Bear training weeks 1-8

The first quarter of my season has been challenging. I've had to deal with injuries and other niggles, and I'm just starting to feel better when I run. Moving forward on fitness while not being able to run very much has been an interesting problem to work on.

As I mentioned in Preason running I started my 8 week block of interval workouts with nagging knee pain. This pain continued for 6 weeks. I dealt with it by alternating outdoor runs with low-impact sessions on an elliptical or stair-stepper machine. I did one outdoor session of hill intervals and one indoor session of stair-stepper intervals every week. By the end of the block, I was doing 36 minutes of hard uphill running, and 4 hours of easier running or stepping in a week. It's not where I want to be. At least I didn't have to skimp on the hard intervals. I'm satisfied with doing as much hard running as my knee allowed, and enjoy feeling more fit.

At the end of last year, I was determined to get some physical therapy and rehabilitate my ankles and feet. I've been visiting a local clinic once a month and have been diligent about doing the recommended exercises. The therapist says that I have good range of motion in my ankles, though there is an imbalance; my right ankle has excellent mobility while the left is only better than average. My bigger problem, in the therapist's view, was that my toes and feet are weak. I needed to build muscle so that I can do toe stands easily and lift my arches. So, I've been going to the gym to build muscle three times a week. I do sets of back squats (5 x 5) for overall strength, and then do sets (3 x 10) of single-leg calf raises on a step with a kettlebell, single-leg squats with toe taps using a barbell and band around my thighs, and single-leg deadlifts with dumbbells. The Three Amigos, as I've been calling these single-leg exercises, have been working for me. My feet and lower legs are stronger and their imbalances are getting ironed out. I feel almost equally good with the deadlifts now, wobbling just one time out of ten, at most, on my left leg. The therapist has me progressing to single-leg jumping now, and I'm feeling better balance with the new exercises, too.

Consistent strength training, conservative running, and changing the way I sit at work seem to have let my knee recover. I'm standing, sitting on a stool, and reclining more when I work, using a conventional office chair less, and at maximum height when I do.

A radiology visit in December revealed that I'm developing a bone spur on my right heel. I wonder if this is yet another symptom of imbalance in my feet and legs, more stress on my right foot caused by favoring my weaker left? I'm getting some consultation on this and meanwhile am icing regularly. Two weeks ago I had to stop running for 3 days to treat aggravation of my right sciatic nerve. It was a good reminder to be more diligent about stretching and foam rolling. Otherwise, I'm doing pretty well. Heart palpitations are behind me. I'm eating and sleeping well, keeping sinus infections at bay, and enjoying longer days and generally nice spring weather.

I'm grateful to be able to continue training and am looking forward to a productive block of tempo running.