Explanation for the Lull

I haven’t posted much lately, reasons include:

  • Busy with new job
  • Haven’t been making much stuff (I *do* have a cake to post, though) or going places since I started the job
  • Did I mention busy with new job?
  • Maffetone Training
The latter deserves a bit of explanation -“Maffetone Training” is a style of endurance training championed by a guy named Phil Maffetone (shocking, right?). Anyway, it’s all about working at your maximum aerobic threshold and no greater, so this equates to a lot of very slow jogging for me right now.
When I decided to try this training method out, I searched around the internet, and I couldn’t find a normal person’s day to day account of doing this, so I started my own.
If you want to read about my glacial workouts and a dietary test involving a lack of carbohydrates, mail me and ask for a link. I don’t blame you if you decide not to, though!

Franc v Tube: Détente

10 months since the start of Franc v Tube, I’m officially admitting détente.

Given my stubborn nature, I recognize that this decision may come as a surprise. It’s not that I can’t complete this, but when I consider that:

  • I am not allowed to run until 12 July 2010 (4 months from the date of my second nerve block)
  • I no longer live in Putney, which makes running there seem a bit pointless.

…it seems like it is time to pick a new goal.

So my current goal is not to need another epidural in July, as surely I can have croissants outside of the day surgery ward.

I’ll pick something more athletic, maybe in August.

Training Update: 28 December 2009

So, as expected, I’ve been hard at work eating. It is the holidays, after all, so I’m just going to be thankful that my gym clothes are stretchy.

I had my appointment for my second opinion with my new extra super sports medicine doctor (ESSMD) earlier this week. I describe him as, “extra super” because not only did my physio recommend him, but after receiving a fax about my intentions to seek a second opinion from ESSMD, my GP actually called up, raved about him, and mentioned that he is the consultant physician to the England rugby union.

Anyway, the ESSMD checked out my scans and agreed that I don’t have a normal MRI. Looking at the cross section scans, the nerve is definitely a bit compromised.

Given that, I have two options:
A. Have an epidural, performed by a doctor referred by the ESSMD
B. Resume all my old exercise slowly, and see if the situation worsens. Supposedly, I can’t really do further permanent damage to myself, and my worst case is that the nerve flares up badly again.

I’ve opted for plan B. From what I gather, the epidural is likely an inevitability, but I would prefer to put it off a bit, if possible. Besides, I have a new gym membership that is very convenient for my new digs that I’m so looking forward to.

So, I went for my first bit of running in over two months last Tuesday. On the treadmill, two minutes jog, one minute walk for the most part. It’s not particularly exciting, but it’s a start. The nerve hurts a bit, so we’ll see how this goes. My physiotherapist is away for the next few weeks, so this is a good bit of test time.

With any luck, it will all go well, and these posts can start getting interesting.

A number of people have asked me how my upcoming move will affect my plans for Franc v. Tube, as following a move to a new flat in January, my despised commute will be a thing of the past.

I do plan to do my little train race, even with a new home location. I’ll just have to pick up a beer along the way to drink on the finish line of my old front step, rather than collecting one from my old flat.

Training Update: 20 November – TMI?

So, about that little break I’ve been taking…

I’ve had a sciatic nerve inflammation wreaking havoc with me for a long time. Since oct 2005, in fact.

I’ve mostly just coped with it. I take conference calls standing up, I avoid chairs where my knees are higher than my hips, I gave up big heels, and I sleep with my leg turned a certain way.

Two orthopedic surgeons, two physiotherapists, and a massqage therapist in the States were convinced it was a hamstring problem and best they did for me was a lot of flexeril. I really thought this was just going to be permanent.

I got to the UK, and was advised that the culprit was likely the nerve, and the assigned tracking exercises made an incredible difference. I was amazed how something so basic radically improved the situation. I still was in agony when required to sit for long durations, but I could manage long haul flights with anti- inflammatory meds. Even better, the stability work I’ve been doing all year was expected to help set me straight long term.

