Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Early 2019

Well, it has certainly been a while since I've posted anything.  I'm hoping to keep updates coming a little more regularly, but we'll see how that pans out.

Regardless, this year has been off to an interesting start.  Most of the fall I had some very minor pain in my left shin which would not go away.  As 2018 wrapped up, the pain in my shin got a bit worse so I backed off running a bit and started spending a bit more time on the mountain bike.  Early February rolled around and instead of running Orcas Island, I saw a physical therapist.  I must admit, I was somewhat reluctant to see yet another PT since I've gotten rather tired of going to PT over the last couple years.  However, my PT Nate Smith is a local runner and friend so I figured he'd understand where I'm at and where I'd like to be.

Here's what I was told.  The pain in my shin is coming from my back.  Not just this time, most likely all the times my shin has been bothering me.  My hip flexor issues?  That's the back too.  Most likely all the injuries I've had recently have started with my back.

That all sounded great, but I wanted an explanation why it was my back causing the problems and how I could make my shin better.

The explanation was simple.  Lots of sitting puts extra pressure on the lower back, especially if you sit with lousy posture.  The extra pressure on the lower back can affect the nerves.  While there might not be any lower back pain, the pain might just show up lower down on the body.  Additionally, the nerves might not send complete signals to the muscles so the muscles will working at less than full power.  That increases the likelihood of injuries.

The explanation made sense too.  I've been doing more school work the last couple years which means a lot more sitting.  Also, lousy posture?  Unfortunately, that's me.  So far everything was adding up.

The exercise to make my shin better was simple.  Do a pushup keeping your hips on the ground.  Repeat.  Repeat again.  Repeat many times throughout the day.

Essentially this motion would "undo" the sitting posture which I maintain for the vast majority of the day.  Sounds great.  Actually, everything sounds great before you try it.

So I diligently did my back extension exercises day after day.  And guess what?  It worked.  Really, it actually worked.  Instantly pain free?  No.  Noticeable improvement? Yes.

I kept at it and things kept improving.  I started running a little bit more and my shin kept feeling better.  If I slacked for a few days and didn't do many back exercises, my shin might get a little worse the next couple days.

In short, it seems like that was the solution.  I'll admit I'm not 100% pain free right now.  However, I don't think I would have done anything different, running or biking, over the last couple weeks if my shin had been 100% pain free.

So that's where I'm at from an injury standpoint.  Feeling good, but not quite 100% just yet.  However it's not just been injuries that have made the start of the year interesting.  Weather and finding a balance between running and mountain biking have made for a few interesting months.

January was like summer.  Okay, not quite, but not much rain and a lot of sunny days in the 50s.  Then come February.  It snowed.  Then it snowed again.  Then it snowed again.  Every day it rained in town, it snowed on McCulloch Peak.  So there was a solid foot up there for a least a few weeks.  The top was snowy for well over a month.  Initially it was pretty.  Then it was pretty annoying.  Then it was just a pain in the butt since I was ready to go to the top and not tromp through a foot of snow.  Biking up there was right out!

Typically, we only have snow on McCulloch for a few days each year.  A couple days here, a couple days there, and then it melts fast.  This year it did not melt fast.

Then came March and some nice weather.  In the middle of March we had a week of sunny days in the 60s.  We even set a record high, 76, one day.  And now, we're back to 50s and rain with a few days of sun and clouds mixed in.  Finally, it nice for the weather to be back to normal.  And as an added bonus, the flowers are starting to pop out too!

As for training, although I always hesitate to call it that, this year has been interesting.  I started mountain biking this summer and have been trying to balance it in my routine.  In the past I ran every day.  Simple.  Now I've been trying to work in biking too.  I'll be honest, I'm not sure how best to do it, but I certainly want to keep riding since its a boatload of fun.

Mostly, I've been alternating.  Run one day, ride the next.  Typically 3 rides, 4 runs per week.  This seems pretty good.  I've tried running every day and adding an afternoon ride in 2 or 3 days a week.  This just leads to a lot of short outings which I find less enjoyable.  Usually it takes a while for all my troubles to drift away.  I guess I just got to get too tired to care.  Plus, it's a huge time sink.  The reality is between changing clothes, driving, and showering it takes an hour on top of the time I want to run or ride.  If I go twice, I'll get the same total exercise for an hour more time spent.  No deal.

The only reason for me to try to run every day is from an injury standpoint.  I've heard that more consistent running may be better for injury prevention.  People say a lot of stuff and I've learned not to believe most of it, but I do realize that last fall my shin never felt quite 100% when I was alternating running and biking.  Last spring, my shin did feel 100%.  I ran every day.

Hmmm.  It's hard to decide what's best.  Obviously what's most fun is what's best.  However, feeling good is a lot more fun than being injured.  I will probably start to add in some very short runs just from the house on the days I ride.  Maybe 15-20 minutes.  Just a "recovery run" whatever that term is supposed to mean.  I figure give it a week or two and if there no significant difference, forget it.

In the meantime I'll be pumping out some back exercises.  I think my pecs and shoulders are getting stronger from all those press ups.  Hopefully I'll have some more flower picture for the next update.  The fairy slippers are just starting to pop up and I expect the glacier lilies and iris won't be too far behind.

I'm pretty bad about proofreading so hopefully I don't have more typos that the GT.  Haha.