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Imagine running in a race and just as you think you see the finish line you realize after getting a little closer that it’s just another mile marker along the way to a race without an end. Psych! That’s how I’ve been feeling lately.
For 9 long weeks now, doctors, therapists and I have all been searching and poking and prodding and x-raying and trying to figure out why my right butt-hip-hammy-lower-back is so tight and causing me sciatica. In my last diary entry, I outlined all the diagnoses I’ve had up to that point: piriformis strain, lower-crossed syndrome, bulging disk.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been operating under the assumption that my back is the culprit, even though I really never had any back pain. I regularly swing two rather heavy youngins around and don’t have any problems. I have to say after hearing it was likely my spine causing my problems my back started hurting and I was petrified of straining it further.
On Friday I went for my first physical therapy session. The therapist had me do a bunch of different range of motion tests and none of them indicated I had any problems in my spine. I was doing almost full-on back bends and experienced no pain or limited range of motion.
Next, she poked around the muscles and discovered that my piriformis is still very tight. She worked out some knots and definitely felt loosened up. Based on that she said she was fairly certain my sciatic pain was caused from my tight piriformis and not my spine. Allelujia! Suddenly my back stopped hurting and has felt fine since!
The physical therapist’s opinions were corroborated by my amazing massage therapist who spent the entire 75 minutes investigating my right side. She agreed it is highly unlikely the problem is a bulging disk or anything else in my spine. She found more knots in my piriformis, my psoas and another muscle that has never ever been attended to, the iliacus muscle. The iliacus in particular was a horrid awful knot. I didn’t realize that the sharp pain I had been feeling in my pelvis shortly before I became injured was from that muscle. Summarizing, the muscles in my upper right leg were still a bit of a mess, two looooong months after the initial injury.
Here’s something kind of funny and why my ART doc became concerned I had a disk issue. About 4 weeks post-injury ART doc was certain that my problems were caused by my psoas which caused a chain reaction that led to my pain in my butt. This is the whole lower-crossed syndome thingee. Anyway, to fix the lower-crossed syndrome I needed to work on strengthening my glutes. ART doc recommended I do some single-legged squats among other exercises and to lay off of running for a week. Since I wasn’t running I did a TON of single-legged squats in the hopes I’d REALLY get those glutes nice and strong and I’d be up and running quickly.
Onto week 5 post-injury. After the week of no running and ton o’ single-legged squats was over I started running and sadly felt like my whole right leg was one big knot. It was frustrating and when I told ART doc about it he became worried about my sad lack of progress. That’s when he suggested a bulging disk might be the culprit.
Ok. Back to Saturday’s massage at 8 weeks post injury. As my massage therapist worked her way down my leg she noted that almost all the muscles on the outside of the leg were really tight. She asked if I had been doing a lot of balancing on one leg. DOH! It all started to make sense.
At week 5 when ART doc and I both thought I wasn’t making any progress even after the treatment for lower-crossed syndrome, I probably actually was making a lot of progress but silly old me WAY over did it on the squats and probably was wrongly doing them too (using bad form).
So here’s what I currently think is going on:
1. I have a piriformis that is really angry at me after months and months of running on it while it was sore.
2. The sciatica is caused by the angry and inflamed piriformis.
3. The piriformis problem did not happen in a vaccuum and is likely caused by the psoas and the iliacus muscles which caused a chain reaction leading to the pain in my butt (my tight calves may have been the marble that toppled the domino rally, but we can never really know that for sure).
4. I can’t do single-legged squats without someone lording over me making sure I do them with correct form and I probably should never do upwards of 100 a day. DOH! and DUH!
Now what? I have my follow-up orthopedist appointment today and I am going to see what he says about things. I have another physical therapy appointment on Friday and the therapist can check to see whether my muscles have tightened back up and to check my progress with my therapy. After that I have a follow-up with my massage therapist later the following week to go over all the muscles and see which ones are being stubborn about staying unknotted.
