had come available at $96 in an online clearance sale and I couldn't resist trying them out.  After my first run in them a couple weeks ago I had an acute bout of plantar pain that took 3 days to resolve;  today's run was a test to see if that experience was a fluke or somehow related to the Solomons, which are otherwise great shoes.  I did stuff a pair of my old Merrell Ascend Gloves into my running pack as a back up.

It was no fluke:  By the time I reached Echo Mountain about 3 miles in, the arches on both feet were just aching.  I stopped and swapped out the Solomons, donning my Merrell Ascend Gloves....ah, relief!!

Something about the Solomons just does not agree with my feet:  I suspect its the stiffness of the soles with their integrated rock plate, forcing my feet to bend/flex in ways that they are not designed for and that they don't like.  I have strong arches:  Barefoot running, or running in completely unsupported shoes like the Merrell Trail Glove gives me no problems;  its seems its the Solomons.  Pity that this lesson cost me nearly a hundred bucks.  I'll see if I can find a pal who likes Solomons and give them away;  failing that I'll put them up on eBay to try to recoup some of my money.

When I got home I went on line and bought a couple pairs of Merrell Ascend Gloves from various sites listing them for less than $70.  I just love these shoes and decided I would lay in a stash while they can still be found, having regrettably been discontinued by Merrell in favor of more conventional  shoe designs.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Run to Inspriration pont

This morning I covered 11 miles, power walking up to Inspiration Point via the Sam Merrill trail out of Altadena and then running back down via the Mt Lowe railway fire road, transiting back to the lower Sam Merrill Trail to Altadena.  I did the run in my Merrell Ascend Gloves, and it felt great.  I was a bit cautious running down the Sam Merrill as I haven't run steep technical single track since my accident, and my legs haven't recovered full strength;  plus I am a bit leary of slipping due to the lack of lugs at the rear of the Ascend Gloves (which I was wearing when I had my accident last May).

I've been experimenting with various models of trail running shoes lately trying to find something like the Ascend Glove but with more aggressive lugs.  It seems that in the last year, the offerings of low profile, minimalist running shoes has really dried up, evidently the minimalist trend on running shoes has crested.   Inov-8's Trailroc 255 shoes are decent but I find them a bit tall, with a much thicker sole than what I am used to -  and somewhat unstable as a result.  They are also a bit narrow for my feet, they work but need to be broken in, unlike the Merrell's that I've been spoiled to wear the last two years.    Skechers' Gobionic Trail which I've had good luck with seems to have been discontinued (as has the Merrell Ascend Glove).  I bought a discounted clearance pair of Solomon Sense Ultras on line.  What shipped though was Solomon Sense Ultra SG, which has super aggressive lugs.   I decided to try them:  I wore them last Sunday for an 8 miler and a couple days later I woke with really severe pain in my left foot, feeling like planar fascitis, which I haven't had in 24 years.  I took three days off and treated my feet morning and evening with an ice pack followed by a hot water soak.  They felt OK by Friday so I resumed my walks and runs, and the feet felt fine today.   This may not have been due to the Solomons but a few more trial runs will sort this out.

I've bought a pair of Merrell's Bare Access Trail today, which look like Ascend Gloves but with more aggressive lugs;   maybe these will be my go-to shoes this season.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Starting training again for the 2015 ultra season

Its now 2015, and after a low level of training and ongoing fracture rehabilitation through the fall of 2014, I am beginning to train again for the 2015 ultra season.

I managed between 15 to 25 miles per week through the fall,  split about 2/3 running, 1/3 walking;  and I continued regular stretching to limber up the injured right hip, and rehab/strengthening exercises for my achilles, particularly the right, which has been tweaked ever since I resumed weight bearing on the injured right side.

My  orthopedist believes the right achilles was painful due to atrophy of the right leg muscles, particularly the calf muscles, during the June-July non weight-bearing phase of my fracture recovery.

I did see a physical therapist specifically about the achilles in mid-November.  He directed me to change the manner in which I do eccentric heel drop exercises-  which I had been doing regularly according to method described here:  heel drop exercises on stairs.   Rather than using stair steps, with the weight-bearing foot placed on the flat of a step, he suggested that I use a slant board.  The basic idea is the same,  however, with the weight-bearing foot on a slant board, the exercise is rather different:  With the straight leg exercise the posterior tibialis muscle, which wraps under the medial side of the ankle, is more effectively isolated.  Interestingly, even after having built up to sets of 3 x 30 reps with 57 pounds on my back, 30 reps on a slant board without added weight was initially difficult for me to complete and left me quite sore.  Also significant was that using the slant board I could feel my big toe much more engaged in the exercise, preventing an inward rolling motion.  I suspect that this whole muscle system had atrophied;  it may have also something to do with sciatic nerve irritation due to my fracture and the surgical wound to repair it:    I have found that if I do not religiously stretch my hamstrings and "roll" my gluts/piriformis/hamstring attachments on the injured right side, I experience tingling on the right big toe, particularly after sitting for a long time.  This seems consistent with poor "firing" of the big toe/posterior tibialis and excessive resulting pronation, that could cause the achilles irritation.   So my focus has been:  at least twice a day hamstring stretches using a loop of webbing, lying supine and pulling my straight leg up with the webbing;  rolling the glutes/piriformis/hamstrings daily, and 4 sets of 30 reps of eccentric heel drop exercises on the slant board (2 sets with straight leg, 2 sets with bent knee).  For a slant board I use a 2 foot long 1"x6" board set on the bottom step of the stairs I normally use for my heel drop exercises. (The step rise is 7 inches per step).

