Back at it ...Read Now
OK, after some time off to let my knee completely rest, I decided yesterday to go ahead and give it a good test.
I took my six-inch hurdles, my weighted sled, and my pole vault poles down to the park and had a nice, little hour-long sprint workout. After warming up and stretching for a while, I did five sprints with the sled, six runs through the hurdles, six walking pole drops, six pole carries through the hurdles, then four more hurdle runs.
After that, I did three 10-meter sprints, three 20-meter sprints, and three 30-meter sprints.
On the way home, I stopped and bought a bag of ice for a 20-minute ice bath, just in case, but the knee felt great, and I was really happy about that.
Today, everything was still fine and so I headed to the gym to do some upper body and core stuff. I didn't do anything leg-related, but by the time I made a trip to Walmart and got home about two hours later, my knee was hurting pretty good. I got another bag of ice and soaked in the bathtub for 20 minutes again, but it still hurts a lot more than I'd like.
Kinda sucks ....
I sent a message to the doc who injected me three weeks ago and asked what, if anything, we can do. I remember something about trying a different kind of injection, but I also remember something about 90 days in between injections.
So, we'll see how it goes ...
Mellow Monday ...Read Now
Another day; another brick in the wall ...
Starting my second week of recuperation after the ultrasound knee injection two Fridays ago, so it was off to the gym this morning for an upper-body and core workout. My first legs routine was going to be Saturday, but it looks like I'm going to postpone that a little bit until I get back from visiting my dad down in Houston. He is 84 years old, and not doing very well, health-wise.
One thing I've been working on is pull-ups (machine-assisted). I've never been able to do pull-ups, and it finally occurred to me to try doing the negative portion of the pull-up, to help build strength for that movement. So that was my first exercise today.
I stood on a step-up platform, grabbed a high bar, palms facing away, and pushed off, arms bent, trying to hold myself up as gravity pulled the other direction. Mostly, it was a slow descent, but it was good. I did two more reps like that, and before too long, I'll be able to hold myself up at the top, and then start working on lowering a little bit, then pulling back up. Look out latissimus dorsi!
After that, I did six sets of hanging leg raises, again on the high bar. I'm already getting stronger at these, but today my hands were slipping on this smooth metal bar the last couple of sets. Maybe some gloves are in order.
A friend who was doing chin-ups across the way then showed me a routine on the Smith machine that I think is going to be helpful, too. Laying on my back on the floor, underneath the barbell, legs extended with feet propped up on a step-up platform, grabbing the bar with palms facing in, and doing horizontal chin-ups. I was able to do eight reps this way. Good stuff.
After that, I did some bent-over dumbbell rows, dumbbell shoulder press, triceps press, side laterals, front laterals, rear laterals, narrow grip standing rows, cable flyes, and finished with three sets of ab wheel roller.
Pretty good workout.
Another brick in the wall.
And, as always, here is the requisite pitch for my book, "Finally Fit," the story of my pole vaulting journey that began around the time I turned 60 years old. Find it HERE.
Ciao, y'all ...
Serene Saturday ...Read Now
Another brick in the wall ...
A great Pink Floyd song, to be sure, but also a favorite saying by the great Bubba Sparks, someone I am privileged to call a close friend and brother. Bubba and I practiced pole vaulting together every Sunday morning for a solid year, beginning back in Oct. 2017, at Kris Allison's place in New Braunfels. Then, Bubba -- a national champion vaulter in college, and world champion in Masters vaulting -- moved back to Houston, where we both grew up a few miles apart and went to the same high school a few eons ago, and so our weekly practice commute unfortunately ended.
But how many people get the chance to not only be trained, coached, mentored, encouraged by a world-class athlete, but also to become lifelong friends?
Amazing to think about ....
And that is one of the many pearls of wisdom Bubba has shared with me over the past couple of years or so -- everyday, he says, put another brick in the wall. Do something positive every day toward reaching your goal(s).
So that's what I try to do.
Today, I continued my upper-body strength training with a visit to the gym. Right now, I'm resting a slightly damaged knee (thinning meniscus gap, slight to moderate osteoarthritis on the inner side, and a small bone spur or two), after an ultrasound injection. That was last Friday, and the doc said to wait until at least Wednesday to try it out, but I've extended that to next Friday. A good, solid two weeks.