I am debating going in to see the ART doc to treat the iliac muscle early next week. I feel like I really need to be running at least a little bit soon so I can start feeling what’s going on. I will behave until I speak with the experts.
It’s now 9 weeks post injuryand I am definitely skeptical after several disappointments along the journey so far, but maybe I just might see the finish line way out on the horizon.
I know you’re all busy people. As a mother of two toddlers believe me I can relate! I also know that not all of us have the luxury of routine or even time at home. That’s why I’ve enlisted my sister Cinnamon to share her experiences as a competitive runner with an active social life, interest in several hobbies and–here’s the big one–a career freelancing in New York’s film and TV industry.
This girl commutes on the run, runs at midnight, runs after 18 hour days, runs hungover after wrap parties among other nutty things. Not to toot her own horn (and my own since I coached her, of course!) but in a matter of months Cinnamon went from being a relatively nonathletic career-focused young woman to running her debut marathon in 4:11 all while navigating this hectic lifestyle.
Cinnamon will be posting a weekly training log as well as a feature, Ginger Rushes. Like Diary of an Injured Runner, Cinnamon Rushes will be the chronicles of a runner lady’s life. But instead of an injured mom of two, Cinnamon will be writing about her exeperiences as a single 30-something runner navigating New York City, a hectic and stressful career and everything else life has to offer. Follow along as she tries to string along enough quality training to attempt another marathon and p.r. in all distances along the way!
Prior to the founding of my current racing team, I was a part of the Brooks ID racing team for two years. It was a great ride and I really liked all my Brooks shoes. Prior to October of 2011 I wore minimal racing flats (the Green Silence and the Racer ST5) only for track workouts, the occasional tempo and races. Otherwise, I trained in the lightweight Ravenna trainer. I was especially excited when the Brooks Pure Project shoes came out right before my fall marathon. I ordered two pairs: the Pure Cadence and the Pure Flow. Several people asked me if the low heel bothered me, but I couldn’t even feel any difference from my sturdy old Ravennas in that regard.
I suppose I need to explain the shoe trend I’m talking about: low heel drop, also known as low profile running shoes. I wasn’t really even aware of it until after I bought the shoes and people were asking me how I liked them. The classic modern running trainer raises the heel off the ground and has a lot of cushioning material between your foot and the ground. Generally, minimalist running shoes are different from your typical modern trainer only in that they have less material between your foot and the ground. Most notable examples of minimalist shoes are racing flats. Minimalist shoes for every day training became very popular in large part to a book called Born to Run. It’s a great book and makes a strong case that modern cushiony running shoes cause more injuries than they prevent. After reading that book (which is a super read, by the way!) it’s hard to lace up a pair of clunky trainers without feeling like an idiot.
Anyway, low profile shoes are simply a subtype of minimalist running shoes, but in addition to having less material they also tout a very low offset. The offset is the difference between the height of the heel of the shoe and the height of the midfoot (middle) of the shoe. Basically, they’re flat (hence the term racing flats!).
Back to my story. I wore the Pure Cadence in that October marathon and bonked miserably. I had a lot of problems that day that had nothing to do with my shoes, but I do remember wincing in agony hobbling the last several miles with a tender left achilles. “That’s just what happens in a marathon,” I thought never even considering it was the shoes causing that particular pain.
After the marathon I rotated the low profile Pure Project shoes with my trusty old Ravennas. I liked the lightweight feel of the Pure Project shoes and never thought twice about them. I did notice the plantar fasciitis I sometimes get in my left foot was flaring up a little more than normal, but I was running 70 miles a week so that’s to be expected. Right?
Then a few days after Christmas and a few days before I injured myself on New Years Eve, I went in for a deep-tissue massage. Normally, my massage therapist (who is BRILLIANT!) works on every part of my legs equally, but during this appointment she noted that my calves were rocks. She spent almost the entire 75 minutes kneading the knotted lumps into oblivion. They were so sore after the massage that I could barely stand when I got off the table!
