On the Road of Recovery

Still struggling with muscle and tendons issues, I am now able to log some miles. Not too long or far. But better than nothing. I am still having Physical Therapy and now even using KT tape. I prefer not to detail for how much I spend on recovery tools, it could covert pay off the debt of several countries.

What was (and is still) the plan to go back to recovery? Well, pretty simple:

  1. Stop running at all. I replaced running with bicycle, elliptical and swimming. I maintain at least 1 to 2 hours of physical activity.
  2. When I was feeling I was doing too much damage, I switched to another activity. In the beginning, even standing was painful, so, it was a challenge to exercise without (too much) pain
  3. One week after the initial injury, I went to the doctor to get medical advice to see if anything was broken. I then attended PT. Of course, PT exercises do not account in the training time. Do your homework: workout + PT
  4. After a week of PT (and about 3 weeks to one month after the initial injury), I started running again. It feels good to be out but was horribly painful. At some point, you have to suck it up. And keep running: this is what is going to happen on long races.

If there is a single rule that can summarize this plan, it would be: stay smartly outside of your comfort zone.



Of course, over the last weeks, I have read a lot of bullshit interesting articles about injury and recovery. Two great articles are definitively worth reading: The Remodel Project and the Economics of Injury Recovery.

So, definitively not healed. But on the road to get ready for the coming challenges.

First meeting of the year: Forget the PR 25K and Hyner 50K.

Ready or not, I will be there.

On the Road of Recovery

Entering the star system

Last week, I was featured on The Run Commuter website. I got my own article, which is definitively a true honor. I feel that I now belong to the club of the runners that got this exposure. It is also really funny because I just got injured one week before it was published.


And this week, the pacer page on the Pittsburgh marathon was just published. And of course, my ugly face is on it. Yay.



It seems that all of that is finally getting real and I will have to run a half marathon in 1:45 in May while entertaining people around me. I tried to avoid everything running related since several weeks, including contact with the running community but it might be time to treat the several muscles injuries, tendinitis and remain of fractures that keep me away from running since several weeks now. Between a coming trip to Japan, another in France and a last one in Italy, I should find some time to train.

Entering the star system

Killing Treadmill boredom with TED talks

Shopping and tasting cheese in Toulouse

With the cold weather and travels, it is difficult to go always outside. It might be possible but definitively inefficient: if I have 30 minutes, this is way better to hit the gym rather than spending 10 minutes to look at the area on google maps, see where to go, ask for a map at the reception, etc. For short workouts, it is more convenient and efficient to hit the gym.


On the downside, such places are packed with gym rats and the view is not as entertaining as trails. Also, watching TV becomes boring very quickly. Plus, netflix or pandora are either blocked or too slow (depending on the country and hotel policy for using the wireless network). So, I took advantage of the TED android application: you can download video to watch later. So, you can browse all the talks, choose carefully some talks and find good one while you actually work out.

I tried to make a short list of good TED talks – if you are planning to hit the gym or looking for some stuff to watch at home, there is a list. I hope it might be useful to some of you.

  • The Price of Happiness by Benjamin Wallace – expensive stuff will not make you happy, this talk explains why. I always believe the most important value is in things that cannot have a price.
  • Can we eat to starve cancer? by William Li – inspiring talk that presents a new way to treat and potentially kill cancer. While we focus on invasive solution, I truly believe a long-term, proactive approach that focuses on what we eat everyday is more efficient than the actual solution that are invasive, aggressive and intrusive.
  • This is what happens when you reply to spam by James Veitch – epic and funny talk, very refreshing
  • Why the building of the future will be shaped by … you by Marc Kushner – amazing talk about the value and important of architecture: how it shapes and impacts our life. Small changes have a big impact for years. Definitively a topic to think about and can apply to many other domains (who said software or computer architecture?)
  • What’s wrong with school lunches by Ann Cooper – a simple (but smart) talk about actual issues with food provided in schools. Valuable talk by somebody that actually works in this domain.



Killing Treadmill boredom with TED talks

Looking back

The tradition is to look back and see what has been done last year: what worked, what did not and what is the plan for next year. During 2015, I ran about 3400 miles, which is probably not that accurate because I run at least 6 to 10 miles a day (but these statistics do not include indoor running, such as elliptical and I was also injured and unable to run for a month). Also, this year was the first (successful) attempt for a 100 milers (Burning River), get another 50 miler (Tussey Mountainback) as well as other ultras (Forget the PR, Laurel Highlands). So far, I never DNS or DNF any race, I have been lucky enough for being able to make it to the finish. The biggest mistake, it was clearly over training: I did not take enough rest before and after a race. Otherwise, everything seems to go pretty well, even if some aspects can be improved (but there is always room for improvement, right?).

What is on the list for the coming year? Mostly four races: Forget the PR 50K and the three races from the PA triple crown: Hyner 50K, Worlds Ends 100K and Eastern States 100M. In between, some small races for fun (such as Pittsburgh Half-Marathon). Nothing else. After 2016, it will take time to take way more rest and give less focus to running for a while.

