Training: Tales of a Weak-Ass Runner

My beautiful view of Mt. Diablo as I did my exercises and waited for the runners to return.

It’s been about a month that I’ve been trying to cope with my angry IT band through a variety of techniques, including guided stretching, intense massage, acupuncture and just plain wishing that it would go away. Everything offered some degree of relief for anywhere from an hour to half a day, but nothing was actually fixing it.

On Tuesday night, we had our first track practice where we ran about a mile warmup, a timed mile, and then a 15-minute cooldown. It hurt while I was running, but I expected that. I came home, stretched, rolled, iced, took my ibuprofen and went to sleep.

It was still angry on Wednesday morning. Very, very angry. It was time to try a new approach.

On Friday, I went to SOL physical therapy for my first session with Brian. He did exactly what I wanted him to do: he maneuvered and manipulated my leg to test whether my self-diagnosis was correct. (It was.) He saw no signs of a torn meniscus or any of the other things that I feared.

The next step was to test my strength. The test involved applying force to my leg as I used the various muscle groups to resist. Quads: good. Hamstrings: good. Glutes… glutes… well, let’s just say that it’s almost like I don’t have any glutes at all. No resistance whatsoever. “You have weak glutes,” he said. What I heard: “You have a weak ass.”

Well. That was… humbling. And in a strange way, completely hysterically funny. It still makes me giggle.

It looks like my quads and my hamstrings have been doing all of the heavy lifting for my glutes for some time. Maybe they’ve always been weak, or maybe this can all be traced back to my eight weeks of immobilization with my broken foot. There’s no way to know for sure. What we do know is that until the glutes start pulling their weight, I’m going to continue to struggle with this inflammation and irritation on my right side.

In addition to my humbling strength tests, we also did some walk throughs (or squat throughs) of several butt-strengthening exercises that I’ll be doing at home for the rest of my life until I have the strongest, most spectacular ass in all the land. Hey, I have to look on the bright side, right? And he did some Graston Technique and ART¬†on my leg. If you haven’t had either one… well, let’s just say that they’re both loads of fun if you like the sensation that your PT is trying to push his Graston tool or thumbs straight through your leg. Neither is particularly pleasant as it’s happening, but both make you feel mostly better for a while afterward.

Dear bike, I don't ride you enough, but that might change with your new and improved seat.

Wanting to alleviate some of the strain and pressure on the irritable IT, I opted not to run with the Team on Saturday, and instead rode my bike on a combination of roads and gravel trails for a total of about 8 miles, and did my squats and lunges at the park while the rest of the Team was out running. (When you’re doing squats, alone, in a park’s picnic area at 8:15 AM, the maintenance guy drives by and looks at you funny. True story.) I also decided to play Sunday’s See Jane Run 5k by ear, but when the boy woke with a nightmare at 3:00 AM, it was perfectly obvious to me that the twinge I felt just walking between bedrooms was a sign that I should go easy again today.

I skipped SJR and instead did my TRX-based PT workout in the backyard as the Tiny Coach did stretching and yoga beside me. Yes, this is the same child who carefully studied my printout from the PT, asks me twice daily if I’ve done my exercises, and actively encourages me to use my foam roller at every available opportunity. Best Tiny Coach ever.

Have you ever tried Graston Technique? Do you have anyone barking at you to do your exercises?

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