Sunday, January 20, 2013

Thank you, Coach Jay!

"Just get moving."
                                                        -Coach Jay Stephenson

A couple of weeks ago, (before I found out about my osteoporosis), I spoke with Jay Stephenson on the phone about my running injuries, and we discussed strategies for recovery and prevention.  Jay Stephenson is the former head coach for cross country and distance track at Shorter University in Rome, Georgia.  His wonderful website,, is a wonderful resource for training and fitness plans, with load of informational videos on all things running -- training, races, nutrition, and more.

After I contacted him and explained my situation ... as you know, a 39 year old runner suffering a second stress fracture in 6 months, he graciously offered some time for further discussion and advice on the phone.

The first question to answer was : "Why and how did I get injured?"
(please note that this was before my DEXA scan revealed osteoporosis, and the reason for that is still being investigated).

To answer this, he asked in detail what my running schedule was leading up to my injuries; he asked about my shoes, my form, and the surface I ran on.  Here is my breakdown

Schedule: From November 2011 to May 2012, I started by completing a modified Couch to 5K Program, (modified because I skipped ahead a couple weeks when I felt good, something I should not have done) then had a rather irregular schedule because of work, but tried to stick with 3 maintenance runs of 3-5 miles during the week, and a long run on weekends from 6-13.1 miles, increasing each week.  If I am to be honest, my schedule not regular at all, and I could go for a week without running, then would run several days in a row, and not really pay attention to increasing mileage.

Shoes: did a lot of experimenting.  Video analysis at both a Foot Locker RUN store and Road Runner Sports showed that I have a neutral gait.  Foot analysis at Road Runner Sports showed that I have a high arch.  I played around with Nike Air Pegasus, Skechers GoRuns, Mizuno Wave Creation 13, Brooks Ghost 3, and Brooks Pure Flow 1.  (man I loved the Pure Flow.)

Form: the Foot  Locker Run store analysis showed heel strike, neutral gait (I was wearing shoes).  In contrast, the Road runner sports analysis, showed that I had a forefoot strike and neutral PLUS gait (needed a little more support). (I was barefoot).
Personally I knew I was a heel striker, but tried hard to get onto midfoot (Chi Running) and forefoot.  I wasn't always successful, but the concept of minimalism and form made sense to me, at the time anyway.

 Great video on the basics of proper Chi Running form:

Surface: Almost pure pavement.  I ran on streets and sidewalks leading up to May 2012.  Also a lot of wooden boardwalk.  Very rare grass, and rare treadmill. 

Cross training: none at that time.

Circumstances of my first injury: After a half marathon distance long run in training, 13.1 miles in my new Mizuno Wave Creation 13 with heel strike on pavement, I started to feels a nagging pain in my right groin that didn't go away.  I kept running for a couple of weeks, and thus my femoral neck stress fracture.

So, what did I do then? I was on crutches and a cane for 5 months, I thought I learned my lesson, and then I tried to correct them when I got back to running October 2012 - December 2012

This was my strategy:
-even more gradual acceleration -- I walked more, then did coach to 5 k, then tried Hal Higdon's Novice 1 marathon training program.
-I tried to change my form to a more forefoot strike.
-I varied my surface, and more regularly ran on treadmills and softer trails.
-I cross trained -- elliptical and bike


In December 2012, I felt some left ankle pain after a short 3 mile trail run, so I stopped, then when it felt better, I ran 30-40 minutes on a soft treadmill, and then I found out I got my second stress fracture, a left distal tibial stress fracture.

So now what?  What do I do now.  Coach Jay helped me to identify the reasons for my injuries again -- maybe I was still accelerating my mileage too fast, and I was still doing too much too soon and I had too many fast workouts during the week.  I also figured I was overcompensating for my right hip injury and heel strick by (unconsciously) putting on extra weight on my left, and using a lot of forefoot strike, so that's how my left tibia got injured.

Now, again, this was before my DEXA bone density showed osteoporosis, but his prescription in addition to a modified training schedule? 


He suggested increasing bone density with weight training:
2-3 times a week,
workout with moderate weights (not to bulk up, but to tone), 3 sets of 10.
both upper and lower body.
either free weights or machines, whatever keeps you motivated and consistent.

Little did I know two weeks ago how important and spot on this advice would be, now that I found out that my bone density is low.  I haven't gotten to work out yet, I am still on crutches and a scooter.  First things first, let's heal.  My orthopedic podiatrist called my the other day and said to stay off of it, and he will see me this week, and probably well let me put some weight on my leg.  And I am going to get a testosterone level this week and see an endocrinologist.  Boy, this is turning our to be a  roundabout way to get from Couch to Goofy.  Let's do it right.

But, for giving me your generous time and advice, I thank you Coach Jay!!

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