Monday 22 December 2008

MRI results: Knee damage :(

Just get last weeks updates done briefly. I posted already that I did a fast 10 miles on Tuesday. I followed that up with yoga as usual. I rested on Wednesday and then did my 3 mile time trial on Thursday. I improved again, by 16 seconds, doing the 3 miles in 20:40 which is just under 6:54 minute mile pace. I am very happy with these results, and it just shows the benefits of doing this weekly session.

I did my usual gym work on Thursday afterwards.

I noticed when using my inversion bar, and doing reverse squats (squats whilst hanging upside down) that I have started pulling to the right. My left leg is not as strong as the right, so I was getting suspicious that the knee problem was getting worse.

I had the MRI on Thursday, which was a first for me. Trying to remain motionless for 25 minutes is a lot harder than it sounds. It's not just the knee I was told to keep still, it was my whole body. It becomes a mental contest, trying not to twitch your toes!

On Saturday I did a steady 10 mile trail run, taking in about 900ft of ascent.

Today, Monday, I collected the MRI film and consultant report. Normally this would have gone to the referring doctor, but my uncle is on holiday until the New Year, so I will pass it on when he gets back.

Pointless me looking at the film because I have no idea what I am looking at. The consultant reports, again I don't pretend to know the prognosis for that described, but I have some idea why I am getting pain and loss of strength.

A few extracts from the report

"There is some focal swelling and signal abnormality in the proximal end of the infra-patellar tendon at the attachment to the inferior pole of the patella in keeping with tendinosis."

Later it is simply stated as "Focal Patellar Tendinosis", which is commonly referred to as 'Jumpers Knee' I believe. From briefly looking it up on the internet it says there is 50/50 split on whether to tackle it using RICE method or surgery. Surgery does usually produce good results.

The other highlight of the report is:
"The medial meniscus appears normal. A small vertical tear i seen in the extreme posterior horn of the lateral meniscus close to the supporting fascicles but not quite reaching the superior articular surface"

Now, I'm just reading that as a small cartilage tear, and don't know enough to know how serious this is. I realise many tears can only be corrected with surgery.

The good news:
"The tendon (patellar) intact and the patella itself shows no sign of abnormality. The cruciate and collateral ligaments are intact. No signal abnormality is identified in the bone marrow and there is no sign of a Popliteal cyst."

I had hoped I might have a Popliteus problem and not a cartilage tear, so all of this isn't good news. What I do not know is how limiting these injuries can be. At the moment running up to half marathon isn't causing me problems, and my running in general is coming on very well. However, I am getting knee pain just walking around, and especially climbing stairs, pain in the knee when raising myself to a standing position, and also pain when sitting cross-legged (at yoga for example). There is an obvious strength discrepancy between the legs when I am doing the squats, which is getting worse.

I am due to do a 22 mile LDWA, which has quite a lot of ascent, on January 2nd. That is going to be the first test. If I struggle with that, then I am in trouble. I am fully paid up for the Atacama Crossing at the end of March. If I cancelled I would undoubtedly lose some money, but my insurance policy (one tailored for me) could well cover any loss. Until I get expert advice on the findings of the scan, I am in limbo. It will be two weeks before I know any more, so I will just carry on as normal and hope for the best.

Of course, if anyone here can decipher the medical speak any better, please feel free to comment and let me know what the prognosis might be?

Have a good week.

Monday 15 December 2008

2 weeks of updates

I didn't get time to post last week, so I'll update both now.

Snow a week last Tuesday meant that I couldn't do my Tuesday speed session, so I just did a light workout indoors. There was still snow on Wednesday but because I was just running an easy pace workout I managed the 10k session with no problems. On the Thursday I did my 3 mile time trial and did it 12 seconds faster than the previous week, averaging 7:08 minute miles. On the Saturday in a change to my usual 10-5 mile run I did an 11 mile walk in the Peak District near Castleton taking in around 2700ft of ascent over Mam Tor along the Ridge to Lose Hill and down into Castleton.

It was a cold but otherwise lovely clear day and very enjoyable. I stopped for lunch in Castleton itself before finishing the last 4 miles by climbing steadily through Cave Dale.

Tuesday this week I did my 400M and 800M speed session on the treadmill at the gym, and then went straight into Yoga for an hour and a half afterwards. I suspect it will be months before my hamstrings are long enough that I can even touch my toes. I live in hope though!

