Another day, another run

To follow up on my previous post, my exhaustion experiment was a moderate success. After the shorter run I hit practice up and it went ok. I was a little tired and had some moderate focussing issues, but it wasn’t too bad. Part of that could have been due to the band working on some new and difficult pieces, but I do think the run had its affect. I am going to attempt this again and see if I notice some patterns (well more patterns than I already see).

On other notes I am having an issue with my Altras and am exchanging them. First about two weeks ago the logo pealed off. I didn’t really care as it was just a decal that floated on the middle of the side, I actually applauded the logo falling off, but hoped it wasn’t an indication of some sort of glueing defect. Everything else seemed fine and properly attached. Then today on the same side of the same shoe another part started peeling off and this seemed more structural than decoration. So I will try another pair and see how that goes. I hope it will be ok as I really like this model.

This week I have been battling a cold I brought back with me from our Reno trip, mostly a head cold and a bit in the lungs. On Monday I went for my first run in two weeks after the trip and the cold. I chugged along but it felt pretty good. About halfway through I was getting warm so I stripped off my jacket. I usually don’t stop to unzip it and just pull it over my head on the go, which I did again. All of a sudden I felt a sharp pinch/cramp in my upper back. I stopped and walked for a bit hoping it was more of a stitch and would go away, but it didn’t in fact it just got worse. Figures I was at the halfway point of my run, quite possibly as far away as I could be on this route and I slowly made my way home. That night I took a anti-inflamatory that I had laying around and smoked some indica, a strain meant for pain relief and threw in some icing. I think both helped tremendously as I felt a bit better the next day, so I repeated my relief the next night as well. I was really worried that I was going to have a longer recovery, but my se;f prescribed methods seemed to do the trick and I was able to run today. I also kept active after I did whatever I did and went on a couple longer slow walks.

Today’s run went well, somewhat slow (10 min miles exactly), actually probably a bit faster, but my first 1.25 miles didn’t register as I had turned off my watch instead of disabling the watch bevel (it was raining a bit and leaving the watch face active tends to cause trouble in the rain, my jacket sleeve sometimes causes issues too.) So I had to edit my run on and I just went with the same speed as the rest of the run. The run itself was a good one and I felt strong throughout. I was not so happy with the rain and cold (it was warm for the last couple of days when my back was out, grrr) but it wasn’t too bad.I took a short walk at one point, but jumped back into normal pace pretty quickly up a hill that I could have easily walked. Good run.

Garmin issues. Since I switched over to the new Garmin Connect system I have had nothing but trouble with the watch syncing with the computer. It is supposed to immediately sync once you are within range, and that is how the old system worked. But with Connect I seem to be a run behind and often it won’t let me re-sync to get today’s run into the system. I have tried to massage the settings on the watch and thought I had it figured out, but apparently not. Still I was able to manually sync today and get the system to acknowledge that I ran today (as well as my last run which wasn’t showing up either). I do like the watch a lot and would probably get another when this one finally dies, but I am starting to get a bit frustrated with it.

Picking up the pace

I hadn’t intended to be writing about increasing my pace but after my fourth sub 10 minute mile (three days in a row too) run I guess I don’t really have a choice! The first time I was like oh look, 9:50! The second day I surprised myself again. The third day I was efforting the sub 10s and today I pushed through some tired legs and busted out 9:30 over four miles. It is feeling good to see an improvement in my conditioning, now I just need to keep it up which I am feeling like I will. The desire to loose some pounds is too great! Running will be a big part of that, all I really need to add to that (or subtract as the case might be) is stopping eating at night which I have sort of been doing though failure has its way of losing out to the munchies.

Last week I took off from running cause I had that pinched back thing again. This time it didn’t seem too bad (though it still hurts and I am slow in the morning). The first couple of days after it happened I took some pain pills my doc prescribed (vimovo) but then migrated to acetaminophen, but only for a couple of days. I also took advantage of my medical MJ to enjoy/use some indica which also helped out I think.

I don’t think I want o push the pace much more than 9:30. Right now it feels like a good balance of effort and conservative running so I think I will stick to it. Slower will be ok, but faster no, not for now.

