Hello, Compression Socks, My Old Friends

I’ve come to talk to you again.

Now that I’ve got that wholly necessary Simon and Garfunkel reference out of the way, I feel I must explain why I allowed this blog to languish and die over the last year:

Reason No. 1: I am a lazy asshole.

Reason No. 2: See reason No. 1.

For awhile, I was running a lot but not writing because I was busy. Then I stopped running because of various injuries and fell into that good ‘ol Injury Black Hole™, where you’re forced to recuperate then you decide it’s kinda nice to sit around and do nothing and then it’s too hot or too cold or you’re tired and you become a TV-addicted bum who frequently eats entire bags of tortilla chips in one sitting. At least, that’s what it’s like for me. I can only speak for myself. Obviously, thinking about this blog made me feel guilty for my laziness, especially since one of my last posts was about running no matter how much you don’t want to. Reading my own words made me feel kind of like a hypocritical prick.

But, I’m back at it again. Here’s a quick summary of my life during my year of radio silence.

After my last post, I picked up my training and ran a couple forty-mile weeks. I was getting pretty fast. Then, everything below my knees blew up and died and I had to stop running for a month.

I spent a semester in Chicago as an Undergraduate Research Fellow at the Newberry Library. It was one of the best experiences of my life.

I ran a lot in Chicago. My apartment was only a couple blocks away from the lake, and I ran on the Lakeshore Trail almost daily. Running along Lake Michigan is amazing. On a sunny afternoon or a clear fall night, the view of Chicago’s skyline to one side and the water on the other is absolutely breathtaking. I would frequently weep uncontrollably from the beauty during my runs. I started to put in miles and get fast again.

However, my research started to take a toll on me, physically and mentally. It was a graduate-level program, and I spent a lot of time hunched over documents and taking notes. I was able to write a super kick-ass fifty-five page paper about hoboes and their alternative educational institutions in the Jazz Age, but at great cost to my back.

 I also got food poisoning from not washing some raspberries I got at a farmer’s market. Thanks a lot, farmers. Wash your fruit next time, dicks.

I returned from a run one day and took a mental inventory. My knees hurt, my back hurt, my feet hurt, and my ankles hurt. Clearly, there was something wrong somewhere. Looking in the mirror, I could see that there was definitely something wrong with my back. My spine was not straight. This was the last run I went on for awhile.

After that, I continued to have a great time in the Windy City. When I returned home to Kalamazoo, I tried to get into physical therapy. It took almost four months. During this time of not running, I got way fatter. I’m like 215ish now, up from 195 when I left. I was just like “Hey, let’s jam a bunch of unhealthy things into my cakehole! It’ll be okay! My actions don’t have consequences!”

 Physical therapy really helped me. However, I forgot to make an appointment, and I just sort of stopped going. Really dropped the ball on that one.

This wasn’t Lupus’s fault, either. I’ve managed to keep the disease completely under control. It was all me, baby.

Finally, I signed up for an individual fitness class at school. Basically, individual fitness classes are like gym classes except that all you have to do is lie and say you exercised for two hours and you get credit. The first week, I realized that I had not actually exercised at all until the night before the class.

Out of sheer shame, I ran two miles. Thank goodness. The hardest run is the first, and every successive run gets easier. I’ve gone for four runs of about 2-3 miles, and it’s getting easier every time. It’s still super painful, because I’m really fat and out of shape, but I’m improving each time I got out. I’m starting to get into a routine, and my life is becoming more balanced.

So, I’m in the same place I am every spring: square one. I quit running when things got difficult in the winter. Now that the weather’s nice and the birds are chirping, my calves are hurting and I’m sweating and I’m loving it. I’ve got my sights set on the Kalamazoo Klassic, the 5k that humbles me every year after I come off of my winter layoff. Visions of future marathons and new PRs and training schedules and gnarly workouts are dancing in my head.

Will I follow through this time? Will I take it slow and avoid hurting myself? Will I keep running throughout the winter? Are Things Finally Going to Be Different This Time?

Who knows? Let’s hope so. I’m as excited as I always am to begin again.

