Back at It…Slowly

Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up. – Dean Karnazes

Progress! I hopped on the treadmill tonight to walk for a few kilometres. The idea was to see how the movement felt on my ribs, and also to get the legs and heart working again after a couple of weeks recovering from the fall.

As I walked and increased the speed, I felt pretty good and so eventually the temptation to run a bit was too strong. I turned up the treadmill from 4.0mph (my fast walk speed) to 6.5mph and broke into a tentative jog.

I ran for about 60 seconds and then slowed it back down to a walk again. No pain, just some tenderness in the ribs and a feeling of tightness from the KT Tape on my torso.

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Mostly walking, but the running segments started short and built to a three minute stretch.

Over the next 20 minutes, I ran a bit more and stretched out the time spent running starting with one minute, then two minutes and eventually a three minute stretch. The final mileage tally was 5km of which about 1.8km was spent running.

We’ll see how the ribs react to that tomorrow. I suspect it’ll be a bit more sore, but things felt far better today than they have in the past 16 days, that’s for sure. I couldn’t even attempt a run last week, let alone run for a few minutes without pain as I did tonight.

Morning after update: feeling good! Maybe a touch more soreness than before the run, but nothing major. Hooray!

The compressed training plan

Race day is just 40 days away and while I’ve missed two full weeks of training and two long Sunday runs, I’m not worried. Physio has done wonders for progressing the healing over the past week. As usual, Adriana has the magic touch and good advice.


BMO Vancouver Marathon – May 6, 2018!

At this point, I think I should be able to get three walk/run workouts in this week (today, Wednesday and Thursday). While they won’t be the mileage I would normally run, I will get the time in. I feel like I should be able to run 6km steady on Saturday and then I’m hoping to maybe get out Sunday for a bit of a longer run.

Assuming all that goes well, I hope to get well over 20km the Sunday following that. And then I’ll have one more Sunday to run a 32km before the taper starts. It’s an aggressive plan, but I think it’s doable.

Ideally I would have five 29-32km runs under my belt in training before the marathon. But I’ve done races on less than that, and Vancouver was always going to be less about the time and more about enjoying the run.

Wish me luck!

The Importance of Having a Good Physiotherapist

If you run, you really should be on a first name basis with a good physiotherapist.

It’s not that running is so awful that you’ll for sure need medical treatment all the time, but distance running does put some stress on the body and a good physiotherapist is just the ticket to both getting, and staying injury free.

My physiotherapist, Adriana at Athlete’s Care Liberty Village, understands me as a runner and also knows my body well. I’ve been seeing her for various aches and pains and injuries since my bike accident where she was my go-to therapist leading up to, and after my second arm surgery.

Acupuncture works. Part of what a good physiotherapist does to get you back to running.

Since then, I’ve returned for treatment and advice whenever I’ve found myself with an injury that was impacting my training in any meaningful way.

Why a physiotherapist?

While a doctor can provide diagnosis of whatever is ailing you, your physiotherapist will be concerned with providing diagnosis, along with effective treatment and management of injuries. A doctor will tell you to take Advil and rest until it feels better. A physiotherapist will create an active treatment plan that might include exercises, massage, acupuncture and even running.

It’s been my experience that seeing a physiotherapist regularly contributes to far faster recovery from injuries, and also a much quicker return to running.

My latest visit

I fell running on vacation about ten days ago and one of the first things I did when I got back home was to make an appointment with my family doctor to get things checked out. As usual, the doctor was not super helpful. While I got a good diagnosis of some bruised ribs and strained muscles, I didn’t get anything resembling a good treatment plan.

So today I went to see Adriana. From the moment I walked in to the clinic, it was clear that she was highly engaged and focused on getting me back to good health and running as soon as possible.

Her assessment included looking at how I was breathing and moving along with what movements were causing pain. She quickly diagnosed that I had some muscle strain in my diaphragm along with bruising to a few ribs. A knowledge of the physiology of the body and how the muscles and skeleton interact to create movement is key to seeing what isn’t working correctly and figuring out why.

Treatment today included a deep massage of the area, some stretching and some training for some home treatments to do on my own. I’ll go back Monday (and likely again later next week) to continue the treatment including acupuncture which I have found speeds healing. Adriana assures me that my marathon in just over six weeks is still doable and I should be feeling fine in time to get in a few more longer training runs.

That’s why I love having a good physiotherapist. Adriana knows how my body reacts to treatment and understands from experience how long it takes to recover from this type of injury. That experience allows her to put my mind at ease and provides me the reassurance that everything is going to be fine.

Where to find a good physiotherapist

If you run, especially if you run long, and you don’t have a good physiotherapist, then I strongly suggest you seek one out. Sometimes it’s easy to ignore little aches and pains like some mild shin splints or a touch of plantar fasciitis. But seeing a physiotherapist can speed healing and also give you ways to avoid those types of injuries in the first place.

Ask around your running group for recommendations. Many runners will have a favourite therapist that they will recommend to you. Shop around a bit as well. You want to have a good rapport with your physiotherapist and they should understand you as an athlete and not just as a patient.