Short run in the wind

Last night I was a bit tired in rehearsal, but not exhausted. I think being properly hydrated had a lot to do with my recovery and ability to play after a run. So to keep the experiment rolling, and to attempt to keep up my string of running four runs in a row, I ran again this morning. I only went for three miles, but in the cold wind that was more than enough. Plus tonight’s rehearsal is later than usual so I didn’t want to push it too hard.

I am feeling really good about the last couple weeks with the running I have been doing. I already feel a boost both physically and mentally. Shouldn’t be long before some of this winter gut gets run off as well. Pretty happy about that. Also my back feels so much better after a run, as if the bouncing loosens up my back up some. I was worried that I would cause futher problems with it, but the running seems to be helping quite a bit. I also think restricting my runs to 5 or less miles is a good thing as well. Gonna need to boost that soon though, I am starting to get the milage bug!

ACA, running and ms

I am now into my second month of my new ACA platinum plan. There is still much I don’t know yet about how this will work out for me. The chief issue I have is somewhat two-fold. I have received my first rebif order under the plan. As expected I had to pay $1500 of the $4500 cost, but now my max out of pocket has been reached. According to what I have been told, the meds will be covered at 100% for the rest of the year. So my question as I approach my second order next week, is that really the case? The second concern relating to this is will this remain in place? The insurance companies will take in $3600 from me over a year and pay out over $50,000 for my meds. While I am sure they get a break from pharma that we as ordinaries don’t get, they still must be losing money on us msers. I mean they initially refuse to cover us unless the “big gum-min” stepped in and told them they had to. Who is gonna break first? The ACA, the insurance companies, big pharma? According to all the misplaced rhetoric, it better be our king dictator and his commie policies that needs to break first. What we needs is to go back to the way things were before. Yeah right. It is more than obvious that the problem is the insurance and big pharma industries and that they need to bend a bit if we are going to get through this. I was thinking the other day that I believe I will see a cure for ms in my lifetime, but I doubt I will be able to afford it.

So some details on my ACA plan. The premium is actually half of what I was paying before to be in my old state-funded high-risk pool. While my meds are not directly covered (not a single ACA plan would cover my rebif, or any other ms treatment from what I saw (again, why are we blaming Obama for this when it was a decision by the insurance companies? I guess Obama is a much easier target than insurance or pharma), they are considered a “medical need” by healthnet (my new insurance provider) and therefor fall under my max out of pocket. A quick note on my premiums, I was able to cover my wife under the same platinum plan for the same cost of covering just myself under my old plan.

Ok, the rollout was not smooth, we all know that. Damn that obama! Um, I just took a look at the website for our large insurance company and it is also not working and hasn’t for several months. If the so called holy grail of big business can’t make a healthcare site that works, how could we possibly expect or any of the state exchanges to work? Maybe we need to do healthcare through Amazon, they seem to have their act together. I had to go through a lot of hoops to get my plan set up, a large ridiculous amount of phone calls to the exchange and the insurance companies. Lots of time on hold, lots of hang ups. My insurance broker who “helped” me had the same experience. It was no fun, and went down to the wire on premium payment date (actually beyond it, but they issued an extension at the last minute.) But overall, I got coverage. It was a pain, but I got it.

Yes I lost my old plan, but I got a better one at half the cost. I am sure most people did not experience a cost reduction like I did, but it is what I got. It is funny, I have been posting this in comments on stories published on right wing websites (and “normal” sites as well). I have gotten much hate for doing this. I have been called a liar, a paid poster and a socialist all for telling the truth about my ACA experience. I was even black-balled by the National Review! What an honor!

So back to running, I ran yesterday for the first time since injuring my back a month ago. It felt great though I found it really hard to get through my five miles. But I did it pain-free! The back has felt a lot better. I still have trouble getting out of bed. It is as if I have no confidence that my back won’t “go out” when I pull myself out of bed. Several times in recent weeks I have forgotten about my back and surprised myself by just getting out of bed no problem. I am having way less issues with bending over during the day, seems the mornings are a bit rough, but way better.

My hope is to run again today. I am pretty sure I will get around to it. I have some work, but not enough to use as an excuse to NOT run. No music to play today at least publicly anyway. I did my rebif shot this morning, so I will have the boost that that often gives me. The weather is gray, but warm in the 50s. It sounds like a run day to me!

