Sharing the Road

This time of year I feel like my blog feed is always full of posts with helpful tips about how to run safely in the winter.  These tips are things like wear reflective gear, run with a friend, and run against the flow of traffic.  These are, of course, great and helpful tips especially if you are new to running or new to running in the dark.  However, this article popped up on my facebook news feed this week and after my brush with a car it made me think about the rules of sharing the road.

This article is mainly geared towards cyclist, but I think the points are also applicable to runners as we frequently share the road with cars or at the very least cross the roads they drive on.  I live in Seattle which I would consider to be a very active, bike and pedestrian “friendly” city (by friendly I mean that there are a good amount of bike lanes and running paths for people to use) but even here I would say that it is far from being safe.  In addition to my recent crash, I’ve had close calls with cars while running, and I’ve heard about both runners and cyclist in the city who have been hit with some frequency.

I’m not saying that cyclist and runners don’t sometimes do things that put them in danger.  If I had a dollar for every time I saw a cyclist run a red light, make and illegal turn, or not wear a helmet (which seriously is so dumb, I don’t even have words for it) I could buy a lot of running shoes.  Runners and pedestrians are guilty of this as well, although to a much lesser extent as the sidewalk is, for the most part, a safe place to run.

Though the fact remains that in most incidents that I’ve heard of, the blame falls mostly on the driver who is just not paying attention.  The worst part is that the penalties for hitting pedestrians or cyclist are almost nonexistent.  In my accident the driver was given a ticket for failure to yield the right of way which is about $100 and probably had to replace his windshield which was smashed by body hitting it…that’s it.

I could have easily been injured much more severely or killed and the only consequence for him was $100 ticket and an easy car fix, most of which was probably covered by insurance.  Consequences like that are sure to encourage drivers to pay better attention when sharing the road.  If someone dies as the result of a car on car incident the responsible driver can face charges of vehicular manslaughter or even attempted vehicular manslaughter if there isn’t a fatality.  But if it’s a pedestrian or cyclist this isn’t the case?  How does this make any sense at all?

The problem is that everyone is in too much of a rush.  Is arriving to your meeting a few minutes late really worth someone’s life?  Since my accident I’ve really noticed how when I feel rushed I drive less safely and pay less attention than I would otherwise.  But if I slow down, take a breath, and realize that being on time isn’t worth the risk to my safety or the safety of others I become much more aware and patient.

I think there are many solutions to this issue.  One, there need to be harsher punishments for hitting a pedestrian or cyclist.  Bike vs Car or Pedestrian vs Car is not an equal fight, the pedestrian or cyclist is in far greater danger of injury or death and the consequences should reflect this.  I’m not saying people should go to jail, at least not in all situations but having to take driving classes, pay higher fines, or community service would be a good start.

Two, like I said about people need to just slow down and stop being in such a rush.  We all have places to be and tons of stuff to do, but you know what really slows you down?  An accident!  Guaranteed to make you late for wherever you are trying to get.  Slow down, take a breath, and realize that the 1-2 minutes you might make up are not going to make or break your day.

Three, cyclists and pedestrians need to obey the laws of the road.  This means crossing at cross walks, when the light gives you the walk signal not in the middle of the road because you’re too lazy to walk 100 yards to the crosswalk.  It means stopping at stop signs and red lights for cyclist.  And for goodness sakes it means putting a helmet on your head at all times and actually buckling the strap.

Roads are busy and getting busier but if everyone makes an effort to be safer lives can be saved.

Humbling

Running is a humbling sport.  We can put in all the training and have the perfect training cycle but on race days something out of your control just goes wrong.  There’s also the constant risk of injury that derails your goals or stops your training altogether.  I’ve gone through my share of humbling experiences, but nothing really prepared me for or came close to what I’ve experienced in the last few months following my accident.

