All Posts by Kyle

How I Managed my Sciatica

The most persistent injury I’ve experienced was a true pain in the butt.

If you’re familiar with piriformis, you know I’m not being cheeky. It’s literally a pain in the butt.



Here’s how I managed to take control of this issue.

What is it?

Piriformis Syndrome is when the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle instead of around it, and is compressed (agitated) by the muscle.

This discomfort will often be felt in the glutes of high hamstring. Symptoms include a pain that’s typically only on one side of the body. They can run from the lower back all the way down the leg. For me it was a high hamstring slightly pins-&-needles discomfort.

The sciatic nerve begins at the base of the spine and travels down the leg before branching out and can cause tingling, numbness, or pain all throughout this area.

When did I experience it?

In my case, piriformis pain would show itself during two instances

  1. During longer (hour plus) car drives without cruise control, such as curvy rmountain roads. The constant pushing and releasing on the gas pedal really aggravated the nerve.
  2. During the final bit of a long hard run.

How did I solve mine?

Two methods were used, and both involve a little purple ball.

The first is that I would place a small tennis ball sized ball under my high hammy when driving or sitting for a long time.

Second, I would religiously perform the below exercise 1-2 times a day.

Where am I now?

Now, I can’t even remember the last time I experienced this discomfort during a run.

I still have to sit on my little purple ball if I know I’m driving without cruise control for an extended period of time. There are a couple known chairs at local coffee shops that I either avoid or have to use the ball (which I keep in my bag) because for some reason they put me in a position that agitates my sciatic nerve.

Currently I don’t suppose I would consider myself “cured” because I do experience it very rarely, however I’d consider myself over this issue, since I cannot remember the last time I felt this pain!

More Reading:

How to Get a Deep Piriformis Stretch | Carly Fraser | “It is important to note, too, that over-stretching can actually make the condition worse. Light, gentle stretching is best. “No pain, no gain” does NOT apply here. I over-stretched my piriformis and that’s what made it inflamed for 1-2 years (because I was still doing yoga daily, and over-doing it in stretches).”

Peroneal Tendonitis

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Often not related to biomechanics, shoe type, or muscle weakness. This can simply be an overuse injury related to irritation when the tendon runs through the sheath and/or past the ankle.

With overuse injuries the best recovery is often to simply allow for rest. This does not mean a full stop with running has to occur, but a decrease of volume can be enough to let the pain dissipate. Icing and self massage can also help.

Shoe Surgery

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Experiencing irritation of the achilles tendon by the rubbing of a high and stiff heel tab is an unfortunate and easily preventable injury.

I’m not talking about a simple blister here, but actual irritation of the tendon.

Achilles tendonitis can hopefully become a thing of the past with the below easy fix, but be warned it may change the sizing of the shoe.

I’ve experienced similar irritation from the elastic band that was used on the original Vibram Fivefinger, that went over the top of the foot. The band pressing down on the tendons simply created a pressure point for irritation,  extensor tendonitis in that case.

As for the remedy, 5 time world record holder Gordon Pirie recommends:

The quickest remedy to this problem is to take a knife to the curved piece of shoe material and cut it off, so that the top of the shoe
heel is level with the rest of the upper, and below the level of the soft tissue of the Achilles tendon. The top of the shoe heel must not be higher than the bony heel. Runners who come to me limping with very sore Achilles tendons are able to run away with their
pain relieved after this surgery is performed on the shoe (with the shoe removed, of course). This “operation” will make the shoe about half a size larger than it was originally, so bear this in mind when purchasing shoes.

Hungry while running? Good.

If you feel hungry during a training run or race, don’t fret.

Be sure to know there is a difference between hunger and low fuel while training.

They are not one and the same.

Your body stores thousands of calories of carbohydrate and many more thousand calories of onboard fat, all of which is readily available while on the move. These sources have very little to do with your hunger level.

I would go as far as to suggest hunger to be a good thing during a race. It means your chances for GI distress are possibly lower and that you do not have undigested foot bouncing around inside your stomach.

Plus, if you’re hungry, it’s very easy to fix. Grab something from an aid station. However, if you’re experiencing GI issues from food you’ve eaten, there’s not much you can do.

For my own AM runs and races, I prefer to go into them with very little to zero food in my system, a cup of oatmeal or a couple bananas is generally enough.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on hunger and going into a race/run with little or no breakfast!

Training Dec 30 – Jan 5

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Not the best week. I was feeling quite ill Thursday and Friday as well as traveling on Tuesday. The lower volume week was nice considering the miles I put in last month though.

