Quick Knee Update

Just wanted to post a quick update that I ran for 30 minutes on the treadmill today. I have been slowly building up towards that. I have been doing the long (60 -120) minute orienteering events, in which I do run a lot, and those have been pretty good to my knee. While it would get sore back in September when I 1st started them, it has not been bad at all in the last couple events– even with Riley on my back. But the treadmill has been a little different. I may be a little tender later, but hopefully not. Granted, I am very slow. At 8:30 min/mile pace, my heart was pushing 170! I used to be able to run 6:30’s at that rate. And I only ran at that pace a minute or two. I averaged about 10 min/mile, though that includes both a 5 minute warm up and cool down at walking pace.

Beyond running, I have not done much biking the past couple of months other than one sping class. I do elliptical now and then, but maybe just once a month. I have been doing PT type strengthening and stretching one or two times a month, and I have been getting back into Yoga — but still just once a week or so. I have been mixing in more yoga to the PT routines, though.

Yoga for Healthy Knees. Sandy Blaine.

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I have to admit that when I first skimmed this book, and looked at the poses, I thought there wasn’t much to them. They were all fairly basic, and things that I use in my practice all the time. However, when I took the time to go through each one, reading exactly what she wrote to do and what to think about, I changed my mind. There is a lot of good information, and what I thought were easy poses were actually sometimes quite challenging.

The list of poses is somewhat short so I’ll go through them all here:

  • Staff Pose/Dandasana
  • Not much to say on this one, other than that holding a contracted quad without pressing down on the back of the knee for 60 seconds is not as easy as it sounds. I’ve done this a lot for a few seconds at a time, especially right after surgery, or right after the injury got so bad I could barely walk, but never for 60 seconds.

  • Comfortable Seated Cross-legged pose/sukhasana
  • I did both comfortable seated, and half lotus variations. Before surgery I could do full lotus, but not any more. One hip is obviously tighter.

  • Cross-legged, forward bend
  • Same comments as above. One side definitely needs to be evened out with the other!

  • Half downward facing dog
  • I thought this would be silly since I do full down dog all the time, and really love the stretch it can give on the back of the R knee, especially when bending the left. But this variation, in which the hands are on a wall and you are standing, is really quite good. Just gives different sensations than normal.

  • Seat of Power Pose / Utkatasana
  • This is basically a wall squat — using a wall to support your back. But the number of things to think about with your feet and knees is a lot, and holding it for 60 seconds or more is quite challenging.

  • Tree Pose
  • Not much to say. Standard Tree Pose. I didn’t feel much different than I normally do.

  • challenging balance: eyes closed
  • This is much harder than it sounds. You stand on both feet, hands on hips, close the eyes, and lift one foot slightly. Hold for 10 breaths. She says this is great for overall lower leg support, and I believe it. You can really feel al the little muscles that hold things together firing. 10 breaths is hard!

  • extended triangle/utthita trikonasana
  • Standard Triangle.

  • Warrior II
  • Standard warrior II. But when you take the time to work on all the little things, I can certainly see why the legs/knees will become much stronger and more stable.

  • Warrior I
  • Standard warrior I. Same comments as for Warrior II.

  • Half Frog
  • A simple quad stretch, but I really feel like this is a great knee opener for me post surgery. Sometimes after surgery, the patella tendon can “shrink” or pull in, and I feel like that has happened to mine, since most of my soreness is now under the patella tendon area, on the infrapatellar fat pad.

  • Hero / virasana
  • This is pretty hard for me post surgery. Definitely need a pillow/bolster to sit on. But again, it feels like a great opener on the R knee which is where I had surgery.

  • Downward Facing Dog
  • Just the standard pose, but this is one of my favorites for my knees. It really allows me to see my bio-mechanical deficiensies — the R femur rotating in, the R foot flaying out. I really can work on bringing those back into alignment — at least as much as possible doing soft-tissue work like this.

  • Thread the needle I and II
  • Just a simple hip opener. I’m definitely tight here, and even though these are the basic poses and I often do the more advanced ones like pigeon and 1/2 pigeon, I can tell these are still working for me. And I can again see how much tighter one side is!

  • Reclining Twist Pose
  • Feels great on the lower back to twist at the end of practice, but in this one, you wrap one leg over/around the other, so you get a slight ITB twist.

