Tag Archives: running

The Freakish Femoral Neck

First off, thanks to all those who reached out to me after the injury news. I received a lot of encouraging comments here, on Facebook, Twitter, and a lot of text messages and emails. Whether the comments were simply well-wishes or constructive advice, they were all appreciated.

Now that the shock of the diagnosis has worn off, I’ve been able to come to terms with the injury.

One thing I discovered pretty early is this is a freak injury for a cyclist. I scoured the internet for examples from others, but found only a legion of runners. Unlike running, cycling has no impact whatsoever, so it is boggling that any type of broken bone can occur. Even though I had run a couple times leading up to the climbing events, it was not nearly enough to suffer an injury of this nature. There is no other possibility than for this to have happened while climbing, probably out of the saddle as the doctor suggested.

Here is the best description I found of the injury.

Another common subject that came up when I talked with others was that I trained on the stress fracture. While it would be easy for me to brag about riding around with a broken bone, it really was not as impressive. The symptoms of the injury were more like tendinitis. When my body warmed up, I often would feel very little, if anything. There were only a few situations where it hurt during the activity. Six Gap was notable. Beyond that, it often hurt quite a bit after the events, but would improve with rest.

Speaking of rest, that’s what I’ve been doing, and will be doing for the next number of weeks. Kelli worked with me to find the best vitamin recipe to get the Vitamin D, Calcium and Magnesium to help heal my bones. I’ve been making it a point to eat things that are richer in nutrients, specifically calcium. I’m also walking around with a crutch for the time being. I could function with a slight limp, but the doctor thinks it is best to keep weight off the hip as much as possible.

I feel pretty good about the recovery process and getting back on the bike. So far I have not noticed a significant difference, but that’s to be expected. Bones are slow to heal. One thing I noticed when reading a lot of the testimonials from runners is that it is difficult for them to return to activity. Fortunately I will not be running. I found many examples of runners that will cycle to get their legs into running shape. Even though the doctor hasn’t told me this, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to start some light pedaling after the initial healing process. That’s a good thing. Climbing may have to wait awhile.

On the brighter side, my friends at Vork Cycling showcased their amateur Photoshop skills to make light of the injury. This was hilarious.

aaron recovery


2012 Ray Tanner Home Run



As an avid South Carolina Gamecock fan, the Ray Tanner Home Run was an event I’ve wanted to run for awhile. I couldn’t three years because of my running injury, and the last two were date conflicts with cycling events. With my recent injury, it looked like this might be another scratch, but determination counts for something. I kept my registration with the intention of walking the course.

Ray Tanner, for those who don’t know, is a local legend. He was the Baseball coach who led the Gamecocks to consecutive College World Series championships. He has since been promoted to Athletic Director, and is now overseeing the best football team in years under Steve Spurrier. On the day of the race, the football Gamecocks would be away playing the LSU Tigers. A win would vault them to the national championship race. Needless to say, this is an exciting time to support the program.

What’s great about this ride is the location. It begins bright and early at Carolina Stadium, where the Gamecocks play their home games. It ends at home plate, with the awards presentation at left field. With just over 1,800 athletes participating, it was a crowded and festive atmosphere.

Because of the Ray’s new position and the LSU game this evening, he could not make it to the event. Instead, Karen, his wife, hosted thousands of riders, family members, and volunteers. She gave us some thanks and words of encouragement before a young girl (sorry, missed the name) started the race with an air horn. The 12k runners started first, with the 5k pack leaving half an hour later.

The weather changed my plans. It was a cool morning in the low 50s, with a chilling breeze. As we lined up, I moved further and further towards the back of the pack. I was only allowed to walk, as I kept reminding myself, and didn’t want to be motivated by other runners.

The race started, and I started walking with the pack. This wasn’t working. I had to jog slowly to warm myself up. Oddly enough, it felt alright. I kept at it for maybe half a mile. Then I forced myself to stop and walk. I walked/jogged the rest of the route, not wanting to push myself further into injury. When I crossed home plate, it had taken me 37:29, which I will take for my injured state. According to the official results, I finished 393rd out of 659 finishers of the 5k. Having expectations of being close to last, this was fantastic.