The knee feels a whole heckuva lot better, but I'm still a little concerned when I feel the occasional twinge on the inside there. Nothing like it was, but not quite 100 percent.
So, this morning I cranked out a set of incline bench press: 10-8-6-4-2, ending with 135 pounds. Not bad for me, and I'm already stronger than I was a couple weeks ago, when the last set of 125 was a struggle. I did some straight-arm cable pushdowns for lats and shoulders, some small barbell shoulder presses (50-60-70 pounds), some dumbbell triceps press, dumbbell curls, dumbbell pullovers, and I think that was it. My stamina is starting to come back a little bit, so I'll be back to an hour-long workout with the weights pretty soon.
Next Saturday, I plan to resume Shawn Francis' Team Hoot three-month conditioning program, albeit in a modified format. Some of those hops, skips, and jumps that are in there will be off-limits for a while -- maybe forever. Some of that stuff doesn't feel too good on a nearly 63-year-old dude with knee issues.
But that's about it for today, I reckon.
Remember to check out the book I wrote about my pole vaulting journey, including that year of training with Bubba and my appearance in the National Senior Games. To take a look at "Finally Fit: It's Never Too Late to Achieve a Dream," click right HERE.
More later, y'all ...
Easy does it Friday ...Read Now
When I decided to dedicate my summer to pole vault conditioning and centered it around Shawn Francis' three-month Team Hoot program, some of my Masters buddies warned me to be careful and not overdo it. The program is challenging, they said, and not exactly designed for the older crowd.
Well, I found out pretty quickly they were right. The first week was definitely challenging, and would have been a challenge under normal circumstances, but I also was dealing with a painful left knee, which made it even more difficult.
I finally decided to see an orthopedist, got my knee injected, and am now in the middle of a self-imposed two-week recuperation period before I start putting pressure on the knee again.
So, for the most part, Shawn's program is on hold while I try and let my knee heal, but I am borrowing parts of it as I continue upper-body strengthening workouts at the gym. No sprints, no weighted sleds, no frog hops, skipping, shuffling, speed skaters, or any of that. Upper body only, and some core exercises.
Today, as I did some glute bridges, reverse curls, leg lifts, bicycles, planks, and hanging leg raises, I thought, "This core stuff really sucks."
But it's probably the most important thing I can do right now for my overall fitness, not to mention my vaulting.
That, and speed training -- which hopefully I can resume next Saturday. I'm going to take it slow, and keep my fingers crossed that the knee responds well. If not, well ... "Hello, yes, I need to make another appointment, please."
As I was talking with one of my buddies about my summertime training efforts, this fine gent who is five years older but in 10 times better shape than I am, found a gentle way to tell me to remember that not only am I 60-plus years old now, but I'm also still too heavy. This was not news to me, as I step on the scales every morning, but I have a brilliant way of denying reality sometimes, and pretending things are the way I want them to be, instead of the way they really are.
I've come a long way in the fitness department since I started this pole vaulting journey, but I still have a ways to go. My buddy's words stung a little bit, but the thing about it is, he was right. And sometimes, the truth hurts, but sometimes the truth is necessary.
And, for me, it was a good wake-up call. I decided, you know what, I'm going to quit procrastinating, and I'm going to lose the rest of the weight I need to lose.
So, along with following Shawn's program -- modifying it to fit my old guy needs -- I established a goal of losing 25 pounds by the end of August, by working out six days a week, and cleaning up my diet. Like my buddy said, there really are no excuses. Losing weight is 80 percent nutrition/diet and 20 percent exercise. I already knew that, too, but, damn, those barbecue bacon cheeseburgers at Whataburger are really good, man. That and a large vanilla malt ...
But, I decided to let that stuff go for a while, and get back on the healthy eating train. So far, so good, as the scales today showed 210 pounds, down from 215-217. Two years ago, I was checking in somewhere around 240, 245.
Depending on how the weekend goes, I should be down under 210 sometime next week. I haven't weighed less than 200 pounds in at least 10-12 years.
