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Running Update

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(Preferred title:  Becky’s build-a-butt workshop.  However, I didn’t want to scare anyone away.)

I haven’t written about running much lately, so for those of you who are handicapped in  mental telepathy, here are my thoughts.

Most of you know that I developed an adductor strain about four weeks out from the Boston Marathon, and that I have been managing it ever since.

I took two full weeks off after the marathon, which I was able to run pain-free thanks to adrenaline, endorphins and two Alleve tablets.

My inspiration for taking time off was my research on muscle strains and an article that I will mention later.

What I found out about adductor strains scared me out of my capri pants.  Over and over I read stories about how strains can evolve into chronic tendonitis, especially in older runners.  (Translation:  they never go away!)

So you can imagine that after going through the turmoil of the aftermath of the marathon, and then reading about how I may never run again without a certain amount of pain, I panicked just a bit.

But since I am not one to shy away from a challenge, since then I have been doing rehab like it is my job.

But what has worked better than strength training and stretching is making sure that I have plenty of arch support when I am on my feet for long periods of time.

I bought a pair of Green Superfeet, and I wear them for house-cleaning, shopping and coaching track.  I have enjoyed the most relief from having support in my everyday shoes than I have from any running-rehab-related activities.

Though they feel extremely uncomfortable for running, they alleviate all of my adductor pain when walking or standing.

Besides the orthotics, I have been lifting weights three days a week.  I am totally trying to build a butt where there is not one.

I know I will never be blessed with a derriere like J. Lo or Kim Kardashian, but six marathon training cycles have totally sucked the life out of what I did have.

And as I discussed last week, I am also trying to make sure that my form is good when I do run, and that I am, in fact, engaging the tiny bit of mass that is beginning to accumulate where a butt might normally be.

Last week I ran 22 miles total, three of them being painful.

This week I have already run 12, all of them pain-free.

In addition to poor running form,  I was probably straining my hip flexors when I did core work during Boston training, thereby adding more stress to my adductors.  Now I am only doing abdominal machines until I can build enough strength to rely on my stomach rather than my legs to pull me up during at-home sit-ups.

My next race is not until August, a half-marathon out in Simi Valley, an area not particularly famous for its pleasant summertime running temperatures.  So, obviously there will be no pressure to run fast.

Until then my goal is to slowly build up my mileage and grow a butt.  Simple.

I have a few races that I want to complete in the fall, but for now, I am not planning a marathon come-back until next spring.  (I’ll see if I can follow-through on this plan.)

Overall, I am trying to be patient with my recovery and not have freak-outs about losing fitness, getting behind in training, or not having an immediate training goal.

And as I also discussed last week, craving large containers of Gatorade and eating half of a cake by myself hasn’t helped matters.

I am happy to report that my appetite is slowly adapting to less training and that I have completely weaned myself off of Gatorade.  (I didn’t do anything special.  I just stopped craving blue drinks and fluffy cakes.  Weird.)

Which brings me to a well-timed article by Greg McMillan in this month’s Running Times entitled “Give it a Rest.”

Here are a few nuggets I picked up from the article:

  • Runners may reach a performance plateau after a few races and fall well short of their true running potential, simply because they don’t allow a proper recovery phase.
  • The worriers who plow through often take similar breaks, but rather than planned vacations, they are mandated by injuries, overtraining and burnout. Planned breaks take the pressure off — you don’t feel that your training is never-ending, jumping from one goal to the next.
  • Science is discovering that the chemistry of the brain, the hormonal system and the immune system are compromised during hard training. Breaks rejuvenate these systems, allowing us to train better, more consistently and with more zeal across the next training plan.
  • In the end, what’s the rush? A few weeks of downtime never ruined anyone’s running career — quite the opposite. (source)

I must admit,  already I feel more “normal.”  I am enjoying sleeping in until 6:30 a.m. every day.  In fact, I can’t imagine how I was able to jump out of bed at 4:3o a.m. to get a 90 minute run in before the kids woke up!  (Though I know I will happily be there again some day in the future.)

I am also happy that I can eat a regular meal with my family and not need to supplement it with a half of a loaf of bread.

And I am enjoying being able to stay awake past 8:30 p.m. every night.  (That was sort of embarrassing!)

Overall, I truly believe that this pain-in-my-groin has been a blessing in disguise.  And that I will come back stronger and finally make the progress in the marathon that I have been lacking in the last few cycles.

And if I don’t, I am going to have to have a long chat with Greg McMillan.

Just kidding.  (Sort of.)

7 thoughts on “Running Update”

  1. I have not read that article yet but it sounds good! I took a week off and slowly started back with some easy miles. I have raced twice since Boston though which I think have helped me physiologically more than anything else. I am totally changing gears in my training though. So no big break completely from running by my mileage is MUCH less and I am focusing on a key race on July 4- a 5K. I have never focused on a 5k as a key race (at least since college) but I am enjoying it. I was definitely needing a break from marathon training. I hear you on those 4:30 am wake-up calls. :-)

  2. Rebecca you crack me up!! I strained my IT band shortly after Boston, but instead of taking it easy, I did a marathon about 5 weeks later. I am ti strong willed to give it a rest or just dumb!! This post has helped me to put everything in perspective and chill out some!! Thanks…and I also suffer from what I like to call it “no butt syndrome” as well!! Unfortunately I can’t shake what my mother gave me, because, well she didn’t give me much.

    1. Bryanna, Believe me, it hasn’t been easy taking a break. I was just terrified that I would always hurt and not be able to run pain free. I know a few old timers who permanently have pain or walk with a limp from overdoing it in their younger days. But I am so ready to be competitive again, so I totally get it. And I am also growing a butt! Huge bonus!

  3. Rebecca,
    You look amazing and you’re truly an inspiration for other women who think they can’t stay in shape and will naturally gain weight as they get older. I was used to run for hours on end playing soccer and now I feel completely out of shape. Any suggestions for starting running again?

    1. With a background in soccer, you know that the first few weeks of getting back into any sport can feel a little grueling yet rewarding at the same time. Start off slowly, like walk a minute, run a minute until you work your way up to running for 30 minutes. (Have a goal each day, like make it to the stop sign, etc.) Kara Goucher has a great book on running and it has lots of great tips for people just getting into it. Check it out. I think the most important thing for me was to realize that if I quit I would have to go through the “getting back into it” pain all over again, so it is really an incentive to keep it up! Good luck and let me know how you are doing.

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