We’re moving

imagesUgh, I hate moving. Coming up with a new domain name, memorizing a new password, remembering who all you need to send a change of url to. At least I don’t have to bribe friends with donuts to show up at 8 a.m. and move furniture.

Alas, we are moving. We’ve been living at two sites — TakeItOutsideNC.com and GetOutGetFit.com — for several months; it just makes sense to consolidate under one roof. So we are. From now on, you can find us at GetGoingNC.com. We’ll still be reporting and writing about the same things — from walking the greenways to bombing singletrack, from rediscovering your local playground to tackling a new route at the climbing gym. Just at a new address. And with a more statewide approach.

So starting Monday, Oct. 5, drop by GetGoingNC.com and pay us a visit. And we promise: You won’t have to move furniture.

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Get Out this weekend

Curious about mountain biking? (And even if you aren’t.) Or perhaps you’d rather go spy on nature?

Details here.

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Hamstrung: The Recovery

Finally, the exciting conclusion to our hamstring injury! (Guilty of hyperbole, let’s move on.)

OK, a hamstring injury isn’t glamorous. It doesn’t have the cache of, say, an ACL injury. But it’s common among weekend warriors. Don’t warm up, go out too fast — ping! — there’s a debilitating snap in the back of your leg. A muscle snap that if you ignore can hobble you for weeks. First, a look at how to avoid irritating your hamstring in the first place.

Not long ago, we warmed up by stretching. Then we learned that stretching cold muscles wasn’t such a good idea. Now we’re advised to warm up slowly. For instance, at our Fit-tastic workouts we jog very slowly for a mile and a half to two miles before running hard. When I pulled my hamstring Monday I was sprinting for a flyball in a game of kickball; Had I taken 10 minutes to jog up the street and back beforehand I might have avoided the injury. But I didn’t, and I was stuck with a strained hamy, a moderate strain based on my interpretation of the rough rating system for evaluating hamstring pulls.

Immediately, I iced the injury and took ibuprofen. Good first steps, according to the online source I turned to, a Web site by Washington, D.C., physician Stephen M. Pribut, who specializes in podiatric sports medicine, biomechanics and foot surgery. Follow that up with “gentle compression” and rest. That jibed with my Fit-tastic running coach Tim Clark’s recommendation, which makes for a neat — not to mention tasty and nutritious — acronym: RICE. That is, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Tim was especially high on compression: “Wear a wrap [and ACE bandage, for instance] overnight while sleeping,” he suggested. “I’ve found this works real well for muscle soreness.”

Obviously, it was the “R” aspect of the equation that caused me  consternation. No one likes to be benched. Coaches realize this, even doctors.

“Certainly walking is okay as long as the pain is not too severe and you’re not limping, which can cause other problems,” Tim said. As part of rehab, Dr. Pribut said it was OK to run two miles “at a glacial pace.” Hold off on the stretching for a week or so, then gradually reintroduce it. Take longer warmups — “it may take 1/2 hour or longer to do a proper warmup,” advises Dr. Pribut and after doing speedwork be sure to warm down, for one to two miles, before gently stretching.

Follow this advice and, depending upon the severity of the injury, it should take two to six weeks for the hamstring to mend.

Two to six weeks?

They need to revisit the hippocratic acronym, I thought. Instead of RICE, it should be RICEEP.

For Extreme Patience.


Filed under Fitness, Fun stuff, Injury, Running

Have a ball? Have a ball!

When I’d reached my self-imposed word limit yesterday I said I’d return today with recommendations for working through a hamstring injury and ways to prevent it from happening again. Which I’ll get to. But first I need to tell you about an orphaned ball.

All hail the re-inflatable ball.

All hail the re-inflatable ball and the cul-de-sac.

It was a good hour until dinner, the early evening was warm and sunny, the rush of kids coming home from school and parents from work over. A perfect opportunity for fun in the burbs.

“Who wants to go play in the street?” I yelled. As expected, I had three takers. We armed ourselves with a soccer ball, a junior-sized football and a basketball, which we noodled around with in the cul-de-sac before I spotted the orphaned white ball. It was your basic play ball, the kind stores keep in big wire cages and sell for a buck. It was bleached of color but held air and was otherwise in good shape. It had no heft, no weight, and no matter how hard you kicked it, didn’t matter if you were Rhys Lloyd, this flighty featherweight wasn’t going out of the cul-de-sac, let alone through a neighbor’s window.

“Let’s play kickball!”

Kickball. That staple of grade school recess that for most — but not all — of us vanished after 6th grade. Unlike its more successful cousins baseball and softball, kickball isn’t as demanding or demeaning for those of us of lesser motor skills. It also doesn’t hurt as much when the hand-eye coordination isn’t what it could be. Similar rules to softball and baseball, but much more laid back. Plus, everyone tends to get in on the action; there’s less of a “Put-Joey-in-right-field-because-no-one-ever-hits-out-there” element. Especially when you’re playing two-on-two, which is what we were playing in the cul-de-sac.

