Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wintery White Weather

It is a snow day for the Pacific Northwest schools. There is only accumulation on the grass... and less than enough to hide the green poking its way out of the white. Winter weather advisories are vastly different here than back in the midwest, but I'm not complaining at all. Any sight of flurries and base is on lock down.... sending Dal home for the day. The snow is also scratching our itch for some winter weather and its a hundred times better running in the white stuff than rain, no matter what the temperature.

Speaking of running, it has been a crazy ride for both Dal and I the past month or two. We have been facing some possible setbacks, and to keep our spirits/positivity high, we jokingly say we must "Poop Sunshine"... Copyright, Brie Felnagle. :)

To elaborate, Dal was running mile repeats on the track in less than ideal weather about six weeks ago. It was dark, a product of a part of our group having real jobs, and cold, a product of Washington, and Dal was probably pushing too hard... as usual. :) On the third repeat, and at around 430-mid pace, he felt a pull in his lower leg. Thinking it was nothing, he strapped in for the final repeat. With three hundred to go and on great pace, he pushed in his last kick while noticing he couldn't get all the way up on his toes. After the workout he couldn't even finish the warm down. We found out later that he had tweaked his perineal tendon ( small stability tendon adjacent to your achilles) ... and a little later that the tweak was actually a partial tear.

On the bright side of the injury, and through a training partner's reference, he found 3D Physical Therapy. They are now one of Dal's sponsors and providing him with some of the top physical therapy rehab in the region as well as unlimited use of their AlterG: A machine which decreases the force of gravity on the body, allowing you to run with lower impact and strain on injured or fatigued muscles/tendons. Paul at 3D PT, has helped Dal work on lower leg stability strength to prevent this from occurring again, while simultaneously treating his perineal. With the use of the AlterG and 3d's great work, Dal has made it through this injury without losing a great deal of fitness. Many, many thanks and praise go out to 3D PT.

After racing the National Club Cross Country Championships- and I use the term 'racing' lightly- I finally gave in to Dal's requests that I see an endocrinologist. I have been struggling with running for a long time now and I assumed it was a phase that every runner goes through, and by pushing yourself, every runner makes it out of. However, after many blood tests and one 3 hour consultation with Dr. Mark (a professor and practitioner of endocrinology back in the midwest) I found out that my hormone levels were through the floor. My blood volume had dropped significantly, and thus my hemoglobin and hematicrit- basically, what allows for aerobic fitness/endurance- were at a level lower than a normal, untrained individual. I was deficient in a multitude of areas and based on the levels of specific hormones, Dr. Mark could tell I had been this way for years.

With the help of Dr. Mark, our coach Matt Ellis and our acupuncturist/sports nutritionist Dr. Brian Perry, a strict regimen has been enforced since that day. On top of being on supplements and vitamins, I am now running with a heart rate monitor and not allowed to venture over specific beats per minute. We are also using it to ensure recovery and moderate exercise for the next few months. Since recovering from this type of over-training is a slippery slope, we will have to monitor my levels for, at minimum, the next year. Luckily, I can still run as many miles as needed, but workouts are going to be scaled back for a while. Indoor season is out the window but Outdoor, enjoyment of the sport, a healthy body and finally having the possibility of reaching my potential is on the horizon.

So for now, I will drink some homemade hot cocoa and marshmallow puff, enjoy running through the tall and beautiful snow dusted evergreen trees and hope that Dallas gets an early release. Training will continue for both of us and, as it is with everyone in our sport, riding the fine line between peak performance and injury is always tricky business with which you are perpetually gambling. However, the future and the opportunities are wide open for us... and that deserves a second cocoa.

Cheers and Happy Running!

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