The highlight of the week was definitely the EZ100 on Sunday. I did not have any expectations going into it, but the first mile felt really great. Probably because I was so sharp after Saturday’s fartlek. At that point I decided averaging under 8 minutes per mile would be nice, and and only went down from there. The overall perceived exertion was quite low.

Of the week, being sick for a couple days was kind of a disappointment. I missed on out some good training, yet on the other hand it left me recovered for the two quality sessions on Saturday and Sunday.

I also started visiting the sauna after a few of my workouts this week. The rec center has a dry and a wet sauna, I think I prefer the wet more. Also sitting in the whirlpool is always relaxing. I had a cool conversation with a couple of other runners in there as well as one guy thinking about doing a half marathon this year.

My nutrition for the beginning of the week was pretty odd, I lived mainly off of Dave’s Killer Bread and Nutella while traveling. Not complaining though 😉

Wednesday
10am oats & coffee
11am Aero Power: Splits: 9:05 wu, 7:15, 7:13, 6:42, 6:42, 6:14, 6:13, 7:13 cd
1:30pm three bean burritos
5pm 4 fajitas
9pm 2 apples

Thursday
6am regen25 (sick, almost threw up)
Am decaf coffee
1:30 oats and an apple
5:30 Poutine
6:30 run (still sick)

Friday
6am ez45 (still…sick…)
AM tea
2pm apple
4pm ez30 (feeling better!)
6pm potatoes, stuffing, and corn.
8pm leftovers

Saturday
11 Fartlek: 4x ( 8x (100m fast + 100m mod) with EZ3 between sets) Splits were 6:31, 6:15, 6:25, 6:30
1pm apple
3pm apple, a grapefruit, carrots and hummus
6pm taco spices, pasta with veggies and fake meat.
10pm pickles and an apple

Sunday
11am oatmeal
12:30 EZ100 Splits: 7:50, 7:46, 7:40, 7:43, 7:46, 7:43, 7:44, 7:36, 7:21, 7:21, 7:39, 7:30, 7:36
5pm Mac & Cheese with veggie hotdogs cut up into it (yum!)
6pm pickles, a sucker

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For the upcoming week, I’m looking at:

Mon- AM Regeneration60, PM Regen30
Tues- AM EZ60 w/ Strides, PM EZ35
Wed- AM Strength Endurance Circuit, PM Regen30
Thurs- AM Regen 60min, PM Regen30
Fri- AM EZ60, PM EZ25+Mod35
Sat- AM wu, 25min Tempo @ 90% of 5K Pace, cd
Sun- AM EZ100

Goals for the week are:
1) 10 hours volume
2) Keep those regeneration days very easy
3) Kill that Saturday tempo run

Self Talk

Self talk is something I’ve begun to use recently, during races.

This is simply me cheering myself on when things get difficult, generally the last mile or kilometre of a race.

Generally these are slightly under my breath and come in the form of short easy to say words.

Come on!

Go go go!

Sometimes I’ll take a note from Yuki Kawauchi and think to myself “If I die at this race, that’s ok”

Research has even shown that this self talk can benefit performance. A study recently looked at how this technique can benefit cycling time trials.

How the study worked as 24 volunteers cycled to exhaustion.

12 of them received a two week self talk intervention.

And then they all did the cycling test again.

The control group stayed the same, while the participants who received a simple self talk intervention improved an average of 18%!

Their rate of perceived exertion also was decreased, which meant they “tricked” themselves into thinking the effort was actually easier than the first one.

feeling good”

“push through this”

They used such statements during training and of course during the test.

I also used them during my recent two 5k PR runs, and they definitely helped me push through to finish strong!

Looking back at 2013 & towards 2014

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Above is the last 26 full weeks of 2013 and the weekly mileage of each. The low ones were planned breaks. The year concluded with 2520 miles, or 7 miles per day and 48 miles per week average.

Below are a set of questions from that my friend Adam used to review his year.

What was the highlight of your season?
There was not one particular moment. Overall, the entire season was a huge success. I took no time off due to injury, ran consistently, ran fast, and am now quicker than I’ve ever been, over every distance.

What was your greatest disappointment?
Nothing really comes to mind. If I had to pick something, it would be my 1:29 at the Sioux Falls Half.  I had hoped to beat my PR of 1:23, but the weather simply did not allow it.