I’m not going to ignore the fact that I got extremely lucky and it could have been so much worse than it was but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been extremely challenging.  There were several weeks where just getting up and walking around the block where challenging.  Normally when I have to take a break from running I’m itching to get back to it, but honestly it was the furthest thing from my mind for almost a month.

The mental recovery has also been humbling.  I took for granted having the ability to think clearly, even have the energy to do simple tasks, or to go through my days without constant headaches.  All of this has made me realize how extremely lucky that I was to be healthy and fit before.  Honestly I think my level of fitness is probably what saved me from having broken bones.

I know I am just at the beginning of what will probably be a long journey to recovery but the experience has helped me to not take for granted what I have because it can definitely be taken away quickly.

Bike vs Car

Almost 8 weeks ago I was involved in a pretty serious accident, which is why I’ve pretty much ignored this blog since that time.  It was a pretty normal Sunday.  I went for a nice recovery run in the morning, cleaned the house, went to the grocery store, and then headed to my normal Sunday afternoon yoga class.  It was a really beautiful early fall day so I decided to bike into yoga instead of taking the bus.

The class was awesome and I felt relaxed and invigorated.  I hopped on my bike to head home where Blake was making dinner.  One of the other students who had biked in wished me a safe ride home, which sticks out pretty vividly because of the irony.  It’s a pretty short ride between our house and the studio but there’s a decent hill between.

I made it up the hill, figuring that the hardest part was behind me and I could enjoy the rest of the ride that was downhill.  Now I should note that I’m actually not a fan of biking downhill.  I don’t like the feeling of going so fast that I don’t have a lot of control, so I’m a pretty cautious downhill biker.  So I headed down the hill at a pretty leisurely pace, about 10-15 mph.  At the bottom of the hill is a pretty busy intersection where I noticed there was a car waiting to turn left but I had the green light and the right of way so I proceeded through the intersection.

I was about part of the way into the intersection when I saw the car starting to turn left, but at that point there was nothing I could do.  The car smashed into my bike sending me into the windshield (which I crushed) and then 10 feet into the air (according to the witnesses) and onto the ground.  I remember[SB1]  just laying there for several minutes; everything feeling really surreal.

People from the other vehicles and who had been on the sidewalk started swarming around me asking if I was okay and someone called 911.  I asked someone to call Blake and a really nice woman sat on the ground with me holding my hand as we waited for the ambulances and police to arrive.  I was surprisingly calm and just focused on breathing.  The whole left side of my body hurt and I wasn’t sure if anything was broken so I tried to stay as still as possible.

The emergency responders came really quickly, examined me and took me to the hospital.  Somewhere in there Blake showed up, having borrowed our neighbors car and went with me to the hospital.  I spent the next 5 hours in the hospital having x-rays and CAT scans done still in a state of disbelief that this had happened.

In the end I was really lucky.  I didn’t break or fracture anything, but I did have a bad concussion, severe bruising along my whole left side, needed stitches in my left elbow, and lots of bad aches and pains (some of which are still around).  My bike was totaled.  The front fork snapped completely off and the frame was pretty damaged as well.

Needless to say that the past 8 weeks have been really challenging.  I’ve been dealing with severe headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, loss of mobility due to my injuries, stress related to the incident, not being able to work and just being very tired and unfocused.  Obviously my running has also been pretty nonexistent, as I’ve really just been focusing on getting better for the time being.

I wanted to do an update here since I do hope to start blogging more soon and didn’t want to just disappear off the face of the earth indefinitely.  However, I’m probably not going to be focusing as much on me for a while.  We’re still dealing with the insurance company so I’m trying to keep information about how I’m recovering off the Internet as much as possible in case there’s any contention down the road.  I will say that I am slowly recovering, but still have a ways to go.

Motivation…Where are you?

I think the hardest thing that comes with dealing with this injury over the past few months is continuing to feel motivated to get out and run some days.  It’s easy when you’re actively working towards something, be it a race or improving your speed.  You have a direction, you put in the time, and you see progress occurring.  For the most part it’s a pretty linear progression which helps you stay motivated to continue.

