Hey! Seems like not only have I taken a break from running, I’ve also taken a brief hiatus from blogging. I guess not being on a steady training schedule threw me off my blog game too, and while I remember being a bit cavalier about having a weekly summary, perhaps that type of structure does me well. Anyway, here’s what’s been happening over here at Not-Running Central.
Good news! My butt pain (piriformis) is gone. I only slightly feel it going uphill or after a hard strengthening workout, but never just running. Yay!
Bad news! I now have a TFL issue. This seems to all be related, and it all connects to the two IT band injuries (one in each leg) I suffered in 2013 and 2014. So basically all of it – the piriformis, the TFL, and the IT bands – stem from my weak glutes. The TFL issue is something that loosens up quickly as my run progresses and one that I don’t feel when walking or doing most anything, but does flare up when I perform certain stretches and is an overall feeling of “oh this hip is achey-tighter than the other one.” I have seen a couple people about it, and neither one says I have to stop running since it loosens up, so perhaps this is something that just needs to work itself out through rolling/stretching/strengthening. Patience. Ugh.
Oh, and that weird chest injury I suffered at the hands of an undertrained and overzealous masseuse right before the Ventura Marathon in September is still hanging on. I no longer suffer any pain whatsoever, but my left side is still significantly weaker than pre-massage. I still can’t bust out a good guy’s push-up, which is super humbling considering I used to be able to drop and give you 15 whenever. Again, it’ll just take time to get to 100%. So…more patience. Arrggh.
Friends, I am now a cross-training convert. Since I’m not running that much, I’m on a three times a week schedule with Trainer, so we do one upper body workout, one lower body workout, and one track workout. He is a very cold-blooded person* who forces me to lift heavier and do much more than I would ever do left to my own devices. He has lately taken to not allowing me as many water breaks, and so far my charm has done nothing to soften him…unlike my Pilates teacher who gave me chocolate in class.
Well, the result of this dictatorship is that I am way stronger than I can remember ever being, and it’s only been six weeks! For example, I can actually push that football sled on my own now. Ha. In addition to the two non-track workouts, I also picked up the exercise at home by getting in a couple days of leg exercises, another upper body workout and some core work as well. Plus I am rolling and stretching on the daily.
Even though Trainer has me doing some running with him, it’s not the long slow burn type of running that I’m used to. In addition to the few track sessions we’ve had, the “running” I do is mostly speed and agility drills, which is why I’m mentioning it in the cross-training section of this blog post. Last week we didn’t do track work to take it easy on my TFL, so I was treated to Football Friday where I got to do, well, I guess it’s football stuff. Anyway, it was super fun, and if they ever start a 45-49 year old women’s league, I will totally dominate. Check out my speedy little legs doing this drill below.
Bottom line is that cross-training is no longer the dreaded C-word.
The other benefit of all this cross-training and strengthening is that my body can actually handle the transition from a heel strike to a midfoot strike. As I’ve mentioned before, the few times I’ve attempted to make this change resulted in me quitting because my calves would blow up. I think the most I’d previously been able to handle using a midfoot strike was for a quarter mile per mile during a 3-mile run. Yesterday I finished an eighteen-mile running week, with all of it – ALL of it – run on my midfoot. Not only are my calves in good shape, the midfoot strike has now become my natural form. The photo below was taken when I was fucking around with the timer on my camera. I did a quick stride to practice getting the timing down, and when I checked out the photos, I found this one on my phone. This is the strike I instinctively went to, and look at it! The heel is up!
It is odd and frustrating taking these steps forward in terms of getting stronger, while at the same time having to take a step back due to nagging injuries that have made it impossible for me to run like I want to run (i.e., high mileage). However, perhaps these aggravations are saving me from myself. From what I’ve read about changing to a midfoot strike, it takes about 5-6 months for your body to really acclimate and get it up to the mileage you were used to as a marathoner. The body is experiencing new stress and different muscles are being engaged, so if I push it, I risk, well, more injury. Basically, who’s to say I could be running much more anyway given that I’m transitioning to this new running form. I’m also not sure I’d have given cross-training enough of a chance if I wasn’t hobbled by injury and desperate to not get injured again. Anyway, this is how I feel when I’m in a positive mood. Other times I have to fight my mind spiraling down to “I’ll never be able to run another marathon again” land now that I’ve suffered three annoying injuries in a row since September. I thought I was free and clear of this when I got through two marathon training cycles injury-free, but now it’s time to pay the piper for all those mornings I said “I’ll do those bridges later.” Zzzzz.
So now we’re caught up! Here’s to hoping I’ll be a little more regular with the running and the blogging.
Wishing everyone a great running week!
*He is actually a very nice person.