Putting Humpty Dumpty back together again
When I started running regularly back in 2007, no one told me that I wouldn’t be able to just run and be able to do everything else I wanted to whenever I wanted to. Anyone who knows me know that as soon as I ran my first race – a 10k – back on Veterans’ Day in 2007, I was hooked. Then the first half marathon in 2009. Then the first marathon in 2010. Then the 10th marathon in 2015…
As it turns out, much to my chagrin, most people can’t just run without doing OTHER things to create balance. Balance in the development of muscles. Balance in amount of time spent being active. Balance between amount of beer and number of miles.
Ever since the Marine Corps Marathon in the fall of 2013, I’ve felt like I have been battling my body for control over my life. No doubt about it…I went for it that day and got my PR, and I managed to damage myself in the process. Even though I’ve run three marathons, since that time, I don’t think I have ever fully recovered – or, perhaps more importantly, I’ve never allowed myself the chance to strengthen my body to allow the recovery to occur.
Consequently, my miles have declined over time and each mile seems like more of a struggle than the last one. Beyond being frustrating, it also has the brutally ironic twist of allowing me to put on some pounds – which, of course, exacerbates everything. It is a downward spiral – admittedly self-inflicted – that I have not done much of anything about.
To put it bluntly, if all you do is run, then all you work are running muscles. Everyone knows you are supposed to cross-train, but not everyone does it and some people are lucky enough to get away with it. In my case, my IT bands are like piano wire, trying to stretch my quads is like trying to pull cold taffy, my low back is in nearly constant discomfort, my backside isn’t much better, and I am back over a weight threshold I swore I would never cross when I lost all my chub the first time. However, nothing is torn. Nothing is broken. Nothing is irreparable.
While I have been going to chiropractor for a number of years, I knew that he has more recently only been treating the symptoms. I knew it was up to me to treat the problem, but, I had previously been unsure of exactly how I wanted to go about it. The answer was in front of me – a member of my running group. Now that my work schedule allows me a little bit more time to have a life, I am doing something about it.
A couple of weeks ago, I made my first visit to Accelerate Health, which is conveniently located a few blocks from my office. After a few different screens and test to determine where my main issues were, she delivered the news with a smile. “Well, it’s not the worst I’ve ever seen.” That is all I needed to hear.
I’ve now had acupuncture and active release techniques performed on two of my trouble spots in two appointments. While those will continue, the bulk of the work is up to me. My doc handed me several exercises to do to build up the muscles that are underperforming and allowing other muscles to become overdeveloped and pull my frame out of balance. Much like your car, if the frame out of alignment, then things wear out faster, wobble a lot, and eventually break.
It’s about time
This is long overdue. I guess I knew a while ago I needed to do more than I was doing, but hoping something gets better when nothing else is changing is never a recipe for success. The good news is that I do not have to stop running, and there is no pressure of an imminent race.
In fact, with Boston in April 2017 next up for me, I’ve got some time to do it right. The priority is to be better about making more time to do the things I am supposed to do so that I can continue to get the same benefits and enjoyment out of running that have been lost to me for a while. I enjoy running…but I wasn’t enjoying it when it was a struggle just to do the easy runs. And if I can get pain, tightness, and discomfort to go away??? Well, then, jackpot.
So if you see me somewhere with resistance band around my knees doing some strange looking kicking motion or laying on my side doing something that resembles a jazzercise move, don’t laugh. (Although, it might be hard not to)