Virus Attack

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Virus Attack

Do you ever feel there is not enough time for everything you want to do? It’s been a while since I posted here, due to a number of other demands on my time. The main issue was that I had five of my websites hacked, and it’s taken a while to get them cleaned up.  In fact, this site was only cleaned up yesterday after a virus attack.
Scared This was the latest site to be attacked – I received a warning on March 17.  Fortunately, my computer is protected, using Microsoft Security Essentials and  AVG Free, which saves me from viruses when I log in to websites that have been hacked: I just didn’t expect to find one on my own website!   If you have a website, you might be interested to read more about my experiences, and the lessons I learned, at two of my other websites – my blog and my business site.

Clean Up Virus

Cleaning up is something not to be taken lightly: I know this is off-topic, but would like to give you some pointers.  I am using Sucuri and, after they have cleaned the site, they give these 5 recommendations:

  1. Change your FTP or SSH password
  2. Change your administrator password
  3. Run a virus scan on your computer
  4. Update your site (re-install WordPress)
  5. Back up regularly

I have done all this (using VERY strong passwords), so we should both be safe now.

Running

This will be a short post: I am still gradually getting back to running as my lungs slowly heal following my bout with pneumonia last year. Once I could walk again for 30 minutes, I started adding one-minute jogging breaks. I increased these slowly to five minutes with five minutes walking, and now I have been reducing the walking breaks. Right now I’m down to a two-minute break, which seems to give my lungs long enough to recover before I start another slow jog.
Walking a Half MarathonMy research has shown that my lungs willheal, which is the good news. The bad news is that it will take a while, so I just need to be patient. Unfortunately, patience is not a strong point with runners! I’m still aiming for the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in San Antonio in November, even if I have to walk most of it!

Strength

I have been taking the opportunity to build up my strength after being as weak as a kitten when I recovered from my illness. I find now that my legs and the rest of my body are strong and willing to do a lot more than my lungs will allow. You can read more about my exercise program on my fitness website.  Check it out now!

Three Secrets to Recovering from Injury or Illness

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running injury

Three Secrets to Recovering from Injury or Illness

Recovering from Injury or Illness is a slow, frustrating process.  The best way is to avoid injury or illness in the first place, but that, of course, is a counsel of perfection.  As runners, we are always testing our limits, guaranteeing that at some time we will become injured or get sick.

From September 2 until October 10, 2011, Bastrop, Texas suffered from catastrophic Texas Wildfireswildfires.  I live about 100 miles from Bastrop, but the smoke reached me and soon I found that I was suffering from upper respiratory problems and had to stop running.  One thing led to another, and I ended up with pneumonia, finally being cleared for running again in January, 2012.

When recovering from injury or illness, the temptation is to start back doing too much too soon.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) after pneumonia I found my lungs in such terrible shape that even walking was strenuous.  After such a long layoff I would get out of breath tying up my shoes.

So what is the best way to get back to running after a layoff?

During my years of running, I have been injured or forced to lay off for other reasons enough times that getting back to running has become a common experience.  There are three secrets to recovering from an injury or illness that I have learned – ignore these at your peril.  Remember that reinjury takes about three times as long in recovery as the original injury (which helps to explain why I was out for such a long time last year.)

strength trainingStrength

First build strength.  After a layoff, you will have lost muscle tone, not just in your legs, but in your upper body and core muscles.  Before you can start any serious running you need to recover some of that strength.

Be careful, though, not to overwork the strength training – 3 times a week is sufficient.  You need a program that will work all the major muscle groups but leave plenty of time for recovery between each workout – it’s during the recovery that your strength builds.  Be extra careful not to overstress any muscles that are recovering from injury.

If you have been able to continue strength training during your layoff, or even cross-train, you will have reduced the atrophy that would otherwise have occurred.  Even so, your return to injury-free running will be more rapid if you focus some of your energy on building strength.  In my case, I found that I was able to resume my 7 minute workout before I could even start walking again.

Stretch

Now, more than ever, it is important to stretch: returning to running when recovering from Stretching when recovering from an injury or illnessan injury or illness requires even more attention to stretching than normal.  Stretch carefully and fully after every run.  If you fail to do this, the question is not whether you will injure yourself, but when.

There is still some controversy about whether stretching before a run is a good idea.  Personally, I find it helps me, especially after a layoff, when muscles and joints are unnaturally stiff.  If you have been used to stretching before your runs you should continue to do so: changing your regimen at this time is not a good idea.

You can use my eBook Five Essential Stretches for Runners as a guide.  There are many other sources if you want to stretch more than just the minimum.  Just remember to stretch easy and don’t strain at it: stretching should be pleasurable, not painful.

Go Easy

When recovering from an injury or illness, don’t rush your return to running.  The temptation is there, but the more conservatively you approach your rehabilitation the better  chance you have of getting back to full fitness rapidly.  Err on the side of caution, however frustrating that may seem.

The secret here is to go by how your body feels, not by what your watch says.  I find that I look at my times and think about how dismal my progress is: will I ever get back to running again?  Then I look back at where I was a month ago, when I couldn’t even walk, and recognize that I am making progress, even if it does seem slow.

My Program

My program for recovering from illness started with walking for 30 minutes 3-5 times per week.  Then I inserted 1 minute jogging breaks between 5 minute walks after a ten minute walking warmup.  When I was ready, I increased the jogging intervals by 1 minute.  I always take a five minute minimum cooldown walk at the end before stretching.