Chilly running, or qilly running

It has been so long since I have posted I had no idea what to call this one, so therefor the boring title “Chilly running” (I just finished writing about qi gong, so I added the “qilly running” part). Which if I was even able to run at this time I could actually talk about running in the cold. But alas I am dealign with a pinched nerve (or something like that) in my back. It has happened before and rest seems to be the best medicine. This time was a really bad one. I was bucketing water out of our bird pond, but I don’t think the lifting had a lot to do with this. At the time it happened I was twisting and lifting, I swear don’t I know better? But even that I don’t believe to be fully behind my dehabilitation. IIRC the last time I did this I had over done it with exercise and yard work. Well that might be the true culprit here. I have spent the last week trying to get back into regular running. I thought I did a pretty good job of it with four shortish runs last week, but then the bomb dropped and I have done more sitting upright to avoid pain than anything. Actually I have been trying to get some activity in and have taken several walks to the store which does seem to help a bit. Mostly the problem is in the morning and getting out of bed. Even once I am able to get myself out of bed without a sharp electric pain shock to the back, it seems I succumb to it eventually and my back tightens up again. The good thing is I have been ale to sleep pain-free. But back to getting out of bed, this is where I have the issue, It is almost a fear of the pain that causes it or at the very least contributes to it. It does seem to be getting better and I am able to walk upright after a week or so of slouching and walking slowly. Smoking pot seems to really help relax my back muscles, but I have too much to do to smoke all day long (maybe on a Sat!)

This winter I seem to be a total wuss about the cold and I have been avoiding bad weather like the plague. Unfortunately this really cuts back on my running this winter. That and all the music I have been playing (on days I perform or practice I really try not to run as the exertion renders me unable to concentrate on the music.) My schedule has gotten really tight for times I have been able to get a run in. This has lead to getting lazy and deciding that it is ok to blow off a run. Bad runner! Well not really, if I don’t feel like it then I shouldn’t push it. Still I am in need of more “feeling like it” when it comes to running.

I haven’t been completely sluggish though. I made a big effort to study and regularly practice qi gong this fall/winter. Even though I just started reading about and practicing qi gong this year I realized that I have been doing it all my life through focused stretching and meditation. It has been an interesting experience to realize that I have been practicing many mental and physical aspects of qi gong all along and that I discovered them on my own. As my friend quoted a professor of hers “You don’t find qi gong, qi gong finds you.” I would say that has to be true in my experience. I started studying qi gong a little on the recommendation of my acupuncturist who was aware of my yoga practice through out the years. I bought a book and was so irritated with the author’s focus on a small aspect of qi gong – sexual yoga. the author took every chance he got to mention the phrase but never explained what he meant by it. The author really could have type-set the phrase in all caps and bolded with the amount of emphasis he placed on it. I finally just got sick of it and put the book down. This summer while on tour with the band, we stayed the night at a weird wool mattress co-op. In addition to their extreme kindness with the beds and food we were invited to attend an early morning qi gong class for the community. It was amazing and I felt great afterwards. I decided to research further and picked up a book called The Root of Chinese Qigong: Secrets of Health, Longevity, & Enlightenment. It offers a great introduction to the meaning and benefit of qi gong practice. This lead to several other qi gong books by Yang, Jwing-Ming on the subject. I also did research on the eight pieces of brocade a popular qi gong set that we did at the co-op. Eventually I discovered a brocade set by Jwing-Ming (brocades can be very different in terms of the actual poses) that I started doing regularly. I tried some other sets as well including the 256 pose Wild Goose sets, but I preferred the eight pieces of brocade by far. Plus I have limited space, and the wild goose sets required too much horizontal space. Other sets were more on the martial end whereas my focus has been on health.

