It’s been a few weeks since my last blog update and unfortunately not much has changed. I still can’t run more than a mile at a time. I guess I can put a positive spin on things by calling this my off-season…right?
I’ve tried rest and at this point I don’t think that’s going to be enough to solve my problem. I took over two weeks off following the marathon, attempted to run three times, and each time my knee was in pain by the time I completed a mile. I took another 10 days off before my next attempt and it was the same thing. I gave it eight days the next time, but nothing has really improved. I made it a mile on the treadmill yesterday. Rather than stiffening up half a mile in and hurting by the time I reached a mile, the stiffness started around 0.8 and just started to approach pain by the time I hit a mile. That’s not really what I’d consider progress.
I think it’s pretty clear that I have an IT band issue, and yesterday was the first time I felt discomfort down the side of my leg while running before I felt the pain in my knee. Ultimately, it’s the knee that hurts enough to stop me. At least I’ve been able to bike and swim.
In the recent past I’d gotten used to swimming once a week, but now that I can’t run I’ve bumped it up to twice a week. I can already see progress, so that’s something positive. Because my knee has been so iffy, I decided to buy a pull buoy and rest my legs. I feel like a superstar in the pool when half my body gets to float! My freestyle is practically all arms anyway. Without my legs dragging me down, it’s given me a chance to work on breathing on both sides. Whenever I take the pull buoy away, sudden the breathing gets a lot harder for me. This past week I’ve gotten back to kicking again without pain. I’ve been getting to the pool one morning during the work week which means I wake up crazy early, but the pool is usually pretty peaceful then and I don’t have to worry about trying to share a lane like I’d have to if I swam after work. I usually get in 1-1.5 miles each time I swim, so at least it feels like I’m doing something.
I’ve also been biking a little more the past couple weeks, doing around 9-12 miles two times a week. I’ve found that my knee is fine until I set the resistance to a more challenging setting, so I haven’t pushed that much yet. I know that as I begin to think about the triathlon season next year, I really need to work on biking. For months I’ve been thinking about getting a bike set up in the basement, and finally getting rid of our air hockey table recently has made it more of a possibility. We suddenly have plenty of open space and now it’s just a matter of what kind of bike to get. At first I thought I’d get a trainer and use my current bike. I realized that when it gets warmer, I won’t want to go through the process of setting it up and tearing it down each time I want to ride my bike outside. Although it’s probably not that much of a hassle, I know well enough that I won’t want to take the time to deal with it. We’ve visited a few stores to see what’s out there, and I think I’m leaning towards a stationary bike like I use at the gym versus a spin bike. I’m comfortable on the stationary bike and think that will be good enough for me.
The whole idea behind getting one at home is so I can watch whatever I want to watch while I ride. There are a few bikes at the gym that have TVs on them, but I’m limited to a few channels. We have a nice collection of concert, TV, and movie DVDs at home that we don’t watch often enough. If I have a bike in the basement, I’ll finally be able to put those to use. Sometimes it becomes a struggle to want to keep going on the bike, and being distracted by something I actually want to watch should make a big difference. One bike that I like is 20% off this weekend, so we might go for it tomorrow.
I also finally ordered some medal hangers from Allied Medal Displays. All of the medals we’ve collected the last few years are in piles. We’ve been meaning to do something with them, and maybe we’ll put them up in the basement near the bike. For now, we got a male version for Matt and a female version for me:
I’m not sure if all of our medals will fit on these, so maybe we’ll get some extenders to add to them or order some additional hangers with different designs. I’m excited to finally hang them up!
Getting back to the whole injury thing, I know the left side of my body is a mess from my hip down to my knee. I started seeing a chiropractor around this time last year when I just couldn’t seem to shake my problem with shin splints. Gradually, it actually did help. Although I still have issues now and then, the pain has decreased dramatically. I actually had no shin pain after the marathon which was kind of amazing to me. Of course I don’t have any now that I can’t run. Seeing a chiropractor helped level out my hips, which may have been one source of the problem. However, I have other issues going on that haven’t been solved. I’ve had a literal pain in the ass for a good year and a half that makes sitting very uncomfortable. I believe it’s most likely related to the piriformis. As Runner’s World explains, the piriformis muscle is deep behind the glutes and can impact the rotation of the hip. It can compress the sciatic nerve and send pain down the thigh. I’m on my feet for a lot of the work day, but now and then I’ll sit for an hour or two and it gets painful at times. Sometimes it only takes 10 minutes of sitting before I get really squirmy. Aside from the sitting pain, my left hip has hurt since August or September. That pain hasn’t faded with rest. Between the sitting pain, hip pain, and IT band/knee issues, something is clearly going on.
I’ve been debating what I should do about it – get a massage, try physical therapy, go to an orthopedist, etc. I’ve read a bit about active release techniques (ART) and I’m intrigued. Some chiropractors do it, but not the one that I go to. I guess the idea is to apply pressure as muscles work through certain movements and it can help deal with scar tissue and overuse issues. I’ve read about a number of athletes who have been helped by ART. I was flipping through the injury sections of some of my running books, and Kara Goucher’s Running For Women addressed an issue very similar to mine. Kara had a sore left hip and pain running down her IT band to her knee. ART treatments seemed to help her deal with the issue.
At this point, rest hasn’t been enough and I need to figure out something that can help me get back to running. I’m willing to try anything that might help, so I may give ART a shot. Of course the thought of paying for whatever treatment I might need has made me hesitate, but I’m really getting anxious. It’s been hard for me to find people in the area who specifically practice ART, and it seems like I’m only finding chiropractors. The people who I have found are good with athletes and dealing with sports injuries, which gives me hope. I think in the next week or so I’ll finally build up the courage to see somebody.
If anybody out there has other suggestions, please feel free to share. Hopefully soon I’ll report back that I’m making some kind of progress and that I can run more than a mile!