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Friday, April 28, 2006

Overdue injury update

Well this update is somewhat overdue. I went to the physio (Tim) again on Wednesday. Tim reckons the inflammation on the tendon has gone down quite a bit. He has told me to progress to single-leg heal dips, but continue ice massage (my bad - I haven't done that since then). He really got into the tendon and my calves with massage and I was quite sore afterwards, but the leg is feeling much better and stronger now. I even had to run for a traffic light today and it felt really good (that is to say, I felt no pain or weakness in the Achilles or anywhere else). Tim thinks that after next weeks session, I will be able to do a 1-2 km run the next day and another that week, then build up over the next 4-5 weeks to running 10 km again. It sounds slow, but at this point any run is looking good to me. I assume that if everything is looking good after this then I will be able to start building up a new program.

So let's look at some numbers. I will say it is 5-6 weeks until I can start a new program, which would take me to early June. If I say that I have all of June and July, and most of August until the Adelaide Marathon, then that gives me 12 weeks - the perfect amount of time for a half marathon training program, not so ideal for a full marathon. So there is my dilemma. I guess I'll have to see how the leg feels after the 5 weeks. I'd love to run the marathon, but I'm not sure if I can get enough training done in 12 weeks. What does everyone think?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Brave or stupid?

We are sick of paying private health insurance premiums. It wouldn't be so bad if it went even close to bridging the gap between the service and the benefit, but it doesn't. Furthermore, the cost of insurance has increased rapidly over the last couple of years to the point where we have had to decrease our level of cover. The government 30% rebate was swallowed up long ago.

But what are we going to do about it? Well, we're not going to take it anymore, we are going to self-insure. We will set aside the same amount as we are paying in premiums now into a high interest savings account, only to be used for health related services. This is a scary move for us, but when we sat down and did the sums, we just can't afford a system that sees us pay huge premiums, get little benefits and then have to pay huge gaps to make up for it. Furthermore, most people I have asked have acknowledged that many more people are doing this now. My main concern about this move is that we won't have enough saved up for any short-term medical expenses. I'm afraid we may just have to wear that if it happens. In the long-run, I am aiming to save up a very large health nestegg. With two young children, I'm sure we will need it in the not too distant future.

We did quite a bit of research into this approach, and it seems to be a bit of a taboo topic. Many financial advisers and medical practitioners give conditional approval to this approach, but neither the government nor any other bodies seem to endorse it. It is very difficult to find information about how much you should set aside per year and how much you should save all up. We can only afford to set aside the amount that we are currently paying, and I would like to keep contributing for at least a couple of years before reviewing the amount we put in. Over the next decade I'd like to get it up to around $10,000. I wonder if this is enough.

At the moment we have fairly minimal medical costs but if you add the premium onto the gap payments, we are paying 150-200% or more of the cost of the services that we are using at the moment. For example, my initial visit to the physio cost $55, the benefit was $24, leaving a gap of $31. Future visits would cost I think $36 with a benefit of $16 leaving $20 gap. If I see the physio 4 times this month (which may happen), then it will cost me $91 plus the $187 premium that we pay = $278. If I pay the fees upfront without insurance, it will have cost me a maximum of $163, although my physio has agreed to charge $30 per visit if I don't have private health insurance, so it would be even less (he's a mate). So for this month I would have almost swallowed up our health savings, but that money would have been paid anyway and some. It is unlikely that I will need ongoing treatment for this injury, and I would consider taking extra caution to make sure that I don't dip into these funds on an ongoing basis.

I suppose the point is that we are healthy now and we are used to setting aside money for health, so why throw it away to a health insurance company now when we can save it for when we need it later, but can also dip into it if required?

This entry is unfinished, but I would invite any thoughts about this approach. We have started it. As of Tuesday we are sans health insurance for the first time in my life!


As promised.

I saw my physio on Wednesday. As suspected, I have a small tendonopathy on the inside of my right achilles tendon. He did some work on it and prescibed some eccentric exercises in the form of slow heel dips - 3x20 at 20 sec per dip - and ice massage. All this I was expecting, but I needed to hear it from a professional as well as get advice specific to my condition. He also said that my back soreness is probably due to overcompensating for the achilles soreness, so he recommended my usual stretching regimen to help with that. Interestingly the soreness was located in the iliosacral vertebrae rather than the lumbar vertebrae, further indicating that it has nothing to do with my spondylolythesis.