Check out my books, including "Finally Fit," the story of my learning to pole vault for the first time ever at age 60, right HERE.
All right, that's it for today, y 'all ...
See you on down the road ...
Morning workoutRead Now
If you're new here ... where the heck you been???
Just kidding. Howdy and welcome!
I resurrected my fitness blog a couple weeks ago when I decided to try out my friend Shawn Francis' three-month pole vault conditioning program. (https://team-hoot.com/) At the time, I was suffering from some fairly serious come-and-go pain in my left knee, but I wanted to spend this summer kicking my physical fitness up a notch, and so I started the program a few days before an appointment with an orthopedics guy.
Some of the workouts were fairly tolerable, but other exercises were extremely difficult, due to the pain, but I did the best I could that first week, and then the doc pronounced some normal wear-and-tear in the knee joint, at least one small bone spur, and some osteoarthritis. One of the recommended treatments is an ultrasound injection, and I said, yes, I want that.
By the next day, tremendous relief. That was last Friday, and orders were to completely rest the knee until Wednesday, before resuming any type of high-impact exercise. I decided to extend that a little farther, and give it two weeks before easing back into any leg workouts. So far, so good. Except for an occasional twinge -- not really painful, but mostly annoying -- the knee is so much better.
I'm looking forward to getting back on the runway and trying some vault drills with a take-off leg that doesn't hurt like hell. Maybe I can start making some progress again toward my goal of clearing that 10-foot bar.
So, today, I headed to the gym for a strictly upper-body workout. I started out hanging from a high bar for 30 seconds, stretching a little bit, then hanging for another 30 seconds. For you non-vaulters, high-bar work like you see gymnasts do when they perform, is an important part of pole vault training. I'm not strong enough to do much of anything on a high bar, but that is going to be part of my focus throughout the summer.
Yesterday, I did either 30 or 36 knee raises hanging from the high bar (can't remember whether it was five sets of six, or six sets of six), and today, it was just grabbing on and hanging there. If you've never done it, it ain't so easy.
Then, I did some incline bench press, alternating sets with some bent-over barbell rows. I like to combine push and pull exercises. I did some machine shoulder presses, seated cable low row, dumbbell pullovers on a slightly inclined bench, dumbbell press, triceps press, dumbbell curls, side laterals, front laterals.
That was it for today. I used to plow through an hour-and-a-half, two-hour workout with the weights, no problem. Now, I'm trying to remember that I'm coming up on 63 years old; not 33.
If you want to read a really good book about an old dude who took up pole vaulting at the ripe ol' age of 60, click right here and take a look at "Finally Fit." Please and thank you ...
All right, that's it for today.
Remember, it's never too late to achieve a dream.
Hasta mañana ...
Easy does it ...Read Now
Five days since the ultrasound injection in my knee ...
Feels pretty good overall -- a lot better than before -- but not 100 percent better, which concerns me a little bit. It's going to be OK, though. If that first shot didn't take, then we'll just have to go in there for Round Two in about 90 days. They tell me there are more, different types of treatments we can try if the first one doesn't take.
I had an appointment at noon in Austin at The Good Feet Store, a place for orthotics -- arch supports/shoe inserts that are supposed to work wonders on correcting poor feet alignment and gait and such, which apparently can cause knee pain or make it worse. I've heard about the place for a long time and decided to give it a try.
Before heading down there, I put in a quickie at the gym, with some hanging knee raises, core bicycles, leg lifts, Russian twists with medicine ball, planks, and some shoulder strengthening sets.
The young lady at The Good Feet Store was very nice, and ran me through a well-organized and impressive demonstration of several contraptions that felt really good to walk on, then finally hit me with the sales pitch. For the entire "kit," I think she called it, of three sets of different kinds of shoe inserts and a bunch of other stuff, the grand total was ... wait for it ... $1,499.
I ain't kidding ...
I nearly choked. I was really disappointed, because it felt really good to walk around with that stuff in my sneakers, and I was hopeful that I'd found something to help my knee issue and maybe prevent further problems. To make a long story short, I wound up going with one of the three sets of inserts, which are partially designed -- supposedly -- for exercise and athletics. I considered it a slightly risky investment that may or may not work, but worth a try, especially considering the alternative cost of doctor visits.
