Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lessons Learned

Typically I keep my posts fairly short. This one, not so much. There's my disclaimer.

I wrote this in my head on a run a couple weeks ago. I got home and jotted down everything that was bouncing around in my brain on the first thing I could find, and have been scheming the publication of it ever since.

i'm a dork.
Being the somewhat superstitious runner that I am, I told myself I wouldn't post this until I was able to run 10 miles again without any issues.

Today that happened, with the help of 4 slow warmup miles followed by a 6 mile race at a 6:53 pace. I don't feel like talking about the race though. I'd rather talk about my IT band.

I realize that injury is something that very often comes with the territory of being an athlete. I had my fair share of injuries throughout my volleyball career in college, yet my IT band/hamstring issues in my left leg was my first big challenge as a runner.

Iliotibial band injuries are super common for us crazy runner folk - almost too common. During my extensive time spent at with my awesome Physical Therapist, Sean, this was something we often talked about. He was seeing SEVERAL other runners struggling with the same issue, all desperately trying to get it under control before their next big race.
If I had one word to offer to any one currently fighting with their IT band, it would be Patience... something that certainly isn't my strong suit. But I think patience has made me a more intelligent runner, and taught me a A LOT about my body.

You see, Sean and I went through just about every option possible as to what was making my IT band freak out. I am extremely inflexible, I have a fractured L5 vertabrae, I have a job at which I spend long periods sitting.... I don't didn't lift very much at all.... AKA I had poor muscle strength, specifically GLUTE strength. I also had recently switched into a more 'natural' running shoe prior to getting injured.

my babies. aka my brooksconnects
I think transitioning from a collegiate volleyball player who lifted pretty hard 3-4 times per week to occasionally playing with 10 lb weights in the gym mirror affected me a lot. I also think having a crack through  my lower vertebrae played a part.

I don't think my shoes were the issue. I think switching into them too quickly was stupid. But I still run in two pairs of the BrookesPure line today, and I love them.

Bottom line, I had to go back to the basics. Lateral movement/exercise was something that hadn't been present in my workouts for a couple of years, and that combined with a whole lot of sitting on my @$$ presented me with some pretty pathetically weak glutes, and even a weak core.

indoor skating. loved this thing.

Those muscles essentially had to be 'reactivated'. So I started 'skating' at Physical Therapy. I jumped around like a buffoon, and I had a long talk with the weight rack before deciding that we had to be friends again.

Outside of my physical therapy, I had to find other options. P90x plyos are great although I hate them. I also began to lock myself in my gym's empty raquetball court to shuffle and dash around like a wild woman. I have to keep all of those butt/hip/glute muscles guessing in order to keep rebuilding them.

my own personal crossfit box.
I have to give Sean a lot of credit. I spent a lot of time in that Physical Therapy office being bossed around instructed by him, but he also spent a lot of time outside of my appointment times studying the videos of me running on the treadmill, breaking down my every movement and pronaton. I owe him big time, and am grateful to have been paired up with him.

I don't think there is a quick fix to taking care of an IT band injury. ART may help it, it helped me to a degree. And I know for a fact it helps others more quickly and effectively than it did for me. But from what I experience and learned and research, that's not the permanent fix.

Lift weights. I'm serious. I'm not saying you have to get a weight belt and throw around 30 lb dumbbells. But take the time, at least twice a week, to give those glutes, quads, calves etc. some love.

Mix things up. I LOVE running, and there were periods of time when running was my only workout. 6 days a week, between 40-50 miles. I'm not saying high mileage weeks are bad... but you've GOT to throw some curveballs at your body.

That's why right now, during a 'non-training' period I'm making it a PRIORITY to not only run several times a week, but to swim, spin, lift, do plyos, and even drag myself to yoga. Because to quote my ever-wise PT, "The healthiest, most balanced runners that I've seen maintain a combo of running, some kind of strength training, and yoga."

Sidenote - I would also now consider my foam roller to be my best friend. In the entire world.

Getting back to a 'pain-free' place wasn't easy. It wasn't quick. It most certainly didn't go as I had envisioned it. From October 1st, the day I got hurt it took me 3 months to be able to run 60 minutes again. Add three more weeks to that and I'm back up to 10 miles.

OK, wrapping up... 

Getting hurt sucked. But rebuilding myself has made me respect running SO MUCH more. I don't take it for granted anymore, instead I constantly remind myself how freaking blessed I am to wake up on any given day and fly down a beautiful running trail. Being injured brought a ton of tears but has also (slowly) helped to show me so much joy.

Cheers to running!

1 comment:

  1. I need to work on more time to recovery. And spend more time with my foam roller and some yoga haha :) Congrats on getting back up to 10!!!


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