In any event these exercises seem to have helped and lately (the last 2 weeks),  I have been running pain free with both achilles pretty much nominal.

Walking is another matter:  Lately I have started long uphill walks and these leave my right hamstrings/glutes stiff and sore.  I have a much longer stride while power-walking than running and so it hurts more to power-walk than to run....more extension.. Go figure!  Nevertheless I have been lately doing more than half of my mileage as fast walking to firm up my base musculature before starting serious running.

I've signed up for the Leona Divide 50 in mid April as a qualifier for the 2015 AC100 on Aug. 1.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Time Trial

I couldn't resist a time trial at lunchtime today at the Sawcut wash in Monrovia:

4.22 miles, 35 minutes;  8:20 average pace

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Starting to run....and fun with UMT at Kodiak

I just got home from a 5 mile jaunt around the neighborhood, alternating walking and running, completing the loop in 57 minutes.  I am feeling very grateful.  That's AC100 race pace!

I did a similar workout on the Sawcut Wash in Monrovia two days ago at the same pace (58 minutes).  It was fabulously hot and felt indescribable to be out and moving on trail in the sun with a blue sky above....

The limiting element to my running at present is actually my calves rather than the area around my fractured hip socket.  The calves --and the achilles on my injured side-- are weak from lack of use.  The right hamstring & glute attachments on the right are tender at the junction of the upper leg with my butt.  This is distal to the fracture site/stainless steel hardware, I think its soft tissue injury either incurred in the accident or the surgery.  It hurts less to run than it does to walk oddly enough-  I attribute this to a shorter angular extension while running (faster turnover, small steps) than while walking.

I've been progressing the heel drop exercises to strengthen my achilles/calves-  which I started in late July when I got clearance  for weight bearing.  I am now at 3x30 reps, straight leg, bent leg, with 57 pounds on my back.  The right calf has strengthened considerably, just need to work on endurance now.  The hip rehab is focussed now on flexibility, and strength training for he hamstrings and flutes particularly.  PT sessions last about 2 hours, preceded by an hour of warm up and stretching.

Meantime I've had some fun with the Ultra Medical Team.  I had the chance to work with these amazing people at 72mile checkpoint (Nordic Rim) of the Kodiak 100 last weekend up in Big Bear.  We were a small crew, led by Marco Apostal, an amazing guy who worked 36 hours straight from the start through the finish, with only an hour sleep.  I'd driven up Friday night arriving at Nordic Rim around 1am, and worked with the race folk there to set up the aid station and helped there until we shut it down around 2pm Saturday.  Marco came in around 3am after closing down an earlier medical checkpoint; later that morning he showed me how to treat some rather horrid blisters.  He had given me a walk through on how to do it and I had made sketches based on his lesson;  shortly afterwords  a runner came through, kindly  obliging my interest by presenting with layered  heel blisters the size of  silver dollars.    Marco had him up and running and reportedly his feet lasted him through to the finish.  An amazing fun time with a remarkable, committed group of ultra runners.
UMT crew at Nordic Rim, Mile 72 of the Kodiak 100.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fracture rehab, Sept 13

My  physical therapy is progressing. Around a month ago some muscles that I'd had trouble getting to fire -- notably the right glute-- "woke up" and I fairly suddenly became able to do 1-leg glute bridges.  The PT started me on hamstring curls, dynamic lunges, and some other exercises designed to more aggressively work the hip abductors, hamstrings, and glutes-  including "monster walks"-- walking  with a tight rubber strap wrapped around my legs stepping 45 degrees out and forward to the right, then to the left, etc;  and side steps wrapped the same way.  The most effective of the exercises seems to be the dynamic lunges, which leave me sore the next day.

Two weeks ago I had another set of X-rays and the orthopedic surgeon told me he can no longer see the acetabular fracture in the X-rays.  The PT started me on the treadmill with a  0.5 mile slow run;  yesterday I did a 1 mile slow run.  It felt OK.  The injured right side has soreness in the glute primarily.  I remain focussed on improving flexibility with hamstring and quadriceps stretches 2 or 3 times daily, as well as TFL "stretches" using a tennis ball to roll tender spots.  The latter has helped to reduce pain and tightness on the anterior of the hip joint.

Ive been getting out and walking 2 miles per day most days.

I've also been continuing my eccentric heel drop exercises to restore calf strength and deal with soreness in the achilles-  the good leg got beat up from doing all the work while I was on crutches and the bad leg was just weak from lack of use.  These exercises are done typically with 3 sets of 15 on each leg, with both straight leg and bent leg.  The  progression thus far has been:

Week ending July 28:   heel drops, no weight, 1x daily
July 31-> 2x daily
Aug. 9->  2x daily with 25 lbs
Aug. 21-> 2x daily with 33 lbs
Aug. 30, 2x daily with 41 lbs
Sept 11, 2 x daily with 58 lbs
Sept 13, increased reps from 15 to 25

I started working at the office last week.  The folks at my workplace had a little "welcome home" party for me and being there with these people, some of whom have been friends for 25 years, really lifted my spirits.  The only issue I've had working in the office is that sitting is uncomfortable -- meetings are a bit painful unless I stand.  Its good to be recovering a bit of normalcy in my routine.