Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Et tu, Gluteus?

Well, there's good news on the sore hip front. Anyone who undertakes a serious physical training regimen (for whatever sport or other pursuit) needs to be in tune with his/her body. You get to know the idiosyncrasies of how your joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles, heart and mind all work together. You might learn that a nagging injury will always lurk in the background, but won't cause you too much trouble if you don't overdo it. Or, you may realize that a sore knee will work itself out as peripheral muscles loosen up during a long run. When you get a completely new pain, though, it's easy to panic. I have avoided panicking since my hips got sore in an entirely new place, not in front (psoas), but on the side, about 2/3 of the way back towards my . . . um, er . . . butt. When the pain hit me during Saturday's time trial, I was bummed out, but when the run was over and I realized that my left hip hurt, too, I was very happy and relieved. Weird, huh?

The thought process was that symmetrical running injuries are essentially unknown. I am no expert, but in general terms, running injuries tend to be attributable to imbalances or asymmetries in the body. I know that the left groin tear I suffered in 2005 is likely what pulled my hips out of alignment, which has caused the nagging hip and other problems on my right side.

I discussed this with my chiropractor today, and he agreed. He said my glutes (gluteus medius and maximus, see diagram above) are strained from the recent increase in speed work, and that I can train through it (if the pain level allows) without risking injury. He did recommend extra stretching and foam rolling, so we'll see how this affects tomorrow's scheduled 9 miles, with 5x1000 repeats at 5K pace. That will mean that I will run another 5K race effort, albeit with a 2-minute rest after every 1000 meters. If my hips let me, I'm going for it. If not, I'll back off on pace, distance, number of repetitions and/or some combination of the three. One challenge tomorrow is that my schedule dictates that I do the speed work first thing in the morning, but it's tough to run that fast that early, and temps will reach the 60's later in the day.

This morning I got through my 8-miler at a constant pace, a little under 9-minute miles, and enjoyed another lovely sunrise. The hips announced their presence, but it was as if they merely wanted me to know they are around, with no desire to be heard or to otherwise influence the day's course of events. It was colder than I would have liked for a mid-April morning (mid-20's when I went out at 5:00 am), but I dressed warmly and had no problems with my ears, hands or feet. I simply cannot wait until early morning is the best part of the day to run.

One last note: I received a brand new pair of New Balance 903's in today's mail. They are a sub-10-ounce stability shoe, and I hope that they are the answer to my quest for the perfect balance (no pun intended) between weight and stability for my over-pronating stride. I've been a hard-core Asics loyalist since I got serious about running, but - like Goldilocks - my Kayanos are too heavy, my DS Trainers are too light, and they don't seem to have the "just right" marathon shoe for me. Here's an image of the NB 903's (they look way cooler live):

Tomorrow I'll know how they feel during speed work, and I'll likely try them in incrementally longer distances to see if they give me the support I need. The idea of shaving off 3 ounces per step during the course of a full marathon is extremely appealing. I estimate that I'll take 165 steps per minute, and it will take me around 210 minutes to run 26.2 miles, equaling 34650 strides. Multiplying the 3-ounce savings by that many steps, I will be saving myself close to 6,500 pounds (yes, pounds!) worth of effort during the marathon. Heady stuff. Looking at it that way, I sure hope that these shoes turn out to fit the bill.



Lori said...

Is this piriformis syndrome? I just got some tips for taking care of that -maybe it would help?

Ron Abramson said...

Thanks, toughnoodles. Not sure it is piriformis syndrome, but I do think that the stretches will help. Cheers, ESG