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Monday, July 16, 2012

Strength and fitness

During this extended off period from running (even my weeks back on were really off, as I was limited in speed and distance), I've been thinking about how I developed this injury.
- It wasn't too many miles. I only do about 45 a week.
- It wasn't gait or stride, according to my PT; they detected some muscle weakness, but gait changes didn't alleviate the pain or change the stress to the area (and overall I have an efficient, although strange, running stride).
- It wasn't my shoes or equipment, and it wasn't an acute injury.

I think it was too much of one thing. Not enough balance. Not enough strength. Not enough fitness.
Yeah, that's right, I spent this winter lacking fitness and strength. And running a 3:06 marathon. And five other marathons, not as fast. Oops.

I don't completely understand my case of osteitis pubis, but I know it developed when my work schedule got hectic and I started skipping the gym. To save time, I'd skip the gym and run seven days a week. Around the park the same direction, on a totally flat path, over and over for miles and miles. It was too much of one speed, one place, one stride. I didn't have the variety needed to strengthen my muscles and allow them to support my bones and joints.
I didn't strengthen my core. I didn't work my upper body. As my muscles weakened, I transferred the bulk of effort to my thighs, relying on my adductors, quads, and hamstrings to not only propel me forward, but to also balance myself and stay upright. Big muscles took over for small muscles, and before long my body was really out of balance and muscles yanked on bone. I wasn't strong enough or fit enough to protect my own skeleton.

I'll need to make changes when I return to running. I will attempt to stretch once in awhile (yeah, right), I will keep my weekly gym dates, and I'll vary my running routine. I need uphills, downhills, sprints, track work, slow miles, and clock-wise turns. I'll focus on my core, and I'll keep my weight in check to decrease stress to my joints. I'll remember my Yoga for Runners to stay limber. And I'll run more and race less to build a better base, train harder, and lessen the contant increase and decrease in mileage that taper and recovery necessitates.
Racing for fun, before I ever ran regularly: The Spillway Classic, a muddy trail 5k that I caught on a dry year. (This year's race was yesterday and it featured hip-high mud lakes!) This was one of my very first races.
I used to shrug these things off. I ran to exercise; I ran to enjoy it. I ran to make a time goal or even to place in a race. But I didn't want to spend too much time and attention on it. Now I realize that I'm getting nearer and nearer to my body's limit, and as I approach that limit, my body takes more and more stress. To stay healthy, I will have to take some extra steps. For some people, a 2:50 marathon might be achievable without making any lifestyle or training changes at all. These are the people who could work a little harder and qualify for the Olympic trials! But that's not me. I'm not that strong of a runner. If I'm going to run marathons in the 3:0X range, it will tax me. I need make adjustments to make it work.

Hold me to it, peeps.


  1. What did you usually do at the gym for strength building? Do you have a link to an old post where you talk about your gym routine? I'm trying to figure out some strength training for myself...

  2. I realized that I needed to incorporate strength training and core work as well into my routine so I started that this month. I am hoping that it will improve my running as well. Good luck and train smart. :)

  3. Love this Gracie. Miss you. Miss your blog. YOu speak such wise words here and something that rings so true for myself. I haven't been in a blog mood but if I blogged lately, this might be something I'd try to say. :) I've said it before but you have so much potential and I'm glad that you are taking time to keep your body strong!! Can't wait to see you crush your PRs.

  4. I hope you feel better soon!!

  5. Well, at least you have learned something from all of this. It is amazing how interconnected the whole body is and how overuse of an area will manifest itself in other ways. I have never ran as many days a week as you do/did, but I did run more than my body likes me to, so I have learned to adjust my training accordingly... Tough lessons to learn when they include pain and time away from a sport/activity you love! Hope you are 100% soon!

  6. well I have the same issues. and it lead me to injury in the same area....and I need to make some problem is I do not like to do strength training...I get bored very easily..but I will do it

  7. I have to echo Lisa above....I always knew one part of the body depended on another, which depended on yet another, and so on, but the therapist who is doing Graston/Active Release on me for plantar fasciitis has been showing me how an imbalance in one area leads to an imbalance in another, and so on. Which I know you know. But it still amazes me to see it in action. He was explaining how my compensating for the pain on the inside of my heel led to stress on the muscle next to my shin bone (that muscle comes down and works the arch of the foot). And he put his fingers exactly on top of a spot of soreness I didn't even know I had. He went on to point out how my hips are out of balance as well by zeroing right in on a point of painful stiffness.

    Anyway, I've always thought, through my more successful running times, that I probably should cross train, but like you, I just didn't have the time. My priority was to be out on the roads. Now I'm forced to think about what's going to keep me from going through this again. I'm actually going to break down and join a gym, which works for me for various reasons (kids' school schedules, etc.) but also offers lots of opportunities for cross-training. This experience, and yours (which sounds a lot more painful than mine!) is a good lesson. I can't take being injury-free for granted anymore!

  8. my body did better (holding it together) when i yoga'd once a week back in '08. i still haven't gotten back in that habit but i keep saying i will... i'm super bad about stretching but i'm working on it, and bootcamp is helping with strength training (i think anyway) so hopefully when i can truly start to run (real mileage) again i'll be strong!