My back is broad but it’s a hurting
Once again I postponed writing a blog until I could deliver some upbeat news. Week after week went by with only slight improvement to my injury. In the past five days I’ve seen decent improvement, so here I am writing an update and hoping the upward momentum continues.
On April 27th I got an MRI that showed I have a disc protrusion (L5/S1) which is abutting the L5 nerve root. Up until I got the news I didn’t know why my body wasn’t cooperating and I was really frustrated. Getting information on my injury was a big relief and the first step to a specific rehab plan.
Let’s rewind a bit here…
On March 1st I had a solid track workout with some heavy hitters in Iten, Kenya. Two days later I had a great fartlek workout and even overtook Richard Mengich (59:58 Berlin Half this year). The next day I got on a 17 hour flight back to Toronto and when I got off the plane my back was messed up. Over the next two days a couple easy runs completely injured my hamstring. I went from hero to zero within a handful of days. I didn’t really know what had caused such a downward turn and I didn’t anticipate a lasting injury.
Leading up to Cardiff (March 26) I skipped a couple of workouts, cut others short and struggled mechanically to get through the ones I completed.
After Cardiff I completely rested for eight days. When I tried to run again it was apparent I was injured worse than I thought. I took another two weeks off running (other than a few 30 min runs to test it out) and started cross-training.
A return to running…
Over the past three weeks I’ve run between 100-121km per week plus a bunch of time on the elliptical, the bike and in the pool. My training volume is good and I’m happy with my base fitness. I know I’m at a point where I can ramp up my training really quickly once my symptoms disappear. But that’s the problem, my hamstring has gotten overworked and sore every time I’ve tested out marathon pace.
A few days ago I set off on a run and decided to run quicker than I normally do. My plan was to average between 3:40-3:45/km for a 20km run, test the fitness without going too fast. After 10km my average pace was 3:43/km and by the end I averaged 3:35/km for 20km. It was by far my most promising run in the past two months. Recovery from that run was good and my hamstring and glute were only mildly sore.
Going back to 2008…
In 2008 I also had a disc protrusion, that time on my left side at L4/L5. In mid-April my back was really sore and a few days later I did some 200’s that inexplicably beat up my calf in a really bad way. By June ’08 I was able to run easy but once I tried to run fast it would fatigue really quickly. And because my calf couldn’t fire quick enough I wasn’t even able to run a 32 second 200m (5000m race pace).
Hindsight is 20/20 but it baffles me that I didn’t piece together my current injury sooner given how similar it is to 2008. I can’t concern myself with that now though. At least I know what I’m dealing with and have a sense on how to treat this and am familiar with the recovery timeline.
Fulfilling AC’s competitive readiness…
Talks with Peter Eriksson (head coach at Athletics Canada) have been promising as he understands my predicament. Given my injury it wouldn’t be in my best interest to race a half marathon anytime soon. In an ideal world he’d like to see me run a half to show there is no doubt about my fitness. However, he is willing to work around my initial race schedule as in all likelihood that is what will produce my best build-up to Rio.
Racing Ottawa in 11 days doesn’t seem likely unless I can get in two sessions over the next week that show I’m not going to damage myself over 10km. If I do race Ottawa a fast time is unrealistic at this point. Ottawa would hopefully be an opportunity to turn things around with a change of pace and some adrenaline.
Ottawa race weekend is 12 weeks from the Rio marathon and if I could get in 10km a little faster than marathon pace I would be happy given how much I’ve run over the last eight weeks. It would tell me that I’m on pace for August 21st.
If I’m not able to fully train for Rio by mid-June then I will have to consider forgoing the Olympics. If my training keeps on progressing from now through the end of June then I’ll race Waterfront 10 (June 25) and Boilermaker 15km (July 10).
I will have to prove fitness at a race in order to satisfy AC and I’m fine with that. If I’m in the shape I want to be in heading to Rio then showing fitness for AC will be a formality (as long as I don’t run into severe weather).
In other life news…
Marie and I bought a house in Hamilton! We move in July 1st which means I’ll put off all home renovations until late-August. Or, in worst case scenario (no Olympics) I’ll have all the time I need for home renovations.