If it doesn't help, well, live and learn. It was worth a try ...
Tomorrow's schedule includes more upper body and core strength training. The orthopedist who injected me said to wait until today for any high-impact activity on the knee, but I'm going to give it more rest. I really don't want to go back to the pain I was having before.
Hey, if you're interested, check out my book, "Finally Fit," which is the story about my learning to pole vault at age 60. Click HERE to find a copy.
More later ...
Week two ...Read Now
sAll right, all right, all right ...
Last week, I started my buddy Shawn Francis' three-month vault conditioning program, but didn't get very far before a doctor visit and ultrasound injection in my aching left knee last Friday threw a wrench into the works. The x-rays from that visit were kind of surprising, as my knee is kind of a mess.
The meniscus gap (that's what I call it) is significantly narrowed on the inside of my knee, where all the pain is, and there is also at least one bone spur in there, along with some osteoarthritis. Compared to an x-ray of a healthy knee -- which the doctor showed me first -- mine looks a little scary. Not horrible, but not great, either.
Since the injection, the knee has improved tremendously, with only an occasional slight twinge in there. I'm hoping it continues to clear up completely, and so I'm going to do nothing leg-related for two weeks except walking. No long-distance walking, which I enjoy, but just regular walking from place to place.
Last night, I was on my feet for three hours at my little part-time job at the gym, and the knee held up really well. Before, it would start giving me problems about the two-and-a-half hour mark, so that was encouraging.
So until June 20, workouts will be upper-body and core only, with nothing that even comes close to putting pressure on my knee. After that, I'll start easing back into some easy sprints, weighted sled pulls, maybe some bodyweight squats, some easy vault plant drills.
Phase two will be returning to Shawn's workout plan, with a lot of modifications. I'll be easing back into that program, too, and doing lots of stretching and other things to try and have as healthy a knee as possible. Apparently, if injection no. 1 doesn't do the trick, the doc has more tricks up his sleeve, which is encouraging.
So, for today's workout, I did back, shoulders, and triceps.
I started with some machine-assisted dips, followed immediately by seated barbell shoulder press, and straight-arm cable pushdowns. I did some machine lat pulldowns, seated dumbbell shoulder press, and some front shoulder raises with a barbell plate. Next, some machine-assisted dips for triceps, some small barbell standing shoulder press, and a few sets of dumbbell side laterals.
That's it for today.
If you haven't heard already, I wrote a book a while back about my adventures learning to pole vault a couple years ago at age 60. Click HERE to check it out. Go ahead, it's a good story ...
Stay tuned, y'all ...
Back to workRead Now
Knee feels a lot better after Friday's ultrasound injection. Still a slight twinge once in a while, but it hasn't felt this good in months. We have a Mazda 6 sports car that sits low to the ground, and getting out of that thing has been an adventure, but today when I got back from the gym, I stuck my left leg out, foot on the ground, and boom! popped right up, no pain, no bracing against the door jam, no grunting like an old man.
Just up and out like a normal person.
I was concerned maybe I'd lost a lot of strength on that side, but apparently it was just the pain holding me back. The doctor told me to avoid any high-impact activity until Wednesday, but I think I'm going to go a while longer than that, and really ease back into things. I am excited, though, to see how a pain-free take-off leg reacts next time I do some vaulting.
Look out, 10-foot crossbar. Here I come ...
OK, slow it down a little, Johnny boy. Let's get that first 9-foot bar, and go from there ...
Today's workout was pretty good. I stayed away from anything that put any pressure at all on my injected knee. I did some incline dumbbell chest press, alternating with hanging high-bar knee raises. Man, I need a lot of work on my grip strength. Then, I did some machine shoulder presses, alternating with cable lat pulldowns and machine bench press. Did some cable flyes, some dumbbell curls, triceps press, and then it was time for the noon staff meeting.
The next few days, I'll continue working on the upper body and leave lower body alone. At some point late next week or early the next week, I think I'll start running some easy sprints and weighted sleds, maybe some vaulting plant drills. Maybe some light leg machine press, and leg extensions and curls.