  • Relaxation Pose / Savasana
  • A time to rest and relax, but also to mentally probe your body to see what sensations you have and what has changed during the practice. 🙂

For < $10 off Amazon, this is a good book for anyone suffering knee pain that wants to explore yoga, and for even somewhat experience practitioners that want to learn more about how to use and modify these poses for knee issues, and how they can help your knees.

Knee update

I was just looking back and realized I haven’t had a knee specific update since September. I know I’ve posted on Adventure Racing and Orienteering, so there’s been a little info, but I thought I’d write a quick post just about the knee.

I did the AR back on 9/24. It was supposed to be an 8 hour race, of both biking and orienteering (plus a short swim), but it turned into a 7 hour bike for me, and my knee got quite sore after that. Before the race, I was able to ride pain free for more than an hour, and running was the problem. After the race, it was somewhat the opposite. I was running better, but riding was out. In fact, I had to cut short a couple of rides, and even had to get up and walk out of a spin class. So I cut out riding totally for 4 or 5 weeks.

Over November and December, and into January, I’ve done a lot more strengthening and stretching (though not as much as I should!). I really feel I need to be doing a lot more yoga, but it has been hard to find the motivation to do tapes at home, and going to a studio is not easy as there are none close by that do the type of yoga I want to do. I did try the YMCA one night, and it was ok, but not great.

The knee has been much better the past few weeks. I have now run 23 minutes (albeit slow!), and even made it through spin class ok. I could tell I had pushed it when in one 3 day span I ran 20 minutes, did some leg strengthening excercises, did spin class, and went to a 90 minute yoga class (in Cambridge), but overall it handled it pretty well. I also walked with a pack on a lot, and even ran an O-event with Riley in a pack (~ 40 minutes).

So it is getting better — very slowly. But I still don’t have confidence that I can get back to doing the really long endurance stuff I used to do. 😦

Dr. of Osteopathy and Prolotherapy

It has been one year since surgery. Things are better than 6 months ago, or 9 months ago, but I’m not sure if I’m better post surgery or worse. I guess the best term would be different. I am no longer getting sore on the lateral side of the knee, but instead under the patella, and mostly from impact, such as running. Cycling, elliptical, and even hiking all seem ok, though I really have not pushed those to long distances/durations like I’d need to to get back into racing seriously.

At any rate, I figured I go see a Dr. of Osteopathy who also does prolotherapy. I’ve heard some really good things about both on the Yahoo group for chondromalacia.

Well, I was somewhat disappointed with the Dr. of Osteopathy. I had heard they spend a lot more time with you than a typical orthopedic surgeon, looking at the entire body to determine what might be causing the problem. But she did a fairly quick and typical knee exam, and that was it. She does think that prolotherapy is worth a shot — as she put it “you have nothing to lose.” It is a pretty non-invasive procedure. While there will be some short term pain and discomfort, because it is intended to be like a minor injury so that the body will heal itself, long term, there should be no issues. (It is very targeted, unlike a normal injury.)

Basically the doctor would inject a mixture of dextrose and water under the patella, in an attempt to get the cartiladge under there to heal up more, so that impact from running does not bother me. It would be a series of at least 4 injections, about two weeks a part. I would be able to ice and take tylenol for pain, but no NSAIDS, as the inflamation is needed as part of the healing process. I’d have to really limit activity during the cycle and for up to 4 weeks after, so we’d be looking at 12 weeks. 😦

At this point, I have a race scheduled in a few weeks, so I will definitely wait until that is over before I decide.

30 minutes

I haven’t written a knee update in quite some time, but I ran 30 minutes on the treadmill today. That is the longest I’ve run so far since surgery. We’ll see how it feels later today and/or tomorrow. Right now, I can tell that I used it, but it doesn’t hurt or feel tender. I’ve not taken any NSAID or iced it yet either.

Running is still the thing that bothers me the most. I can hike, bike, do elliptical, etc., all with no problems. Hopefully I’m on the way back to 100%, but I’ve decided that if I can never run another marathon, as long as I can keep on hiking, I’ll be ok.

Now that the basement is 98% done (I think the last 2% is the hardest!), I can really start working out at home again. I need to get back to the PT routine of strengthening and stretching, and I really plan on doing yoga at least once or twice a week. When I was doing lots of yoga a few years ago, that is pretty much the only time I’ve been injury free.

HuckaBuck Mountain Bike Race

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This was my 1st race in way tooo long… I knew I missed racing — racing of any kind — but I didn’t know how much until I did this! It was a 12 mile course, 2 loops of 6 miles, and relatively flat for this area. It had been a couple years since I rode these trails so it was all new to me.