Two days later my poor chronically strained butt gave out.
I never strung the tight calves and the injured butt together. In fact I pretty much forgot about my knotted calves as the acute pain in my butt became the complete focus of my attention. That is until I started running again after a few days off.
When I started to test out the injury I only ran in the Ravennas for a few days. And then I threw on the Flows to switch things up and almost immediately my achilles and plantars fascia soreness kicked back up. Ok then!
Jaymee posted about her experience with low profile shoes and it got me thinking about my own experience. Looking back my calves were never much of a problem until I started wearing the low profile shoes regularly and then my butt and other issues were always tolerable before that too. I can’t help but wonder if the low profile shoes caused tight calves which in turn caused a chain reaction that tipped me over the injury edge.
Like Jaymee who had her issues with Doc Martens long before she was interested in low profile running shoes, this phenomenon is not new to me. I remember feeling really sad in the early 90’s that Birkenstock clogs didn’t fit my long toes. Some trends might work great for some people, while some just don’t work for others. Maybe that means I won’t be cool clomping in my high heeled lame-o trainers, but my calves won’t be rocks and hopefully I’ll be running!
Sorry to anyone looking for a Training Basics post today. I am a little time crunched and haven’t had a chance to do all the background work for the post I want to write. Look for a Training Basics article next Tuesday!
It might have been my best race ever.
I went to the race alone and got there in plenty of time to register and head back to my car before my warm-up. Coach instructed me to use the 5k race as part of my training run which was to run 11 miles at 7:00 pace. I stripped off my warm-ups and headed out for a brisker than normal warm-up along the loop course that I remembered from running the race several years earlier. I noticed the familiar slight undulation and location of the turns along the course. As I went along I started feeling pretty amped up and confident this was going to be a good one for me.
I made it back to my car to change into my flats and pin on my number. I headed over to the start area and did some strides before lining up at the front since it was a smallish local race. I was nervous, but I calmed myself by focusing on little things like the bright green blades of grass or the colors and shape of the other runners racing flats. When the gun went off I strode away feeling light and free and faaaaast.
And without much effort at all I hit the first mile in 5:50, faster than I had ever run a first mile of a 5k before. My stride remained fluid and I had no problem at all maintaining a sub-6:00 for the second mile despite a more boring isolated stretch of the course. As I began my last mile I checked in, “self, what do you have left?” A lot I decided and I picked it up a little and a little and as I entered the parking lot near the finish line I knew I was on pace for a huge p.r. and I hammered. When I made the last turn and saw the clock it said 17:59 and I watched it tick down the seconds until I crossed in 18:14–a 35 second p.r.!
Why is that in italics? Because that all happened in my imagination. What really happened was I ran an 18:15 on a slightly different out and back course (course was changed since I last ran the race) with a 5:52 first mile, but everything else happened exactly as I imagined the night before the race. That my friends is the power of visualization.
When we visualize something we stimulate the same brain regions that we stimulate when we actually do the same action. How cool is that? When we visualize running a relaxed p.r. we actually train our brain to run a relaxed p.r. That’s critical when you have a brain like mine that often likes to undermine your performances. By visualizing performing a relaxed p.r. race before that great 5k I told my brain that relaxed and focused is normal rather than the constant loop of negative thoughts and anxiety that my brain was accustomed to performing during races.
Visualization is more than just a mental dress rehearsal, although that may be it’s most powerful use for us as runners. It can be used to help aid in relaxation, overcoming injury and so much more. It’s an essential tool in your mental training arsenal.
Like any skill, visualization takes practice. It will take most people several weeks of practice before being able to visualize an entire race morning. It will likely take several tries at a visualization exercise before being able to complete it without your mind wandering or becoming distracted. Below is an exercise to get you started.
Simple Visualization Exercise for Runners
1. Perform a relaxation exercise and achieve a nice relaxed state.
2. Picture standing at the start of a familiar route. See all the sights and hear the sounds of that place. Picture as many details as you can.