Then, it seemingly flared up out of nowhere. Seemingly because the pain didn’t specifically correlate with anything I did or didn’t do. Such was true until I woke up very sore along the nerve in my back after a more challenging run at the end of October.

An MRI was suggested, so I once again benched myself, and I waited.

The radiologist’s report claimed a normal result, which my sports med doc agreed with and suggested a few weeks of accupuncture. More than half of MRIs administered to people my age show disc issues that have no injury symptoms according to the doc, so it seems that a normal scan may just mean nothing extreme.

A few weeks in, I’m no better, and my physio, who is a spine specialist, is encouraging a second opinion because he and several of his colleagues think that the bump highlighted in the picture is the cause of my woes. That’s where a disc appears to be pressing on my nerve.

So, my goals of racing the train will not be met this year, but I’m still not giving up.

Training Update: 21 October 2009

I’ve been steadily trekking towards the showdown, but I’ve had a bit of a setback.

My last running evaluation showed that I’m still doing the hip rotation thingy that I’m not supposed to do, although it’s significantly better than it was when I first began this process of learning how to run again.

What this has meant for me is reducing the rate with which I increase my run. I took a week off from the treadmill, and I’ve been stuck in week five of Couch to 5k now for an extra two weeks. The 8 minute run/ 5 minute walk is fine, but the 20 minute run is where I lose endurance and my hip starts to go. I expect I’ll have another week or two doing intervals with an eight minute run before I can increase it.

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying these Annie Barribal works in the Tube stations. The one pictured to the right seems creepily appropriate in a city under constant camera surveillance.

Training Update: 22 September

I was doing well for a bit there, running slow intervals, exactly as I had been told.

Then, I went for a run right before we left for Taiwan. It was excellent. I started running and I didn’t stop. 5k later, I hopped off the treadmill, glowing red and feeling completely pleased with myself.

That satisfaction remained until the next morning, when I woke up with miserable hip pain. I was told to train gradually because when I get tired, I use the wrong muscles to balance, and my decision to enjoy my run meant I did all the things I wasn’t supposed to. My hip hurt for five days, well into the Taiwan trip.

Lesson learned? Quite possibly.

I took a break until we returned, and soon thereafter, I stumbled across a writeup about Couch to 5k. I liked the idea of a structured training plan that my adherence to wouldn’t make my physiotherapist cringe, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit disgusted by the notion that running a 5k would require nine weeks of training. The longest I had ever trained for said distance was three weeks at most. Then again, I also have had a lion’s share of running injuries, and the only reason I finished the 5k I ran earlier in the month was raw stubborness, not fitness. I printed out the plan.

Today marks the first session of week four, so I have six more weeks to go until I can officially run halfway home from my office. Week four is the point at which you actually have to jog more than walk. My tortoise-worthy achievement is above.

I think I am more couch than 5k. We’ll see in another week or two.

Training Update: 5 August

In the mighty battle that will be Franc v Tube, there has been a little progress since the last update, namely that I’ve actually run a some!

In this case, “some”, is a mediocre sounding 15 miles in since 15 July.

Getting back into it is something I’m really struggling with. I’m supposed to gradually ease back in, which isn’t really indulging my stubborn nature after 8 months of sitting on my couch eating. (Yes, it was fun.)

So, I’m trying to be good, sticking to slow intervals twice a week. I’ve already cheated a bit and overtrained, but I’m mostly behaving myself and trying to make the best of the bit I’m allowed to do. This can’t last forever, right?

I’ll definitely be running in Kenting and in the meantime, I’ll just keep telling myself that Franc v Tube will be even better in the autumn.

On that note, I leave you with the 70’s-astic picture above of yours truly, doing something I do even better than running: touching cheese.

**PS: I didn’t get a spot in the New York Marathon. I’ll hear about my lottery for a spot in the April 2010 London Marathon in October, and I’ll probably sign up for the the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town and the Chicago Marathon (just so I can see Victoria!) as a backup plan.
Perhaps I should start a Franc v Midlife Crisis thread for all that, eh?