I signed up for Begginer Men, and ended up in 22nd out of about 40. But if you look at the times, it was less than 5 minutes slower than the winner. Overall not that bad considering almost all of my biking has been on paved roads or fire roads as I’ve worked on re-habing my knee post surgery. In fact, the knee did great — no discomfort the entire race, and here it is the next day and it is still fine. I was actually worse off cardiovasculalry, and even more than that, the hands, wrists, and forearms were dead after the 1st lap. I guess the lack of single track was really showing there.

Looking at the splits, I was just about even at 36 minutes per loop. The 1st 10 minutes or so was pretty slow, as I started near the rear of the pack as I wasn’t sure how I would do and I’ve never done a mass start for a mountain bike race where there was only 100 feet to the single track. So I had to work my way up as I figured out who was slow, and as others crashed. Then after that I was pretty much able to ride my own pace for the next 60 minutes, though whenever I heard someone trying to catch up, I was motivated to push it. I think I was passed only three times total, and probably passed about 20 or 25 riders.

So, overall I am happy. The knee handled it very well, and now I know I can at least bike at a decent clip. I have a ways to go on running before I can do even a short AR, though hiking is going really well so for a long AR, where there’s more hiking than running, I may be ok.

Now I need to find the next race to put on my calendar so I continue to train! 🙂

Adventure Racing

A friend of mine posted this recently:

click here

And it reminded me of an old email I saw on the same subject that I saved because it was so well written. I figure posting it here is better than keeping it in my email with the chance of it never seeing the light of day.

It has now been 2 years and 1 month since I did my last big Adventure Race — the PHEAR race up in WV. Since then it has been a lot of work on my bum knee. I’m riding well these days — up to an hour with no ill side effects. Running is still tougher, but I did run 23 minutes just yesterday and i don’t feel any tendernesss at all. So hopefully things are coming together. Even if running never comes back to the level I need it to be to race (fast!) again, I’d be happy hiking, mountain biking, and paddling. But I do miss racing a ton!

Anyway, on to the article….


Why I do Adventure Racing:

By Bob Blundell-Team Pushin’ Up Daisies

It was one recent Monday afternoon at the gym and I was bent over studying the recent demise of my feet. I prodded several blisters that I had popped the previous day and marveled at the blackened toe nails that I sport pretty much year round; a byproduct of my chosen sport. While I’m performing this inspection, some guy next to me gags (maybe a little exaggeration) and says something like…”My God..what happened to your feet?

I smiled and responded cheerfully….” Did an adventure race over the weekend”

He nodded and started to say something.

“Adventure racing,” I explained. “You know like the Eco Challenge.”

He shrugged and looked again at my toes.

I started to explain that I’d just spent 32 hours at a race in Northern Georgia in sub-freezing weather. At one point I had spent 14 painful hours with my rear end on the seat of a mountain bike, pushing and sliding through snow in weather that never got above 30. I considered adding that blisters generally came with the territory in most cases, but these here were more likely the affects of trekking through snow for 16 more hours. By this time I noticed that he had opted to move a little further down the bench away from me and my feet.

I have to admit this wasn’t the first look of confusion, dismay, or incident where someone, upon inquiring about the sport I love, treated me more like a Leper than an endurance athlete. Often when I first meet people and tell them that I’m an adventure racer, they smile and nod their heads like they know what I’m talking about.

Sometimes they say things like “oh. Yeah…I’ve heard about those things.” or ” isn’t that kinda like a triathlon?” or maybe they don’t say anything at all and just look at me with a mild curiosity. That ‘s typically when that mild curiosity turns to total apathy.

As I think about this now it occurs to me that their lack of understanding probably stems more from my own inability to articulate and describe the sport I love, than some ineptness on their part. So now I sit and ponder…really think about what Adventure Racing is about.

Adventure racing is being around a bunch of people who are fit and strong and a little twisted. These people tend to like it when their knees bleed and they have mud on their legs, on their glasses, in their teeth, and on their bike. If after a race, they aren’t bent or broken, mangled, sprained or bloodied, they feel like they didn’t get their money’s worth. They’d rather have their butts on the seat of a mountain bike climbing some torturous hill from hell, than in a first class seat on some jet going somewhere (unless of course they’re flying to their next adventure race). These people feel like slugs when they only get an hour workout in a day and they believe muscle cramps are just God’s way to telling them they are still alive!

