Avoiding Injuries

April 28, 2011

I am so stupid.

I went and injured both my big toes. No biggie huh? Well then you have never injured your’s! Because it is amazing how bad it can be.

So here is what I did. I have a friend that wanted me to play soccer with a group of guys. I join in without cleats to play last weekend (I played a lot as a kid but that was 20 years ago). I run around with running shoes and proceed to bang my toenails on the front of my shoe. Someone then offers a pair of cleats that are about my size. I used them for the second half and they were a smidge too tight. All my cardio work did wonders and I was one of the most energetic running around like a fool chasing on offense and defense with a 6 on 6 game. This probably made things worse.

I got home and my toenails were acting as though they were riding a bed of jelly on top of my toe. It was cool to watch them move like that if it didn’t hurt so much. They are definitely bruised underneath but I only see a light hue of purple so far, no black.

Anyway its been 3 days now and I can move around a bit and have taken a fabulous liking to my steel toe work shoes that I have never worn much. I also had very mildly strained my ankles and the big tendon running down the inside of the thigh on one leg from all the stop and start running I am not used to. Oh and there is a gargantuan blister on the ball of my foot behind my left big toe. All in all I am hobbling around this week.

I totally blew my workout plan and have a 12k race coming up next Sunday. I will probably test out soon if I can do anything at all. I will run a short stint on Saturday and make my final decision if I can do it as a fun run/training. I am thinking I will heal enough to do it, but there is a giant blister too and if that gets worse I will risk my half marathon in 2 1/2 weeks. I was targetting a PR (2:06) with an outside shot at slipping in under 2 hours but the derailed training probably put that out of reach. I missed my bigest volume week ever by missing my long run planned after soccer. That was probably my single most important workout of this cycle and I blew it.

So here is some advice to triathletes that only do triathlete things. Keep it that way or prepare to be injured. If you do decide to add anything different besure to add it in baby steps with a mind toward what body parts are not ready for the workload you are going to put on them. Oh, and remember soccer is played in cleats that fit, not running shoes, that is another important thing to rememeber – they make all those different types of sport shoes because there is a demand for them. The demand comes from smart people that do not want to get hurt doing a sport they want to play.

It sounds so simple now.


The Paleo Diet and Exercise

April 22, 2011

Today I cannot believe how good I feel. Between last night at 5:30 and this morning at 7:30 I swam 3000 yards and then ran 3.3 miles and then after sleeping rode the bike for 60 minutes, followed by a 4.5 mile run. This afternoon my legs do not hurt whatsoever, the heavy feeling that I often have in my legs after long hard glycogen eating workout is just not there. I think I figured out how I did it too!

All last year I put a lot of focus on eating before and after a workout and came to the conclusion that although I might feel good for the workouts I end up eating too much and then by the end of the day eating more than I planned or wanted to. My problem on retrospect was I did it for all my workouts when I should have just been doing it for the particularly long or intense ones. Like today. An even better way probably is to just listen to the cravings in the body and have a plan for what to do. Doing it for the less intense and shorter ones gave me cravings that had me eating more.

I recently read an article about how to modify the paleo diet for athletes (link is below). That coupled with the fact that this morning I was ravenously hungry after the workout and had not brought the food with me that I intended to eat made me stop in a convenience store on the way to work. And I sort of did the experiment by accident. With recent similar workouts and lots of leg soreness to compare it to, I am happy to report that this method is much, much better.

So here is the run-down of the eats and workouts for the 24 hours from lunch to just before lunch. I want to show it because I am proud of it and I think it will compare to what many triathletes put their body through for long and/or intense workouts.

  • Lunch:

split pea soup 175 calories
lunch ham slices 50 calories

  • Snack 3:00

Apple 80 calories
FRS Chew 20 calories

  • Pre-workout Snack 4:00

Banana 100 calories

  • Workout

Swim 3000 yards about 60 minutes
Run 3.3 miles (intended 4.0 but ran out of time)

  • Post Workout Snack

12 oz Smoothie (orange juice conc, strawberries, wheat germ, egg protein) 120 calories

  • Dinner about 50 minutes after workout

Tortilla, with 2 eggs and 2 oz ham slices 340 calories
Cran-pomegranate juice 100 calories

  • Bed time after watching Survivor from the TIVO (slept 6 hours normally I get 8-9)
  • Pre-workout Meal

Power Bar 240 calories
FRS chew 20 calories

  • Workout

Bike 60 minutes (about 800 calories burned, 5 1:10 intervals at 300-350W, average 200W)
HEED in bottle about 100 calories worth
Run 4.5 miles (added some “sprintervals” .25 miles @6.5, .16 miles @7.5, .11 miles @8.5 to the middle of the workout)

  • Post workout

(smoothie shop closed this early, forgot food and only had a green smoothie and a cheese stick with me, I ate the cheese stick and drank a sip of the smoothie which I now call “bad recipe” smoothie cause it was gross tasting)
Cheese stick 80 calories

  • Convenience store stop

(I had a strong craving and this little meal was extremely satisfying, this was energy dense food and I estimate I ate about 6 calories per second, luckily it wasn’t a buffet or I would have blown the week’s intake!)
Cran grape juice 240 calories
Protein builder bar 270 calorie ($2.69 was a penny a calorie! expensive)