3. Picture yourself starting your watch and starting to run.
4. Feel the road or trail under your feet. Hear your easy breath and the wind on your cheeks. Picture yourself feeling better on the run than you ever have before.
5. Now picture yourself returning to the start with the run finished. Picture yourself feeling refreshed, destressed and so appreciative for the gift of fitness.
6. The exercise is over. Practice it each day until you are able to get through the entire exercise without becoming distracted.
If you’ve been in a runner store recently you probably noticed the big trend in running shoe styles is super bright colors. My newest trainers, for instance, are a solid florescent orange. It’s a little weird slogging along at recovery pace in florescent shoes, because nothing says fast like flash. (Or should I say nothing says look how huge my feet are like florescent shoes. Ok, that’s probably just me.)
Because bold colors symbolize confidence and strength, no type of shoe wears flashy better than racing flats.
So, whether foot flash helps you run faster, flatters your feet or is just something you love this season’s bold and bright flat offerings will not disappoint!
With all running shoes I recommend you head to your local running retailer to be properly fitted. No matter how adorable a pair is, they need to fit you right or they won’t be worth much as a running shoe. That being said, here are links to online retailers for more information on each model and to buy if you’re confident you know what size and style is right for you.
1. Saucony Grid Type A5 in Blue/Citron/Light Pink is a women’s shoe and is available here.
2. Brooks T7 Racer in Color 371 is a unisex shoe and is available here.
3. Nike LunaRacer+ in Pink/Blue is a women’s shoe and is available here.
4. Saucony Grid Fastwitch 5 in Purple/Citron is a women’s shoe and is available here.
5. Newton Distancia is a women’s shoe and is available here.
6. Mizuno Wave Musha 4 in Lime Punch/Prism Violet/Chinese Red is a women’s shoe and is available here.
7. New Balance WR 1400 in Neon Yellow/Navy is a women’s shoe and is available here.
8. Asics Gel Noosa Tri 7 in Neon Pink/Coral/Noosa Glow is a women’s running shoes made specifically for triathletes and is available here. The shoe actually glows in the dark!
Happy flashy racing!
When I was initially injured on New Year’s Eve I really only thought I’d be down a week, two tops. I thought I just needed to get a knot out of my butt or hammy and I’d be good to go. Even my ART doc thought so. He worked out some nasty knots and sent me on my way.
I came back a week later and though I could open my stride past shuffle again, my whole upper right leg was still tight and pinchy. Hmmm. He checked the muscles and they felt much better. Maybe I’m just a slow healer, so he massaged them out again and this time told me to not run. I did as I was told and the muscles felt good to him so I started to run again. I felt no better.
Back to the doc I went. At this point it was 4 weeks down and I was beginning to become very frustrated. I racked my brain and thought of any other muscles that might be contributing to my problem. My IT band gives me trouble from time to time and my psoas was bugging me, but only when I did ab exercises. I told the doc about these other potential issues and a light bulb went off. “Why didn’t you tell me about your psoas?!” the doc implored.
The doc then told me about a neurological condition called lower crossed syndrome that turns the glutes off when the psoas is tight. (you can read more about this visit and lower crossed syndrome here). He figured because my glutes weren’t firing properly the ancillary muscles like the ones giving me trouble were just overloaded. If I fixed the tight psoas and got the glutes firing again I should be good to go. Woohoo!
Another week off of running. Then I started back up to test things out and sure enough very little progress if any. So at 6 weeks off from training I went back to the doc. I racked my brain before my appointment and thought of a few more things to mention to see if they might illuminate the problem. One of those things was that my toes on my right foot became numb about 20 minutes into my recent runs.
Another light bulb went off. Unfortunately, this revelation did not leave the doc as hopeful that I was a quick fix away from returning to training. Sciatica caused by a bulging disk. Great. I decided at this point I needed to see an orthopedist. So I made an appointment.
