Once twice three times a runner

Last night’s run made it three consecutive days where I ran. I haven’t run consecutively since I was a twenty-something circa 1990 BSP (before shin splints).

I ran three days in a row! And none of them were wimpy casual runs. Tuesday was a 5k at higher than my normal moderate pace. Wednesday I did intervals, five six-minute sets consisting of three minutes walking, two minutes moderate run, then one minute at an eight mph sprint. And last night I used the treadmill’s Speed Burn which starts at a minimum pace (for me my moderate pace) then it ramps up to your maximum set pace (I set it for higher than Tuesday’s already higher than moderate pace, and then it slowly ramps down to your starting pace. It looks like a bell curve when all is said and done.
And I feel good. No pain. No aches. No nagging nags. I was worried because remember I had an IT Band injury in August that had prevented me from running a couple of weeks and set me back several weeks in my training. 

But no, nothing. I feel great. But I won’t push four in a row. I’ll take at least today off. Saturday I’ll play by ear, but if I do run, it’ll be my first 5 day running week since I started back into it last Spring.
Something else I mentioned a while back, that night running makes for a night of restless sleep and I thought about taking Advil PM to help the joint and muscle stiffness I was suffering from and to knock me out.

Turns out they have a warning for people 60 and older to not take said product and since I’m on the cusp, I figured better safe than sorry, and I only took it the one time. 

Instead, I take a couple aspirin and a Melatonin tablet (N-acetyl-5-methoxy tryptamine, a hormone from the pineal gland that regulates sleep). That seems to be working and I’ve not been experiencing any night-time leg pain or stiffness (even when my 70-pound dalmatian lies across my legs) or any sleepless nights (not counting dogs needing to pee at 3am).

And you’d think if I was going to suffer stiffness and sleeplessness, it would be after running three days in a row. But no. It’s all good.

And I nudged ever so much closer to the magical number of 200 pounds adding more incentive to run more frequently.

I did break past another magical number and that was 29.9. My Body Mass Index (BMI) is now 29.2! I went from obese to just overweight. Although my body fat percentage still has me falling on the obese side. I’m at 32.1% and won’t fall below obese until I pass 31% body fat (and in all honestly, I do find it odd that by one stat I’m down to overweight but by another stat I’m still obese). 

But wait, you ask, how do you know that?

Well first Body Mass Index is a fun mathematical equation that looks like this:

But if math makes you squeamish, then get yourself one of the new fancy-scmancy smart scales. All the cool people have them. If you get one that operates with bioelectrical impedance, than you get all sorts of cool information. 

What bioelectrical impedance  does is when you step on the scale, you make contact with little metal strips, like on my Yunmai Color Smart Scale, completing the circuit. These strips send a tiny, and undetectable by you, electric current through your feet, traveling up one leg and down the other. Because electricity travels faster through muscle and water than it does through fat and bone, it calculates your percentages by the current’s speed. Neat, huh?

This was from this morning:

Now I’m not saying you need to obsess about all those numbers — you really shouldn’t even obsess about weighing yourself more than once a week — but C’mon! You gotta admit all those readings are fun, right? 

Or maybe I’m just too much a techno-geek from watching a lifetime of Star Trek episodes and reading science fiction. Whatever.

The future is now! We have computers in everything. We’re living the science fiction predictions of the 1940s. This is Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a half Century!

Sorry. Got carried away.

The one stat I’m curious to see change is the last one, my Fitness Age. I wonder how far below my actual age I’ll be able to get? Kind of reminds me of the fitness age from WII Fitness. I got it down into my 30s and really, I doubt that video game boxing, tennis, or golf got me into that good a shape.

Run. Run again. Run once more.

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Calf love

The good news is my hip and thigh pain that struck down my running in August is gone. I’m now running limp-free and it doesn’t feel like my hip is going to pop out of joint..

The better news is I’ve been able to increase my running time to 40 minutes now. Granted, the distance is only about 3.5 miles. Thats also was an increase, but considering the recent injury it was a leisurely pace; slow and steady is preferable to trying to push myself and risking reinjury.

