MCM13: My training ends…

Co-owner, Metro Run & Walk, Certified Pedorthist, and Runner

Co-owner, Metro Run & Walk, Certified Pedorthist, and Runner

For the last two weeks, I have agonized over whether or not I would be able to continue.

The really short story is that about two weeks ago, I was injured to the point where I had to interrupt training, stop running, and seek medical attention.  I’ve been working with my sports chiropractor, Dr. Kathy Coutinho, Positively Chiropractic and yesterday we both came to the conclusion that the smartest thing is to completely heal and rehab and come back for a late spring/early summer marathon.

Keep reading for the long version…

Week 15, September 30 – October 6

I mentioned in my last post that I was headed to Duck, NC for a well deserved grown girl’s getaway for a relaxed week with friends.    I arrived Sunday evening feeling great about my running.  My Sunday run was good, albeit a little faster than it should have been, but good.  I was ready for a great week of running; my last hard week.

My Monday (9/30)  easy 7 mile run was great!  Fantastic even! I enjoy the very pedestrian friendly atmosphere, the ocean breeze, and the relaxed run.  When I got back to the house, I suggested that we go out for a walk on the beach.  I walked in the surf taking advantage of the coolness of the water. Quasi-icing, if you will.  The sand is pretty mushy and the footing is a little unsteady.  The water is not very calm.  None of that mattered.  It was just so great to be with friends on the beach.

A wave (not even a very big one!) broke and caused me to loose my footing and twist a bit.  I immediately felt a little pain in my right knee but nothing that lasted more than a minute or two.  We turned around shortly after that and returned back to the house for lunch.  Mid-afternoon I got up from the couch and felt really stiff, with my lower back and right hip feeling uncomfortable.  After walking around a bit, the discomfort went away and I felt fine.  We grilled steaks, had a nice dinner, played some bridge, watched a little TV and I went to bed reflecting on how fortunate I was.

I woke up on Tuesday feeling a little stiff particularly in my right hip.  No pain however, so I head out for my run.  Again, I really appreciate the warm-up mile to work out the stiffness and kinks.  I do my 3×2 mile intervals with everything feeling fine.  Yes, I ran too fast but darn it, it felt good!  Ran my recovery mile and walked back to the house.  On the walk back to the house, I became aware of a growing pain in my right hip.   Throughout the day, the pain increased to the point that by mid-afternoon, I couldn’t bear weight without some pretty intense pain.  It seemed like my whole right hip was on fire!  The pain was extending both down my leg and into my groin.

I picked up 40 lbs of ice knowing that I needed to take an ice bath.    My friends fix me a strong gin and tonic to ease the pain in my hip as well as the discomfort associated with sitting in the ice bath.  I take the drink into the bathroom, put the 40 lbs of ice in the tub, pull on a pair of shorts, climb in the tub amongst the ice cubes and I was just about to turn on the cold water.  Sh!t.  The diverter is set so the cold water will come from the shower head right on top of me.  I try to change the diverter but its stuck!  I get out of the tub so I have better leverage and am finally able to change the diverter.  I get back in the tub with the ice cubes and turn on the cold water.  The water is slowly filling the tub and the ice cubes are beginning to swirl around me.  I know that in order to get the most from the bath, I’ve got to allow the icy water to move around me; I can’t just sit stationary in the tub.  Thank heaven for that gin and tonic!

After 20 minutes, I get out of the tub and begin to defrost.  Thankfully, the pain has receded!  In fact, the pain in my back, hip and leg has gone.  I don’t feel pain for the remainder of the evening.  (No, not because I was pleasantly anaesthetized with liquid painkiller.)

Wednesday was an off day and we have a massage therapist come to the house.  I tell the therapist what happened and she really worked my right hip, glutes, hamstring, and quads massaging, stretching and doing some range of motion exercises.  Nothing hurt!  Nothing!  So I figured it was something pretty minor.

I debate whether or not to run my Thursday Tempo run but since nothing hurt, I decide to go ahead.  If something started to hurt, I would stop.  I told my friends that I would carry my phone and I would call if I needed help.  Again, I’m a little stiff during the warm-up but no pain.  I get about 4 miles into the tempo and I’m starting to feel some discomfort in my hip and down my leg.  I stop and walk.  I start to run again and nope, definitely pain.  I decide to call my friends to pick me up and I turn around to start slowly walking back.  I can’t reach my friends so I keep walking back in the direction of home.  The pain is intensifying.  My entire right hip was killing me.  I was finally able to reach my friends and they came and picked me up.  I called Dr. Kathy and made an appointment for the next day.

I was miserable for the remainder of the day — full of pain, full of regrets and recriminations, full of questions and uncertainty.  Was it serious?  Would I be able to run the marathon?   Was it from running too fast?  Was it the wave?  Did the trail half marathon contribute?  How much time would I need to take off from training?  Would I be able to run the marathon?

