Saturday, May 14, 2011

Notes from the edge of the desert

The canal is where runners can 
be found in Phoenix.
That is the title I gave to the log I was keeping for myself chronicling my rehabilitation here in Phoenix.  I just looked at these notes for the first time since Wednesday and realized I stopped keeping notes when I stopped feeling pain in my knee.  That's right--I stopped feeling pain in my knee.  

Here's a condensed version of my treatment log:

Day 1: I am effed up.  I can't lunge right.  I can't touch my toes.  My lower back is locked.  My hip capsule is locked out and my adductors are fused.  He did some stuff to my hip and adductors and told me to run.  Ran for 6 miles that night, but it was really more of the same with tightness coming on at 3 miles and remaining on and off throughout the rest of the run.

Day 2: Test run in the morning and started feeling knee pain after about a mile.  I ran 3 miles total.  Dr. Ball said he expected that and did another round of the same treatment as the day before. Test run in the evening and felt knee pain 21 minutes into the run.

Day 3: a.m. Morning test run and felt knee pain in first 2 miles.  Frustrated and afraid of my test runs now.  Dr. Ball was frustrated too with my hip continuing to lock down.  I could tell he was starting to question his guru ways when he started talking about a possible labral tear in my hip.  He worked the crud out of my adductors/hamstrings and hip capsule.  I did several 5-10 minute test runs and still felt knee pain.  I freaked and drove home in tears.  Texted The Genius that I felt like giving up.  

p.m. Afternoon test run and no knee pain until 28 minutes into the run.  Improvement.  Dr. Ball worked on the adductor and hip capsule again during the second treatment of the day.  10 minute test run and I didn't feel any knee pain.  Saw Ryan Hall in the office.

Day 4:  Started to feel like I was using my hamstrings again during my run.  Ran for 32 minutes pain free!  Treatment: More work on front of quadriceps, TFL, adductor, hip capsule.  Talked a lot with the doc to better understand everything that was going on.  22 minute test run and started feeling aching in back of knee.  Doc worried that I am having trouble differentiating between treatment pain and the injury pain.  He said he would normally give me a rest, but we had a compressed schedule.  So, I decided to stay in Phoenix longer.

Day 5:  Test run in the morning completely pain free for 39 minutes!  Treatment of some kind because I stopped keeping a log.  Test run in the evening of 30 minutes.  I ran 9 miles today, pain free!

Day 5 was Wednesday.  Thursday morning, I ran for 50 minutes pain free and Friday for 60 minutes (8 miles).  It is hard to believe that I went out for a run this morning and did not think about whether my knee would hurt or not.  And, I braved a full out and back course rather than repeating a short loop course.  Tomorrow, I will run 10 miles with some local fast runners:  two of them are also Houston Hopefuls.  Here's the kicker: I will run 55 miles this week.  Can you believe that?  55 miles.  I can now dust off the training plan I had written for myself to take me through the Rio Marathon in July.  Unbelievable.                

Dr. Ball has said to me numerous times that freedom from symptoms while running does not mean your body is functioning properly.  This little lesson has provoked a lot of thought for me.  I was one of those runners who was so proud of myself for having been injury-free for 6 years.  I was fairly arrogant about it now that I think of it.  What seems pretty clear to me given all of the stuff that Dr. Ball continues to find to work on, is that my body is damned good at compensating and has been for years.  Running 80-100 miles per week is extreme for a human.  There are people who run a lot more, but most people in the world run a lot less--like closer to zero.  Why did I think that all those miles weren't having some sort of negative effect on my body?  Maybe I'm dense.     

To the question, "how do I keep this from cropping up again?", I usually get something like, "stop running" from Dr. Ball.  He's right, but he knows that I won't and that will keep him in business.

Hal in his natural environment.
I spent the first week here in Phoenix with some gracious, hospitable friends and their dog Hal.  Hal and I had a little love affair going.  We spent a few hours swimming together and that is the bees' knees for a Chesapeake Bay Retriever.  

Yesterday, my friend Brooke flew in.  She read about what I was doing here and decided to join me in the desert for a few days to see if the Good Doctor can help her with a chronic injury that has kept her from training for far too long.  She is a fellow run blogger and someone spotted us and shot the video below of us geeking out in our room today, telling our stories of injury, recovery and the magical healing powers of the desert.   

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