The possible bad news is, last night I noticed a new pain. Not something constant, not like the hip/thigh pain that I felt all the time regardless of activity. No. This was a weird occasional stab of pain in my left calf muscle that would catch me off-guard. 

The first time it hit, my leg almost collapsed under me. That would have been fun if I had crumpled because the treadmill would have shot me into the wall behind me. A regular AFV moment.

And the intermittent pain kept up for about the first 15 minutes of the run, without rhyme or reason. It was like practical joke pain: coming when I’d least expect it. A quick sharp pain, then it would go away for dozens of step before striking again. Each time almost making me stumble. Funny, pain, funny.

But after that first 15 minutes it was gone. Did the muscle finally warm up? I don’t know.

All I know is I didn’t like it and now it’s gone. But for how long? And what needs to be done to prevent it?

Do I need to stretch my calves before running? Do I need to do calf specific exercises, like calf raises or even jump roping, to warm-up before a run?

I guess I just need to show some calf love.

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Hostage crisis day 5

Yes, I’m entering day five of a hostage crisis. I’m being held hostage by my very own leg. 

The pain came on early last Tuesday (which was odd because my last run was Saturday, so I have no idea where it came from), but I attempted two 3.5 mile runs despite that. One on Tuesday and one on Thursday. Neither was enjoyable.

So I thought I’d rest the leg and not run by skipping my Saturday run. I kept thinking it would get better and I could run on Sunday. Or Monday. Or today, my normally scheduled run day.

But it isn’t looking like it. I mentioned I thought it was my vastus lateralis, like I’m some kind of doctor. I’m not. On the muscle chart, that looked like a good candidate.

Although I keep hearing about this IT Band, which isn’t a band at all, at least they don’t play music, unless you consider the occasional groan of pain musical.

I wondered why, as a runner who read nearly every running and Fitness magazine back in the ’80s, I’d never heard of the IT Band before, and I think it’s because they’ve only recently changed their thinking about it. 

It used to be thought as merely a stabilizer for the hip when walking, but now they believe it acts like a spring to aid locomotion.

Whatever.

Something in my left thigh from my hip down to my knee hurts and feels weak when I step on it. Running only makes the weakness and pain worse, so I can’t use the old adage, “run through the pain.”

I tried that with my shin splints back in the late ’80s. They’d burn like hell for the first few miles, but by the fifth or sixth mile, the pain went away and I could run relatively pain-free for the rest of my daily 12 mile run.

Except it got to the point where I could barely walk up stairs because of the shin splints hurt so bad. So I stopped running.

And I enjoy running. Not running makes me crabby. Not exercising makes me flabby. Getting flabby makes me more crabby. It’s a vicious circle.

Last night I decided to use this machine we have from the ’90s, like a rowing/biking kind of machine where you push with your legs and pull with your arms, but instead of your butt sliding back and forth on the seat like a typical rowing machine, the seat rises up and the whole thing works like a scissors.

They were all the rage.

I did 12 minutes on it, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s a resistance machine with a variable resistance piston, and takes a lot of effort. 

A lot more effort than the ones they had advertised on TV back in the day. Those seemed more like kid’s playground toys, whereas this one, bought through Sears (after our stair stepper died), is more anaerobic than aerobic. 

The best part of using this machine: No pain. The action must work the muscles other than the area that is strained.

It occurs to me that if I’m suffering from a muscle imbalance versus a muscle strain from overuse, then working the muscles other than those used in running is probably very helpful.

Tonight, if my thigh is still bothering me, I’ll do some leg exercises on my old Weider Crossbow (similar to the Bowflex). Extensions to strengthen my quads and curls to do my hammies. And maybe some rowing motions as well. 

And I guess I could do some upper body stuff as well.

Exercises I should have been doing all along to keep the imbalance from happening in the first place (except that the Weider Crossbow was being used as a place to keep our folded laundry. Yeah. I know. Shame on me.).

