Tuesday, April 8, 2014

This Darn Hip!

I can't seem to shake this hip/SI/thigh pain.  And I'm also embarrassed that being a PT doesn't give me magical powers to find out exactly what is going on.  Keep this in mind the next time I have a patient who cannot localize their pain.  Argh! 

I was going to run today.  I ran a loop in the hallway at work to make sure I'd be good to go.  Well, glad I did that before changing and heading outside.  Ouch.  But more alarming was it then hurt to walk for the next hour.  The pain seems to originate from my anterior hip, but shoots down my thigh as well.  A very jarring, "danger danger" type pain.  My fears are that it is 1) labral tear; 2) stress fracture; or 3) that lovely diagnosis that likes to accompany IBD sometimes- ankylosing spondylitis.  Now, 1) is something I've thought off and on for a while, I definitely have had impingement symptoms in the past, but not so much this time.  My movement patterns are abysmal though, and my lack of glutes definitly set me up for issues.  As for 2), I really don't think I've put in the mileage needed to cause that damage (the bright side of slacking), but the pain on impact is alarming.  Still highly doubtful.  Option 3) is definitely being alarmist, just that I've had this pain as well as increasing thoracic pain/stiffness.  Really, it is most likely neither 1-3 but a simple tweaking of something that could probably be fixed with some of those exercises I know so well but don't do myself (oops...). 

So my plan right now is to make a doctor's appointment.  Just for peace of mind to rule out those scary options I listed.  I am also going to start practicing what I preach.  My plan is to start the Myrtl Routine of exercises as well as some yoga.  I also need to have some bonding time with the foam roll, where I will curse and scream at a foam cylinder that non-athletes have no idea of how it could be so brutal. 

My emotions are getting the better of me with this.  I want to commit myself to training, and it is frustrating to not be able to do the runs.  The all or nothing in me hates it, as much as I tell myself it is better to focus on biking and swimming right now instead of eating my feelings.  Control what you can control, right?  I want to get this down on paper because I am sure I have felt like this with past injuries.  But memory is funny, and I don't remember anything seeming this bad in terms of pain or derailing in terms of effects on training.  So this is how I feel today.  I worry that it isn't going to get better.  I worry that my training is going to hell.  That this is ruining my season.  That I am losing control of everything, despite this being a very small thing in the scheme of things.

But really, I am lucky that right now this is my biggest problem.  Mind over matter, come on positivity!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mind Numbing to Toe Numbing

First outdoor ride of the season- check!  And yes, this is my second post in one day, but the first seemed so negative and this is happy news.

I told my friends last night that this weekend would be my last rides on the trainer of the year.  Then today just seemed like such a nice day, so why not now for the switch?  First step- get the bike of the trainer and switch the training tire for the road tire.  I usually dread changing a tire, and embarrassingly, it takes me about 30 minutes and ends in bloody knuckles and nightmares about having to change one on race day.  Well, not anymore!  Introducing...

This thing is magical.  Easy off, easy on.  Really nothing more to say than if you have ever had trouble changing a tire, especially getting that sucker back on, buy it!  Might really be the best thing I have ever bought for my bike.  Life changing!  And really, that is not that much of an exaggeration.  That fear of flat, even though I've changed one before, is always there in the back of my mind and can put a damper on rides.  It reduces that independent, "I can take on the world" feeling I like to get out of long rides.  So a little device that makes me feel more capable really is (kinda) life changing.

Anyways, the ride.  Baby Beluga and I hit the open road (i.e. Lakefront Path) and was happy to see that we have not reached summer levels of crowding.  The goal of the ride according to my training plan was an "Always Be Pushing" (ABP) ride- Zone 3.  I knew this but I also just wanted to enjoy a day outside.  My plan was to ride the lakefront path from top to bottom for a 36 mile re-introduction to outdoor riding.

The ride started out into the wind.  Not too strong of one, apparently 10 mph, but I've been riding in 0 wind conditions since October.  It was a good thing though, not enough to zap the legs but enough to get me in the ABP zone.  Actually, my power was trending high, which I was happy about considering my legs were a bit toasted from yesterday's long ride.  My Garmin died at about 45 minutes in, so I have zero data beyond that point.  I just kept riding, trying to enjoy the day.