One of the most interesting things I have discovered about qi gong is that for as specific as the movements in the sets are, there are many varieties. Which brings me back to the concept of qi gong finding you. The true strength of the practice is discovered and subtle (and not so subtle) variations and improvements can be made to the movements that tailor the practice to the individual. Finding what works has been a rewarding effort! In addition, I take this to a somewhat extreme (at least in the eyes of traditionalists). Every since college I have thought about the idea of updating yoga for the new age by doing the stretches and meditations in front of the tv. My thought is that media-minded individuals need something more than peaceful thoughts and tight yoga pants to keep us focused on the practice and that through watching something really banal on tv (like Gilligan’s island, perfect for me since I know every episode) where you can just space out watching it and achieve a sense of relaxation without the mind numbing boredom. Scoff away purists, it works for me! I also find great joy in watching sports and doing qi gong. I feel as if I am able to focus on the movement and energy transferals just fine, well fine enough to merit the tv watching! Which brings up another important and under stated aspect of qi gong. Even if you don’t do it perfectly (and besides, to do that you’d have to attain buddhahood) that there is still much benefit from the practice. So if my qi is moving and maybe not as efficiently as possible, it is still a good thing.

So running… I have been trying to get back into it as my belly tells me it is time to go away. best way to do that for me is to burn calories by running. Qi gong has been great for health, but it lacks on the cardio side. I had been going for 5 miles or so and feeling pretty good. My times have mostly been over a 10-min mile, but I have had some sub 10s too. I have been using the zero drop shoes and doing my hip exercises to counteract any soreness and so far it has been working great (until my back said no that is). My feet have been a little but sore, but not too bad. I am looking forward to hitting the roads again once my back loosens up, soon. More about that coming up as well!

Back to it

Seems like I have done a number of these “getting back into it” posts this year. I think most runners go through times when they stop running for a period of time whether it is due to injury, weather, life, etc. The problem I was having with my back plagued me for a good week or so but after some rest the pain and stiffness have abated. If I remember correctly when this has happened in te past I have been out for longer. It is possible that this particular strain was just less of an issue. It could also have been less of a strain since it didn’t really happen associated to a particular lifting event. Either way I am glad to have it in the rear view mirror! Just in time to enjoy soem warmer weather too.

Yesterday was the second day in a row I have run. The first day back I ran with my running partner and she worked me pretty hard. Our runs together have been really fast (for me). Prior to her injury to her leg we used to do more distance focused runs. Now with her slowly adding miles to build back endurance with her leg we have been running shorter runs once a week. To offset this we seem to really be pushing the speed. This is a good thing for me since I am really trying to increase my speed. Not sure how good an idea it is for her and her poor leg! I think we will be slowing down on the runs soon. I’m gonna have to work up my own speed workouts soon.

Saturday I bussed down to the waterfront to meet up and then I ran home. I think this works better with the speed portions than running down to the waterfront (5 miles) then doing a shorter fast portion (2-3 miles). I at least don’t poop out in fron of my partner! I had to stop and walk a number of times on the way back. I hate doing that but it is really important to listen to your body and not let the running ego get in the way.

Yesterday I went out with the intention of doing a shorter run, but I felt pretty good so I upped it to 10k. I went pretty slow on the run but it felt pretty good though I was pretty exhausted for the rest of the day (the gin fizzes I had didn’t help that aspect!) Today I am going to go out and enjoy the nice weather we are finally having. I need to get moving on that so I don’t wimp out!

Back pain, arggggh

I have had this weird issue with my back on and off for the last 15-20 years or so. I imagine it like a pinched nerve and the doc says that is indeed what it could be but that because it isn’t associated with any incident in particular there is no real way of knowing without exploring deeper. I am reluctant to explore deeper. So I just put up with it while it lasts which has been for a week or two. Incidents have occurred at odd times. At one point I was convinced it happened while waking up to pee and sitting on the toilet. Then once it happened getting off the bus. Yesterday it happened while running. I had just started when all of a sudden I felt a cramp in my back on the left side, pretty high up near the lungs. It felt like something I could run through, like maybe a stich or something. But as I continued I started to experience significant pain with each breath. As much as I het to I stopped and turned around, heading home on the injury walk of shame. Actually, there is nothing shameful about accepting an injury as a run stopper. It is more of an honorable thing IMHO. It takes a bit of getting past your ego to admit defeat, but it is for the best.

It feels like some sort of muscular strain, really more of a cramping. Then the residual effect is a stiffness in the back and a continuation of the cramping pain. I don’t know if it is ms related or not. I suppose I should talk to the nuero about it, maybe get some muscle relaxers. I still have some old ones from when I got hit by a car years ago, so maybe I’ll take one of those today and see what happens. Also I have some vicoden laying around as well that helped last night. I have rehearsal tonight that I really need to go to so I don’t want to take anything more than advil which seems to work pretty well. Not gonna be fun lugging around that big bari sax!

