Finding the formula

Well, decent pain day today, though I did up my dose of Naproxen. I’ll try to lower it now.

Swim: 2000 meters;

500 of 100 side, back, side, back, side. First 100 back was awful; had to focus to keep straight.

500 in 10:36

200 drill/swim with fins

200 in 3:57

200 drill/swim with fins

200 in 3:57

100 drill/swim with fins

100 in 1:56

Later got home and walked 2 miles at a 12:30’ish pace

Later: commuter lunch walk (15:26 pace) and finished the rest of my PT, except banded walks.
Shown: my hang to stretch the back out.

Very low pain day, though my shoulder is a bit achy.

Progress

I do not know what time will bring but right now, the back is getting better; not quite pain free but much, much better.

I did PT, decided to see what I could do on my old West Peoria 5K course. The Garmin went haywire at about 1.5 miles and mismeasured the distances; recorded it as 3.7 miles.

Nope…that would be an outstanding RUN for me right now.

The Google maps app is probably too generous; I called it 3.1.

Then came pull ups, (10, then 10 sets of 5, last two mixed, and there was quick rest between each set), push ups (3 sets of 30 incline, 10 regular)

Stretch, (pull ups: felt it a bit)

bench: some worries here; two bumpers plus the step stools (rated at 700 lb) did the trick: 155: 6, 5, 5, 5

curls: 3 sets of 10

Swiss bar high incline: 3 sets of 10 x 94

Overall: much better. NOT well, but that “hollow” feeling in my thighs is gone.

Shoulder: much better.

Weird: if you told me that when I was first feeling this (back in the summer of 2020) that it would take THIS long to show improvement, I would have been deeply depressed. If you told me last summer that it would take this long..still depressed.

But if you told me in April that I’d be feeling like this now, I would have been delighted. Perspective matters.

Swim, hike and Chiefs

Last night, the Chiefs beat the Bandits 5-0; one player hit two home runs and everything went well.

It did not start that way; the starting pitcher loaded the bases on walks in the very first inning, but then settled down to give 5 good innings.

This morning: got the pool at 6:20; that gave me time to swim but I would not have had time to walk. I should probably aim to get there at 5:30; try that on Monday.

How it went: sore shoulder last night (mildly…mostly felt it during the baseball game..NOT during sleeping). I stretched it some and made sure to do PT this morning before driving to the pool.

500 of side, back, breast, side, back

500 of drill swim (fins)

200 in 3:58

100 drill swim (fins)

2 x 100 on 3 (1:54, 1:55)

100 fins

4 x 50 on 1:30 (54, 55, 56, 55)

100 fins
200 “cruise” in 4:07 Crystal blew past me here (ok, she had fins on but still..)

Then the hike/walk: some discomfort (very, very mild) during the latter part of the single track (25:20) then some mild ache during the grass/gravel with a tiny bit of pavement part (17 min pace: too slow to help with stabilization )

One week and counting

Last night: Chiefs game with Vickie and Harry. Chiefs fell behind 5-1, were down 6-3 in the bottom on the ninth and tied the game! It was 6-6, bases loaded …0 out…and ….spectacular catch by the short stop to rob us of a game winning hit..then a pop infield fly for 2 outs…and then…full count…strike out. Argh.

Quad cities got 2 runs in the 10’th to win.

Workout notes: got to the pool late; swim team was there (grrr) but I got a lane anyway.

600 of strokes (breast,side, free)

400 of 50 drill, 50 swim (fins)

200 of 50’s on the 1:30 (fist) 59, 59, 57, 60

200 of 50’s on the 1:30 54, 55, 56, 55 (tired)

600 of alternating 100 fins, 100 free in 13:12 (10:58 for 500) (time ran through equipment changes)

Then a slightly different 2.2 mile walk.

Given how slow the walk was, pain was low..not really noticeable until the 1.7 mile mark or so.

Note: right shoulder slightly sore..afterward.

Snapping out of it..

I am seeing more progress.