The run was encouraging. The hip was slightly sore afterward, but it mostly held up. It should be fine to train on in the next week or two. I could also tell that the rest was good for me. I had a lot more running power than I expected, especially on the hills. There were times I felt I could pick up the pace, but kept myself in check just to be safe.

The event was awesome. It is a great feeling to finish at home plate to a cheering crowd. The ride director, Ken Lowden, did a phenomenal job. As Karen said at the beginning, it simply would not happen without he and his volunteers.

Running is probably not going to be in the training plan for France. This will most likely be my last one for quite awhile.

IMAGE GALLERY

Mitchell Training Plan

Mitchell Facilities sign.

The clock is ticking. 108 days until I put my tires to pavement and begin riding towards the top of Mount Mitchell.

My off-season training program worked great and I can already tell that I’m stronger on the bike, but I cannot stop there. I now have almost four months to train. Besides, training is the best part.

Here’s what I’ll be doing:

Weekly Spin Class: This is something new that I haven’t tried before. A group of us hired a personal trainer who will lead us on a road cycling and hill climbing exercise program. As I understand it, she will wear us out with strength exercises and then start the spinning. The emphasis while spinning will be on resistance to simulate mountain climbing. I expect lots of grunts and groans for this class. Since this will include a strength program, I will stop lifting on my own time. This should be plenty to maintain my lower body strength and then some! This will also be a good transition from my own weight program to getting in better bike shape.

Cross-Training: Running has worked and I’ll keep at it. The difference is I’ll be keeping it shorter and running faster. What I’ll try to do is a mile at a time and keep at a certain speed. Right now I can probably sustain an 8-minute mile. I will warm up and recover on elliptical machines.

Weekday Riding: Daylight savings time is just around the corner. Until then I’ll try to squeeze in a few short 20+ mile rides in the late afternoons. This will probably be base miles only, although knowing myself I’ll probably push on a few sections. Once the time changes, I’ll be able to stretch my rides out a little more. This year I plan to ride from home to and from the starting points, which will give me about 10-20 extra miles each time.

Base Miles: For the next few weeks my rides will be easy, with the goal just to accumulate miles. I’ll take care of a lot of these in one shot when we head to Santee for President’s Day weekend. After that I’ll do short weekend group rides of 30-50 miles at a time. When the season begins I’ll ride in a couple centuries to get additional miles.

Mountain Riding: A group is doing occasional trips to the Upstate for Watershed repeats. I’ll try to tag along for some of those. I’ll plan to focus on speed for the first trip up and go slower on subsequent trips. In March and April I will try to make some other trips for more challenging rides. These will probably be unofficial Freewheeler rides.

Everything Else: It is easy for me to neglect upper body and core. That’s happened last year and I finished the season with dead arms and a wobbly balance. My time will only allow for two short workouts per week at the gym. This is when I’ll try to squeeze in these important supplemental exercises.

If I do all of the above, I’m going to kill it at Mitchell. That’s a big if.


Red Nose Run and Slow Spinning

Red Nose Run

The last time I ran in a running race was at least 1.5 years ago, perhaps longer. That was when I was hurt and not enjoying it, which explains my time away. Lately I have been getting back in the swing of things, mostly on the treadmill, and wanted to see how I would do on the road.

Needless to say, I was a little nervous. I also had no idea what to wear. It was cold and sunny at the start, in the low 40s, so I figured I should layer and cover my arms and legs. That was a problem because somehow I have no cold weather running clothes. I tried out my cycling knee warmers. That wasn’t happening without bike shorts. Even the leg warmers wouldn’t hold. Instead I decided to brave the elements with basketball shorts, a long-sleeve base layer shirt and a regular t-shirt on top. It turned out not to matter. Once I hit the pavement, my body warmed itself and I never worried about the cold.