Seven weeks off from training and I saw the orthopedist who agreed it was a bulging disk. No running until he says I can. At all. No elliptical either. Bike or swim only.
This week (8 weeks off) I start physical therapy. Then 9 weeks off I go back for my orthopedist follow-up. At that point, if I am not making progress I will go for an mri to see if perhaps the disk is actually herniated (which would not be good!)
The idea of a quick fix now seems so naive now. When it takes 2 months just to get a diagnosis (that isn’t even for sure yet), I will just be happy to get a fix at all!
When you think of relaxing you might think about reading a good book in a comfy chair, a warm bubble bath or laying on the beach. You might not think that relaxation is critical to your race performances, but it is. Think about it. When we are tense our muscles tighten and our minds race. When we are relaxed our muscles are fluid and our minds are at ease. Does it sound better to race tense or relaxed?
I discovered how detrimental to race performance tension can be a few years ago. After months of picture-perfect training I lined up for my third marathon. Even though I knew I was reeeeeeeeeally nervous for the two weeks leading up to the race I did nothing about it and stood there waiting for the gun to go off more or less petrified. I felt stiff and out of control from go. Nevertheless, I made it close to on-pace through 17 miles. Mile 18 had a hill and my split was 20 seconds slower than my goal pace and I started beating myself up about it and panicking. By mile 19 I had a stitch so bad I could hardly breathe. I had to walk much of the last 7 miles as I cursed and cried. I still ran a big p.r. If I would have gone with the flow and been relaxed who knows what I could have run that day.
You see, what happens when we are too tense is that the rational parts of our brains more or less shut off and our limbic system takes over. The limbic system is the part of the brain that handles primitive survival instincts. It’s what handles that old fight or flight state of being. When the limbic system is overstimulated by stress we forget our mantras, are unable to stop the negative thoughts flooding our brains and are unable to relax no matter how loudly we yell at ourselves to do so. We end up in a spiral of tension, negative thoughts and well, less than ideal performances.
It’s easy to see now how I ended up freaking out over a slow split and then freaked out over freaking out and then ended up with a stitch that left me totally freaking out some more. Classic case of limbic system overdrive. After some time mulling that third marathon performance and other disappointing performances over I’ve come to realize that a real weak point for me is my mind. Up until this past year I spent zero time training my brain and unless I just happened to have a good mental moment, my mind got in the way of my best performances almost every time. Of course, some of us are blessed with the natural ability to relax under pressure. Not me!
But there is hope for me and others like me. We can teach ourselves to achieve relaxation even in inherently stressful situations like key races. To get there, we must first learn how to relax on command. We must start learning to relax outside of our time running. Below is a key relaxation exercise. This exercise will be the base for many other mental training exercises and I will point you back here often.
BASIC RELAXATION EXERCISE
Perform this exercise during a quiet time at home, but not when you’re half asleep.
Repeat this breathing exercise 10 times and notice how relaxed and clear headed you feel. If you are particularly stressed out it may take more than 10 repetitions to slow your mind and achieve a fully relaxed state. Experiment with it and see what works best for you. Relax!
With a handle like Salty, you know there’s a part of me that loves anything a little nautical inspired. I have always loved sailor pants and boat necks. Never been an ascot fan, though. Anyway, I was perusing some spring running apparel styles and noticed that stripes are very big this year and I could not be more excited! Check out this gallery of stripey goodness!
The Nike apparel is available here.
The Oiselle top is available here.
The Athleta shorts are available here.
The Moving Comfort bra is available here.
Also, in the interest of full disclosure I need to note that I run for a team sponsored by Nike Running.
As I lay on the x-ray table at the orthopedist’s office today, the tech made a crack about crazy runners, “you runners, you’re like addicts!” True ‘dat! One of the biggest hurdles I’ve encountered in my quest to heal is letting go of running. I’ve managed a few days off here and a few days off there, but I really haven’t taken any significant stretch off to let my body heal. In my nutty head only running 3-6 miles is taking time off. I’m like an alcoholic who only drinks beer. And even when I took a few days off I snuck a hard 70 minute elliptical workout any time I could. 70 hard minutes of any exercise is not rest. Oeuf.