Review your top three goals for this season. Do you feel these were achieved?
Goals for 2013 were simple. Run consistently while reaching and surpassing my pre-ultra marathon speeds. Which I did.

What did you do in training this season that you feel made you faster?
Trained smarter than ever before, which resulted in no time off due to injury.
Goal pace specific work.

What did you do in training this season that you feel was not productive?
Tried to lose weight. Did not try very hard though 😉

If you could change your training, mental preparation, or race tactics/strategy this past season, what would you do differently?
I did recognize the need for a change, and made it. I continually made the error of going out too conservatively during races. I fixed this during my last few 5k’s and managed two PR’s.

Was there anything missing in your training this season?
Volume.

Do you feel that you trained enough and worked hard enough in training this season?
Indeed. While my average weekly volume was lower than it has been in the past, my overall qualitative volume was much higher than ever before.

Do you feel that you had adequate rest during training and before races?
Yes, I never felt any built up fatigue from training or prior to races.

Do you have any extra comments and insights on this season?
Only that the single season did not matter, and it was only a transition from my ultrarunning training to faster runner in 2014.

—–

As for 2014, the goals are fairly simple.

1. Volume
I hope to at least average about 65 miles or roughly 9 hours per week over the entire year. That of course means half of the weeks will be at a lower volume and half will be at a higher volume. I don’t expect to go higher than 85 more than a few times, probably only within the few weeks before a couple A races. I also don’t expect to run fewer than 60 miles per week too often either.
2. Speed
To simply increase my running paces. For the spring, my goal is to focus on the 5k distance. I will also target a couple half marathons in the fall. I’d love to go under 17 for the 5k and under 18 for the half, in 2014.
3. Consistency
As I did in 2013, I’d love to not have to take any time off due to injury. There were a few weeks I had to lower my volume and modify my training, but never did I need to take time off for recovery.

Training Dec 16 – 29

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This was a bit of a messed up two week period, as Desi and I went out to The Black Hills to visit family.

I still managed to get all my volume in, and it was an extremely successful two week period.

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Those few runs over 9 minutes per mile were ones up into the Black Hills National Forest. It’s a 3 mile climb going up almost 1000 feet.

Sessions worth mentioning are the last couple tempos that I executed, one was 20 minutes three weeks ago the the other was 25 minutes two weeks ago, both at the same pace of about 6:13 average. The goal over the next few months is to reach 40 minutes at the pace of about 6:00 per mile. After that we’ll take the time down again but increase the pace a bit more.

As for nutrition during the two weeks. The last was all over the place. I basically survived off of Dave’s Killer Bread and Nutella. Not that I’m complaining 😉

2013-12-27 10.11.35

The AM Run

I awake with stiff legs from yesterday’s miles and from last night’s immobility.

My first thought every single day is something along the lines of “This morning’s run is going to be difficult.”

Already I feel apprehension, yet I arise, knowing that movement is the cure. Through the morning routine I flow.

The sun is not up, but through the trees it teases us with waves of orange, blue, and red. As I step out through the threshold, there is a chill in the air. No wind touches my face, yet the cold air soaks through my clothing.

Autumn in South Dakota has taught me many things about being cold. Chiefly, and ironically, that it’s never as cold outside as I think it is looking out through the windows.

I also know that movement is the best way to keep the cold at bay. As I run, the negative thoughts recede and I am taken over by the flow of the run.

All mortal thoughts and feelings have disappeared. My feet barely touch the ground. The air disappears as I no longer feel its resistance and my lungs no longer require its use. I’ve transcended, if only for a few miles, to something not of this Earth. I no longer experience suffering, resistance, or even happiness.

I simply experience the flow.

How Does One “Go Pro”?

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I was recently asked by a more accomplished athlete than myself, how does one exactly go pro with running?

Triathlon and many other sports have Pro Cards athletes earn. But, I don’t think that is what makes a person a professional.

In my eyes, it’s adopting a Pro State of Mind.

Simple as that.



Check out this video from professional runner Ryan Vail. Many other professional athletes are in the same boat. They train full time and work part time in the fitness industry (or elsewhere) to support their training.

That’s a big part of being pro.

Amateurs run to escape their regular daily life. Professionals do daily life things (like a “job”) to support/escape their running.

While my 17:41 5k PR is far from the speed of elite professional runners, I still consider myself a professional (but clearly not elite). I train full time and work to support this, not the other way around. I’m a writer and coach with a fully flexible schedule, completely conducive to getting in the rest and running I need to train full time.

What do you think? What does it take to go pro?