Actual family in Pittsburgh
My actual family in Pittsburgh

Which let me explain the biggest mistake I have made over the last months: keeping my running activities as one of my primary objective and letting them taking way to much importance in my life so that I neglected other aspects. Being active matters: it helps you being healthy, have you an outlet, take some fresh air. That is great but sometimes, running takes over other priorities and you start to neglect some other aspects of your life. Of course, sometimes, you need such an outlet, especially through hard times: it can help you to fight depression, forget bad times and generally, change your mind. But this should be temporary and not be your primary focus, otherwise, this is where it starts to be actually not sane or healthy. The main mistake of this year has been to use running to fight personal issues, which was fine for a while but must come to an end now. Of course, I will still be active but will maintain more balance between every aspect of my life. I will go to different races once in a while but would probably do it for the fun of it and not looking to meet any particular goal. I am not a professional runner: I will never race to win and my objective is to be and stay happy. Besides running contributes to that, this is not the only thing that matters.

The coming year is really promising, from a running, personal and work perspectives. With trips planned in Czech Republic, Japan, France and many states, several projects in mind and of course, these races, I can’t wait to start it. After having 2015 as a transition year, 2016 is bringing a lot of new exciting challenges.


Looking back

Getting cold and dark: what to wear?

Time has come, it starts to be darker and colder out there. Each year at the same time, this is the same thing: people are getting nervous about what to wear, either to be seen or staying warm. We see people getting dressed for a light 5K as if they were going to run a marathon in the North Pole while others are as bright as a xmas tree. This is a 5K guy: and you are dressing as you were training for badwater with the snow. So, if this is definitively useless to over-do it, there are still some basic things to do. Just observe three rules: see/be seen, stay warm and break the ice.

How to see and be seen

First thing: to see. For that, nothing better than a headlamp. I would not rely only on public lights – some area can be really dark and, if you are a woman, you probably want to see what is going on in these areas. If you are running often, a model with rechargeable batteries is a good idea, especially if you can charge it using micro-USB (and thus, use the same charger as your cellphone).

Second: be seen. Last year, I got a tracer360, a vest that change its color. Clearly embarrassed for myself, I wore it (I meant, it was a present – at least, you try it) and was feeling sorry for myself. I made probably more light than the traffic light. Yes, I was seen but it was clearly embarrassing and probably not necessary. I returned the present, pretexting it was not fitting me (and this was the truth as well).At a $70 MSRP, this is clearly a rip-off: a reflective vest (~ $20) will do as good without turning you into a local running attraction. So wear bright gear and if you are wondering if this is enough, take a reflective vest. But keep the xmas lights at home.

Stay warm

Same thing as for the reflective vest, vendors try to sell you expensive products where you really do not need to spend that much. Some products (such as the Nike Dri-Fit Flash Tight) can cost up to $150, which would be even more expensive that the cost for everything you need to run at night. The basic rule is to use layers. One short-sleeve t-shirt on top of a long-sleeve t-shirt is a good start. Use a sweater when this is really cold outside. But be careful: after 20 to 30 minutes, you will be warm, so, dress accordingly to the distance you are running. You probably have plenty of tech t-shirt already from the packet in the races. Also, a tech sweater costs around $40.

Use light gloves made with technical materials. Just avoid the big gloves: the cold will accumulate and freeze your fingers.You can get gloves around $10 to $20.

Break the ice

When the temperature gets really cold, running on icy roads or trails can be dangerous. I paid the price last year and fractured my hip at the end of a run. Several solution: special shoes, yaktrax, screws or ice spikes.

I used yaktrax last year and I was not satisfied. Hard to put, it sometimes detaches itself from the shoe and hardly sticks on the shoe. Also, it might not fit all shoes. The system is so hard to use that I did not use it everyday (too hard to put on the shoe). I would not recommend this system, especially considering its price (about $40 to $50).

The solution that many recommended is using either ice spikes or simple screws on your shoes. Basically, ice spikes seem to be screws dedicated to running shoes. The idea: you put screws under your shoe that will get you traction on icy roads/trails. Of course, you might still fall but the general idea is that it reduces the likelihood to fall. This is what I am trying this year. A pack of ice spikes costs about $15~$20 with shipping.

Hey dude, what do you use?

Having the Raunaud syndrome, I am clearly over-protecting my body against the cold. Even during summer, my fingers and toes can be blue-ish, so, I am trying to take care of this. Also, as I am running everyday, I experienced many different weather conditions.

On the top, I am using a long sleeves tech sweater over a short sleeves tech shirt. On the bottom, a tech pant over a tech running short. On the hands, a pair of tech gloves and on the head, a headband that protects my ears. Nothing else, and this is enough to keep me going through the winter. The use of technical material avoids the moisture to freeze and then, lower my body temperature. Finally, for the headlamp, a basic black diamond that can be charged on USB (charging after each use) and for the vest, a simple nathan reflective vest.

Overall, all the gear and devices cost me between about $150. Which very reasonable considering that can be the price of a single tech pant in some running store and I have seen some people spending 5 to 10 times that amount to run through the cold. Just do not over do it, save some money, spend it with your friends rather than on special gear and as Public Enemy used to say: do not believe the hype.

Getting cold and dark: what to wear?