  • Snack 10:00 am

FRS Chew 20 calories
Green smoothie (water, banana, kale, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper) 110 calories (using turmeric and ginger as anti-inflammatory not as flavorings which gives higher grossness factor)

So there are several things going on here I think. First is the paleo diet where you try and eat more like a caveman did. (The Paleo diet is how I have been able to begin to tend to eat more like 1800-2000 calories a day when my diet typical to last year I would tend to eat more like 2400-2600 calories a day.) Another way of describing the diet is to eat more of what is natural and less of the processed foods. I am not specifically promoting thepaleodiet.com, rather I am promoting the idea of eating foods a step or two closer to how they were eaten as humans evolved. I clearly am not following the diet too well, but my main three meals of the day are normally more paleo than non when I am having a good day. I seriously modified breakfast since I was just getting ready for and coming off a 1:49 workout. That though is the whole point of the post however.

The paleo diet in and of itself is difficult to stay on as an athlete. Here is the article I read about the modification to the paleo diet for athletes. In the article it is clear that you only modify the diet for long or intense workouts, none of this if you were reading a magazine on a recumbent bike spinning at 50 rpm! The basic idea is to modify the amount you eat based on your energy needs at the time. For example, you start by eating a carb type food just before the workout and then during a drink or gel or whatever if its long, and then after you get the 4:1 carb:protein drink/meal to get the muscles the nutrients they recover best at.

If you only read one of the links I put in here this is the one to read, it goes into much more detail that I found simply astonishing. The site has a bunch of great articles if you have a couple of free hours for that matter.
training peaks paleo diet for athletes article

I then sipped on a green smoothie that had anti-inflammatory properties in the hopes that the damage from running is healed. Another thing I should mention is that I did 3 miles running Saturday, then a 10k race with a PR of 55 minutes on Sunday, a run of 4.3 miles Monday and 4.1 miles on Tuesday before the workouts shown. So you can see why I am worried about pain. I now go into a day off, which is really more like 2 days off since I finished so early in the day. This is my peak week for my upcoming half marathon in 3 ½ weeks. I will hit 30 miles (Mon-Sun is my week), the most ever in a week for me.

Anti-inflammatory foods are typically associated with baby boomers and their aging needs. But the way I see it I have chronic pain brought on by the periodization training scheme to get ready for half marathons and triathlons. Its only chronic in that I provide stresses to my body, which is slightly overweight, and then need to recover before I move on. So while perusing the category you will often see things like chronic pain, arthritis, heart disease, and stroke. But it seems pretty obvious to me that the same types of things will help a runner that bangs away on their legs day after day. So when reading the resources you have to keep this in mind.

Wikipedia Anti-Inflammatory Food
Dr Weil Anti-Inflammatory Diet Description
Dr Weil Anti-Inflammatory Diet Pyramid
Livestrong Anti-Inflammatory Herbs Article

So here I sit knee free of pain and no dead leg feeling when I get up from the computer to walk around (to the bathroom because of all the water I am drinking). I think I might have done a great job in getting ready for my half marathon this year. (I drink this type of green smoothie often so I am not sure how long it might take someone from their first time to see the benefits FYI).

Swimming Technique – Freestyle Pull

April 15, 2011

I just had an unbelievable breakthrough in my swimming. I finally understand what “high elbow” means, and more importantly why. Knowing why gives you the motivation to keep trying to do it. It also gives you cues to think about while you are working on your technique. If someone tells you to keep your elbow high but not why it is hard to keep it up for the long haul.

So the deal is you have two competing choices, power and drag. Obviously drag is bad and power is good. But if you have to trade them off then you have to compare. In the video he doesn’t say this but it seems pretty obvious to me, if you have bigger biceps and shoulder then you will weight power lower and drag higher. And if you have flippers for hands then you will weight power higher and drag lower. (This was the root of my problem in thinking that swimming with the hand paddle things taught you the best technique but it alters the equation in favor of the deeper pull. Not good!) All of this is on a scale mind you and there has to be some testing, so you try the technique after warming up in the pool and carefully time it and see if it works better for you. It did for me.

There are two things that I have always done since my coach a couple of years ago taught me this. First I do not cross my hands over in front of my head and then try to pull with each arm staying on its own side. Second, in trying to do the high elbow thing I sort of modified this a bit over time to bend my elbow and run my hand down my middle as if I were trying to push down on the edge of the pool while climbing out of the water. It made sense to me that I wanted more of the pull moving me forward rather than if my hand is further out it will tend to want to twist my body. As it turns out I was wrong and I do want it to twist my body, but not because I want my body to twist.

I do it because I want to keep my shoulder as much out of the water as possible and my elbow close to the surface. This reduces the forward drag created and lets you swim faster with less effort. The only downside is that my muscles are not as developed that I need for that slightly different motion. But that is ok there is still plenty of time before my first race to get them in shape.

This video is worth its weight in gold. (How much does a bunch of megabytes weigh anyway? 😉

The Race Club Video – Gary Hall Sr