Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fremont Fat Ass 50K run report (or running while injured)

I have been suffering from an injury of late that is threatening to derail any short term race plans I have. The injury is hard to pinpoint but is loosely in the gluts/ piriformis/ ilio-psoas areas. See GetBodySmart for a great site the shows anatomy and physiology in a way that you can clearly see what each muscle does and where it attaches.

It’s not clear exactly what the problem is, or why it showed up suddenly. I can’t tell if the problem is from a change in training to more street/track/tempo running (less steep hills, more consistent running) or the difficult trails we did two weeks ago. It would be ridiculous to be out of shape for trail running because of doing predominantly street running for a few weeks, but that is the possible root of the problem. David of course is immune from injury—at least it seems so most of the time. I blame it on the testosterone (keeps his muscles strong even when he doesn’t exercise! Men have it sooo easy!)

After recurrences of pain in the last couple weeks, mostly on the downhills when I would attempt to stretch out my stride and enjoy the ride, I decided I needed to nip this in the bud and not wait another few weeks to see if it would get better on its own like I did last summer. I went to see a physical therapist last Thursday, who gave me a whole bunch of exercises to do (toe and heel walking and core strengthening exercises).

Of course I hadn’t had much time to do the exercises or change anything by the run on Saturday, so it was with some concern that we showed up for the run on Saturday AM. I wasn’t sure I’d get all that far before having to call it quits. I was well anesthetized with Aleve, but was forced to further supplement with ibuprofen eventually in order to finish. Not so good really.

As for the run, I took it very easy and ran much of the first half with Mountain Man Steve who is successfully recovering from a calf injury and preparing for Coyote Two Moons, and Jim Winne who was deliberately keeping his heart rate down to accommodate his heart problems. As expected, after about 5 miles, the pain began, despite keeping the pace down. The course was quite easy, with clear dirt or paved trails, 90% flat or very gradual hills, perfect weather. Every time I tried to get the pace up though, I had to back off or was forced to walk. Ten minute miles (preferably 10:30 to 11) were about as fast as I could go without more serious warnings, and pushing it into 9:30 pace did some damage. Average heart rate for the run was only 137! That’s pretty slow and easy.

The weather was cooperative (cool and overcast with only a little drizzle). There was even an aid station! I met more great runners: the famous ultrarunners Chihping Fu
(thanks for the aid station!), Barbara Elia and Linda McFadden. There were lots of other great folks out there but I couldn’t spend much time talking with everyone due to pace differences and didn’t get everyone’s names. (Apologies to those I am neglecting to mention!) It was also nice to talk with the faster folks at the finish (Mike Palmer and Catra , the co-RDs, thanks for the pizza and beer, Ron!). Catra was recovering nicely from her IT band problems from HURT and seemed ready for more! Everyone was having fun and taking it easy, just a fun run on a Saturday (see participants and finishing times)!

I stayed reasonably well fueled I think despite skimping on breakfast (coffee and a Trio bar), and ate half a turkey sandwich, a Mountain Dew, and a whey protein energy bar. That’s not a lot of food, but I ate every time I felt I needed to. David again did the distance on near-zero carbs: coconut milk and whey protein (and not that much of either) as his major calorie sources.

Since I was forced to keep to a very slow pace by the pain in my butt and thigh, it was an interesting test of purely aerobic exercise vs. my usual sort of 50K race performance (as much lactic acid as I can stand). The funny thing is that on the day after this easy run, I saw the usual 2 lb weight gain again. I thought that maybe the post-race weight gain was due to the stress of hard running and wouldn’t happen after an easy run. Now I’m wondering if it’s just due to overindulging afterwards in carbs (new glycogen stores add water weight) from the post-run and dinner refueling: pizza, beer, sushi, sweet potato, cherries and bread. That’s a lot more carbs than I usually eat in a day, so maybe I carb-loaded after the run (now that’s just silly).

The aftermath of the 50K wasn’t too bad in terms of muscle pain and stiffness on Sunday. I felt a lot worse after going to the track last night and trying to get the pace up again for a short tempo run. Something’s definitely not right, and I will probably have to back off from anything faster for a while (including races) and concentrate on core exercises and going slow, if at all. So frustrating!


kelly said...

