Moving Forward and Pumpkins in the Park Race Report

As I mentioned in the comments of my last post, I'm seeing some progress in my Achilles injury.  I underwent my second session of prolotherapy at the end of September, and after about 10 days of cross training (either biking or uphill hiking on a treadmill), I started running.  I've been running every other day; I started with 3 miles and added a mile each session until I reached 9 miles (or about an hour, as I'm typically running in the 6:30-7:00 pace range, just basic aerobic work for now).  I've been running on 99% soft surfaces, which seems to help as well.  I've tried to be extraordinarily diligent about the "extras": ice baths, self-massage, static stretching, eccentric loading of the calf (on a stair), and various balance and strengthening exercises (often on an Airex balance pad or a BOSU trainer).  

The runs are going pretty well.  While I still have some mild discomfort in my ankle, and I still have a bit of stiffness when I wake up in the morning, I really don't seem to be any worse for the wear doing 9 miles every other day.  Previously, this level of work was not sustainable—I'd be digging myself a hole, as the ankle would be slowly getting worse.  And even the discomfort that I do have seems to be less than it was several months ago.  

So this is all quite encouraging.  I had another appointment with Dr. Nicola on October 23.  We discussed the possibility of another prolo session, but we agreed that for now, I should just keep building, seeing how it goes.  I will visit him again on November 15.  I'm also adding bi-weekly visits to Dr. Roy Settergren for active release on my ankle.  The self-massage I've been doing is surely a good thing, but Dr. Settergren can loosen things up a lot better with ART than I can on my own.  I like him a lot, I think he really knows his stuff, and he's great at ART.  

As for the continuing buildup, I'll start increasing a weekly "long run" by one mile a week.  I'm going to do 10 miles later this week, then 11 next week, 12 the next, etc.  My regular runs will remain 9 miles, but I'll start adding some back to back days (the first few times I do this, the second run may be a bit shorter—5 or 6 miles—just to be cautious).  So hopefully by the next time I see Dr. Nicola, I'll be running 4 or 5 days a week, maybe 35-45 miles per week.  I will also supplement with biking and uphill treadmill hiking (the latter is actually quite aerobically challenging).  I've joined a gym (Wicker Park Fitness) in my new neighborhood, so I can start to regularly to the treadmill work.  Once I'm consistently doubling (typically a run in the AM, treadmill hike in the PM), it will make the transition to doubling with two actual runs a day that much easier when the time comes. 

Optimistically, with a gradual buildup, I'm hoping that by the new year, I'll be training at more or less a full volume—around 100 miles a week initially, and then continuing to build from there.

Pumpkins in the Park 5k – 4th place, 16:39 (in Dig 'Em frog costume)

Since my running was finally going relatively well, I decided to hop in the Pumpkins in the Park 5k race in Lincoln Park on Saturday evening.  I ran in my Dig 'Em frog costume (from Smacks cereal), which wasn't the easiest due to the costume's massive chicken wire and paper mache head.  I finished 4th behind three Fleet Feet guys, including my friend Dave Strubbe, who outkicked me.  

I initially just planned on running a moderate pace, but I have a hard time toeing a line and not running hard.  So I ended up going out with the leaders.  The top two guys made a little push about a half mile in and I let them go.  I was by myself the rest of the race, until Dave passed me with about 100 meters to go.  With fourth place secured, I slowed to a walk and did a few big hops across the finish line.  My splits were roughly 5:13, 5:17, 5:30.  Not bad for my lack of fitness and my costume.  I don't think I've run a mile faster than 6:00 in the last 5 months.  

The best thing about the race was how well my ankle held up.  I didn't notice it at all during the race, and the stress of the race didn't leave it any worse afterwards.  A good sign to be sure.