Coming back from and injury and focusing on correcting imbalances in your body is anything but a straight path.  More like a squiggly line drawn by a 2 year old who has no idea what a line is.

Looks something like this

It’s a lot of trial and error.  It’s also involved seeing a significant drop in my running pace.  At Tuesday’s group run I was paired with a someone who used to have a similar pace to me.  We were both supposed to run easy but it quickly became very clear that our easy paces were no longer the same pace.  I tried to hang in but quickly realized that was not going to happen.

Having to keep to mostly flat courses has also made a lot of my runs a little monotonous.  I pretty much run the same 3 & 4 mile courses several tales a week. If I’m running form home it’s the same out and back for both distances with an extra half mile to make it 4 instead of 3.  Combine all this with it being rather muggy out and it being dark in the mornings now and I’ve noticed a definite drop in my desire to get out and run.

Don’t get me wrong I’m still getting out there; it’s just harder than it used to be.  I know there dozens of articles about how to stay motivated with running like run with a friend or create a new exciting playlist.  Trust me I know all these tips and tricks but they’re a little overly simplistic if you ask me.  Instead of focusing on my overall goal, knowing that to reach it I need first to be healthy, and second to have this strong foundation to continue to run healthy.  Running’s a process and this is all part of it.

Workouts 8/26-9/1 <– WTH September???

So the bad news is I still haven’t made it to PT because apparently their system has been down for the last week and they are incapable of making appointments without it.  Not sure when we became so dependent on technology that we can no longer function when it isn’t working but apparently that’s where we are.  Anyway…even though I couldn’t get into PT I feel like my glute has actually been on the upswing which is really good.  I had several days when it didn’t bother me at all which is a big improvement.

Monday: AM – Weights, PM – 4.0 easy

Nice easy run from home.  I didn’t sleep well on Sunday night so I started off the week tired which made this kind of a slow run but not terrible

Tuesday: AM – yoga, PM – 7.25 easy on trails

Holy crap my legs are not in trail shape any more.  Hills have never been easy for me by any stretch of the definition but after sticking mostly to flat for the past few months this was a big wake up call.  I took it easy and just ignored my pace but by the end I was definitely tired.

Wednesday: PM – 4.0 easy

I was beat from work and spent a good 10 minutes lying on the floor in my running clothes waiting for the motivation to go run.  It never really came but I managed to get my butt out the door to slog through 4 miles.  My legs were definitely tired from the trails and I’m pretty sure a snail passed me at some point.  But I got it done.

Thursday:  AM – Yoga

I was actually supposed to run on Thursday but due to having even less motivation than I did on Wednesday and a decent thunder storm hanging around I opted to switch days.  I think it ended up being a good decision.

Friday: 4.0 easy

This run was supposed to happen in the morning but I opted for another hour of sleep.  Then it was supposed to happen when I got home around 1, but it was really warm so instead it ended up happening around 6 instead.  It actually ended up being a decent run despite the massive procrastination.

Saturday: Off

No running but spent 6 hours painting the gym instead…pretty sure that should count for something right?

Sunday: 10.0 trails

So all through my glute injuries downhill has been more of an issue for me than uphill, which is great because uphill is hard and painful and so was downhill…can’t win.  This trail was down an old railroad grade which meant it wasn’t a steep decline but it was definitely 10 miles of all downhill.  I wasn’t sure how my leg would hold up and just kind of crossed my fingers I wasn’t going to experience another full flair up.  Thankfully my leg held up great.  It started to get a little fatigued around 8 but really no major issues at all.  That my friends is what we call progress J

Weekly Mileage: 30…okay 29.25 but I’m rounding up

I think I can safely say that the theme of this week was lack of motivation so I’m pretty happy that I got in as many miles as I did and that my leg held up and even improved a little throughout it.