Once you find a good one, you’ll wonder how you ever did without them.

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Run!

With just over seven weeks to go until the BMO Vancouver Marathon, I’ve found myself sidelined from running by what I think is likely either a couple of cracked or badly bruised ribs.

I haven’t gotten an x-ray partly because we’re in the USA and I don’t want to deal with travel insurance, but mostly because the treatment for bruised vs. cracked vs. broken ribs is the same: rest and Advil.

As mentioned in a recent post, I fell while out running 29km last weekend. I ran the 15km back to our place here in Hilton Head Island, but over the next few hours, things got progressively more sore. As of today (Thursday), things are still sore and there are a couple of spots on my side that are very tender to the touch.

What, me worry?

Am I worried? Not really. The run on Sunday was a good one. I ran a strong 29km despite the fall and finished still running about the same 5:05/km I ran throughout. I generally miss a week of training every marathon training cycle for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s sickness, other times some injury that sidelines me for a few runs.

The plan from here is to wait it out for a few more days and then I’m hoping to be able to ease back into some shorter runs while things continue to heal. The shorter weekday runs are no big deal to miss, but I don’t want to loose too many of the long Sunday runs if possible.

The best laid plans…

The chances of me running 29km this weekend are zero. Between the continued pain/soreness and a drive back to Toronto on Sunday, it’s just not going to happen.

Next Sunday has 32km on the schedule, and that run is also potentially at risk for being missed. It may be that I have to shorten that one up as well and pick up the real long runs in two weeks instead of pushing things.

Vancouver was always going to be a low-pressure, more fun marathon. So missing out on some training isn’t really a worry. I have no plans to go for a personal best or to try to run a sub-3:35 or anything like that. If it ends up that these ribs keep me away from running for a few weeks, so be it.

Running Legend Ed Whitlock Dead at 86

The running community got some sad news with news of the passing of Ed Whitlock today at the age of 86. His family released the following statement:

“The family of Ed Whitlock is saddened to report his passing on March 13, 2017, of prostate cancer at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. His 86th birthday was on March 6th. His wisdom, guidance and strength of character will be greatly missed by his wife Brenda, sons Neil and Clive, and sister Catherine. The family requests privacy at this time.”

I first learned of Ed at the start of my running career back in 2008 when I saw this frail-looking man easily out-running me at race after race. “Who is that guy?” I asked. “That’s Ed,” they told me. His last name wasn’t required. Everyone knew who Ed was around here.

The white-haired, lanky man with the broad smile was Ed Whitlock from Milton, Ontario. And it also turned out he set many a World Record for his running over the years. Articles in Runners World and Canadian Running talked about the quiet man from Milton who trained in the Milton Evergreen Cemetery, running endless loops in solitude.

Multiple World Record Holder


Some of Ed’s recent accomplishments included a sub-3 hour marathon at age 74. Last year, at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Ed ran a 3:56 at age 85, beating me by five minutes on a warm, humid day. He holds 36 different age records for distances ranging from 1500m up to the marathon.

Ed was nothing short of amazing. Running with Ed for a short time around the 36km mark of the marathon in October gave me a good sense of how beloved he was in the running community. Every few seconds someone would call out his name or give him a thumbs up as he passed. He would flash back that big smile and keep on running.

I’ll miss seeing Ed out on course. He was proof that if you stuck with your running that nothing could stop you. Here’s hoping he finds some good running wherever he is now.

Week 11 Starts and James Fall Down Go Boom

56 days until race day and today I did something I’ve never done in my nine years and nearly 12,000km of running. I fell. Hard.

I’m in Hilton Head Island this week for our annual March Break family vacation. Today I tried a new route, heading way across the island and then back along the main drag. It was a 29km route and just over 14km in, I caught my right foot on the swing forward and didn’t catch it fast enough to prevent going down.

14km in, 15km to go

I fell hard on my right side, scraping up my leg, elbow, shoulder and hand. I got up and walked a bit, decided I was “okay” and started running again. With 15km to go, I was glad I could run and hopeful that I would be able to finish the full distance before things stiffened up.


I fell up near the top…just around the ‘d’ in Hilton Head Island.

I had a nice stream of blood running down the outside of my right leg, and my elbow was stinging nicely. By the time I finished up the run about 90 minutes later, things had stopped bleeding. But I could already feel my side and ribs starting to tighten up.

Over the next hour, my ribs and side started to get more sore. When I fell, my arm and elbow were between the ground any my ribs which evidently caused some bruising. I’ll be keeping some heat on it and taking some anti-inflammatories over the next day or two and here’s hoping I can run again on Tuesday or Wednesday.

It was bound to happen

Falling is something that I’ve avoided in my running career until today. It’s something that reaches out and bites every runner eventually. I’ve come close on a few occasions, but always managed to get my feet back under me before I hit the ground.

While it feels like a bad fall today, thankfully I didn’t really do too much damage. I could have hit my head, or broken a wrist as others I know have while running. We’ll see how things feel tomorrow and Tuesday. Worst case, I’ll take an extra day or two of rest and get back into the swing of things.