They’re generally a resourceful lot that can speak intelligently about many obscure topics. This may include:

+ the best and worst flavors of gu’s
+116 different uses for duct tape
+ the countless benefits of carrying Vaseline with you during a race
+ How long AA batteries in a head lamp will last in 30 degree weather

They often speak in a language foreign to most normal people. Words and phrases like TAs, and Sevvies, hard tails and soft tails, camelbaks, and azimuths are common in their conversations. They also possess skills unknown to most like:

+ knowing how to use a chain breaker at night
+ Knowing how to turn an old fishing rod and surgical tubing into a bike tow
assembly
+ Knowing how to duct tape a flashlight on top of a bike helmet

Unlike many people they gain pleasure from some of the simpler things in life. Things like:

+ That wonderful first drink of cold water after a long trekking leg
+ The sheer ecstasy of finding a wadded-up peanut butter sandwich in their backpack when they thought they had run out of food
+ The unadulterated joy felt when your teammate offers you a dry pair of socks after you’ve fallen into a ditch filled with cold water
+ The soothing calm felt after applying a liberal dollop of Vaseline to araw spot

The sport of adventure racing has given me the opportunity to travel to places and see things I would have otherwise missed in my life. I’ve seen the amber cast of the sun as it rises over snow capped mountains of northern Georgia. I’ve seen farmers, men, women, and children in rural parts of China stand along side poorly developed roads and cheer me and my team as we traveled through their villages by bike and by foot. I’ve watched the sun melt into the horizon of the mountains of west Texas. I’ve marveled at the
beauty of an east Texas swamp under a December full moon.

I’ve run or biked with deer and wild hogs and turkeys, and porcupines. I’ve paddled alongside alligators and nutria rats and been chased by bees and wasps and an assortment of other insects. I’ve gone three days without sleep and witnessed some of the most incredible hallucinations on that third day.

I’ve witnessed the courage of team mates and others as they struggle to continue on with races, hobbled by broken collar bones, sprained and bloodied knees, fever and chills, vomiting and diarreaha. All these experiences have marked me; made me a little different.

But when I think of adventure racing, and why I do it, I most often think of my teammates and the trials and tribulations we go through together.

I think adventure racing is about the relief one feels as you struggle up a never ending hill, worn out and downcast, wondering if you’ll make it to the top, and you suddenly feel the weight of your pack lifted off your shoulders by one of your team mates. It’s climbing up a rock slope on all 4s carrying your bike on your shoulder and getting to the top and seeing a team mate struggle with theirs. And it’s taking a few deep breaths and summoning the
strength to slide back down the hill to help them.

It’s having the feeling that you can’t put one foot in front of another, and a teammate placing a reassuring hand on your shoulder in support. It’s coming off a bitterly cold paddling leg and shivering uncontrollably with few dry clothes to change into and your teammate offering without hesitation, a dry shirt or pair of socks or gloves. It’s watching a teammate crash on their bike hard and getting up and fighting back the tears and climbing back on that monster again to press on; fearful of slowing the team down.

It’s about pulling and pushing each other to levels that you’d have thought not possible for you to physically achieve individually. It’s running and pulling your slower teammate at a pace you shouldn’t be able to maintain and hearing them challenge you and the team to keep going; all for the sanctity of the race. It’s the almost cosmic feeling of going faster and harder as a team than you thought possible. It’s seeing your nearest competition in the race on your tail and the three or four of you (your team) suddenly becoming one stronger, faster force.

It’s watching and feeling the total sense of unity as your team succeeds and it’s feeling an equal responsibility when you do not. It’s a sport where the strongest of the team is only really as strong and fast as the slowest member, forcing the Team to focus and excel as one unit. It’s a sport characterized by a myriad of changing human dynamics and moods within a race. One person emerges as the strength of the team only to be replaced by
another who grows stronger. It’s where you can one moment be almost paralyzed by with desperation one second and then driven to great heights because you just found a Hershey bar or a big handful of trail mix to eat.

It’s about screaming and cussing each other over not being able to find a checkpoint, or over losing the passport or just because you’re tired and worn down and filled with frustration. And it’s about freely bantering among the team with liberal spattering of FUs and other colorful forms of speech and then hugging each other at the end with those obscenities forgotten.

It’s asking your teammate for something….for anything and knowing without a doubt that they’ll give it to you if they have it to give.

So……….I guess that’s why I do adventure racing