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My Leg Muscles are Beginning to Resemble Cast Members From the Jersey Shore

So, I’ve been running faster lately. I’ve been running with one of my friends a couple nights a week, and last week one of our runs turned rather competitive we weren’t quite racing, but we were definitely cruisin,’ averaging about 7:30 per mile (note: this is based on my internal “runners clock” and not any system of timing recognized as exact by anyone anywhere on planet Earth).

Then I went out and ran six miles at a similar pace the next night.

Feeling fast and confident, I decided to begin doing actual speed work. Crazy, I know! This week, I’ve done some strideouts after a couple runs to get prepared. Strideouts (also known as flying thirties) are an exercise that prepares your body for an actual speed workout. You start slow and build speed for 30-35 meters, sprint for 30-35 meters, and then slow back down for 30-35 meters.

Let me tell you, folks, it has felt goooooooood to go out and run fast for once. The first set of strideouts that I did this week wasn’t that great; I engaged in egregious overstriding and looked like a newborn calf. Tonight, however, I shortened up my stride and I felt like I was flying. I honestly surprised myself with my footspeed.

(Note: So as not to sound egotistical, I must note that I ran these with a friend who focuses most of his training on weightlifting and building explosiveness. He totally blew me away.)
After I got done, my legs felt like solid blocks of lactic acid. I actually had to stop early, because I was so gassed. Now,  I have been tired during my training this summer. Very tired. But this was different. Before, my muscles would complain in a whiny, nasal voice and say “Emyeaaaah, I’m not used to ruuuunning. I’m tiiiiiiireed. This huuuuuurts.”

Now, my muscles were sounding different. Now, they have deep voices and New Jersey accents, and they say things like “Great workout, bro! Really feeling it! Let’s go spike our hair, spray ourselves with axe body spray, pop the collars on our polo shirts, and go hit the clubs!”

Obviously, I’m being facetious. But I really feel like I’m turning a corner in my running.  I’m feeling less and less like a runner coming off a lupus related hiatus and more and more like a runner, period.

Actual, real, not-imagined muscles are developing in my legs. While I don’t have a classic runner’s physique by any stretch of the imagination, I’m becoming leaner and leaner. Most importantly, I’m moving faster and faster.

My legs hurt more than they have all summer today. Consequently, I feel amazing. I think I’m going to try and jump in a 5k before the summer ends and see how much faster I can get. Some abbreviated speed training is going to happen before that, and I am excited for it.

Hill repeats start next week. I’m pumped.


Posted in 5k, Goals, Health, Lupus, Minimalist running, race, races, Running, Running Form, speed work | Leave a comment

Hey Hey Hey, It’s a Weekly Mileage Report

Monday: 3 miles

Tuesday: 4 miles

Wednesday: 2.5 miles (this did not feel good)

Thursday: 7 miles. This was a super fast run. I didn’t time it, but I’m pretty sure I was hitting 7:30 and lower for most of it.

Friday: 6 miles. Again this was pretty fast.

Saturday: Was not feeling up to running due to Prednisone problems.

Sunday: 6.5 miles

Total: 28.5 miles.

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Back in the Swing of Things: Weekly Mileage Report

It was a pretty good week. I am returning to my higher mileage and running pretty well.

Monday: 3 miles

Tuesday: 5 miles

Wednesday: off

Thursday: 3 miles

Friday: 7 miles

Saturday: 3 miles

Sunday: Got home from work and fell asleep for 14 hours instead of running.

Total: 21 Miles

Looking to get to thirty this week.


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For a Few Miles More: Weekly Mileage Report

Monday: 3 miles

Tuesday: 3 miles

Wednesday: 3 miles

Thursday: 3 miles

Friday:5 miles

Saturday off.

Sunday off.

Total: 17 miles.

I got back into the swing of things this week. I started off feeling like my legs were lead blocks but I was moving pretty good by Friday. This week has also been going well.

Stay golden, pony boy!



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5 Mile Week: Totally Nailed It

Monday-Wednesday: No running due to fear of injury.