And definitely a lot of stretching. Whether I like it or not -- and I don't -- I have to learn to do a lot of daily stretching and flexibility, not only to try and avoid further damage to various body parts, but also to try and make this knee stronger and healthier, and keep it that way as long as possible.
For a really good and some say inspiring story about an old guy learning to pole vault for the first time in his life at age 60, click here to find a copy of "Finally Fit: It's Never Too Late to Achieve a Dream."
Ciao, y'all ...
Time to restRead Now
Yesterday, as I was laying on an exam table, hooked up to an ultrasound machine, with an orthopedist showing a resident different parts of my left knee joint, a nurse who was also looking at the screen that I couldn't see from my vantage point, said, "Is that the meniscus bulging out right there?"
"That's it," the doctor said.
"Hey," the nurse said, turning to me, "you're a cool person to look at!"
OK, I guess. I'm just glad I still have meniscus in there to bulge out.
It seems my knee joint has compressed a little over the years, mostly on the inside, and gotten to the point where it's fairly painful most of the time. I got a nice little injection -- ouch -- during yesterday's two-and-a-half hour adventure at the clinic, and I'm hopeful that a stretching routine I'll start on Wednesday will help re-create some space in there and ease the pain.
Right now, about 12 hours after the injection, it feels a lot better. Not 100 percent, but I'm supposed to rest it completely until Wednesday, and even though I'm cleared to resume full activity at that point, I think I'm going to ease back into things a little bit. I can't imagine ever having someone slice my leg open, saw through my leg bones, take my knee out and throw it away, then stick some metal contraption in there and sew it back up.
You'd better give me some really good drugs.
So, I'm going to put my three-month pole vault conditioning program on the shelf for a few days, and bring it back out next week. And I'm definitely going to modify it some, tone it down a little bit, try and adapt it to accommodate a 62-year-old guy in halfway decent shape, but still needing to lose 25 pounds and realize he ain't a young buck any more who can go full-bore and turn himself into a lean, mean, vaulting machine overnight.
I'm not giving up -- no way, no how, not ever -- but it's time to also play it smart, if I want to be in this for the long-term.
It's been an awesome journey so far, this pole vaulting thing. Read about it HERE in my book, "Finally Fit."
Adios, y'all ...
Doctor day ...Read Now
All right, doctor visit over, and aside from dealing with an extremely rude whatever-she-was at the checkout desk on my way out, it seems to have been a success. At least, so far.
After lots of questions, twisting and turning, pushing and pulling, poking and prodding, yanking, cranking and spanking -- OK, no spanking -- the knee was pronounced structurally sound, which means no surgical procedures needed for ligament or cartilage damage, or any of that.
He showed me a set of "normal" x-rays, explained what a good, healthy knee looks like, and then showed me my x-rays. The difference was basically space between the upper and lower leg bones, where they connect. Normally, there is a nice little, even space in there, where the meniscus sits and acts as padding between the ends of the bones. On the side of my knee that hurts -- the inside -- that gap, which should be the same size all the way across, is considerably thinner.
This, according to the doc, shows that the meniscus has been worn down some over time, and the pain comes from that and some osteoarthritis. The solution? An ultrasound-guided injection, which hopefully will do the trick.
As I lay on my back on an exam table, getting ready for the shot, the doc asked if I minded a resident who helped with the exam giving me the injection. I said, sure, that's fine, and so the young man took over, with doc watching and advising his movements. At one point, the needle hit something and I straightened out with a loud grunt and gritted teeth, as he adjusted the position of the shot, then it was over.
The doc apologized, and I said, "Hey, as long as it works, I'll take that."
He said, "Oh, it'll work," and told me to avoid any high-impact activity on the leg until next Wednesday.
So, that brings me to Day 5 of my Shawn Francis three-month pole vault conditioning program. I won't be doing any sprints for a few days, or any of that painful hop, skipping and jumping around that is supposed to improve fast-twitch muscle fiber action and increase speed. But there are some parts of the program I can still do, like the plank circuit, core strengthening, weight circuits, and other goodies.
Gotta go look at tomorrow's workout and decide on modifications ...