WARNING: Bodily functions discussed. So to the exercises and massage. The first few days went OK, but then late Friday I started feeling bloated and tired. I think I had some digestive issues resulting in constipation. I felt like crap all yesterday and I've hardly eaten anything all weekend. I've been burping and farting all weekend and haven't felt motivated to do anything. I couldn't even eat all of the lovely dinner my wife prepared last night, much to her dismay (and in shame I slept on the couch until late night when I finally crawled into bed). I'm feeling a lot better this afternoon. I've cleared most of the backlog so to speak, and I'm less gassy, although it is still there a bit. I started eating LSA on Thursday, I wonder if that has anything to do with it? I'll cut out the LSA and eat plenty of fruit and veg - if I can fit it in - and see how that goes.

I'll get in some more dips this afternoon and some more icing. My back soreness has mostly gone away so I can get back into the strengthening exercises soon too. I'll update in a few days or after my next physio visit on Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I've been tagged

I've been tagged by Tesso and Beki, so I guess I should pull my finger out and contribute.

I will preface this quiz with the statement that I am injured at the moment, so these answers are what I usually do and not what I'm doing at the moment. Also, the answers may be tinged with a hint of frustration at not being able to participate in many of the answers given below.

1. What time of day do you run?

Anytime. I usually run to or from work and rarely both. Sometimes I get up early and take the dog for a run, and lately I have been running with the Track Timers on Thursday mornings. I usually do my long run on Sunday morning.

2. What are your favourite runs?

My favorite run is anywhere around the towns of Yankalilla and Normanville about 1 hour south of Adelaide. I just head out and run anywhere through the rolling hills or along the beach. It is beautiful countryside, with little traffic on the dirt roads and clean fresh air.

3. What is your favorite song to run to?

Well I don't run with an MP3 player, so I don't listen to music while I run, but I do get songs stuck in my head that I sing to myself (singing aloud may incite incidents of road rage).

Anything from The Magnetic Fields' album 69 Love Songs, H&C Holy Grail, Cold Chisel Khe Sanh (lately for some unknown reason), Many others that I can't think of right now. Often I'll get a snippet or loop of a song stuck in my head and repeat it over the whole run, eg 'Isaac or Fuzz' by MGF.

4. What book are you reading at the moment?

The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien. I've read this a couple of times before and I've read TLOTR twice too. I lost my copy of The Hobbit a few years ago, so when I saw an old (1973) copy sitting in a second-hand book stall at Myponga markets on Saturday, I couldn't resist and snapped it up for $2. I've started reading it aloud to our 4 year old daughter. Hope she doesn't get too scared by Goblins, Gollum or Mirkwood!

Oh yeah, and The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

5. When did you start running?

I started running seriously in February 2004. Before this I had done a bit of running mainly as training for my hockey career. Before the age of 17, I had always relied on the minimum training and games to keep me fit. After I finished year twelve, I was overweight, slow and unfit. My state sports institute coach took me aside and basically told me that, and if I didn't do something about it I would lose my institute place. He gave me a program of running exercises involving sprint work, resistance training and longer distance sessions as well as some advice on healthy eating. Over that summer I lost about 13kg and reinvented myself as a hockey player. Since then I have always seen fitness as a high priority whether it be for hockey or just for running.

6. What's your post-race/post-run ritual?

Drink, warm down, stretch, eat, collect awards (just kidding), shower then home or home then shower. Sometimes we'll go out for lunch or coffee after a race.

7. What do you eat before you run?

Jam on toast and juice. Sometimes an espresso. Sometimes Sustagen. I can eat most light meals before running, but not milk.

8. What's your favorite running accessory?

Coolrunning hat followed closely by my polar heart rate monitor.

9. What's your motivation for running?

I've written at length about why I race here. So I would have to say that my motivation for running in the first place is so that I can race and hence so that I can test my ability.

10. What are your running shoes?

Rotating three pairs of Mizuno Wave Mustangs.

11. What is your next running goal?

My next running goal is to run sub 3 hours in the Adelaide Marathon. It is a fair way off, but I think I will need all that time to rebuild my strength from my present injury. Along the way I wouldn't mind getting under 36min for 10km. I might also have a crack at the top 50 in the Adelaide City to Bay.

I tag all the people from the Track Timers blog. I'd like to hear more about your running life guys,

Serious inactivity

I ran on Thursday and still felt uncomfortable but not too sore. Then over the weekend the lower back and right leg got progressively worse, to the point where walking was uncomfortable. So no running for this little black duck. Even a fair amount of stretching didn't seem to alleviate the problem. So I have bitten the bullet and done what I should have done weeks ago: I have booked in to see my physiotherapist tomorrow. I thought I could get out of this mess myself, but I seem to have made things worse, so it is my only option really.