On Wednesday I did a 10k trail run through apedale. It was below freezing and I ended up on my bum after hitting a glass-like patch of ground. I sat there feeling stupid for a few seconds and checking I was still in once piece before continuing. On Thursday I did my 3 mile time trial again and made quite an improvment. I did it in 6:59 minute miles (20:56 overall). I'm now happy to be back in sub 7 minute mile territory, and although I don't expect to make massive gains now I hope to still shave a few seconds off as the weeks go by. These sessions are definately key to improving my speed and overall fitness. The 400M and 800M work alone, don't seem to trigger enough of a response. On Saturday I was feeling too ill to run, so it was pointless flogging myself. Instead I ran 10 miles today at lunchtime (Monday) to make up for the missed long run. I ran with the intention of running it at average 7:45 minute mile pace, but found myself a little too comfortable at the half way point, so ended up running a negative split and pulling the average minute mile pace back to 7:33, with an overall time of 1:15:30. The route had 900ft of ascent, and I took along my data recorder. Map and results below. I ran this at about 90% effort.

I am booked in for a knee scan on Thursday this week to try and get to the bottom of my knee problems. My running is not being impacted over the distances I am running at the moment, but I am getting knee pain just walking or climbing stairs. I hope the scan will rule out a Meniscus tear, and just indicate some swelling in the Popliteus. I have had the same symtoms for 2 months and it is not getting any better. A scan is the only way to be sure. I'll update you with the results as soon as I get them.

Have a good week!

Monday 1 December 2008

Knee ongoing problems

A friend was visiting on Tuesday which meant I had to miss my training, and the Yoga class. As if to add insult to injury we also had a Chinese take-away, just to pile the guilt on!

On Wednesday I did a pleasant 6.5 mile trail route through the fields and paths of Apedale Country Park. I never time my Wednesday run, but just run at a nice steady pace. I'd estimate around 8:30 to 9 minute miles. The darkness dictates that I can't go a lot faster anyway, as running my the light of head torch you don't always get a good depth of vision on the uneven trail. After my runs at home I always use my inversion bar to stretch out, and decompress my spine, as well as do some sit ups and reverse squats. I also do some pull-ups on it as well, just to get my moneys worth!

On Thursday I reintroduced a tempo run into my schedule. Earlier this year I was running a 3 mile time trial every Thursday. I drive to the gym and then do 10 minutes warm up on the cross trainer, trying to get my HR up to about 150 to ensure I can start the run at a good pace. I then run a 1.5 mile out and then back road run. The out leg is a long steady incline with a few hundred metres of downhill just before the turn for home. Then of course the same in reverse. I aim to run this as quickly as I can. I was very interested to see how I would perform vs a few months ago, when I was doing around 6:58 minute miles on a Thursday. I dropped this session totally and had been opting to do the 8x400m and 4x800m sessions on both a Tuesday and a Thursday. Now I am questioning the wisdom in that as although I probably didn't give this Thursdays temp run 100%, starting off a little cautiously, I averaged 7:11 minute miles, which is around 40 seconds down in total. That's quite a lot of time lost I think. I also noticed that my resting heart rate isn't mid forties like it was, and is a few beats higher currently.

So, the only conclusion I can come to is that a weekly tempo run is hugely beneficial to my overall level of fitness. So, I'll now do this every Thursday.

After the run I then do my usual hour long workout in the gym, and then a little time in the Sauna to wind down.

On Saturday, I pre-planned my route to ensure I didn't come up short. I planned a 13 mile run as seen below, with 1300ft of ascent.

I really enjoyed the run, which was around 11am as soon as my breakfast had settled. There was thick fog which didn't lift all day and it was below freezing. I enjoyed running through the fog, along the familiar route. You get an increased sense of isolation of course, with non of the views over Staffordshire, Cheshire and Shropshire that I get from viewpoints along the way. It's very much me and the run; I felt very centred and focused. Again this is a steady pace run, and I don't time it and there is little value as I cross countless stiles along the way. I got back a little before 1pm, so I know it was under 2 hours. The other amusing touch was that my hair was frozen solid!

My knee was hurting early in the run, but less so when I finished, so I figured it was just the cold aggravating it. However, I am still getting knee pain when standing and bending the knee and it is not getting better. My uncle hasn't got back to me with an scan appointment yet, so I am going to have to arrange my own for next week I think. I've spoken to a local hospital that has a mobile unit every Tuesday. I'll see if I can book in for that. Something is definitely not right in there, I just don't know what?

Have a good week.