I try to never take for granted the amazing Lakefront Path.  To be able to bike 18 miles in each direction with the lake on one side and gorgeous views of the skyline is truly awesome.  What is annoying this time of year is that water fountains are still shut off and the bathrooms are boarded up.  Bladder training!

I got to the South Shore Cultural Center and turned around for the return trip.  The tailwind was awesome.  I have no clue how fast I was actually going, but I felt like I was flying.  I tried to keep pushing, not just coast, but it was definitely less effort.  Seemed like no time before I was back home.

My two complaints are 1) my back was hurting! and 2) cold-numb toes.  I should probably invest in some toe covers at some point.  It took a really long time for my feet to warm back up once home.

So it looks like another year of the trainer is coming to an end.  I use to hate the trainer more than anything, and now I'm a little scared to let it go.  When I first got it, it was a struggle to stay on for 20 minutes.  I remember what a rockstar I felt like when I did a 1.5 hr ride on it when it was storming one day during training for my first half ironman.  When I was introduced to Sufferfest, it became more tolerable and more painful at the same time.  Joining EN was the big game changer.  I went from workouts that were mostly just "let's ride an hour" to very focused prescription of workouts.  I'd hop on the trainer, hit my targets, enjoy some good TV or movie, and be done.  I could do it any time of day.  Don't get me wrong, being outside again will be lovely, but of grave concern is when will I watch all my TV?  Kidding...  sort of.  My real worry is just how it is much harder to hit targets with all the variable in the great outdoors.  I know a lot of people do one workout a week still on the trainer, which I'm keeping as a possible option, but I also need to get use to all the variability of outside and still try to keep my watts in check.

My next ride is Wednesday and it has some FTP intervals.  I'm going to try it outside and we'll see.  Yay for Vitamin-D! 


This morning was the ChiTown Half Marathon.  And I was a DNS (did not start).  I know it was the smart choice.  But unfortunately, just because it was the smart choice doesn't mean it makes me happy as I sit here instead.

That hip/SI pain that had kept me from running for two weeks seemed to be resolved.  On Tuesday night I did a 20 minute run on the treadmill.  Apart from feeling really out of shape and slow (tough to hang on to 9:15 min/mi), I had no pain.  Score.  Friday I ran again, this time a tougher run of 1 hr with 4x800s.  I came in at 7.25 miles and was thrilled.  The run had felt great.  No pain, and I felt in shape.  Then Saturday came and I paid for it.  It really didn't seem to bad, but my whole thigh was sore, especially laterally, just proximal to my knee.  A bit of hip pain, but definitely widespread soreness.  I got a 2.5 hr bike done and that actually seemed to help loosen me up.  I went to bed last night (late) planning on running this race. 

When I woke up, it was clear that wasn't going to happen.  Even lying in bed, I had significant anterior hip pain that radiated down my thigh when I internally rotated my hip.  Once out of bed, I had pain with every step walking.  Nothing life shattering, but strong enough that 13.1 miles would be hell. 

I know there are times to push through the pain.  My first marathon was an extremely painful experience where I spent 16.2 miles cursing my IT band (I got the first 8 miles painfree).  Yes, it teaches you some things, that you are stronger than the pain, that you can persevere.  All that mental toughness stuff.  But there is also just the "stupid" factor.  At this point, I have nothing to prove.  This would be different if this had been my A race and I'd devoted all my time and energy to it.  But it was suppose to be a fun training even, perhaps a bit of redemption after a bad race in New Orleans.  Pushing through the pain would've meant a miserable 13.1 miles. 

Even more than being miserable while racing, I know this was the smart thing to do for training overall.  I know how much pain I have from that 7 mile run, I really don't want to know what tomorrow would've felt like if I did today's race.  I know that being able to train this week, including running hopefully, is more important than getting through a half marathon today. 

So the frustrating thing is that I know all of this, but it still doesn't make me happy with my choice.  I still feel like a cop out.  I am still disappointed.  I still wish I could have that glow all day of "why yes, I started my day with a half marathon, what did you do."  But for now, I will have to just move on, so that when it comes time to really race, I will be ready.