  1. Walks: are now starting with “I wonder what I can do today” instead of with dread. No, I am NOT up to 5K yet..still got a ways to go, but I am doing a lot of 1-2 milers and am at about 18 miles a week. YES, I know, in 2019 I could walk a marathon, but this isn’t 2019.
  2. Weights: I seem to have a good idea as to what hurts me and what doesn’t. I do have to be careful with the trap bar deadlifts and the “let’s see what I can do for 1-3 reps” days are probably over. I am not that far away from 10 reps with 300 lb (8 inch handles) though. I have to bear down on my form.
  3. Swims: most progress here. Again, where I am is laughably bad from where a good swimmer is and from where I once was (I was never good). But I think this is my best physical activity right now. This is where I restarted.
  4. Physical Therapy Routine: I think I have it down; I do these and add some of the Williams set.

It will be good to reach a point where I am no longer constantly whining about my back. It has been a long 2 years.

What went down today:

PT, included shoulders.

1.5 mile walk; a little tighter than I’d like but I probably wasn’t focused endough.

2000 meter swim, straight crawl (longest crawl set in forever). Great: well, no, but much, much, much better than were I was even in early July.

500 splits: 11:41, 22:50, 33:59, 45:04 (11:41, 11:09, 11:09, 11:05)

Miles: 9:25, 18:30, 27:20, 36:13 (final mile: 35:40)

Yes, I know; in 2001 I averaged 33 minute miles for a 5K swim; in 2008 I averaged 31 minute miles. But I am early in my training; I need to progress slowly. And I am well beyond where I was here (12:52 for 500, 11:44 for 500) and here. (11:14 after warm up, 10:52)

Afterward, a short hike ..and ONE stop (to take a photo..no stretching..though I did have to scramble under a fallen tree and that helped a bit. The hike was “easy effort” and in line with my other hikes on this course.

Lessons learned

Ok, today’s lesson:

  1. When I am walking and I feel the “onset” of the glute pain (“prepain”) I an sometimes avoid it by speeding up. Of course, I can only do this when I haven’t had a power reduction in my left leg. Today: mile 1 was a sluggish 14;55; second mile of 14:10 felt better.
  2. Swimming: I have gotten to the phase where “cheap improvement” is over; to improve further, I need to make my technique better and to swim more. But I have to do so cautiously.

PT

Walk (added 0.1 to the walk)

It was not 100 percent pain free, but I’d say that the discomfort maxed out at maybe a 3 out of 10 and improved on the second mile.

More PT then a swim:

600 warm up of side/back

400 of 25 drill, 25 swim with fins

1000 alternating 250 swim, 250 pool. Sluggish:

4:45, 9:22, 14:11, 18:41 (swim: 4:45, 4:49, pull: 4:37, 4:30)

200 cool down of back, side. Note: side 50 is 1:10.

Weight: 202.8 before swim, 201.7 after.

Shoulder: no pain, but I can feel it at times. I had better keep the stretch.

Microscopic progress

Neurogenic claudication (pain in the glute/leg upon walking a certain distance that is derived from a nerve impingement) ..takes a very long time to recover from; progress is measured in tenths of a mile in a month. Really.

So, today, I tried something slightly different: I mixed PT, stretching, and pull ups…walked my first mile treating it as a PT exercise, then did more PT, push ups, walked 2 more miles (very sticky so the walk was slower), then took it downstairs for weights.

And both walks were as about as pain free as they’ve been since all of this nonsense started 1.5 years ago or so. Not perfect, put the pain was negligible …well within the upper 1-5 percent of all my walks.

If I could do this *without* the long PT/push up break in between, I’d declare myself “healed” and then transition to “conservative training.” But I don’t think that I can, just yet. Maybe with some weight loss? That is trending well also.

Note: slight residual soreness in the leg/glute later in the day, but not much…just enough to let me know it is there.

Pull ups: (with PT in between sets..a LOT of it) 5-5-5-5-10=10-5-5-5-5 with the last 4 sets being chins, chins, mixed grip, mixed grip.

Push ups: 30 incline, 30 decline, 30 incline, 10 deficit

Bench presses: 156: 5, 5, 5, 161: 4 reps My feet in the air makes me use less weight.

Curls: 3 sets of 10 x 50

rows: 3 sets of 10 x 22 (trying to use the back)

high incline: 3 sets of 10 x 94 (getting better depth)

Whining and regret will get me nowhere.

