Slowing Down to Speed Up

I haven’t written about running much the last few weeks because, well, I haven’t been running. I woke up one morning a few weeks ago with some hip pain; and although yoga that morning didn’t hurt while I was doing it, I didn’t feel better afterwards. 

In the past, I may have just pushed through it and continued running. But I really want to complete the marathon in June with my body healthy and happy. After my hacking, pneumonia marathon a year and a half ago, I’m ready to cross the finish line with a semi-smile on my face. 

So instead of pushing, I stopped running. Did it kill me a little to sacrifice the base and momentum I’d built? Honestly, yes. Alex and I had been doing so well about getting out to run two mornings a week and then a long run in the weekend. And suddenly we had to stop all that. 

Here’s what I did instead of running through the pain: 

  • I rekindled my love with the elliptical machine. It offers a similar running motion without the impact, and it didn’t hurt my hip. I did hills and intervals and a few easy workouts. 
  • I forked over the cash for a decent massage. I went to someone that knows anatomy and deep tissue and sports massage. She commented that my hips, butt, and back are all incredibly tight. She seemed a bit surprised that I can even move. Interestingly, she also commented that my inner thighs are not activating at all which is causing my quads to overcompensate. The massage therapist gave me exercises to do to activate those muscles before a workout. 
  • I followed through consistently on those exercises and my foam roller is a permanent fixture on my living room floor. Yes it hurts, but it hurts so good. 

I give a run down of what I did not to say that you should do the same (always check with a health professional for any injuries you may be dealing with), but because for me it was a revelation to actually take care of my body instead of just pushing it.

A friend, who also happens to be a massage therapist herself, asked me how my marathon training was going and I told her about my pain and how I was taking a break and getting some body work done. And she commented that as runners, especially during marathon training, it’s the responsible thing to do to take care of our muscles. Maybe it’s the occasional massage, or heavy duty work with a foam roller, or yoga, but it’s unkind to our bodies to just run and stop running and then run again later. The conversation was a good reminder to me that even when I’m not feeling any pain, there are only benefits to be had by slowing down to stretch and strengthen and work out the knots. 

The other interesting thing I learned was just because I strive to be fit doesn’t mean I’m in tune with my body. I had no idea that my inner thigh muscles were atrophying.  (Explains why my quads are always sore.) It’s easy to get caught up in running or lifting or whatever it is and not actually listen to what our bodies need. 

So let this be a reminder to anyone out there who is a runner that we need to stop and smell the incense sometimes and slow down a bit so we can run harder, better, faster, stronger. 

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