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.


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).


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.


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.

Half a step back

A little sore so I did the old “1 mile at a time” thing.

PT with 1 mile after banded walks, and 1 more mile after the clamshell series. Still did most of it..and some chest taps.

I wouldn’t say that these were bad walks, but I was in the “pre-pain” mode; still ok but wondering when it would go. Ok, I’ve had a LOT worse but I’ve had better too.

Then I worked on my paper, and went to the pool at 11 am for 2000 yards:

600 of my usual side/back warm up (100 each)

200 of my usual front kick/free

Then I did 200, 200, 100, 100, 50, 50 with 50 back in between plus 30-50 seconds rest; this totaled 1000 yards:

3:32, 3:28, 1:41, 1:40, 47, 47. I was soooo close to going under 1:40.

200 pull in 3:36 (easy).

Weight: 203.8 after swimming.

Note: I did feel the back/butt just a bit during swimming; didn’t feel it at all on Monday. I wonder if the longer pool feels better?

Shoulders were ok.

Taking stock

One of the things I do during the summer is I get ready for the fall..physically. Seriously. I try to see what works, what doesn’t work and what workout scheme is sustainable.

I will have to make modifications.

Today I was sort of efficient for the first part of the workout:

31:25 PT and pre walk stretching

28:58 for the 2 mile walk

4:41 to get a drink and transition to my porch work.

52:28 for my pull up/push up, shoulder rehab and wobble board (had to rest a bit here)

51:46 to go downstairs and finish my bench presses, deadlifts, high inclines, curls and belt squats (some inefficiencies here)

Total time: 2:49:20 which is too long for most of the academic year.

The effects: I felt fine right afterward, but when I laid down in bed and got back up..some troubling left glute tightness (back related, I am sure). The walk caused the most strain.

The actual workout

The walk wasn’t the worst but I did feel some stress ..that went away reasonably quickly.

Pull ups: 10, 10, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5 wide, 5 chin, 5 mixed, 5 mixed. These went ok

push ups: 30 incline, 30 decline, 30 incline, 10 flat (some resting here)

bench press: 150 lb: 7, 7, 7, 10 (best in a while)

deadlifts: 10 x 134, 10 x 184 low, 10 x 270 high (8 inch) wondered about these..not residual pain right after, nor pain during.

curls: 3 sets of 10 x 50

high incline: 3 sets of 10 x 94 Swiss bar

belt squats: 3 sets of 12 x 94 (kind of shallow)

I did notice a slight shoulder niggle.

July 4 2022

Part I: the YMCA pool was open so I drove there and..well, evidently the swim team started at 6. So I was shunted into another lane and even we ended up circle swimming. I ended up beating up my hand on the lane line..it was a bit disconcerting to see so many next to me (yes, they were faster; a lot faster)

I made the best of it..and glad I didn’t know in advance else I wouldn’t have gone.

200 warm up (side, 50 back, 50 easy free)

200 of 50 kick, 50 swim with fins.

500 in 11:14 (zoo)

200 of 50 kick, 50 swim with fins)

100 (interrupted as someone wanted to circle…it was that kind of day

500 in 10:52

200 fins (some kick)

100 in 2:05 (damn, the 50 meter pool is long)

Then most of my PT, including shoulders

Then a hike: first part was on the single track wooded trail, second half had some asphalt, mostly single track woodchip/ grass

The single track: I did have to do some very quick stretches (20-30 seconds) but things cleared up when I was on flat asphalt or gravel. The back is better; that is undeniable. But the reality is that there will be a lot of “activity management.”

Swim: went very well, in terms of body and pain (shoulder and back).

Note: the swim itself went much better than a month ago; I have improved in swimming. But I thought I’d try for a mile straight..just not ready for that yet. I’d get chopped up at Barton Springs.

not ready for 5K

Ok, how did it go? PT, then out: I’d say the first 2 miles were ok and around 2.3-2.5 I knew I had a decision to make. At 2.7 I knew I needed to head home.

But after 2-3 minutes I was good to go again.

Yes, the pain at 2.86 was similar to what it once was at 1.8 or so; 50 percent improvement. And I recovered quicker; the second walk WAS faster and easier.

Afterward, I fought off fatigue (embarrassing that this little workout fatigued me so) and did 60 reps of pull ups (10 singles, 10 singles, 10, 6 sets of 5 with various grips)

5 sets of 20 push ups (final 20 inclined)

bench: 6-6-6-7 with 150

rows (dumbbell) 3 sets of 10

curls 3 sets of 10

high incline: 3 sets of 10 x 94

Shoulder slightly sore afterward (later)

Like voting: not all unicorns and rainbows

It has now been two weeks since my injection. So the report: definitely better, but not perfect.

Example: I walked home from the gym without fear of pain; I wasn’t limping when I got home. I can handle six 2 mile walks per week. Less pain when doing the crawl.

BUT some pain is there (in dulled form) and I have to mind my posture. And it is still 40 minutes of PT every danged day… that is not going to change.

I can sympathize with those who hate working out at all; my PT is like that: unrewarding but necessary.

And voting is like that. You aren’t going to get everything you want. If you get even a 1/3 or even a 1/4 of what you want, you chose wisely, especially if that fraction is from your most important items.

Workout notes: started my PT late and didn’t walk before..didn’t want to walk in the rain after.


600 of the usual alternating side and back

200 of the usual front kick, free

200 in 3:38 with 50 back (too slow but I had no one to chase)

200 in 3:32 with 50 back (better)

100 in 1:42 with 50 back

100 in 1:42 with 50 back

50 in 0:48 with 50 back

50 in 0:47 with 50 back

200 pull in 3:36 (easy effort)

Weight: 205 afterward (probably bloated again)