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Marathon Training Week 8 Recap – Running Hurts!

Looking for Answers? by David Bergin Photography (Creative Commons License)

Looking for Answers? by David Bergin Photography (Creative Commons License)

Week Eight of following Hal Hidgon’s training program has been about managing pain.  This week I was scheduled to run a half marathon on Sunday and I was bummed that I couldn’t find a local race. It’s much less painful to run with the fanfare of a race around and it’s nice to have people cheering for you along the way. In case you wondered if it matters that you’re on the sidelines – it makes a huge difference. Here’s how last week’s training went.

Monday:  I didn’t have a workout scheduled for Monday but I was preparing to lead a 4-mile hike in Papago Park as part of a continuing legal education lecture on Friday. I wanted to make sure I knew where I was going, we went out and walked the route.

Tuesday: I’m not sure I’m going to keep hitting the gym for my Tuesday run. I was annoyed to see that both treadmills weren’t working when I got in there this week so I did my 4.5 miles on the elliptical again – in 31 minutes. I kept myself entertained by listening to three episodes of The #AskGaryVee Show podcast. The only benefits of working out in the gym is I tend to get my miles done faster and I can periodically glance over at my reflection in the mirror to check out my slowly increasing muscle tone.

After my “run,” I cranked out my first 100 push-ups of the week – 5 sets of 20. I’m thinking I’ll but up to 4 sets of 25 by Week 10 and might try to push myself to increase my push-ups to 300/week from 200.

Wednesday:  My hip and feet hurt getting out of bed this morning. Determined not to let that stop me, I headed out on my usual 6.5-mile run. The pain let up after the first mile and returned around mile 4 when I was going up the hill for the second time.

I went to the Injury Clinic at Runner’s Den to get my hip looked at. Matt from Endurance Rehab is always so helpful and super knowledgeable. He poked and prodded at me, had me walk and run a few steps (and said my gait looked good so thanks to Eric my physical therapist for fixing my running form).  He said I don’t have hip problem but a glute problem. He suggested I heat my muscle before I run and roll it on my foam roller afterwards.

Hanging out with my heating pad wrapped around my hip and butt is easy. Working it on the foam roller hurts like a bitch – it’s like self-inflicted deep tissue massage. It helps but geez it’s painful in the process. I’m glad I’m a masochist, but I much prefer to have someone inflict this type of pain rather than having to do it myself.

Thursday: This was my first run where I put heat on my hip and glute before heading out to run 4.5 miles. It helped a lot. Right now my 4.5-mile run has me turning around in the middle of the Mill Avenue Bridge. Something about that seems incomplete. I’m looking forward to my training program bumping me up to 5 miles on Thursday so I can run the whole length.

When I got back, I finished my push-ups for the week: 4 sets of 21 and 1 set of 16. I like seeing veins in my arms when I do them.

Friday: No official training today but I had my 4-mile hike. It was a nice mostly-flat walk.

Saturday: My training program says to run a half marathon on Sunday so I got today off. I’m really bummed that there wasn’t a half-marathon race in my area this weekend.  The race environment is so much more fun, and strangers cheer for you.

Sunday:  I ran a half marathon by myself today. I let myself wake up a little more than usual, had a bagel and a banana for fuel, and put in my contacts so I could enjoy my surroundings more. Despite these allowances, this was a pretty painful run. My feet and right glute hurt from step one. My shins started hurting around mile 4. By mile 8 it seemed like everything from the knee down hurt on both sides. Around mile 10 I had to pick up the pace a bit to cross the street before the light changed. Based on the reaction from the car that was waiting at the intersection, I think I actually grunted. (Sexy I know.) The last mile was pretty brutal. But it got done and that’s what mattered. I finished in about 2:15. Hat tips to Scott Mantz and Alicia Malone of Profiles and the Dr. Drew Podcast for keeping me entertained.

After my last half marathon, I booked a two-hour massage the next day. The only thing I have scheduled after this run is several sessions with my foam roller and work.

Weekly Totals:
Running:  28.6 miles
Hiking: 8 miles
Push-ups:  200 push-ups

Learning Good Running Posture After Years of Being a Heel Striker

2012 Half Marathon Photo by Crystal O'Hara

2012 Half Marathon Photo by Crystal O’Hara

When I finished the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, I had excruciating pain in both shins and feet. I was pretty sure I had multiple stress fractures from shin splints and plantar fasciitis. My coach suggested I do some work on my running form before my next race to prevent these injuries from recurring. I thought he meant I should take a half-day interactive running seminar. I had no idea that I needed 10 weeks of physical therapy.

My physical therapist, Eric, filmed me running on the treadmill, from behind and from the side, with and without shoes. He showed me the footage in slow motion which clearly showed that I had a heel striking problem and that my hips were uneven when I took a step with my left foot. I had no kick on the back side of my stride, and I was barely picking up my feet, (which explains why I frequently trip on cracks in the sidewalk).

My physical therapy regimen included stretching, exercises to strengthen my legs, and ASTYM to break up the scar tissue in my lower legs. We also did exercises on proper running posture. It feels kinda dorky to practice going through the motions of running without actually running.

Once we got the scar tissue mostly broken up, I got to practice running with the new form. Eric started me on the Alter-G treadmill – it’s a treadmill with a built-in air bubble. I love this thing. It’s a great device for practicing new running form because you tell it how much of your weight you want to run on. He started me on 60% of my body weight and each session increased it by 10%.  It gave me a chance to practice running on my toes without pounding on my joints.

The best part of running on the Alter-G treadmill was I was literally zipped into the air bubble so I couldn’t fall down when I tripped – and I tripped a lot. When we switched me the regular treadmill, I was petrified of tripping over my feet and falling – which thankfully didn’t happen.

After a few weeks of treadmill running, Eric finally cleared me to run in the real world again – just for a few miles. Eric told me to alternate between using the old running form and the new running form – one minute stretches of each – which I thought was weird until I started to run. Holy crap it hurt to run with the new form. I don’t think I’d really used my calves to run long distance before. Switching between the old form and new form gave those muscles a chance to rest a bit.

I worked up to running 3 miles every other day. I started giving equal time to the old form and new form and I’m slowly increasing the amount of time on the new form and decreasing how long I run on the old form. The new form is way more effective and doesn’t put as much pressure on my joints.

Eric's been Taping my Arch - It definitely Helps with the Pain

Eric’s been Taping my Arch Too – It Definitely Helps with the Pain

Eric’s re-checked my posture both visually and by videotaping me again and tweaked my new form a few times. He said I needed to kick more with my hamstrings on the back side of each stride. It feels like I’m trying to kick myself in the butt with each step, but I’m sure it looks normal to anyone watching. When my arch started hurting, he told me to stop pointing my feet when I run. I’m not used to picking my feet up and I think they’re reaching for the ground a bit, plus I was a gymnast for 17 years so pointing my toes is natural. Relaxing my foot is helping give me more of a mid-foot strike, and decreasing the pain in my arch. And thank goodness for that because Eric’s been massaging the crap out of it, which is excruciatingly painful. When he works on it, I grip the pillow and utter “Jesus Christ” and “Fuck” through clenched teeth.

It’s so weird and mentally taxing to run – thinking about relaxing my foot on the front end and kicking my butt on the back side. I expect it will take years for my new running form to feel normal. It still hurts to run with the old form and new form but that will get better with time. I’m curious to see what this will do for my race time. My half marathon PR is 1:52 and that was with bad form and pain in both feet and shins. I’d love to see how much I improve with proper running posture.