Saturday, January 27, 2007

Discouragement, then Encouragement

ORN: 3 miles, 31:41, R4/W1, 10:34/mile

One of the most enjoyable things about running is how it teaches. I’ve learned more in the past four months with this persistent ITB hassle than ever; more about my anatomy, more about myself. This week was a prime example.

In my professional life, I am responsible for driving process excellence in our company. My other blog,
Learning about Lean, describes my implementation of the Toyota Production System. Central to the TPS is W. Edward Demming’s famous PDCA cycle, for Plan-Do-Check-Adjust. It is a simple, systematic and phenomenally effective way to learn anything.

Therefore, it is not surprising I apply a similar perspective to running. I’ve described here (in painful detail…sorry) the effort to recover from the injury. This past week is the first full week of running I’ve had since mid-November. The plan called for Monday 3; Wednesday 2, Thursday 3 and Saturday, 3.

Monday’s run went OK. The 2 miler on Wednesday was tough…I couldn’t complete the run. Then came Thursday; I knew a week ago running two days in a row would be a test and I was right about that. Thursday’s run was awful…I could not even run one mile. Not one. I was yelping in pain just past the half mile marker. I turned around and walked home, hurting. It was a true low point in the past three years of running. My leg ached the rest of the day, a constant reminder of the injury. To say this was discouraging would be an understatement. It seemed as if nothing at all had changed since last October.

Therefore, my planned 3 miler for today was a big mental challenge for me. After morning errands and 3 hours at work (yeah, working on processes), my leg hurt. I decided to stick with the plan and thus went out into the 20mph wind at 30 degrees pleased to be outside but unsure how the leg would hold up.

I tried two new things on today’s run. First, I went to an extreme Run/Walk ratio (run 4 minutes, walk 1), thanks to some comments from some of you. Second, I wore a
Knee Strap which I picked up recently on recommendation from a work colleague. Third, I had a day off before running.

And it seemed to work.

The ITB hurt most of the way. But the combination of the knee strap and the run/walk routine made a big difference. Every time I walked, the pain subsided. I finished strong without the knee hurting all that much. After a shower, it was only a minor annoyance.

What did I learn? How does PDCA work here?? On running; the “adjustment” needed to be pretty severe. I was surprised and pleased at the help the R/W and the knee strap offered. I’m interested to see how that continues. I also see that, for the time being, I must accept I can only run every other day.

On the mental side, it is largely a deeper understanding of priorities. Running is so real, so measurable, so physical, so visceral it is hard at times to remember it is only a sport and not life itself. My family, friends and spiritual life all take priority. Running can serve these things but dare not take first place.

Did W. Edwards Demming ever run? I doubt it, he was quite a curmudgeon. But his principles work. I’ve adjusted the Plan for next week to doing 3 milers on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, all with a R4/W1 ratio and knee strap.

Yeah, we’ll persevere. There is still much for me to learn.


Anonymous said...

so true, I pay attention a little more when I run so I can absorb some stuff . . . I'm ususally so busy blabby my mouth that I'm not paying attention to much at all.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you found something that is working. Way back, about 3.5 years ago, when I first started all the struggles with my heart, I had to adjust to the same run/walk ratio: 4/1. Physically, I didn't have a choice, so it wasn't hard to do, but it was very hard to do mentally. I creeped my way back up to where I am today 9/1. More than that seems to challenge my heart, sometimes I drop to 7/1 or 8/1 for long runs. Though I did it for my heart, I think it is what keeps me injury free. I'm a believer!

Anonymous said...

Hang in there Joe. I use the 4r:1w on all my long runs and keeps my ITB from coming back(hopefully) Take care and keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Well, I might think R4/W1 might be extreme, but R5/W1 is my norm! I just read a Q & A with Galloway on Erlina's sight, Left Foot, Right Foot, and he suggested she use a R2/W1 for her half marathon, to do 12 minute miles! Now that's extreme, even for me. But running injury free is a worthy goal, and I am pleased that I am injury free so far. Keep at it Joe. One thing I've learned from following injured runner's blog is that they always persevere.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a successful run. You are making great strides. Keep it up Joe and hopefully you will be running soon with less and less pain.

David said...

I am curious about your shoes. Are they well broken in/old? New? New brand? When injuries latch onto me I always check the mileage on my shoes.
If they're north of 400-450 miles, they become lawn mowing shoes.

Anonymous said...

I've got to hand it to you Joe for handling this thing so methodically and patiently with no hint of panic. I can't remember, but the docs have ruled out anything more severe than ITB?

If walk breaks help then by all means. I look forward to what this weeks plan leads to in terms of Check & Adjust. I want to see some control charts or a DOE. ;-)

robtherunner said...

Well said Joe about the priorities. I agree wholeheartedly all though sometimes my desires to run farther make it difficult to keep things in perspective at times.

Sarah said...

I like your perspective, although I'm probably more selfish than you are. Keep on keeping on, Joe!

Anne K. said...

Joe, this is a test message...more later...