Wednesday, June 5, 2024

2024 First Half Review in Running

Finishing the Utah Valley 10K

Total Miles Run:  730 (approximately from January through May)


So I started off the year with the hopes of continuing the progress I had made in 2023.  I had run particularly well in 2023, with some over the age of 50 bests in several distances. I had consistently done speedwork, built up my miles and had stayed largely injury free -- so I could consistently run and train.

My goal this year was to build on that training and run even faster for my final year of being in the 50 - 54 age group.


So I wouldn't really call it an injury per say, but it caused me a great deal of concern.  Sometime in August of 2023 I started to get hip pain, particularly when walking.  It has never bothered me to run but on midafternoon walks or the walk home from the park, I'd get this dull ache in my left hip.  It would disappear and then come back and for a while I thought it was just normal aches and pains.

Until it wasn't.

It became a regular occurrence and I kept hoping it would sort of just go away.  I could run after all.  It continued though and it made a number of walks painful -- to the point where my left leg would go numb and I'd have a hard time walking.  Often times I'd have to do stretches or find a park bench.

When 2024 rolled around I promised myself I'd get it checked out. And one of the first things I did was see an orthopedic doctor.  After x-rays, evaluation and even an MRI, I was diagnosed with more of the spondylosis, which had sidelined me for the spring and early summer season of 2022.

I commenced physical therapy and even took 2 weeks off of running in April.  I did notice that with time off of running, the symptoms diminished.

As they say, half measures availed us nothing and to be honest, after weeks of PT, rest, and even just casual running, it is only marginally better.  I do attribute a lot of it to the fact that I sit all day and I think my PT and I have narrowed it down to just common IT-band syndrome.  Fortunately, it doesn't hurt or impact my running -- it's just the agonizing walk home.

On the plus side, I am doing my physical therapy exercises, as directed, and the strength gains I've made in my core and hips have been excellent.  I honestly feel like they've made a difference in my running form.

I am still working on getting over this issue, and I suspect it'll continue to hang around until the end of the race season.  At that point, I hope to have the discipline to take some dedicated time off.

I had another interlude with an injury -- posterior tibial tendonitis.  It struck my left foot and it made running fairly painful. Fortunately, I could train through it and I managed to ice it, do my own physical therapy and I wound up ditching the Brooks Glycerin shoes.  I think they have been a contributor to this injury and my IT-band injury.  The stack height and amount of foam is significantly different than my trusty Brooks Adrenalines.  After several weeks, the PTT, has diminished significantly.

The Scare

Faithful readers may recall that during the Eggs Legs 10K I felt like something was off.  And even during the Vegas Half Marathon, I was dealing with pinched nerves.  It was so bad, that I had tingling in my feet and hands and at times I questioned my ability to run.

I do think that it was stress and perhaps health related.  Also, my daytime job is sedentary, so sitting all day with poor posture is only going to lead to problems like this.

About 2 or 3 days after the Eggs Legs race, however, I did experience a medical episode.  There are some different theories and speculation on what I went through -- but I woke up and was just sitting down and all of the sudden my left hand became very shaky.  I was holding a banana and I thought I had dropped it, when in fact it was still in my hand.  Then the left side of my face felt droopy and numb.

It lasted about 30 seconds.  The rest of the day I had a bit of nerve issues but I was functional and even went to work.

Most people might say I had a mini-stroke or TIA.  Although, right now, we haven't found any evidence of it.  I never went to the doctor's after the episode (I really don't like going to the doctors).

It was at that point, that I basically lost 90 seconds off of my 5K times.  It suddenly became very hard for me to even hold on to an 11 to 12 minute mile.  

I did go see the doctor about it and I discovered I also had high blood pressure -- which is very strange since I generally eat well, I am not overweight, and I exercise.  I was given some blood pressure meds, which made running even harder.

Since starting the medicine, my BP has been absolutely normal and I've found a sweet spot of a very, very small dose that I take nightly.  

After adjusting the medication, my times have gotten better.

I am still dealing with the aftermath.  My running is still NOT where it used to be.  It was like, overnight, a lot of my fitness simply disappeared.  

I did get green lighted to run but the medication I am taking does have side effects, one of which is that it makes me more likely to have problems in hot weather, so running long distance races this summer is going to be a challenge.

I am happy to report, that I am making progress, my pinched nerves issues are better -- but do get aggravated on a daily basis.  However, I am still wondering what is going on with me.  I still don't have any definitive answers but only a few clues.  I do know that since cutting my BP meds, I do feel significantly better.

But the fact is, I was staring at the reality that I may not be able to run again, or even remotely compete the way I'd want to.

Success Stories

So there are a few things I am thrilled about:

1) I am still regularly doing speed sessions.  At least once or twice a week and for the most part they've been going well.  I really enjoy them and I love seeing the progression.  It isn't coming as fast as I'd like, but it is keeping me in the game.

2) The physical therapy exercises that I've been doing are making me a strong runner.  I can feel the difference and just minute changes are making me a more efficient, less injury-prone runner.  During a PT session, we did a gait analysis and my form looked pretty good -- although I need to activate my glutes a bit more.  Special props to Canyon Sports Therapy, who I would highly recommend for any sports related injuries / gait analysis.

3) I've had two GREAT races -- the Virgin River Half Marathon and the Sun Half Marathon.  So far, those two have been my best races of the year.

4) I absolutely love running first thing in the morning.  It makes me feel accomplished and it just feels hardcore smashing out the miles before everyone else is even up.  It is peaceful and I get to catch the sun coming up.  I am very fortunate to live near a bike trail that is just incredibly scenic.  It sure beats trying to grind out a speed session in 95F degree heat at 9 PM.

5) My mileage has been decent.  I'd still like to run more, but given the health issues -- both running and non running related, I am fortunate to have gotten what I could in.  We also had a very mild winter in Utah, so running on a daily basis wasn't that hard.


So far 2024 hasn't quite gone to plan.  I rarely go to the doctor's and over the years I've put myself in great shape.  But I practically should have my own parking spot by now at the Lone Peak Hospital.  I've been there so many times this year.  I usually never use my health insurance and this year, I've been using it like crazy.

I am glad I am taking care of myself and maybe some of the health issues have a bit of a bright side -- I may have never known I had high blood pressure.  I've taken steps to reduce my stress and take care of myself first and foremost.

I still love racing, seeing friends at the races, and I just count my blessings that I can still run and compete at a decent level.

Always nice to get some new apparel

Upcoming Races

06/22: 2024 Emigration 10 Mile Race - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
06/29: 2024 Taylorsville Dayzz 5K - Taylorsville, UT (Confirmed)
07/04: 2024 Sandy City 4th Of July 5K - Sandy, UT (Confirmed)
07/13: 2024 Farmington Days 5K - Farmington, UT (Confirmed)
07/20: 2024 Handcart Races 5K - Bountiful, UT (Confirmed)
07/242024 Deseret News Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed
08/17: 2024 PC2PG 10K - Lindon, UT (Confirmed)
09/07: 2024 Cedar City Half Marathon - Cedar City, UT (Confirmed)
09/28: 2024 Witch Run 10K - West Jordan, UT (Confirmed)
10/19: 2024 Haunted Half 5K - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)
10/26: 2024 Haunted Half 5K - Provo, UT (Confirmed)
02/23: 2025 Las Vegas Half Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
04/26:2025 Salt Lake City Half Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed)

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