I admit that I underestimated how much of my “post morbid obesity” (physical) identity was centered around my ability to cover long distances on foot. Ok, there were times when it was also centered about how much weight I could move.
No, I was never “really good”; my best feats were probably “walked 101 miles in 24 hours” (May, 2004) and, in terms of weight, a rather average 310 lb bench press and 410 dead lift in the gym when I was in my early 20’s. And I was a bit proud of that, at least internally.

But, that is sort of gone. I can lift..with modification, and I am getting used to that. I still get joy out of my modified lifts, of very, very modest weight. But the neurogenic claudication …that is a tough one (roughly speaking, upon walking, I start to get uncomfortable glute pain 1.5-2 miles into it, and IF I attempt to push through it, I get sore after the fact…same if I try to arch when I bench press or do “heavy” (for me) trap bar dead lifts.

So, my adaptation is to mix my walking: a couple of sets of 1 mile walks one day, 2 miler the next..and lifting: do sets of 10 trap bar dead lifts with more modest weights and of different handle heights (low, 4 inch, 8 inch)

Well, enough of that. There are plenty of people overcoming a heck of a lot more:

And so I’ll continue and continue to modify, seek, adjust, and try to improve from where I am.

Today: PT (a lot of it ..did some balance work on the wobble board too)

1 mile walk to the pool. Kept the effort modest.

It was rainy.

Then 2200 yards of swimming:

600 of side/back
400 of drills with 25 swims (fins)

5 x 100 on the 2:20. These were disappointing (slight catch in the shoulder but..not much)
1:43, 1:41, 1:41, 1:42, 1:41

200 of 100 back, 100 side

500 pull in 9:06 (4:33, 4:33); I thought I had picked it up on the second half, but I was just tired.

Weight afterward: 203 lb (ate Indian food yesterday).

confusion

I am sitting here, with a small pain in my left glute, but it is hard to tell if it is a back/nerve root thing or a muscle thing. It feels a bit like the latter..but it is very had to tell.

PT, 2 mile walk, more PT, then a 2200 yard swim.

Walk:

I had planned to do this in 2 parts, but my modest pace in the first 1.1 (16 minutes) and my lack of real pain had me continue. Not my fastest but I didn’t give that much of an effort, and it was a bit sticky.

Then more PT, then a swim
600 back/side
400 of 25 drill, 25 swim (with fins)

10 x 50 on the 1:10; 47, 47, then the rest were 48..with one 47

100 back

Then 9:35 for 500 by 100 swim, 200 pull, 100 swim, 100 pull

100 back.

The 47-48 for 10 while what I used to average for a 1000, is still better than this past April.

So many variables

Yeah, I am obsessed about my back/glute injury recovery.

I am keeping track of my progress and it appears that, over time, I’ve extended the amount I walk in a week from about 6 miles a week to 13-14. And my 1.1 mile course used to take me 16:20 or so..now takes me 15:20. That is undeniable progress since March. But it seems so..incremental.

Then again, this physical therapist talks about going from 3/4 mile to 3 miles over a 2 year period.

So, I am sort of trapped…not bad off enough to really need surgery but not really close to where I would like to be.

It appears that my “I need something to improve on” fix will have to come from swimming; currently it is 3 times a week, and maybe I can get to 5 times a week. It is looking as if my line up will be “swimming, lifting, walking, PT” with the idea that I do something every day, but not too much of it. Maybe a 1-2 mile therapeutic walk over lunch hour, swim and lift/PT in the morning?

Back to today

Morning: PT, 2 mile walk.

I torched my glute/back? by those belt squats yesterday; this “lean back” doesn’t work for me. The leaning forward does better and limiting my depth.

But the first mile felt ok (13:40-ish) and I said “ok, half-mile more” and then “ok, just get two” and that is what I did. But it was pouring and I think that I had forgotten about tying to walk faster. But it was “good enough” and more than I expected.

11 am: after chores and errands, to the pool for 2200 yards. Warm up 600 (raced Mike a bit) with side and back.

200 of 25 front kick, 25 swim

200 of 25 drill, 25 swim (fins)

1000: alternate 250 of swim, pull 18:23: 4:41, 9:14, 13:56, 18:23 or: 4:41, 4:42 swim, 4:33, 4:27 pull.

200 cool down (back, side)
I am getting better. NOT good, but better.