|With running guru Jeff Galloway at Fitbloggin'|
As much as I know Vickie will cringe to hear it, I'm still running, but I'm not being stupid about it (a matter of opinion, I know). I had been planning to do an all-women's triathlon this weekend, but considering that I have not had time to really improve my run over the last one, I decided to sit this one out and volunteer instead.
Though I had the blessing of the sports medicine doctors to go back to running, I'm varying my training a lot more, with maybe one or two runs a week. I have been doing a lot more swimming this summer, in the pool and in open water. I signed up for an unlimited yoga package, and have been trying to attend 2-3 classes per week. I have gotten out more on my bike, which does not hurt my hamstring at all.
I had been blaming most of my problems with my knees and joints on my extra weight. At Fitbloggin' I was able to get a running gait analysis from a physical therapist. Some of the problems he noted were an anterior pelvic tilt, insufficient hip extension, lateral pelvic drop on both sides, and some knee buckling. All of these point to mechanical issues and imbalances that, if corrected, could help me a lot, both with my joint health and with running performance. I have tight hip flexors and I need to strengthen my core, my glutes, and my hips. As Heather pointed out, if I had only focused on weight loss and not addressed these issues, I could have just ended up a smaller person with the same problems.
After my interview with Robert Gillanders, I looked at all the physical therapy resources for runners on the APTA website and found information on "sleeping glutes." I happened to have a massage therapy appointment the next day, and I talked with the therapist about it. She did some tests and was able to find that, no, my glutes were not firing properly. She prescribed some different things for me, including toe and foot exercises, some correctives to wake up the glutes, and, oddly, "scrubbing" my neck (rubbing out the muscles). I have a tendency to tighten up my neck when I'm working out, and it seems to be a substitute for tightening the muscles that are actually needed to run. Interestingly, my husband also has been having hamstring tightness and pain, so I recruited him to nudge me to do these exercises with him.
I had briefly thought about switching from the triathlon to the aquabike as my preferred sport, but I'm not willing to give up being a runner and a triathlete, even though I'd probably place better if I eliminated my weakest link. I know this identity thing is hard for other people to understand, but it's important to me. I'd (reluctantly, sadly) give up running if I really believed I needed to, but I really don't. These interventions seem to be helping. I did a 20-minute run yesterday with no pain. I always do a 5 minute warmup walk and cool down, and I stretch afterward.
Over the winter I plan to figure out a real strength-training program to build up in the off-season for next year's races. I'm ready to end this injury-recovery cycle and start making some real progress. Too bad it took me this long to figure it out.