The event was the 6th Annual Red Nose Run, put on by Strictly Running. There were two race options, a 10k and a 5k. At first I considered trying the 10k, having just completed an 8k the week prior. I wisely decided to start small with the 5k.

I wasn’t thinking of speed, although in the back of my mind I hoped to break 30 minutes. My plan was just to get going, find a comfortable pace and stay there. That pace turned out to be 6 mph. I held it steady most of the way, keeping my breath controlled and trying to ignore my weak legs. The first mile had some hills, which I trotted through without incident. The second mile was mostly flat, and fortunately the third mile had some descents.

I grunted my way through without stopping. The finish line was at the Colonial Center, hard to miss. When I saw it in the distance, my legs got a little antsy. My GPS said I was at about 28 minutes and there was a slight downhill the rest of the way. I went a little harder for that last quarter of a mile and barely broke 30 minutes. According to my GPS, I was at 29:48. As a cyclist with weak calves, I’ll take it. The official results have me at 30 minutes and a few seconds, but I am going with own timer, thank you very much.

Speaking of calves, they were pretty sore. The pavement is a lot more punishing than a treadmill. I ate some protein and sucked it up because a couple hours later I would be gearing up for a group ride.

Fortunately our ride was slow. It was a 32-mile social ride with some good friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. I rode from the house to get a few extra miles, but not much faster. In total it turned out to be almost 55 miles at a 15mph average, slow for me. There were a couple highlights, such as sprinting on a fast stretch at a 35mph clip. Most importantly it was a fun, easy ride, just what I needed.

Oddly enough, this morning I woke up with a workout hangover. This is the most sore I have been for a long while, including the challenging mountain trips I made a couple weeks ago. That probably has more to do with the running, since it works different and underused muscle groups. It’s all good for me and I plan to continue the cross-training throughout the year.

Bike ride Strava link


Cross-Trained and Blowing it Up!

After a miserable rainy and foggy weekend, today we were back to our unseasonably warm January temperatures. It was as good a time as any to try out my training for a little solo jaunt around my favorite haunt. After running 8 miles over the last few days, this was the first time I could test my cross-trained legs.

Let me just tell you right now that running works. I figured it would, but never expected to see results this quickly. I was shot out of a cannon today. There have been times where I’ve gotten on the bike and been surprised by my conditioning, but this was on another level.

The first thing I noticed was that my heart rate was lower. There are a couple climbs where I’ll typically hover around 170 during the hard parts and will peak around 180 if I really push. This time I was in the mid-160s and maybe 170 if I pushed.

Recovery was also much quicker. There is a long stretch of road with four lengthy rolling hills, both up and down, where I can really test out my strength. My little game is to try and hit 30 mph on all of the descents. It is sometimes possible if I pedal hard. This time I was bursting down the hills and would get winded when I hit the upswings, but a momentary pause and I would regain my strength and begin pushing again.

I noticed when looking at the Strava reading that I had my personal best on that stretch by about a mile per hour.

It is hard to tell if today was just a great day, a fluke, or what. It felt pretty amazing and if I keep this up, I’ll have a good season.

Strava GPS link (a little off today because of Garmin satellite issues)


On the Run Again …

I used to be a runner. Not a very good or fast runner, but a runner nonetheless. I was mostly on again and off again before trying to dedicate myself a little more a few years ago. That didn’t go well and I found myself injured. That’s when I began cycling and have never looked back.

After discovering my passion for riding, I wondered whether I would ever run again. Why did I ever run in the first place? In fact, I would say that I have hated running.

That said, I have been running again. It all started innocently enough. I was hitting the gym regularly for my strength training. I started mixing in some cardio exercises, mostly elliptical machines. Those things get boring and I get a weird numbness in my feet after awhile, so I started walking on the treadmill. The walk became faster and faster until I found myself at a brisk jog. To my surprise, it didn’t hurt. I kept going and for the last few weeks, I have been supplementing my workouts with the occasional run.