Thursday: 2 miles. Run shortened because someone put a rock in a hard place.

Sunday: 3 Miles.

Well, this week was kind of a wash. However, my run today was good–I stumbled along for awhile but then I regained my good form and rain without irritated my ankles or feet. I think I’m getting this minimalist running thing figured out, slowly but surely.


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Well, THAT’S a Stupid Place to Put a Rock

The streets in my neighborhood all slope down from the center of the road to either side. Basically, they look like wide, shallow upside down letter Vs. This is incredibly annoying to a runner who focuses on form and wears minimalist footwear such as myself, because the gentle, five to ten degree slope causes me to  land and push off in an awkward, unnatural manner. This often causes discomfort and pain, and I am constantly afraid of developing a stress fracture because of the odd, unbalanced gait that I am forced to adopt. I think this gait is part of the reason for why I was feeling a little wear and tear and had to take the last three days off.

In order to counteract this, I usually zigzag wildly around the street, trying to find a “sweet spot” where I can run normally, or at least change to an area that temporarily doesn’t hurt.

Usually, I find myself gravitating towards the middle of the road. This is why I was running down the middle of the street tonight.

So, naturally, when a car turned down the street I was running on, I got over on the grass. I was running along happily and then I felt my foot hit something and my glasses went flying off and I flew forward and did a somersault that was undeniably boss despite the circumstances. I’ll give you my internal monologue from the immediate aftermath:

“SERIOUSLY!  Who puts a rock there on the edge of their lawn? Out of all the possible places to put a rock on the entire Earth, that exact location is by far the stupidest. Plus, who puts rocks on their lawn, anyway? Rocks are stupid. If rocks could feel pain I would…”

I was shaken from my revenge fantasy by the guy in the car who had clearly engineered my spill with his nefarious plan of driving on the same street. He stopped next to me, and in a weird accent that I couldn’t quite place, he said

“Hey man, you ok? You went down pretty bad there!”

Me, in glum tone similar to a petulant teenager: “Yeah…I tripped over a rock there.”

“You sure you’re ok?”

Me, attempting to make an excuse “Yeah…it’s really freakin’…dark out?”

“You need to get a little flashlight or somethin,’ man!”

Me: “Hyehah” (Note: I actually made this exact sound).

As he drove off and I started walking, I assessed the damage. My toe kind of hurt, but when I did my cat-like somersault I landed on my knee and it kind of hurt. I decided to walk home and not push it by running another mile like I had planned. I did run the last 200 yards, though, and the knee is fine.

I got inside and took off my shoes.

You know how when you stub your toe, you’re overcome by this feeling that the poor little guy is just completely, utterly mangled and destroyed and blood is gonna be everywhere and your toenail is gonna be torn apart in a way that would make the dudes from CSI cringe and you just purposefully avoid looking at it for as long as you can because you don’t want to see but then when you finally do it’s completely fine and everything’s normal down there and you feel like a big idiot for worrying so much about it?

This was not one of those times. There was half-dollar sized spot of blood on my sock by the big toe. At this point, it was pretty cool. I was all like “Awwww yeah, warrior status, maaaaaaan!”

Total Warrior Status!

I bit the bullet, and peeled off my sock. The nail was bent back reaaaaallly bad (like, over an inch)  and I could see all the blood and stuff underneath it and it was super gross. I did not take a picture of this because it was decidedly not cool and it would make you projectile vomit all over your computer and get all in the keyboard and make the keys not work and stuff.

Thankfully, the nail just kind of…went back to normal by itself (I don’t know how because I was very intent on not looking at it) and I don’t think the toe is broken. The knee is fine, so I’m ok.

So, the moral of the story is: the next time you’re going to do some landscaping in the yard, just don’t. Don’t landscape your yard. At all. That way, there’s nothing to trip over.

Don’t put rocks in stupid places,

Posted in 5k, Avoiding Injury, Injury, Killing it, Lupus, Minimalist running, Pronation, Running, Running Form, Uncategorized, Winning | Tagged , , | Leave a comment