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Posted: May 11, 2006

Athletics: Time for a Break

By: Dave Holt

Baseball fans know more than most people that life often throws us a curveball. Sometimes we have to adapt our goals for the year. 2,006 was a planned easy year for me, as I wanted to rest the body in readiness for racing 50 year olds next year, I just hadnít envisioned such a long rest phase.

Noticing a groin pain 16 weeks ago, which became worse when attempting tempo pace speed running, I took myself to an MD type to be assessed for a groin strain verses hernia. The talented fellow said I had both, and then the surgeon said that the Inguinal area was so weak on the other side that I may as well get both sides done in one go to avoid surgery in the relatively near future. Thinking about the possibility of missing my 51 or 52 year old season, getting both hernias done seemed like a good deal. One down time, one sick leave, one recovery period.

To rest the adductor strain, I went immediately to gentle cross training on the elliptical machine for 20 minutes most days and weights twice a week while waiting 5 weeks for my other interests to allow me to have the out-patient surgery. Thus I kept leg strength, aerobic fitness and sanity pre-op.

Furthermore, though primarily for the adductor, I promised myself not to run for an additional 4 weeks after the surgery. Hmm.

One week post-op, with the mesh in place, my surgeon showed his sense of humor by giving me the all clear to run and do anything else that I wanted. At that point, it still hurt my groins to put my foot down when walking, so my 4-week ban on running was looking optimistic. However, with post-op swelling / bruising still in place, I did 10 minutes pain free elliptical exercise (calling it training would over state the intensity). Over the next week I supplemented my twice a day mile walks with increasing amounts of elliptical exercise, reaching 20 minutes at a heartrate of 120 by this point.

The swelling was now down enough to do 15 minutes of gentle weights and 5 minutes of rowing, or to run in the pool, and also to go back to work as a Registered Nurse. A few days later I was the recipient of my curveball.

A gentle year for exercise should have kept my stress level low, but one of those indicators of a lowered immune system showed itself in the form of shingles Ė an itchy rash on my back and excruciating pain and spasms from the affected nerves. High dose systemic painkillers did not give pain relief, and after many sleepless nights I got into Lidocaine patches in a big way.

My gentle exercise routine was not sufficient to aid in pain relief courtesy of an exercise high, but as it didnít hurt the shingles area, I was able to maintain my 30 minutes of cross training, though I felt it appropriate to stay out of the pool until the sores were fully healed.

Four weeks post-op I did a pleasant 2 miles of gentle plodding, which after a week was up to 3 miles of jogging and another week later I was on every other day 4 mile runs at one minute per mile slower than pre-op pace. This modest pace gives me a heartrate of 150, indicating a degree of intensity or training, so it will be the fastest that I run until my form and fitness allow the heartrate to get down to 140.

I donít think that Iím a Type A person, so was a bit surprised to get shingles. While I have written 8 books in the last 10 years when also working, Iíve done so because I rarely watch TV or do other passive, time-consuming activities. An hour or two nearly every day gives a book a year when you know what youíre doing.

Itís the same with an exercise program. Able to run 12 miles on Sunday? The 8 miles on Monday and Tuesday and the 4 times one mile on Wednesday are not strenuous, provided they are at the right pace. Fitting in 4 bike rides and 3 swims becomes easy when it is a habit and they fit your schedule such as:

* The pool for an hour en-route to work three days a week.

* Half of your biking mileage done as commuting to work and back on the other two days.

* Two runs a week with friends Ė you have an appointment to run, and they turn up timely

* The long weekend bike rides and runs are with amusing friends and your significant other has other interests for that 4 hour and 2 hour respectively chunks of time.

We do get setbacks from time to time, so try to go with the flow. Most of us are not likely to reach an Olympic trials, let alone the Olympics or National Championships. A few months restive exercise will keep you fitter than 85 percent of this recumbent nation. Take in a movie, read an additional book and spend more time with sweet person that you adore. Volunteer at a sporting event and let your body decide when it is time to move beyond 40 minutes of exercise a day. Most of us know when it is time because the running feels effortless, our swimming stroke returns, and that steep hill is a breeze in 4th instead a struggle in 3rd gear.

Copyright David Holt 2006 - Posted with permission

Adapted from 5K Fitness Run, ISBN 0965889750 by its author David Holt, Get 230 pages for $14.95, from Amazon.com
David Holt is the author of 5 running books which all include guides and techniques to access for over training. See his material at RunningBook.com.


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