Five Days a Week

I’ve embarked on a training schedule that involves running five days a week. I’ve never really run the full Running Room training plan before – usually I run four days a week, and I do the Wednesday run on Thursday and drop the Thursday mileage entirely.

But this year is different. I’m going to try to run the full plan and see what happens. So far the result is more running on tired legs along with more mileage earlier in the year. January came in at 164km despite skipping a few days in the first week. Had I done a couple of more runs, I might have touched 200km. That’s not something I would normally approach until later in the training cycle, when the weekend runs are 30km or more.

Back in 2012, which was my biggest year of running (including 4 marathons), I hit a mere 145km in January and only ran more than 200km in a month twice.

The tired legs running is what I think is going to pay off the most. Getting used to running when my legs aren’t interested is good training for the late stages of the marathon. I’m paying special attention to maintaining consistent pace throughout, especially when my lower body is yelling at me to slow down.

Things I Like: Variety Village

It’s the sports facility near our house in Scarborough where I workout indoors. The Village is a pretty neat and unique place. There’s a field house (a three-court gym with a 200m indoor track), two pools, weight room and cardio room with treadmills, elliptical machines and more.

variety-village-300x200But the facility and the equipment is just a small part of the story. What’s awesome about Variety Village is that it’s a facility designed for all abilities. It’s not uncommon to be working out next to someone recovering from a stroke or to be running on the track beside a person using a hand bike because they were born with cerebral palsy.

It’s inspiring because at the Village everyone is the same. We’re all just there to enjoy some physical activity. You can be challenged by the person next to you whether they are able-bodied, or whether they have to overcome some sort of physical or mental challenge.

But what I really like about the Village is that it teaches young people to accept and understand everyone.

slide-3-300x142I walked in behind a group of young teenaged boys going to shoot some basketball the other night. There was a small group of kids just inside the entrance with mental challenges that were vocalizing and moving around. The kids walked by and didn’t think anything of it. No teasing or crude comments. Not even a glance over.

Personally, being a Village member has taught me a few things about how to interact with those who might have mental or other challenges. Rather than feeling sorry or trying to avoid any contact, I’m much more comfortable interacting and helping when required.

I couldn’t imagine working out in a regular gym.

Things I Like: New Balance 860v3

Confession. I was a Saucony runner for many years until I switched to New Balance in the summer. I’ve run in either the Saucony ProGrid Ride or Guide for a few years to give you a sense of my loyalty to the brand. Saucony moved to a lower heel-to-toe drop and changed the ProGrid Ride model enough in this year’s model that I didn’t like it anymore.

m860v3-s-300x300I ended up trying on a pair of New Balance 860v3’s and immediately felt comfortable in them. It’s a more traditional/conservative shoe with a bit more cushion than I had in the Saucony, but it is very much the kind of shoe I prefer.

Other than a bit of heel lift that I fixed by using the top lace holes, they fit great right out of the box. I’ve run about 600km on this pair and plan to replace them with either another pair of the same or the v4 depending on whether I can find a pair of the older v3’s in my size.

Sorry Saucony…you changed and I found a new love in New Balance.

Off We Go

Off we go. Training for a marathon in May is underway.

The schedule called for 13km on Sunday and I ran just under 14km in somewhat icy conditions. It was a good run, at a decent pace. Probably a bit fast for a Sunday run. I’ll work on that as the distances increase.

Tonight it was the first tempo run and I hopped on the treadmill at Variety Village for 6km. It’s good to have a couple of races on the schedule. Heck, it’s good to have a schedule. When there’s a distance on the calendar, it’s much more likely that I’ll get out and run it.

The Last Physio Session

After 28 months, and about 150 sessions, I finished up with physio today on my elbow. I walked out of Athlete’s Care in Liberty Village without booking my next appointment. That hadn’t happened in forever.

IMG_0125-225x300It was, as my wife Ginny noted on Twitter, a little bittersweet. Things are not back to normal, and things are also not going to get any better. Over the last few sessions it’s been clear that the physio wasn’t doing anything to make additional progress. The range of motion was always about 125ยบ of flexion coming in each week and extension wasn’t moving either.

In short, it is what it is.

That’s bittersweet because it means accepting what I’ve got now as a result of the accident. But it also means that the period of recovery is over. I’m done with it.

Good therapists are good

I was lucky to have two great physiotherapists that helped me out. James Braithwaite took on the challenge right after the accident and was there to push me through some pretty dark times. Sometimes it felt like he was dishing out torture, but it was what had to be done to move things along.

IMG_0242-225x300I showed up with pretty much a locked elbow and he was able to get things to a point where it was tolerable from day-to-day. I appreciated his advice, skill and his willingness to help with both the physical and mental challenge of recovering from a traumatic injury.

James moved on to his own practice and I moved over to work with Adriana Biernat for the second phase of my recovery. She started by helping me strengthen and prepare for a big followup surgery in March to remove the plates and screws. Coming out of the surgery, it was twice a week for a while to maintain the new range of motion gained under the knife.

Over the months and months of treatment, Adriana took the time to understand how my arm reacted to the therapy and she adapted her techniques to extract the greatest range of motion possible. She recognized when we pushed a bit too hard, but she also made sure that we were taking things right up to that line to get the best outcome possible.

What I learned

IMG_3655-225x300I learned a lot about myself through the whole process. I learned how to handle pain and how my body reacts to different levels of therapy. I learned that acupuncture works. I’ve become so comfortable with getting those needles placed all over my arms and legs that I’ll continue to do acupuncture for my running therapy when required.

While I won’t be back for my elbow anytime soon (although I’ll probably let Adriana give it a stretch and massage now and then still), I will be there when the stress of marathon training causes those nagging leg issues. I’m a believer in physiotherapy and the role that a good physiotherapist can play in staying healthy and active.