When you’re in the field with a full nine players, you’re only responsible for covering 1/9th of the playing surface. Ball goes to left field, you’re in right, not your problem; Stand, watch, wonder what mom packed in your Roy Rogers lunchbox. When you’re playing with just two players, you’re responsible for half the field — and if you’re a competitive 53-year-old feeling the need to prove yourself to two 14-year-olds and an 11-year-old, you assume responsibility for more.

It was the second inning and we were only down by two but, as I believe I mentioned yesterday, I could feel the game slipping away. They had the bases loaded; we needed this next out. My 14-year-old teammate rolled the pitch, our 11-year-old adversary delivered with a wounded duck down the first base line. “Mine!” I yelled, followed quickly by, “Aieeee!” That’s when my hamy — the semitendinosus, to be exact — went. I hobbled and short-hopped the fly ball; the 11-year-old was safe, the ghost runner scored, I was done. Or would be after we played another three innings and lost 7-6.

The strained muscle aside, this little orphaned ball gave us a great  workout before dinner on a school night. We ran, we kicked, we threw, we ducked. And had I had the foresight to warm up, to maybe jog slowly up and down the street for a few minutes before starting, I wouldn’t have spent the evening Googling “semitendinosus injury” and pestering my running coach for advice on how to quickly work through this injury.

Advice I will share tomorrow, because, again I have exhausted my self-imposed word limit for the day.

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Hamstrung by a hamstring


Photo of semitendinosus: BioMedical Engineering OnLine

It was the second inning and we were only down by two, but already I could feel the game slipping away. There was a short fly to the first base side, I started to sprint over and — Aiieee! — I felt a hamstring go. The semitendinosus, if my reading of the Full Body Anatomy chart was right. I one-hopped the fly, another run scored and I suddenly had visions of my active life grinding to a leg-elevated, ice-bagged halt.

I rarely get injured, thanks more to the grace of Coach Upstairs than to dedicated preventative training on my part. Never was much for stretching when stretching before a workout was in, tend to jump right into an activity today rather than do a slow warm-up, as is the current prescription among trainer types. Fit-tastic and my coach Tim Clark have begun to introduce me to this novel concept — we start every workout with a very easy 2-mile run — but old habits die especially hard in older psyches.

Immediately after irritating my hamstring— well, not immediately; we finished the game, losing 7-6 — I did what any modern day recreational athlete does: I Googled it. Wait, I lie again: The first thing I did was get out my “Anatomy of  Exercise: A Trainer’s Inside Guide to Your Workout” to determine that indeed it was my left semitendinosus that had been aggrieved. I learned that it was a tendon, that it was one of three members of the hamstring family running the back of the leg, and that on a severity scale of three, my injury was a two — some pain, walk with a noticeable limp.

As is the case with any Google search, it took me a minute or two to find what appeared to be a reliable source. I went first to my go-to source on health matters, Mayoclinic.com, where I found a brief but helpful description indicating that in such strains, the muscle fiber is either stretched or torn, that rest and gentle stretching and strengthening exercises are typically good, that the injury can take two to six weeks — with proper attention — to heel. Good enough for a non-active type, but I needed to know more. Specifically, I needed specifics on how I could whittle that two to six weeks down to two to three days. I Googled on.

When I Google for medical information, I primarily look at two things. One, credentials. Is the source well-versed on the topic? Does she have a medical degree? Is he certified in sports medicine or training? A quick visit to the “About” section should answer this question. (If there is no “About” section, that should answer your question right there.) I also look at whether the site is trying to sell anything. The first site I visited had good, basic information on the muscles and their function. But when it came to dealing with injuries, there were only links to various videos, medicines and “therapy” programs guaranteed to work or your money back. I opted for the Web site of Dr. Stephen M. Pribut, a Washington, D.C., doctor specializing in podiatric sports medicine, biomechanics and foot surgery. His site has been up since 1995, his descriptions and advice were easy to understand.

Now, perhaps the smart thing would be to go directly to my doctor. And if my situation were more severe — if I had intense pain that wasn’t initially placated by ice and iboprofen, if I was walking like Chester on Gunsmoke, I would. But on similar matters in the past I’ve found that with the abundance of increasingly helpful information available on the internet — especially regarding minor sports injuries — it’s more efficient, economically and otherwise, to at least try the internet doctor route. (In part, this is because I’ve been told to act my age one too many times.) If I follow an online prescription and don’t see improvement in a week or two, I’ll make a brick-and-mortar appointment.

I’ve babbled enough for today. I’ll get to what my online doc — as well as my Fit-tastic running coach, Tim Clark — suggested tomorrow.


Filed under Fitness, Fun stuff, Injury, Running

Get out this weekend!

Need some motivation to get moving? See our recommendations for the weekend at our sister site, takeitoutsidenc.com.

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Filed under Adventure Racing, Fitness, Mountain bike


Sometimes what you need to get yourself in gear is some slight-of-hand incentive. That is, incentive that comes from something that may not directly involve getting you off the couch and out the door, but that ultimately has that effect. Fall is the perfect time for playing psychological tricks on yourself. See what I mean at our sister site, takeitoutsidenc.com.

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