So I haven't run since Thursday, I won't be running for at least another couple of weeks, and I can't even walk comfortably. Added to this is the fact that I havn't kept up with the blog too well, and although I have been browsing bloglines, I haven't been leaving any comments or replying to those left on mine. So sorry to my audience for neglecting you for the last week. I promise I will keep everyone updated with my progress, and as an added bonus, I will answer the 11 questions I was tagged with by Tesso and Beki soon.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I've come to the realisation that my achilles problem is probably a result of my neglected back and abdominal strengthening and stretching. I have been getting a lot of tightness through my hips, lower back and hamstings as well as my knees and calves. Basically the whole right-hand side from the lower back down feels tight and causes some pain while running. This is similar to what I used to get playing hockey and I overcame it by continual stretching and strengthening exercises. Since I retired from hockey and started running, I basically gave up these exercises thinking that they were unnecessary for this type of activity. How stupid! So I have started back with my old regime of stretching and I'll work to rebuild the strength and stability that I worked so hard to achieve to be able to play hockey. This may be a slow process, and running may be quite painful for a while, but I will get it fixed.

I ran home from uni on Sunday night, which is when I fully realised that the old problems were back. The time was OK - 50 min for 10.5km - but I was uncomfortable most of the way. I took Addi for a run this morning; more discomfort, but not as bad due to the fact that I had done about 30 min stretching for a 29 min run.

Anyway, feel free to drop me a reminder every now and then to keep up the exercises.

Oo oo, I nearly forgot. It was my birthday last week and I had a really nice dinner with the family and went to a housewarming at my cousin's (who shares the same birthday as me) new house . I think over the 2-3 days around my birthday, I had a grand total of 5, yes 5 cakes. All of them good, all of them very fatty, so hopefully I haven't put on any weight from this.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Tesso asked about the nickname for South Australians. As I commented in her blog, we are the croweaters. I have been a proud croweater all my life, but it occurred to me that I didn't actually know why we are called that. I had a rough idea of what it might be, and as it turns out I was nearly right. I thought I'd make it one of my words, not because it has been a favourite word of mine, just because I find it intriguing.

Wikipedia entry:
Croweater is an Australian slang term for people from South Australia. Early settlers often ate the breast meat of crows, parrots and cockatoos when there was a shortage of red meat and the term croweater entered the lexicon in the late 1800s. The term is not considered derogatory.

Now for running news. Yesterday I went for a run at lunchtime. I ran across to the uni loop (2.2km loop) and ran three laps. As I was running, I noticed that my HR was quite high. I wasn't sure if this was due to lost fitness or running too fast. It turns out it may have been a bit of both. In my haste to get out and finally do some running I ran around 4:10-4:20/km which is a lot faster than my usual steady runs. My average HR for each lap was 165, 163 and 167 and the times were 9:31, 9:15 and 9:31. I had the achilles strapped up and it felt fine. The legs still feel OK today, so I think I may be on the way back. Even so, I will make sure I take things slowly.

I did some strength work again this morning which felt really good. I have taken up a new approach to sleep after reading this article. I am going to bed only when I feel tired and setting the alarm for 5:30am every morning. I started on Sunday morning so I could take advantage of the end of daylight savings. Getting up this early was difficult for the first few days, but it has given me more time to get ready and do other things in the morning. I have also found that I am actually tired at night and ready to sleep instead of staying up past midnight and still not feeling tired. As suggested in the article, I'm going to give this approach 30 days to see how it goes, but as I said, I've already seen some benefits.

Monday, April 03, 2006

SARRC singlet

Tesso and anyone else running in Canberra, this is me modelling the SARRC singlet if you are trying to find the Track Timers. Shorts will differ. Sorry about the small pics, they were "borrowed" from the Oz day fun run event photographer. Links here and here to the larger photos with HUGE watermarks obscuring most of the photo. I really love the top photo, but I wasn't keen on forking out the exorbitant price for the prints.


No, it is not one of my favourite words, nor is it one of my stronger qualities. I do like it as a name. It is rare in Australia, but I have seen a few African and Carribean people with that name. But I digress. The achilles is slowly recovering, but I'm taking it slowly so as to avoid a recurrence. The next month should be pretty lean as I build up slowly. Not sure what races I'll be aiming at, but there is a chance that I might be able to make it to the Barossa half. We'll have to see if we have enough $$$ for that though.

The cold is totally gone, but RunCarly is sick now. There is also a nasty 'flu going around at the moment which I will try my hardest to avoid.

Got back into the weights and strengthening yesterday. I'm hoping that this will pay off in the long term by strengthening my core and thus helping my running form and preventing any other injuries. I have a congenital back problem called spondylolysis, which was a problem many times through my hockey career. The main problem that it causes is tightness and pain in the hamstrings, but it can refer to other muscles. I'm thinking that it may be involved in the achilles/calf problem, so any stretching and strengthening of my back and abdominals should have some benefit.

Anyway, have to get back to work. I'll update how I go with running around the track on Thursday morning.