The Gift of Running | Week 2

Ever since I started walking, post-hemorrhage, the goal has been to relearn how to run on my own.  At the beginning of each year, I sit down and work out a set of realistic goals for recovery in that year.  Every year, at the top of my goal list is the following goal:

“Run one mile on my own”

Why?  Well, besides the fact that I’d like to be able to run if someone or something was chasing me, I have always felt that, if I could run, it probably meant that I was at or close to being back to 100% functionality on my left side.  This past year was no different.  On December 31st, 2009 after 7 months on the AlterG , I went outdoors to the back yard to try to run on my own.  I’d like to say I that I had a breakthrough moment and magically ran on my own.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get very far.  After several tries, I just had to stop and acknowledge that, while I was close, it just wasn’t going to happen.  Thanks to all the training on the AlterG, I was able to get solid push-off from my left foot and ankle, and my coordination seemed to be better than in years past, but I couldn’t seem to get my quick reflexes to move my leg through to the front fast enough.  Overall, I just wasn’t able to achieve a safe gait at any speed beyond walking.  My pesky drop foot wasn’t helping matters as I had to take my mind off lifting my foot in order to give the rest of my limbs their own movement commands.  It all seemed to be happening too fast for my left side to keep up.  The result was some kind of strange gallop and a fall to my knees after only a few paces.  After several exhausting attempts, I had to admit that I had once again failed in my goal to run on my own.

The only thing left to do was to go back to the drawing board and to modify my training plan for the next year to continue to strengthen my hips, legs, foot and ankle and to continue to run on the AlterG to train my fast reflex action times.

I decided also, that I have been spending too much time running at lower weights on the treadmill.  Though the lower weights are comfortable on the joints, they aren’t getting me closer to my goal, so I plan to methodically lower the weight ratio over time until I am running at 100% of my weight.

The recovery process has taught me a lot about patience, but I still have a lot to learn about the subject.  This will be hard for me but I’m going to try to make this a slow and methodical transition by lowering the weight ratio by small amounts and running more often.  This past week I ran three times and experimented with different weight ratios and speeds with a plan to run consistently at the 50% weight ratio.

For the first two sessions, I started at 40% for the first part of the run and moved to 50% during the second part of the run.  I definitely felt the difference, mainly in my endurance level.  I was able to clear my foot and keep up the pace, even at higher speeds, but I felt, and breathed a lot heavier.  I felt pretty good on day one and was able to push my speed to 9 mph on the final mile.  A feat I would not be able to repeat during the week.

During the second session, I decided to change things up a bit and try some minor interval training by running between 6.5 mph and 7.5.mph at one minute intervals.  While not a lot of difference in speed, I found it challenging to activate my fast reflexes.  I noted that I had a more lasting return in both proprioception and sensation in the day or two after the run.  It seems that the harder impact from the lowered weight is producing results that last beyond my run time which is pretty exciting progress.

I feel pretty confident that I can push my limits net week and head straight from 50% to 55% weight ratio.

Week 2 Progress:

Day One

  • Time:                         46 mins.
  • Distance:             4.15 miles
  • Weight:             Mile 1&2 = 40%, Mile 3 & 4 = 50%
  • Speed:             Mile 1 = 8.5 mph, Mile 2 & 3  = 6.5 mph, Mile 4= 9mph
  • 5 minute walks to warm-up & warm-down @ 2.5 mph

Day Two

  • Time:                         40 mins.
  • Distance:             3.95 miles
  • Weight:             Mile 1 = 40%, Mile 2 & 3 = 50%
  • Speed:             Mile 1 = 8.5 mph, Mile 2 & 3  = 6.5 mph and 7.5 mph @ 1 minute intervals
  • 5 minute walks to warm-up & warm-down @ 2.5 mph

Day Three

  • Time:                         45 mins.
  • Distance:             4.17 miles
  • Weight:             Miles 1 & 2= 40%, Mile 2 & 3 = 50%
  • Speed:             7.5 mph
  • 5 minute walks to warm-up & warm-down @ 2.5 mph

Next Week’s Goal:  Move consistently to 55% body weight at varying speeds.