Now that I am working on base miles, the goal for this weekend was to get a little bit of easy riding. Mother nature intervened and that didn’t happen. When I went to vote in the primary on Saturday, I found my usual polling place closed because of an 8k running event. Hmmm. I researched that event while waiting in the voting line and decided to give it a shot. An 8k would be a lot, but I knew I would be able to walk a good portion if needed. No worries if it rained a bit. That might even help.

The weather became worse. A light drizzle became a torrential downpour right before registration time. I was not going to risk injury by running on wet roads with inexperienced legs. Instead I decided to run the 8k anyway, but this time under the covered shelter of my local gym. I loaded my phone with some listening material and headed out the door.

The good thing about a treadmill is it allows for easy pacing. I started at a light jog around 5 mph. That went well for a mile and I picked it up in the second mile to 5.5 mph, then 6 mph, then a little higher. As I watched the miles tick away, still feeling good, I played with some faster paces. A couple times I brought it up to 7 mph for a short while, before bringing it back to 5 mph in order to recover. I found that I was keeping a decent amount of energy and gradually increasing my pace. The first mile was 12 minutes; the second was 11, and the third 10.

Even though I was tempted, I did not stop jogging until I got to 5k. At that point, satisfied that I would make the 8k without trouble, I walked for two minutes before getting back to the jog. Starting to tire, I kept the pace down between 5-5.5 mph for the 4th mile.

For the 5th mile, I was both tired and impatient. I wanted to get this thing over and done with, but I was also about ready to explode. So I mixed up my speed again and even pushed into the 8mph range on a couple occasions. Finally I finished, drenched in sweat. My 8k time was just over 55 minutes, which I was more than proud of.

I’m curious how this will affect me on the bike. These past few weeks I have struggled a bit on certain climbs because of my out-of-shape lungs. This might help. I’ll keep running here and there for cross-training, but I can safely say that I will not change sports just yet.


Winter Training Continues …

After a couple of weeks in the gym, I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable. At first my entire body ached from working out underused muscles. Last week I even had to take a couple extra recovery days. Now I’ve come to the point where I no longer suffer afterward. My last session corresponded with a large Thanksgiving lunch celebration at work, so I did extra reps to burn off those calories and felt very little soreness. From here on out I will work on getting my butt to the gym at least three times a week and gradually increasing the load.

In addition to weight training, I have started watching what I eat a little more carefully. It is so difficult to lose weight while riding regularly, at least for me, that I am hoping to shed a few pounds over the off-season. I’m at a decent weight, but going into the spring maybe five lbs later would help immensely.

A new program requires a new diet. When riding, I had to make sure I ate enough carbs to keep my workouts fueled. That is no longer the case. I have been trying to ween myself off carbs with moderate success. What’s odd is now that I’m not riding, I’m not hungry all the time. Cravings are at a minimum. There are moments, sure, but it is tremendously easier to stick to a diet. So far I have not lost much weight, which is fine. I am not trying to drop quickly. I have three months to play with and the last thing I want is a crash diet where I lose weight, only to regain just as quickly over the holidays.

So far I have been off the bike for two weeks, and will remain on and off for awhile. There are a couple small rides planned over the Thanksgiving holiday. After that I will probably ride intermittently only with groups.

So what do I do to fill that hole? That’s a perplexing question and I don’t have an answer yet. I would certainly benefit from cross-training, especially swimming or running. Unfortunately swimming is not an option since I don’t have access to a pool, and have no desire to take on another monthly expense. That leaves running.

I hate running. Okay, maybe that’s a little strong. Part of me loves running and I used to do it all the time. The last time I ran seriously, I got hurt and that led me to the bike. That was a period of constant frustration, no fun whatsoever. I’m really not looking forward to trying again, but I may give it a go anyway. The strength exercises will help with injury prevention and I have been taking the occasional long walk just to get my calves loose. So far, so good. If this continues, I might find myself in a slow jog one day. I’ll just go with my body.

If I don’t run, and that is a distinct possibility, I’ll do gym cardio. That means a lot of time on elliptical machines, recumbent bikes, rowing machines, and occasionally treadmills.

This is my last post before Thanksgiving. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday with family.