I’m always thinking (stop snickering….the Apocalypse hasn’t happened…yet). Driving Alli back and forth to volleyball practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays gives me even more time to think! What I was thinking about Thursday night was how I tend to put a positive spin on everything. Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t see the challenges in situations – it’s just my personality to try to find the #silverlining (or #goldlining, if it is especially amazing!). And I’ve been doing that with running.
Running has been going REALLY, REALLY well. But it hasn’t been all roses. I don’t like sharing the less than great stuff because I don’t want to seem like a complainer. And I guess part of the reason I don’t like to talk about the thorns is because every runner is ALWAYS dealing with one issue or another. It’s just the nature of our sport. Hamstrings tight? You focus on the hamstrings with extra foam rolling and stretching maintenance and are so proud of yourself for working through the issue. You consider throwing a party to celebrate your happy hammies, but realize that sometime during the hammy episode your calves became as tight as guitar strings.
It’s no secret that my ITBs are tight. ALWAYS tight. I wonder sometimes if that is my cross to bear as a runner. I’m doing all the right things: strength exercises, self-massage, stretching, and workouts that aren’t too advanced for this stage in my base building. (OK….now that I have a partner who isn’t afraid to tell Crazy Jen ‘NO’, my workouts are appropriate.) So I’ve been focusing A LOT on my ITBs. I haven’t been satisfied with the results of the foam rolling and have known that something had to change. I have known that I was making ZERO progress. All this focus on my ITBs caused a slip in my attention to the rest of my legs, mainly my quads. I began to realize about 10 days ago that my quads were stuck. (And when your quads are stuck, your ITB will be as well.) Like fused together. Not good. And foam rolling hurt. I don’t remember foam rolling my quads ever hurting before. So I’ve been rolling on the meat grinder until I get over the urge to scream.
Luckily, Wednesday I had to take off to be home while we had a new AC unit installed. And even luckier (#goldlining), my myofascia guy had an appointment open late in the afternoon and I was able to go see him as well. He worked my tight left glutes (did I mention my glutes are always tight as well? It isn’t always a good thing to have a tight ass.). He released my ITBs. Then he got to my quads. He didn’t say a word. NOT ONE WORD. And since I’m uncomfortable with awkward silences, I said, “Ummm, my quads are stuck, aren’t they? ” And his reply? He just nodded his head. They were THAT bad!! But he was able to tear all those fibers loose in no time flat and within the hour, I felt like a new runner!
Something interesting that we discussed was the proper technique for foam rolling your ITB. I have been rolling the “seam” of my ITB where it meets the quads in the front and hamstrings on the back. However, I had the foam roller perpendicular to my leg. Steve said that the only way to break the fibers loose, like he does during a release, is to have the foam roller on a diagonal to the leg. It sounds easy in theory, but practice is an entirely different matter. If you aren’t careful and apply plenty of counter resistance, your leg won’t stay straight and will go with the foam roller. I used the foot on my free leg to leverage and pull my body so that the leg being foam rolled would stay in the proper position. I could feel the difference right away! It takes a lot more energy and focus than I generally expend during foam rolling, but I am hoping to keep those cross fibers from forming with this new maneuver. He also mentioned that if your adductors are tight, it can cause a chain reaction that ends up in your ITB being angry. So stretch those adductors, people!
I genuinely believe that there will NEVER be a time that I am not giving some TLC to one body part or another. I would go as far to say that it is a mathematical impossibility. Too many factors are at play and the top two are: over 40 and distance running. And I am OK with that. Because since my injury some amazing things have happened. I have learned somewhere along the way that I don’t need to panic over every ache and pain. I simply need to manage it wisely: scale back training when necessary and proper maintenance. Any of my runner friends that know me realize what a huge accomplishment this really is.
And now, because I am FOREVER the optimist, I will leave you with a list of positives – things that I have been able to successfully work through in order to get to this stage in training today:
- Tight hips: OK, YES, I said my hips/glutes are still tight, but I’m talking left hip wouldn’t move because it was fused to my SI joint. I did have a little help from my myofascia guy, but I have been able to keep them fairly loose since.
- Stirrup muscle weakness: I was beginning to have some major issues with my stirrup muscles (the muscles on the outside of calf that wrap under the foot), and their insertion at the ball of my foot. A shoe switch is the biggest game changer, but I gave this area A LOT of extra care and attention and all of it paid off.
- Tight calves: Ugh. I’ve never had calf issues, but lately my calves have been so tight. LOTS of stretching and foam rolling seems to have gotten this problem in check (for now).
- Lats: My lats on my left side have been sooooo tight! Tight enough that twisting my torso had been almost painful. The entire muscle was tight from my lower back all the way to my shoulder blades. That is terrible, people!! I started yoga about a month ago and almost all that back tension is gone! To further prove my point, my massage therapist was so surprised last week when she found no knots in my neck or back….she commented on how unusual that was! I am still fighting some tightness down by my pelvis, but farther up the muscle is finally feeling OK.
- Glutes: My glutes are always tight, but they do not feel like bricks. So I’m #winning
Happy Friday, All!!