It’s been a while since I updated the blog, but if you follow me on social media, you probably saw that I decided to can the St. Jude Half Marathon after dealing with an IT band injury.
I didn’t feel the sense of loss that I expected to feel after missing out on a race that I trained hard for. In retrospect, I think I was on the verge of – or at – a state of burnout. I don’t think I had enough respect for what the Savannah half took out of me, even though I didn’t really “race” it. I’m not entirely sure I had an all-out, goal-race effort in me for St. Jude anyway.
The week after Savannah, I ran 43 miles. All those miles while feeling really drained and uninspired. I thought I was being disciplined by running all the miles, but I failed to heed some warning signs. While I had the “discipline” to run all the miles and even skip a rest day (whyyyy? I don’t know anymore), I was so beat that I skipped all my “prehab” core/glute/hip strengthening work that I struggled to be consistent with this whole training cycle, even before Savannah.
I dug up this old tweet in the injury post-mortem. Clues of possible burnout did exist!
Really looking forward to a week of being a couch potato after St. Jude. I’m putting it in writing now in case I want to abort 2 days in.
— Sarah Merrill (@racingoprah) November 12, 2015
The following week, I couldn’t deny my fatigue or the chronic nature of the soreness in my left glute and hip flexor. I skipped an easy run, didn’t do any strength training, and made it through the work week, which included an accounting conference in hot, rainy, muggy Orlando. Florida runners, my heart goes out to you in the biggest way.
I considered cutting back on my long run that week, then I decided to head out and play it by ear. When I was 14 miles in, I was running down a hill, and without warning I felt that awful stabbing sensation on the outside of my right knee. I’d never had ITBS before, but I’ve heard enough about it to know exactly what it was. My right leg didn’t feel like it could bear weight. It was a clear “oh, shit” moment. I took an Uber home.
Since then, I’ve been seeing a sports chiropractor regularly, doing all the
prehab rehab exercises diligently, indoor cycling, and yoga. I’ve gone through a couple rounds of dry needling, which I strangely love even though it feels weird. I spent 3 weeks not running consistently, with a few unsuccessful test runs sprinkled in. Last week, I ran 18 miles without any noteworthy pain, all on a half-mile gravel loop. It’s the most boring route I’ve ever run.
As for the cause of the injury, I had some imbalances and some really gnarly tight muscles that just weren’t going to put up with hard training anymore. Hard training is a risk, and this time I came out on the wrong side. It’s easy to spout platitudes about “being in touch with your body,” but it’s not a magical injury prevention strategy, although I do think it’s something we should all strive to do.
What I’m trying to say is that by “listening to my body,” whatever the hell that means, I was aware enough to know I needed to back off. But I didn’t know enough to do anything beyond doing “less.” I finally see the importance of seeing a trained professional from time to time during normal training, to see (and treat!) the warning signs that I’m not trained to see or treat (as a person who lives my professional life in spreadsheets and memos).
I got my training plan for Paris today. The mileage is lower than what I was running for my last marathon. I wish I were healthy enough to take more advantage of the base that was built into my St. Jude training. But it’s not just any marathon near home that I can skip and not feel too bad about, it’s the Paris Marathon. The PARIS #*$&ing MARATHON. I’d rather finish this marathon – even if it’s slow – than get injured again from taking big training risks. So I’m (reluctantly) on board with the less-mileage plan.
I don’t know how it will go. (I guess we never really do.) My goal is only to PR (my PR is 4:20). Maybe if training goes flawlessly, I will think about going for sub-4:10 (the GMP in my training plan is a 9:25/mile pace). At this point, that kind of goal-setting is premature – everyone I’ve talked to mentions that ITBS can be a stubborn injury. I’m really excited to get started with training. I’ll start back up with weekly training posts next week for this abbreviated 15 week cycle.
Have any of you had ITBS? How did recovery go for you?
Have you ever had dry needling? Like it, or not so much?