Tag Archives: running

pain in the (sort of) butt

I wrote an email to a friend in response to her question about how things were going with my minor running issue. As I neared the end of that email exchange, I joked with her that I might just copy and paste it into a blog post. Anything to break the silence here. I just can’t seem to get ahead these days.

But it’s not a bad idea, so I’m running with it.

If you follow me on Instagram, I mentioned back in January that a nagging pain that had started in December on some of my longer runs was still sticking around, despite having rested for several weeks during the coldest and darkest days of winter. A couple of miles into a run I start to experience a sharp pain on the outside of my left knee that doesn’t let up as I continue to push through it. After running, the pain continues for a few hours – not while walking around, but I notice it when heading up and down stairs.

I self-diagnosed it as an IT Band issue, and when it still persisted through the end of January, I decided to tackle it head on before spring running weather rolls around. I made an appointment for my routine physical, and my doctor agreed with my assessment, and wrote me a referral for PT. I contacted the PT that my dear friend (of earlier referenced email fame) recommended with “1000 stars”, and I saw her for the first time on Monday where she confirmed the diagnosis.

Turns out I’m really lopsided in how I engage certain muscle groups. My right (dominant) side is fine, but on my left side I’m using other muscles to do the work for me, and my left hip flexor muscles are way weaker than my right. So it’s time to target and build those up. As I’ve increased my strength training in my Body Pump class (if you have access to Les Mills classes, I highly recommend them), my larger muscle groups have been worked, but those smaller muscle groups can start feeling neglected. I didn’t ask this during my first appointment, but I have wondered about it since – I’m curious if always defaulting to starting with our right side – in Body Pump or Power Yoga or PiYo – means that the left side (then more fatigued) defaults to engaging the larger muscle groups over the smaller ones when doing the same work. I think I’ll ask that at my next appointment.

Other contributing factors? I cross my legs while sitting, and often sit with my left leg tucked under my body. In December I probably spent 100+ hours in that position while working on holiday cards (outside of the hours I sit on my tush in the office). Now I’m using a small platform for my feet, and catching myself every ten minutes on my leg positions. Breaking bad habits is so tricky.

I learned something else new – did you know that there is an ideal angle that an ankle bends to for running? I didn’t. That angle is 20 degrees. One of my ankles is three degrees, the other is zero. Zero!! This is why my heels never touch the ground in downward facing dog! I know I’ve got problem feet, and the rods in my feet probably aren’t helping here, but building some more strength and flexibility in my ankles will also help. That will reduce the stress on my upper legs as well when my feet hit the ground.

Next week I’ll have a running analysis, and I’m pretty sure that my Hoka days are numbered. (Also might have helped contribute to this problem.) I’m glad that I decided to get in front of this and talk to someone specializing in running health and strength, rather than throwing a bunch of ideas and gear towards the problem. I’ll let you know how it goes. And how exciting it is to do a zillion reps of strength building exercises while focusing on ONLY engaging the correct muscles. It’s a lot more thinking about my butt than I generally care to do!

Onward, upward!

get your sparkle on

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Today’s the annual Sparkle Run in memory of my niece. If you are out for a run on this gorgeous spring day, maybe pick that pink shirt out of your drawer to wear in honor of her.

I saw these tulips in her colors this past week on my own run. I see her everywhere, but particularly when I’m outside, quiet in my own thoughts. I’m grateful for those gifts, and all of her gifts – particularly on the big race day like today.

saturday mornings

Last fall we finally decided to join the Y. We probably should have done it sooner, but when the girls were little it was hard to imagine that we’d actually find the time to make a membership worth it. Some weeks it feels like all we do is work, and I had trouble imagining that we’d want to pick up little ones from daycare just to drop them off in gym-care. And besides that fact, I’ve just never really enjoyed working out in a gym – the noise, the crowds, the smell, and especially the effort – I mean, you have to decide to go, get dressed for it, drive there, park, and work out –  and then repeat all of those steps in reverse (plus shower).

But then the girls were getting bigger, they were able to stay up a little later in the evenings, and because of our daytime work schedules, we were looking for some indoor activities in the cold, dark afternoons of wintertime. I was busy studying all the time, and M and the girls wanted some options for getting out of the house and being active. They started using the membership first, working out, swimming, dancing –  and then I finally joined them in earnest just around the holidays, and regularly since the beginning of January.

I’m completely hooked. A bit sore as well.
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I’m settling nicely into a new Saturday morning routine. I’m taking a 75 minute power yoga class which is as challenging and lovely/painful as it sounds. Sometimes M and the girls get up at the same time and head over to the gym with me, sometimes I go by myself and they join later. Every other morning of the week I’m the one putting breakfast on the table  – twice on weekdays. Saturday morning is a little more serve yourself. I start the pot of water to boil on the stove, once for coffee, and then a second time for oatmeal. I can hear the rest of the crowd stirring above me, but it’s quiet in the kitchen where I sit and read, usually recipes or stories about food. The light in the kitchen is so good, and I pretend that I’m sitting in the new addition, soaking up the light and drinking just enough coffee to get me started. A few minutes later I’m on my mat, in the back of the exercise room where no one pays attention to my un-bendy toes that I’m slowly forcing into submission.

Monday nights are very different from Saturday mornings, but I’m starting to love them as well. M and I take a core class together for half an hour, where we shoot each other smiles and grimaces in the mirror. The instructor is cute and funny and relentless until it burns. I stick around for another hour of her cardio class while M does his own thing for a bit and then takes the girls home to start dinner. The class quickly weeded out the smart kids, and left about eight of us there to sweat and groan, but we laugh at ourselves, which is fun, and I’m getting used to waking up on Tuesday mornings a little stiff.

I like this routine – first thing on the weekend / first thing of the week. The days are lengthening, and will eventually warm a bit, and I can get an outdoor run or two in on the way home from work later in the week. I’m looking forward to that, because no matter how much I’m enjoying the classes at the Y, running is for trails, not treadmills.