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 eccentric heel drops on flat steps 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 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.

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