Yoga and Running

For the past few months, yoga has become a large part of my training schedule.  I’ve found it helpful not only physically, but also mentally.  I’ve come to realize that yoga is a really good compliment to running.  It builds strength, flexibility, mental strength, and helps to correct muscle imbalances.

The continual pounding of running causes tightening and shortening of the muscles which can create imbalances in our muscles and most of us don’t take the necessary time to restore, elongate and loosen these muscles.  Without focusing on these opposing movements the body will begin to compensate to work around the imbalances.  This creates instability, puts stress on your muscles, joints, and skeletal system.  When you have imbalances every step makes your body work harder and exacerbates the problem.  As you can probably guess this is the perfect recipe for continual injury.

Yoga helps to counteract the strain that running puts on your body by elongating and loosening problem areas such as the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, back and shoulders.  It can also help to strengthen the typically weak hip abductors and rotators.

Yoga also helps create a greater awareness of your body.  It helps to you to understand your body and how it works by drawing awareness during practice.  This awareness can allow runners to be notice things that are going on in their body even when the endorphins may be dulling those signals.  It can also teach you the difference between good pain and bad pain and to acknowledge your body’s limitations.

Yoga can be a great compliment to running but it’s important to choose the appropriate practice and build up slowly.  Yoga has many different levels of intensity so it’s a good idea to start with a lower intensity class with a focus on restoration and then gradually build to a more challenging practice.  You should also adapt your practice to your running schedule.  If you’re in the peak of training it’s a good idea to back off the intensity of your practice so you don’t over tax your body.

Workout Recap 8/19-8/25

Right now I feel like I’m kind of in a holding pattern.  My glute/IT band isn’t getting worse but it’s also stuck at about 90% healed.  It’s good in the sense that I feel comfortable running and even getting in some decent mileage but not good enough that I feel comfortable pushing too much.  I wasn’t able to get into PT last week but I’m hoping I can get in sometime this week to hopefully work out the remaining issues.

Monday – AM: weights, PM: 10 minute recumbent bike, 1.0 mile run, dynamics drills

Since I had a pretty decent weekend of running this was just a shakeout workout to loosen things up and see how things were feeling.  My legs were definitely fatigued but I felt pretty good considering the long run on the beach.

Tuesday – AM: yoga

Active rest day with an awesome morning yoga class

Wednesday – AM: 3.0 easy, PM: weights

Squeezed in a quick run in the morning before a super long day of work followed by training a client at the gym after.  The run felt good although I think I was still half asleep while I was doing it.  Also managed to squeeze in a quick weight session in between work and training my client.

Thursday – 4.0 easy

I was supposed to do a 2 mile pick up at 8:00 in the middle of this run but my glute was feeling tight after a day of being on my feet and a lot of lifting.  So I opted to run easy instead of pushing it.  I’d really like to get back to speed work because I’m feeling SUPER slow but I figure it’s better to be safe and wait then risk reinjuring it.

Friday – AM: yoga, PM: 4.0 easy & weights

Nice easy run followed by a quick shoulder workout at the gym.  It was pretty warm when I ran so I felt a little sluggish but overall I felt pretty good.

Saturday – 8.0 @ 9:00 pace

Once upon a time a 9:00 pace felt so nice and easy…not so much anymore.  I’m pretty sure this is longest I’ve run at a specific pace in months.  For the first 4 miles I’m pretty sure my legs were just confused about why they were being forced to run this fast.  They loosened up about halfway through and the last 4 felt much “easier”.  Originally I was supposed to run 8:30’s and was glad I made the call to do 9:00’s instead because I’m pretty sure 8:30’s would not have happened.

Sunday – off

Weekly Mileage: 20 miles

Not a ton of miles but I feel like I’m building a strong base.  I think the combination of running, weights, and yoga are really helping me to create a stronger foundation then I had before and I feel like I’m going to come out of this stronger than I was before…here’s hoping J