So I am taking a week or so off (yes another week) to try to recover from this. I am sure I’ll be fine and hopefully back on the roads sooner rather than later.

New rolling hill run

I woke up with one thought on my mind. How was my back going to feel after my first run since I decided to give it a break. I rolled over, no pain. I pulled myself out of bed, no pain. I stood up, no pain. Phew. Apparently I have given it enough rest after all. I still had some stiffness and a bit of pain during the run yesterday, but I had taken it easy and focused on running softly to alleviate jarring. I also only did minor stretching after the run and last night paying strict attention to not pushing it when it came to my back. The biggest thing I did was not laying down to watch TV, by sitting up in bed before I went to sleep I think I did the most good for myself.

The weather rumor today was that it was going to be cold in the morning and warm up later in the day. So I didn’t jump out of bed and head off on a run, but only made it to 11 before I gave in a headed out on roads. Last night watching the Blazer game I was thinking about where I wanted to run today. I decided on a new route down into East Moreland, across reed college, over to Cleveland Track and back home through Creston Park. The route was a combination of runs I normally make and it sounded interesting, so route chosen, off I went.

The first two miles into East Moreland and up to reed were pretty easy and I ran them a pretty stiff clip.Once through reed around miles 2 or so the difficulty of the route changed. Essentially I had to pay the piper for all the downhill I had been doing. And not only did I hit my first hill but I realized that the remaining run was basically a series of rolling hills one right after another. Up and down, up and down. I took the downhills slowly again focusing on soft running to avoid jarring the back and powered up the uphills. It was a good run and an interesting route to try again. I think I will add an additional hill through reed heading down to Crystal Springs near the Rhododendron Garden. I think it will make a good quality run, but a somewhat easier one and should be a good compromise for the transition from training to base building (or maintaining).

Falling leaves and pace

Today’s run was my first in 9 days. I had hoped that the break was sufficient enough to allow whatever I have done to my back to mend. I didn’t feel 100% better but there was an improvement. I took the run through all the falling leaves (and raindrops) really slowly and tried to focus on not jarring my back. My mental focus was on a smooth and soft footstrike and bent knees allowing for a some sort of shock absorption. I think ti helped quite a bit and despite feeling rather stiff when I finished the 7 miles, my back actually feels pretty good. I think some of the back pain I had today was hte result of sleeping for a long time and laying in bed watching a movie before that. I think I need to sit up in bed if I am watching TV there, too much horizontal is not so great for the back.

I have been really worried about the break and the loss of fitness. I know it will come back, but it is discouraging to work so hard to get to a point (and realizing how much better I can get) and then have to start all over again. Actually it is probably a good idea that I back away from the hard training to a certain degree and get back to a more base building routine rather than a training routine (especially since I am not training for a specific event, well not until June of 2011 anyway) since I have no end date (end to the “training” that is). Still I feel great and want to continue feeling that way.

I have been having a some little weird feelings in my left leg recently on this break. I have a spot on the front of my thigh that sometimes really itches or feels like a burn of sorts. Sounds like one of those common odd ms tingles to me. The question I have is does it have anything to do with not exercising? Does the abrupt break from training and the shock to my system have anything to do with the increase in s weirdness? Does anything actually contribute to it? Does it just show up out of the blue? Who knows? Maybe I’ll find out?

Back pain

Yesterday, after a couple of days off from running, I noticed that my sore back felt a little bit better. I am thinking that a week off would be a really good thing for me and that is what I have decided to do. So five more days of no running. I really don’t want to do it, but I also really want to deal with this back pain and get it over with. While I don’t think my running is the direct cause of my pain, I do think the jarring that occurs, especially going downhill, has been a big part. A week may not be enough time off, but I will re-evaluate next Sunday.

This back pain I have had every once in awhile has been frustrating as it usually occurs without a major incident. I wonder if somehow it is ms related. It is almost as if it is a mental thing. Like a mental lapse in my ability to keep my back in order is the cause of the pain. I am sure that is hooey, but it really seems like I can will myself to be pain free at times, or rather I stop willing myself and the pain comes on.