Sunday, May 10, 2009

Two Races at the Start of the Season

I am noticing the slowing down process of hitting 50 years old. BUT I don't believe it. I just think I have some work to do and I am glad to be doing it. Back in February my hips started to feel balanced and the running was good, then in March I tweaked something in my back and I have had the hardest time getting back to where I was. When the running was good, I was doing several things that left me feeling good, but there was one stretch I made up that sort of adjusted my sacrum and balanced my legs. I haven't got it to work as I have forgot exactly what I was doing. This meant that my left hip was "stuck" and there was a lot of tightness in my sacrum. I was going through every stretch and maneuver I could think of and nothing worked.

Last Friday night, I spent an hour trying to stretch the kink out of that hip. I just distracted it and pulled the muscles in all direction. The next day, I ran the Foothealth 5K in Derry. My left hip was tight as anything from all the stress I put on it and I had a hard time controlling that leg. I ended up running 19:40 and it was an awkward go at it. I did serve as a good target for a couple of my 50+ teammates and the remarkable (this guy is 59) Trevor Ward caught up with less than a mile to go. I am usually a good downhill runner but I had to slow down as I was loosing control of the left leg and thought I might crash. Trevor passed me and beat me on the downhills. I was fortunate to keep just ahead of a fast charging Ken Snow. My hip was real sore that night.

When I couldn't sleep I started trying to relieve the stress on the psoas muscle and the muscles and ligaments at the front of the hip by getting my fingers in there deep to see if I could relieve some tightness (not always the safest things to do I am told). I did find some tight muscles that loosened up and I have done this a few times this week when the hip gets "stuck". I am keeping that "stuck" feeling at bay and feeling better for the first time in a while. It has also managed to get the pain out of my si joint. Imagine if you had a wire going around the top of your femur right where it joins at the hip. Now imagine that wire pulling up towards your opposite shoulder, jamming your hip up and in. That is how my hip often feels and has felt for many years. I am imagining some tight muscles or ligaments giving it that pull, which then messes up my sacrum or si joint. My body has learned to compensate through its many imbalances. I have to keep that hip unstuck, work on the imbalances, and then I should be able to run free and fast (unless that old age thing is slowing me down).

It was good to feel better running this week. I did not enjoy the Gate City Striders hill workout on Wednesday. On Friday I got out and did a 15 miler for my longest run since tweaking my back. Today I ran the Medical Center 6K here in Nashua. My hip was not stuck but the many corners really challenged my hips. I ended up in eight place in 24:15. Last week I ran a 6:20 pace at Derry. This week my pace was 6:31 for only one kilometer longer. I am not sure why I was slower, but maybe it was the big meal I had last night. However the reason I feel that there should not be a slow down at 50 is people like Cathy Merra. She passed me after the first mile and placed right ahead of me (30 seconds). She was the top female runner and running strong after nearly breaking 3:10 at Boston. That is not slowing down at 50! Fortunately I just managed to beat the younger generation of star runners as dueling 12 and 13 year olds almost caught me at the finish. I can only guess that young Ben Platt did not pass me out of respect, because I had no kick.

What I did notice about the race and the running is that I have a lot of tightnesses again. I think that my hips are trying to protect myself from injury and react by tightening up so that my stride is shortened. This is where I need to get into some heavy core exercises. I have been doing some things with the kettlebells and planks, but I have been keeping them easy and probably should get a little more hard core. With the warmer weather, I think I should start riding my kickbike again. I know that riding the kickbike gently stretches out my stride, plus it is extremely fun! (I actually took it out tonight for 8 miles. I will be sore tomorrow, but it felt good to stretch out and push strongly off the road, as well as swing my hips forward.) I am also starting to be more diligent with my inversion table. I saw this interesting post on the Dragon Door forums. In it a kettlebell devotee has found that using an inversion table has fixed his externally rotated foot (I have one of those), his tight hips (me too!) and his janky knee (I rarely mention it, but when my left hip is off and rotated wrong, I get a tightness-not a pain- in my left knee). It seems he spends more that 5 minutes at a shot using the inversion table. I have used it sporadically and have not stayed on it for that long. Maybe I need to be a bit more patient, but it is worth a shot. I should note that I probably did my fastest running of the past 25 years the year that I first got the inversion table and used it a bit more religiously. It certainly can't hurt and it is a great way to do sit ups (from the upside down position). Earlier in the week (before reading the inversion table post) I had received an email from someone who read this blog wanting to know if there was anything I had found to fix my everted foot. I had written back saying that if my hips were aligned my foot seemed to be better (although not fixed) but that I had never seen anything that worked on pulling that foot over. It was interesting to read that someone else seemed to have fixed the problem with an inversion table. Maybe it is because it helps fix the hips or maybe it helps take the stress out of the ankle joint.

Last night, I started to read "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougal. What a fascinating and well written book! Here is another interesting review called "The Great Nike Rip-off" that finally forced my to go out and but a copy.

Here is a really inspirational and motivational video with some great runners, races, and even an old astounding Ironman Triathlon finishline crawl.


Scotty "PHAT" Graham said...


Two races in one weekend! WOW! Keep it up so next time we're racing head to head you're broken down. My legs are dead from running 3 races over the last 5 weeks. I don't think I could do 2 in one weekend. Great job!! Take it slow this week buddy.

Jim Hansen said...

Hey Scott,
Unfortunately the races were a week apart. I was happy though that I ran 15 miles today after racing yesterday.