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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Running Lucky!

For me "running lucky" means that after 3 years, 3 months, and 29 races, I continue to be injury free. (Especially since according to my son, I am "so old," and I definitely don't stretch or foam roll like I should.)  However, after wrapping up week 13 of my Boston training last weekend with a 20 miler on Saturday followed by an "easy 8" on Sunday, my luck seemed to have run out when I woke up Monday with alarming back pain. My 1st thought..."it's okay. It's a rest day anyway. Just ignore it, take lots of ibuprofen, and it will go away."  Mind over matter.

By Tuesday the pain had lessened a little, but even as stubborn as I am, I knew my early AM run wasn't going to happen. (I could hear my mom reminding me that "there's a fine line between between stubborn and stupid" loud and clear.) Tuesday night I bargained with myself that I would try running slowly, and if it got painful I would quit.  I survived the 5 miles, and woke up Wednesday to run 5 more. With a half-marathon coming up the following weekend, and Boston just over a month away, I was terrified to stray from my training.

The pain had dropped from a 9.5 to about a 6, but now I was starting to worry because I knew I had changed my normal running gait in order to accomodate the back pain. There was no ignoring the reality that if I didn't seek help, I was probably just making things worse rather than better. Of course my doctor had no convenient appointments available, but luck stepped in again when I stumbled upon a 6 year old gift certificate for a one hour massage given to me by Ethan; a sweet, curly-haired, former kindergartner of mine. The certificate had no expiration date (thank goodness) & I discovered that the founder/director of the massage therapy center happened to be Ethan's dad.  He couldn't have been nicer, and went out of his way to schedule me for a deep tissue massage that would get me in shape to run my upcoming race.

I have had a few massages in the past, and I have loved every minute of each one. I quickly learned however, that a deep tissue massage, is NOT a regular, relaxing to the point of almost falling asleep, massage. John, who has been in the business or over 30 years, and has worked on numerous professional athletes, could not believe how contracted my muscle tissue was; not just in my back, but everywhere. It was 75 minutes of pain, but it was good pain, and it was exactly what I needed.

During my visit her are a few things I learned...

  • Good-bye Water Joe. Even though I drink 4-5 liters of H20 daily, I discovered that I was dehydrated.  How can that be? I don't drink coffee, tea, or pop, but I do drink a liter of Water Joe (equivalent to two 8 oz cups of coffee) to wake me up each morning for my commute to work.  John said it takes 4 cups of water to undo the dehydrating effects of one cup of coffee. I had no idea. Needless to say, no more Water Joe for me!  (Except on race days!)
  • Sleep in a fetal position. While I already tend to sleep on my side, he said that by sleeping with one pillow behind me, and one between my legs, I should notice a big difference.  He also recommended splurging on a therapeutic neck pillow. Sounds well worth the investment to me!
  • Unstable thyroid is nothing but trouble. I've had thyroid issues since high school, but for the past year my levels have been all over the place.  (Pre-menopause?) Never did I think this would affect my back, but I was wrong. Hopefully my endocrinologist will have this stabilized sooner rather than later!
As luck would have it...
  • My back pain was NOT caused by running!
  • I WILL be able to run the March O' Madness 13.1 in Cary, IL tomorrow. (Considered in IL to be the best training run for Boston.)
  • Pain has gone from a 9 to a mere 1.5. (Hopefully to soon be non-existent!)
  • By shifting a couple of rest days around, I won't lose a single mile of training due to this little setback.
  • I discovered an amazing massage place & therapist! If you live anywhere near the north Chicago suburbs, check out the Message Therapy Center of Winnetka! Phenomenal!
  • Most importantly, by making a few small changes, I will be healthier & stronger than ever!
I feel so lucky to have discovered running just over 3 years ago, and even more lucky to have essentially remained injury free.  I am determined to keep that streak going, and one of the ways I do this is by actively engaging with other runners to share advice, tips, and resources.  (I will be visiting John, and breaking that foam roller out more regularly too!)

What do you do to "run lucky" & stay injury free? If you do happen to be sidelined from running with an injury, I highly recommend the book, The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanin. So inspiring!

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