Friday, October 23, 2009

Firecrackers Thrown at Cyclist

Yes, they have Halloween, even in Kona, Hawaii.

Those of you who read my blog know that it's all about exercise safety in addition to caring for the injured athlete. One of our better local triathletes was beginning a ride near his home last week when a slow moving minivan approached with the sliding side door open. At first the biker heard explosions to his right and then very quickly they hit his shoulder and neck! As the driver sped away, the athlete took chase. But who can catch a car on their bike?

Unfortunately for this driver, he passed the athletes wife in her car at the next stop sign where a quick cell phone call from our boy allowed her to follow the van getting the license # and a description of the driver. He was apprehended that evening and a confession quickly followed. Charges have been pressed against the 11th grader from a nearby high school, and since he's under 18 and this is his first offense, he'll avoid court and go straight to the probation officer. As the athlete noted, "I make my living as a pilot and can't afford to lose my hearing or eyesight."

Our athlete was uninjured, although I suspect many of us - me included - would have crashed or run into a phone pole if the firecrackers were thrown at us. I believe I might think some one was trying to kill me. So what do we learn from this? Always carry your cell phone. Get in the habit of looking at license plates, even jot them down, which is easy to do if you keep pen and paper in your fanny pack with your emergency first aid kit. Don't confront rude drivers alone.

It's easy to think about retribution, about getting even, about finding those who run us off the road and putting a potato in their exhaust at night or flattening the tires on their car...or worse! But our goal is to live to ride another day and some of those folks on the road where I live might be just crazy enough to run me into the weeds if they thought I'd done something to them. Or worse, they'd run you into the weeds for something I did. And then we'd all lose.

Be careful.............. it's a jungle out there.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Winter Running Tips

________When you're Norman Stadler, you get your picture on the back of the van!

We've just about run out of daylight saving time, the shorts have been put away till next summer and new rules apply to our morning run. Or any run for that matter. We need to be more vigilant than ever to protect ourselves both from those products of Detroit as well as the changing environment. Try to keep the below in mind as you make this transition.

1) Be seen. Wearing reflective, bright clothing or a reflector vest. A flashing strobe light on your belt would be a nice touch and many will don a headlight for those pre-dawn workouts.

2) No headsets. With the obvious decrease in visibility, other senses need to come into play to help you avoid the dangers your eyes might miss.

3) Stay alert. Be aware of your surroundings and weather changes. Put a thermometer outside your bedroom/bathroom window as your location may differ significantly from what the tv weather guy reports outside his door. Oncoming storms can quickly drop the temperature putting you at risk for frostbite or hypothermia if you are caught outside unprepared.

4) Don't ignore shivering. It's an important sign that the body is losing heat.

5) Carry a cell phone.

6) Carry ID. Please read my 9/7/2009 blog.

7) Write down or tell someone the direction of your run and know where shelter is if the weather gets bad.

8) Run with a partner. I it's your favorite 4 legged friend, protect his feet against the cold and ice as well as yours.

9) Run against traffic. Although we preach to equalize your time running with and against the traffic so your body sees equal crown in the road, try to eliminate or minimize this factor if possible. See approaching cars.

10) Layer your clothing to maintain body temp during warm up and cool down as well as your run. If you drive to a running trail or route, leave a change of dry clothes and a blanket in the car for emergency situations.

11) Think. If you simply use your head, you'll avoid troublesome situations and hit the Spring "running!"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gotta Love This Sport

The desolate beauty afforded the biker on the NW coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Although when one thinks of the Polynesian islands, lush tropical forests come to mind. As you can see, the harshness, almost moonscape appearance gives the feeling of being completely alone.

For many of us, triathlon training is a similar emotion, but also one that pervades all aspects of our lives. Who among you hasn't been in a social situation, out to dinner with a client or halftime at an offspring's soccer game, and when the conversation slows, your brain drifts to how to improve your T1 time in your next sprint tri? Or, maybe you should go ahead and buy that swimming video your lane mate mentioned.

Having spent the last week on the Big Island of Hawaii during Ironman race week, one gets an interesting perspective of the "top of the pyramid" in our sport and what it takes to get there. I was a volunteer on the pier helping out in transitions and part of a talented, dedicated team lead by capable David Huerta. While some of the athletes seem almost consumed by the sport, many see it as just one slice of the pie of life. Just a pretty big piece! Many have the ability, especially now that their race season is complete, to put the lifestyle inclusive of 10, 15, 20 hours/week of training behind them, spend time with family, cross train by leaving the bike behind and go hiking with the kids, etc. Sounds like a healthy approach to me.

One note. I learned just how far WTC goes to ensure a fair race and compliance with the rules. When the pros exited the swim and raced to the transition tent, they were "helped" out of their speed suits by volunteers who then labeled each suit with a number. Later, when most of the athletes were well out on their bikes, each suit was inspected to make sure that it followed race guidelines - one was not! Very interesting to observe.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Stress Fracture, Eh? Part Two

This is Ironman Week here in Kona as the sleepy fishing village and occasional port for cruise ships turns into Triathlon Central. There are people everywhere, fit people, running and biking up and down Alii Drive. I hadn't been here an hour before seeing Norman Stadler and Chrissie Wellington. Good luck to them both on Saturday! It's going to be a fun week.

"Dig Me" Beach, a term I heard credited to Scott Tinley, is seen here, soon to be clogged with swimmers trying to get used to the change from simply following the line on the bottom of the pool to the gentle waves and salt water of the Pacific in Kailua Bay.

But the athlete with an injury like a stress fracture is sitting home, an opportunity missed. I covered the basics of stress fractures here 4/25. That these are in the category of overuse injuries where the muscular envelope of the lower extremity becomes fatigued and the skeleton is unable to bear the increased load.

The bone fractures as it is unprepared for the intensity of exercise delivered. This might be advancing one's training program too quickly, changing from the relative forgiveness of the running track to asphalt or concrete, aged or improper equipment or increasing exercise duration as a tennis player with a substantial increase in court time.

There are 26 bones in the foot and most likely all of them have been subject to a stress fracture at one time or another. They are frequently seen in the other bones of the lower extremity when insufficient rest is included between workouts. People taking Prednisone, Dilantin and other medications are at increased risk. Women have more than men.

The predisposing symptom is pain, not so much at rest, but brought on by exercise and it worsens. Although visible as a crack in the bone on x-ray, frequently these films will be negative. If the examiner finds point tenderness over a bone and a stress fracture is suspected, an advanced study like an MRI, or more likely a bone scan, will be order. (This is not to be confused with the DXA, the bone scan used to measure osteoporosis, predominantly in women.)

If diagnosed, the order of the day will be rest. This can be up to 6-8 weeks, some will be placed on crutches or given a fracture boot, but if one returns to sport before it heals, chronic difficulties can follow making healing a challenge. Triathletes might be shifted to pool running and biking so as not to lose excessive fitness.

So, if you have recurring pain in the same location, and think this may potentially describe you, get it checked out, you'll be glad you did.