I left early the next morning and drove straight to Dr. Kathy’s office.  The good news is that she said it wasn’t a stress fracture.  The bad news is that she said that I strained my iliopsoas –  a deep hip flexor.

The psoas is a rope-like muscle located deep in the belly, which runs obliquely from spine to the femur. The psoas is joined at the hip, literally, by the iliacus, which travels from hip to thigh. Together, the psoas and iliacus make up the iliopsoas–the body’s most powerful hip flexor.  Why should runners care about a hard-to-find muscle with a funny name? Because the psoas enables you to run. Every time you lift your knee, the psoas contracts. When your leg swings back, the psoas lengthens. For a runner averaging 180 strides per minute, the left and right psoas each contract and lengthen more than 5,000 times during the course of an hour run. That’s a lot of strain on a band of muscle that’s only about as thick as your lower forearm.  Reference:  http://www.runnersworld.com/injury-treatment/runners-guide-psoas

Dr. Kathy had one of her massage therapists, Mandy, work on me to ease the spasms that were locking up my entire hip.  Then, Dr. Kathy performed ART – active release therapy.  Holy cow that hurts!  A lot! But I was able to walk with minimal discomfort after so I was grateful.  With the marathon being just over 3 weeks away, we initially thought that with regular stretching, foamrolling, icing, rest and treatment, that I would be able to run and complete the marathon. For the next 7 days, I was either stretching, foamrolling, icing, or resting.

Week 16, October 7 – 13

The pain was gone and I was slowly gaining a teeny tiny bit of flexibility.  The giant knots in my quads and hamstrings were beginning to ease.  I saw Dr. Kathy several times and we were both happy with my progress to the point where on Day 6 she said I could run for 20 minutes to see how things felt.

Wednesday 10/9.  The run was slow but nothing hurt.  Stiff, yes. Pain, no.  When I finished I felt a little discomfort but not deep in the hip.  3 days off with more stretching, rolling, ART and icing and then permission to run for up to 40 minutes if no pain.

Saturday 10/12.  Same thing… no pain just stiffness.  I stopped halfway and stretching and that helped with the stiffness.  I worked the rest of the day at the store and didn’t have the usual amount of time for stretching and icing so I was feeling some discomfort by the end of the day.

Sunday 10/13.  Stupid me.  I went out the very next day with my youngest daughter and the dog.  I rationalized that because we were going so slow (11-14 minute miles) and only for 20 minutes, it was really more like a walk.  It didn’t hurt at all while I was running. But, every time we stopped and restarted, I felt a some discomfort at the restart.  I iced, stretched and rolled.

Week 17:  October 14 – 20

Monday 10/14.  I knew that running would be a very bad idea so I went to Bikram Yoga.  I had never been before and I really liked it!  I did the poses to the best of my ability and nothing hurt.

Tuesday 10/15.  I had an appointment to see Dr. Kathy mid-morning and I thought that I had given my body enough time to recover from the little bit of running over the weekend, so I headed out for 45 minutes.  After all, nothing hurt and I needed to know where I stood in terms of my ability to run the marathon.  I pressed into the run a little bit and still nothing hurt.   Although… at about 40 minutes, I could feel a little discomfort coming on so I pretty much stopped running and started walking the last 1/2 mile or so home.  Everything started to tighten up and spasm again and by the time I got home, I knew I had overreached.  I also was about 80% certain that I would not be able to run the marathon.

An hour after the run, my hip was killing me again.  Fortunately, some work by Dr. Kathy and the pain receded into discomfort.  After discussing it, I knew that it would be stupid and perhaps dangerous for me to attempt to run again before my hip was completely healed.

So, that’s there I am.  No marathon.  No Boston qualifying time.  THIS TIME.  I’m disappointed and sad but also optimistic.  I know that if I were not injured and ran the marathon, I would have run my goal time.  I am 100% certain that I would have run a sub 4:00 marathon.  I also know that I can train again once I’m healed and achieve my goal in a different marathon.

I’m through with the regrets, recriminations, and self-questioning.  The truth is that people get injured all the time.  Some months before, some weeks before, and others days before their marathons.

I’m not going to set any goals right now. (Cleveland maybe on May 14, 2014? just looking at options :>)  I’m going to concentrate on healing and strengthening my body through yoga, weight training, cycling and maybe even swimming. I’m through with the regrets.   I will come back stronger and wiser.  I will follow the plan to the letter including the paces.  I will not run too fast.

It will be bittersweet for me to watch all the runners participating in this year’s MCM and I will wish that I were out on the course competing.  But I’ll be supporting the runners with an aid station just as the runners exit the bridge and come into Crystal City.  I will celebrate the successes of the other runners — whether they are running their first marathon, their 50th marathon, their fastest or their slowest.

And I will be back.  Train well and stay healthy…

Helen

PS I write a recap and share some pictures from the marathon.

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