And yes, I’ve been doing various leg stretches several times a day. Stretches that focus on the thigh, the gluteus, the hammies, as well as the calves. I’m hoping I can do a short, easy run by Thursday.

It’s very disappointing to have fallen back in love with running only to have an injury sideline me.

Run. Rest. Stretch. Weight train.

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Capzasin: Arthritis Pain Relief?

My big toe has been bothering me for a few years. I don’t know if it’s arthritis, or what, but in the second knuckle, pain builds up until I hobble when I walk. The pain slowly subsides as I move, but comes back at rest.

I’m not a big pain pill person, in fact, I rarely take them and then, only for the rare headache or other infrequent pain. So I’m not popping pills to relieve this pain, but I have tried a few topical ointments, like Icy Hot, Ben Gay, and Aspercreme. None of them do a damned thing.

I was in Walgreen’s the other day and just for the heck of it, I looked for some sort of arthritis relief. There was this one in a red box called Capzasin, “Arthritis Pain Relief.” OK, why not? So I bought it, went home, and applied it to my toe.

Capzasin, if you can’t surmise from the name, is made from capsaicin, the substance from chili peppers that makes them HOT!

Only after I applied it did I read the directions, which aren’t available until you buy it, take it home, then rip open the cardboard box. Because unlike other medications where they put the cautions on a plastic sheet that  you can peruse at the store, this one is only available at home, when it’s too late.

Some of the precautions:

  • If you are a first time user and think your skin might be sensitive to CAPZAISIN, test it on a small area first.

Oh. That probably would have been nice to know before I applied it.

  • Wear gloves to apply or, if medicine {this part was wiped out by opening the box}act with hands, wash with soap and water {more missing bits}ing to avoid spreading to the eyes or other sensitive areas of the body. Try using dishwashing liquid or cooking oil at room temperature [emphasis mine] if regular soap and water does not completely wash the product from your hands.

See? Now that would have really been nice to know before I bought it. You need cooking oil to remove this shit! And it was nice of them to tell us the cooking oil should be at room temperature, I would have taken it right from the chicken I had frying on the stove.

Anyway, according to their inside info, “What does capsaicin do? When applied to the affected area, capsaicin penetrates deep and specifically targets pain transmitting neurons by progressively deteriorating their ability to signal pain to the brain, effectively relieving minor aches and pains of muscles, joints associated with arthritis, simple backache, strains, sprains and bruises.”

Well, let me tell you what it actually does. For me, there is the deep joint pain from the arthritis. Then I applied the Capzasin and at first, nothing happened. But then as minutes passed, I could feel the capsaicin burn. Did it relieve the other pain? NO! Instead, now I had deep joint pain in conjunction with topical surface pain!

But, to make matters worse, and this was actually hinted at on the outside of the box, “a transient burning sensation may occur upon application, but generally disappears in several days.” Several days is right, but transient burning sensation was being mild. Have you ever had athlete’s foot? That burning, cracking between the toes? Yeah, this wasn’t like that. It was much worse. Now, not only did I have the joint pain and the topical burning, but the pain spread gradually until it was between all my toes, like I had spilled hot oil (not room temperature) on my foot and was suffering from third degree burns.

Again, from the inside of the box: “Are there any side effects? Due to the nature of capsaicin, a mild, tolerable burning and/or itching sensation may be experienced when the product is applied which may last up to 48 hours.”

Yes, it did last up to 48 hours. And I’ll attest to the fact that soap and water does not wash it away. In fact, it made it burn more! My foot felt on fire for those 48 hours and no, it wasn’t mild or tolerable.

In fact, I threw the bottle out. Something that dangerous doesn’t need to be in our house. Especially since one of the warnings is: “Flammable keep away from fire or flame.” Remember when the word was actually “inflammable,” but Americans always confused inflammable with not-flammable and things blew up all the time?

So, I give this product 0 stars. Did it relieve my pain? No. Did it cause pain? Hell yes. Avoid this product. I can’t see any benefit from its use, unless you enjoy inflicting pain on yourself.

Your mileage may vary.

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