I’m slowly growing my mileage and slowly growing my hair out. Which would you like to hear about?
Running? Ok fine. Operation awkward pixie grow-out will have to wait for a rainy day.
ironic bandana and heavily-filtered on purpose
It’s been five weeks since my visit to Dr AJ and my diagnosis with high hamstring tendinosis, which in laymen’s terms is: chronic pain in the butt crease caused by effed up tendons that connect the hamstring to the hip bone. A little more eloquently explained by a smart doctor runner from the “for running clarity” article AJ sent me:
The hamstring is made up of 3 muscles which all attach to your ischial tuberosity – the bone in your bottom. The hamstring tendon is vulnerable to compression against the ischial tuberosity when the hip is flexed and also has to deal with high loads during running. This combination of compressive and tensile load can make it vulnerable to developing tendinopathy. So, baring this in mind, what 3 activities are likely to cause high load on the tendon; Running uphill, running carrying a heavy load and doing prolonged speed work.
– source, Running-Physio
post-script self memo: hurry up and get the eff back to healthy so everyone can stop reading “high hamstring tendinosis” every time they come here and want to take you out back and saw your stupid leg off to put you (and them) out of your laymen misery.
So somewhere back in like, August I did something like that. And kept running through it like a moron because it never felt like a “big enough deal” to really address it. I’m lucky it didn’t turn into a more serious issue, but if I wanted to finally straighten out those tendons and get back to running pain-free I had to do a few things:
Treatment. ART and deep-tissue massage recommended to break up all the junk build up, but for a girl on a budget I was assured extensive foam rolling (this plus lateral side-to-side rolling) and softball-sitting would suffice.
PT exercises to strengthen and prevent re-injury. I keep saying I’m going to do a post on these, and I probablymaybesomeday will. Hips, glutes, obliques primarily.
The last part was going to be the tricky one. I mean, I’m sure you’ve dealt with some degree of injury at some point, and that “I’d kill a stranger’s baby just for a few good miles” urge to run when we shouldn’t is a real bitch to fight. And then on top of that, getting brainwashed by endorphins and “woopsies ran twice as far/twice as fast as I should have” is a greedy threat every time you do make it into your sneakers. Knowing how far to push, and having the clarity and discipline to rein it in when needed, is probably the toughest of all.
My guidelines for comeback are simple on paper, but knowing the evil runner brain hiding ready to sabotage them, I approached them with overt caution and a side of “quit being a baby, seriously?” Scaredy cat, safety first when there’s nothing to rush back for. The guidelines were as follows:
Run one mile. If no residual pain or stiffness the next day, run a little further. Then a little further.
Never let the 10-point pain scale tip past a 2-3. Step back when needed. Repeat.
No hills, sprints, or friends until 100% pain and niggle-free.
I’ve slowly built my way up over the last month+, and last night I ran 5 whole miles. It felt like my early runner days, bragging to my college roommates about running two miles “straight! no stopping!” when I came in the door and beamed at Bri, still sweating, earbuds still blaring. Sure have missed those little victories.
are you on Strava? I’m still deciding whether it’s worth the homescreen space on my phone or not.
Something I’ve been focusing on which has helped make the short barely-worth-it runs seem more worthwhile is cadence. I’ve mentioned it on a twitter a few times which piqued a few interests, but I avoided elaborating because it seems so silly and dumb spelled out. Like, sorry if I let you think I had a brilliant miracle training secret or something – you’re going to be pretty let down.
Once upon a time, somebody decided 180 strides per minute was the “ideal” cadence for runners. Like everything else on the planet, there are dozens of variables that could sway that high or low for personalization, but in general, let’s go with it.
I hopped on the treadmill for one of my short (<2 miles) runs, and once I was warmed up counted out steps for 10 seconds. I got 26, or 156/min, at my usual lollygag pace. Not awful, but pretty lopey and la-dee-da. Curiosity (and the challenge, let’s be honest) got the best of me and I spent the rest of the run randomly counting out steps to see how closer I could get to 30 (=180) without employing some ridiculous looking stride. Those horrifying mirrored walls apparently have a use, after all.
useful for more than just gym selfies!
Picking up my knees, kicking my heels a little higher, and really focusing on midfoot strike has gotten me up to 168/min comfortably, and I’m hoping once my overall speed quickens it’ll be even easier to sneak up to that goal of 180. While that number is pretty arbitrary, reaching for it has gotten me to focus on my form and running more like an athlete, which I can’t deny is something my marathon shuffle desperately needed. Not only is a shorter, quicker stride more efficient, but it leaves less room for error while feet and legs are airborne. A whole lot of goofy crap can happen between toe-off and foot-strike, and getting from here to there the quickest and shortest way possible just seems like common sense.
I’m a fan of common sense. I wish there was more of it in the world.
More info on cadence from people smarter than me:
- Outside Online – What is the Optimal Cadence?
- Born to Run – How to Improve Your Cadence
- No Meat Athlete – Increase Your Turnover to Injury-Proof Your Stride
- Good Form Running – 180bpm at 5min/mi and 12min/mi