BUT IT’S SO HARD TO QUIT!
Even with my tiny bit of maintenance working out I have still been grumpy and flirting with depression. I feel fat and am having trouble sleeping. Even my bathroom schedule is off (sorry, tmi!) There needs to be a runner’s anonymous for us injured folks who NEED to give it a rest, but struggle. I could use a sponsor to talk me away from the crunches and the lunges and the elliptical and the snowy trails. I could use a nutritionist to cook for me so I can relearn how normal people who don’t run 70 miles a week eat. Even better, someone to remind me that there is a life beyond running and that it’s possible to enjoy a few weeks without it. (Wait, it is?) YES. It is.
I quipped back to the x-ray tech, “Yeah, I sure could of used some inpatient detox when I got injured.” Maybe if I had I would be healed and back up and training now. Darn lack of time machine! But I can jump on the wagon now. A little late is always better than never.
I’ll admit it: I have injuries on the brain. It’s hard not to when the literal pain-in-my-you-know-what reminds me every waking moment of the day. But like any good friend I want to spare you from experiencing a similar fate. So read on about the most common running injuries afflicting women runners (I think I’ve had all but one of them at some point, yikes! I need to go in a time machine and give my younger self this advice!) And then read about the 5 easy ways you can avoid these pesky little training interrupters.
Shin Splints. Painful shins caused by inflamed connective tissue of the shin. Ugh. This is one of those super annoying injuries that mostly afflicts women early in their running career. Both times I came back from pregnancy I had a short bout of shin splints. Not cool! Luckily there is a super easy way to prevent them!
Plantar Fasciitis. A painful heel and sometimes arch of the foot. Oh man. This one is no fun. I have several good friends who needed to take off months to fix this one. I’ve had it flare up a bit a few times, but luckily for me it was always mild and manageable. It’s still no fun. Sore arches and heels stink, so follow the advice below: avoid it!
Patellar Tendinitis. A very tender spot under the kneecap (patella) caused by an inflamed knee tendon. This is another injury that hits a lot of beginners. I also had this pretty bad years ago and it delayed my running renaissance a few years. Little did I know there was something I could have done all along to keep this yucky condition at bay.
IT Band Syndrome. Sharp, burning knee or hip pain caused by a tight iliotibial band. Yikes. I had this too. I sound pretty fragile, but I swear other than my early bout with ITBS I have not really been injured until my current situation. Oh, but ITBS stinks, but you can avoid it!
Stress Fracture. Severe pain in a localized spot. Common areas subject to stress fractures are: the tibia (shin bone); metatarsals (bones in the feet and toes); and pelvis (ouch!). This is the mother of all common injuries: who the heck wants a broken bone? Behave. Follow good advice. Don’t get one!
Now here’s what you can do to keep these ouchies away:
Now quit reading and go stretch your calves after doing your lunges while drinking milk in the sun before your warm-up for a trail run!
Every other Tuesday Salty Running will feature a post on training basics. Below are the basic training concepts that will be discussed in these posts with a definition of each. We will add to this glossary as new topics arise, so check back if you’re unsure what something means.
Intervals: Intervals are multiple stretches of running broken up with rest or easier running. Intervals are usually measured by distance. An example of an interval workout is 8 x 400 meters fast with 200 meter jogged rest in between.
Fartlek: (pronounced fart-lik) A fartlek is any run in which the pace varies throughout the run. Many runners define a fartlek as an interval workout in which the intervals are measured in time instead of distance. So an example of this would be 8 x 2:00 (two minutes) hard with 1:00 (one minute) jogged rest. However, a fartlek does not have to be measured at all–just a switch in tempo throughout a run.
Strides: Strides are short intervals (typically 20-30 seconds or about 80-150 meters) of controlled hard running with a longer break in-between. Strides are meant to prime them for harder workouts later in a training cycle. They may also be included in a training plan to loosen legs after a harder session the day before. They are also commonly used as part of a warm-up before a race or a hard run.