So far, I’ve reached 3 minutes in my jogging intervals, and feel like I’ve hit a plateau.  Plateaus are normal in recovery: they are frustrating at the time, but indicate that your body is actually adjusting to the new regimen and building strength to improve.

Once I get to 5 minutes jogging intervals, I’ll start reducing the walking breaks one minute at a time until I can jog for the full 20 minutes after my 10 minute warmup. My next step will be to jog for 30 minutes.  At that point I’ll repeat the whole process, substituting running for jogging and jogging for walking, until I can run for 30 minutes.

That should put me in shape for my first 5K.  Then 10K, then my half marathon in November in San Antonio.

San Antonio Marathon and Half Marathon

Wish me luck!

You can see more about my strength training program at 7 Minute Workout.

Respiratory Problems – What Not to Do

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I went for a mile walk today. Actually, it was more like one and one half miles. Since I hate to walk, that was a long way for me, but it was a beautiful day (finally) and it felt good to get outside.

Around October, we had the notorious Texas wildfires. We were fortunate to be spared the worst of the wildfires, but for a few weeks the smoke was so bad that it really affected my lungs every time I went outside the door. I blame that for what happened after.

Texas wildfires

The smoke probably started an allergy: I was coughing and my eyes were hurting. I was relieved when we took a vacation and got away from the smoke. In October, we left for a long-awaited trip to Peru and the Andes: in particular to Machu Picchu, which had been on my list for years.

Machu PicchuMachu Picchu was even more spectacular than I had imagined, and you would think that breathing that clear mountain air would have cleared my lungs. Not so. With the increased altitude and my already compromised lungs, I found it hard to breathe – not so hard that I didn’t enjoy the trip, but hard enough that I didn’t want to do any running.

Machu Picchu is at 7,970 feet, or so they tell me. Not that high, really, unless you’ve been used to living at sea level for a few decades. Cusco, though, is at 11,200 feet, so I was really feeling the altitude there.

Then we went to Puno, at 12,421 feet. It must have been that last one foot that got to me there – one wonders how they measure it that close, especially as it’s a very hilly town.

By now, my lungs were really complaining, but it got worse when our hotel room filled with smoke from a wood burning stove in the lobby below. That night, and the next, I found it hard to sleep for more than an hour or so without waking up coughing. Appeals to the hotel management had no effect.

Back in Texas in November, it turned cold and miserable, but after about ten days I left for Roatan in the tropics. The problem there was that I hit a very wet spell in the rainy season, and ended up spending more time in bed sleeping than anything else. By now I had begun to recognize that I was definitely not well.

When I got back to Texas, I finally visited a doctor for the first time since all this started.X-Ray
He X-rayed me, gave me some antibiotics and sent me home. After five days the antibiotics ran out, but I was feeling better.

Unfortunately, that didn’t last, and I had another visit to the doctor and more antibiotics. This time, he told me I had pneumonia: at least I knew now why I felt so bad!

Today, feeling somewhat better, I decided to go for a walk for the first time. Every time I hit an uphill slope I found myself puffing and panting like in Puno, but at least I made it! Now I’ll start getting back gradually to running, but I think I’ll wait until the doctor takes another X-ray and clears me before I do too much.

So what is the lesson in all this? Upper respiratory problems should not be ignored. Most minor running pains will go away after a while, but when your lungs are giving trouble it’s best to take care of them earlier rather than later. I knew this: I had pneumonia about the same time last year through ignoring symptoms. My only excuse is that I was traveling and was not sure I’d be able to keep up with the medication: a poor excuse for stupidity!

Have you experienced any lung problems lately?  Let me know in a comment about your experience.  (I hope you were smarter than I was!)

Dissolving Lungs

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phoneRrrrring — 

 “Hello?”

 “Alan Jenkin?”

 “Yes.”

“Hi, this is Dr. Sawbones’ office.  We have the X-ray results, and your lungs are dissolving.”


“Dissolving?”

“Not DISsolving! REsolving.”

“Oh. Is that good?”

“Yes.  You don’t need any more X-rays.”

It must be a couple of months or more since I went to the doctor with a fever which he diagnosed as pneumonia.  Antibiotics hit it fast, and I soon recovered, but it has taken a long while to recuperate fully.  The worst part was that for weeks I was not allowed to run – or even walk.

 “Just your normal daily activity.”

 “Does that include my normal daily run?”

 “No. No running or walking – just your daily activity.”

 The doctor didn’t seem to understand that running is part of my daily activity.

 When he finally passed me for running, it felt great to get outside and stagger around again.  Then the weather turned cold, and my lungs burned with every breath, so I decided that it would be better to run only when the temperature was more temperate.  And it was not raining or blowing too hard.

That limited my options somewhat, since it was now November.  Fortunately, we can get frequent weather changes in my part of Texas during tis time of the year, so I could pick days when the sun was shining and the temperature up in the 70s, even though the next day it might be in the 40s.

 The good news is that, now that my lungs have “dissolved” I can run even when it’s fairly cold.  The better news is that it feels good.  The even better news is that my pace is slowly improving again.

 The bad news is that leaves me with no excuses!

But it’s good to know that my lungs are not dissolving …