the pencil runs

posts on running

ITB Anonymous: Session II

Sunday, October 29, 2006
Hi, my name is Ms. Nomer.

I think I need to learn how to swim.

ITB Anonymous

My name is Ms. Nomer and I have a problem.

I didn't used to think I have a problem. I thought all I was experiencing were a few one-time flare-ups, well within my control.

But I am realising that this may not be so.

My first encounter with my nemesis occured three weeks ago, on a jaunt to the Chinese garden. Then it was a dull throb, a fleeting temptation, so to speak.

I went cold turkey, put an ice pack, and forgot about it soon. Two weeks went by and I was asymptomatic. I wasn't as thrilled as I ought to have been because, well, I didn't think I had a problem.

Then I had an episode. It near crippled me, and I was frightened by its power.

So I took some precautions: did the seven steps to stregthen my resolve, the eight steps to complete joint freedom. And I was optimistic. Bouyed by the success of 25 minutes in the fray this last Thursday without a flare-up, I attempted a 45 minute endeavour on Friday. I was pushing my luck as I quickly realised...

Today, I only managed 35 minutes before the old demons knocked on the door.

But I will try again; because, why else am I here, telling you all of this?

The weakest link

Friday, October 27, 2006
Between Smole and I, we have enough problems for three of us.

While I was congratulating myself at the 25 minute mark on how good my ITB was feeling thus far, Smole tripped over the tiniest crack in the pavement and sprained her ankle. It was a pretty bad sprain -- it swelled up to as large as a golf ball -- the poor girl! We got some ice in a plastic bag from the nice folks at Long John's Silver, iced it down and limped back to where we started.

We take turns to play the weakest link. (or at least our body parts do)

Week 1: Great run! No weakest link.
Week 2: MN's sunburn
Week 2.5: MN's sweat bubbles
Week 3: Smole's knee
Week 4: Smole's knee
Week 5: Smole's knee and MN's ITB
Week 6: It was actually an alright run, just general fatigue and impatience.
Week 7: MN's ITB
Week 7.5: Smole's ankle

What does Week 8 hold? Will Smole's ankle heal? Will MN's ITB flare up? When novices are foolish enough to sign up for a marathon, you get a drama serial.

Walt Reynolds' ITB Special

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Walt Reynolds' ITB Special is an exercise that mimics the running gait and strengthens the iliotibial band. I found the original instructions a bit difficult to follow, so I've taken the liberty of adding a few photos to illustrate. Please let me know if I'm doing it wrong.

First, find a four to six inch elevation.

Place the involved leg, i.e. the leg you are working out, on the step. Use a wall or railing on your non-involved side for support.

With both knees locked, lower your non-involved leg towards the floor. As you do this, your involved hip would be higher than the non-involved hip. (see pic below) Try to shift most of your body weight to the inside part of the foot of the involved leg. Make sure that a fair amount of your body weight is directed through your heel, not just your toes.

Bend your weight-supporting, involved knee slightly (about 10 to 20 degrees), but keep the non-involved foot off the ground or floor.

Now, move the involved hip forward about four to six inches, while keeping the involved heel in contact with the step and your weight on the inside of your involved foot. As your involved hip moves forward, your upper body should move backward.

After you've moved your hip forward, move it straight backward. As your hip moves backward, your upper body will tend to bend forward.

As you do the exercise, you should feel the burn up toward the side of your hip. If you don't feel anything happening, go back to the basic position and try again. Make sure that
1. Your involved hip is higher than the other hip
2. Your weight is shifted to the inside of the involved foot.

Start with 10 reps per day on each leg, and gradually build up to a set of 20 to 30 reps - carried out at two different times during the day.

ITB woes

Monday, October 23, 2006
My left illiotibial band is sore like anything. I can't walk without it hurting so I keep my leg as straight as I can and swivel my hip around to take a step. Smole says I walk like a stroke patient.

I'm not really sure what to do. I think I really have to make an effort to stretch and do exercises to strengthen my gluteus medius muscle and hip abductors. And keep off the track. And try to pronate less and be less bow-legged. Er, right.

I am wondering if tape will be a decent substitute for the pattstrap...

Week 5: The West Coast Park Run

Thursday, October 12, 2006
Unlike the previous four runs, the name for Week 5's run is contentious. It is a narrow fight between
  • The West Coast Park Run: Labrador Park-West Coast Park-Pandan Reservoir-Chinese Garden *descriptive*
  • The Just-How-Small-is-Singapore Run *inductive*
  • The we-are-never-going-to-make-it-so-let's-just-give-up Run *emotive*
The name West Coast Park Run is descriptive. We ran from the Southern tip of Singapore to the Chinese Garden, which was decorated with colourful lanterns for the mooncake festival.

Chinese Garden: Mooncake Festival

The name Just-How-Small-is-Singapore Run is inductive, as can be seen in this map:

Week 5: The Just-how-small-is-Singapore Run

That is the whole of Singapore you see. That purple line you see is only 17.5km, so just how small is Singapore exactly?

And the we-are-never-going-to-make-it-so-let's-just-give-up Run is emotive, as evidenced by having to stop because of knee pain before we even hit the 20km mark.


And so what do you do when you are discouraged because you have neither speed nor endurance? Pretend you are as fast as speeding train.

Zippin' Train
Zippin' train

Zippin' Smole
Zippin' smole

Zippin' MN
Zippin' MN

How many ways can your knee hurt?

Monday, October 09, 2006
So I have become a runner. I know what a sore iliotibial band feels like.

Smole has Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome and I have Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

Smole needs to strengthen her quadriceps and stretch her iliotibial bands, calves and hamstrings. I need to strengthen my hip abductors and stretch my iliotibial bands.

How to strengthen quadriceps: (for PPS)


How to strengthen hip abductors: (for PPS and ITBS)


How to strengthen gluteus medius muscle: (for ITBS)


How to stretch the iliotibial band: (for PPS and ITBS)

And all of these stretches too: (for PPS and ITBS)


No cycling or squash for me till after the marathon...

Week 4: The Great Midnight Run

Sunday, October 01, 2006
Due to a happy alignment of the stars, three major ethnic festivals are happening in the same month this year: Mid-Autumn, Hari Raya and Deepavali. The three festivals also coincide with the convergence of 16,000 IMF delegates on our little island state -- which is the kind of conincidence that makes you wonder about the real power of our government...

Three festivals

Anyway, public holidays are sweet. For equity, major ethnic groups are allocated two public holidays each: two Chinese, two Muslim, two Christian, two Indian, and three secular. Singapore banks on these festivals to up the "asian factor" of our otherwise modern and secular country, and so go all out to impress tourists. Which means that it is a great opportunity for a midnight run. :)

Mid-autumn Festival


Hari Raya Light-up
Hari Raya

The plan was to hit all three light-ups via Chinatown, Serangoon Rd, and then Victoria Street in a grand loop that was to take about 26km. We started about 9:45pm and got home at 2am.

This was the route we took.


What a run. It was interesting to watch how the city changed as we ran. The ah-peks (old chinese men) on bicycles in Chinatown morphed into the young dancing crowd at clark quey, which transformed into the crowded Indian streets at Serangoon, which eventually settled uneasily into the buzzing bright lights of geylang... When it got late enough, we bumped into the midnight cyclists.

The stretch on MacPherson towards Paya Lebar was horrendously long and boring, but I eventually got over my bed-time sleepiness and felt better after the U-turn and stopped running away from home. Smole's knee started hurting at Bugis so we stopped, leaving the battle for another day.

Thank God for taxis that ply the streets at all times of the night. And for seven-elevens and petrol stations too. The best part? No sunburn! ;)