Tempo: Everyone seems to have their own definition of tempo run, but it almost always means a longer controlled continuous stretch of faster than easy running. Many training plans seem to favor half-marathon pace as tempo pace, but it can be anywhere from 10k-marathon pace. A typical tempo workout might be something like 20 minutes at current half-marathon pace within an hour run.
Progression Run: A progression run is easy to understand: it starts slow and ends fast, usually getting faster and faster as the run goes on. A sample progression run would be starting at easy pace and dropping the pace ten seconds a mile for 8 miles.
Long Run: A long run is, well, a long run! The actual length of a long run will depend on what you’re training for. For a veteran marathoner, a long run might be anything over 16. For a novice 5k runner, a long might be anything over 8. Long runs might sound pretty boring, but there is a lot of potential for excitement within a long run! They don’t have to be run at one pace and they can contain elements of the other types of training runs within them.
Easy Run: These are the bread and butter of most training weeks. These are the runs when you just go and run a nice conversational pace and finish feeling fresh (unless you’re in the throes of marathon training in August, but I digress).
Recovery Run: Recovery runs are usually pretty short and run, if not shuffled at a very easy pace.
Hindsight is 20-20 as they say. Now I can look back at the previous months and even years and see how I built up a tolerance to pain and how the pain slowly built up so that it went virtually unperceived for a long time. By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around I was in pain always. Every run I was dealing with a tight upper right leg that went from minorly annoying to needing to stop to stretch something out before it snapped. Every night when I went to sleep I needed to make sure I had all 4 pillows so I could prop my arms and legs just so, so as not to wake up in agony with some or another muscle spazzing out. This was my normal.
I remember often thinking how lucky I was to be strong and seemingly resistant to injury. It never occurred to me that I was injured. My motto was if it’s just a muscle and I can ignore it and run then I am not injured. If I was running a workout and my piriformis went crazy and hurt I would tell myself it was fine because I’d stretch it out after. It never ever occurred to me that my tight butt muscles and hamstrings and calves and lower back were signs of something bigger going on other than working my tail off and training hard. I definitely, even though I rationally knew better, adopted the no-pain-no-gain mindset.
I think the biggest reason I let the pain go on this long is that I was afraid to face it. I talked about this on my personal blog a few years back, but as a person who experienced a major trauma as a child my tendency is to deny pain. I run away and hide my head in the sand. I am afraid of all that comes with pain. It is easy to avoid dealing with it than all the crap that comes along with it. I was afraid I’d lose something I loved. If I admitted I was injured I might have to stop running.
I don’t even have a definitive diagnosis so I don’t know if this is something I could have quickly nipped in the bud months ago or if no matter when I dealt with it it was going to mean many weeks on the d.l. But I do know that there is no denying my body is damaged and needs to be repaired. It’s a very scary prospect, but one I have to accept.
Mental training is a critical part of running your best and is an oft overlooked aspect of training. Today’s post I will highlight the basics of mental training.
The four main skills of mental training are:
Relaxation: This sounds obvious, but for many of us, running while relaxed is a hard skill to come by and will take lots of practice. There will be many posts outlining the benefits of relaxation and exercises to do to become a zen master on the run.
Visualization: This is the hardest to master of the mental skills I’ve outlined, but it’s a critical one. We must dream it to achieve it! We will post tutorials and exercises so by race day you’ll have already pictured yourself running every step to achieving your goal.
Affirmation: With our posts on affirmation we will teach you to become your own best cheerleader. Don’t fear being silly and Stuart-Smalley-esque, affirming your greatness is a must to achieving your potential.
Concentration: Running your best takes focus and that’s not always easy when there’s smack-talking or guys dressed in cow costumes passing you up Heartbreak Hill (true story!) Our posts on concentration will help you have the laser-like focus you need to run your best.