Cynthia, I too have battled the "pain in the butt", piriformis,hamstring pain thing. It has been extremely painful at times for the last year. Stretching, and rolling on a roller has helped. I think that PT would help too. I went into the Coastal Challenge practically crippled with hip and butt pain and now I feel nothing. Weird, but it comes and goes. I hope you feel better soon. Let me know what works for you!

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Thanks Kelly. Good to have you back. It's getting better slowly and unpredictably. I expected to be in agony after Adam Blum's killer trail marathon a week ago, but not much happened. Something tightens up after running now and is quite painful, but doesn't interfere as much while running. So I guess that's an improvement.

Thanks for the advice.


Anonymous said...

Hi Cynthia. How is your injury? Are you doing better?


Lori (toughnoodles) said...

Thanks for sharing the running stretches.

For what it's worth...I had a bad case of piriformis syndrome. I knew of someone else who had had it, so begged him for help. ;)

He made the following video and I fixed my problem by doing these exercises.

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Hi Lori,

Thanks for the link and advice. That's a great video! Those exercises do help alot.

What i've got is not just a piriformis problem, but involves the glut medius/minimus, TFL and perhaps some related functions. Things are improving, and i will (someday) get a post up about it!


miki said...

..Practice jogging has been great so far. Tiny distances with the longest being about 5. I hope to cover closer to 10 tomorrow and see how that feels. Or maybe that is pushing it. Might be but it is so hard to resist the temptation.

And yes, slow from overtraining. You have to be careful of that. :-)

miki said...

Hey Cynthia. So sorry to hear about your spasm. is this the first time? Where is it? How does it feel exactly? Does pain travel down your leg? Did it just happen this morning, Saturday?

If it *just* happened, I would ice it for about 20 minutes. Chinese medicine does not recommend this, but personally, for immediate onset, acute, first time, I would use ice first. If it's chronic and this is over a day ago, don't use ice, use heat. Keep it warm all the time with a heat pad and don't expose it to cold (no singlets for eg.).

Then, again depending on the severity, and since you say you can walk and possibly run, I would try to gently stretch it. Slowly. Do things like lying on your back and pulling your knees towards your chest. Stand, do hula hip circles. Gently twist from side to side All OF THIS VERY VERY SLOWLY. VERY VERY GENTLY. Don't push it, we're just trying to gently release the muscles. Do a heat pad first though to help loosen things up.

And don't run right now. It wont' help. If Diablo is next week, you've obviously gotten all your training in already so you won't be missing anything if you took it easy this week and see how it goes.

If it's still locked up on Monday, if you're interested, come to my school's clinic. I'm not working, but I know a friend who has open slots in the morning at 9 and 10 am and she works on my back. I'm in acupuncture school if you didn't know what I was talking about. It's very helpful in releasing spasms and pain. (408) 260-8868
Her name is Brandy.

Avoid comfy couches. Be aware of your sitting posture. Depending on the severity, I think walking is a good thing to loosen things up. Not serious trail walking, just walking the local baylands type of walking. And again, keep your back warm when outside. This recent change in weather probably did your back no favors like it's not doing mine today as well. :)

Good luck. Keep me posted and I'll try to feed you more information if more comes to mind. I want to see you at Diablo next week. I'll be there volunteering. :)


Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Thanks so much for your detailed advice Miki! It's definitely on the mend I think- sometimes loose and feeling normal, then a few minutes later tight again. I think you are right about the comfy couch. I need to keep good posture going forward here. At least it's not as bad as some I've had (basically bed-ridden for a week and taking percodan! years ago though).

I'll look forward to seeing you at Diablo. I'll be wearing a white zombie runner hat and at the slow end of the pack!

miki said...

There are often times when simply walking loosened things up for me nicely. And there was a time in the past when running actually seemed to jog my pelvis back in the right position. But nowadays because my last injury went a little deeper, I often need more tlc than that. Glad you've recovered so quickly! Yay! I'll be seeing you on Sunday then. :) I'll be the shortest asian gal around. That's usually the easiest way to spot me. Come say hi.