I am inspired by a woman in my marathon training group. She is in her mid 50′s and didn’t begin running until she was 45! She has since qualified for boston 4 times and her running + cross training workouts are amazing!
Congrats Wendy! Please email me your address and I will get the book shipped to you.
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Over the last few months, I’ve alluded to a hip injury in some of my posts. I didn’t go into any real detail because I was waiting on an official diagnosis and plan of action. Now that I have those things, I’m ready to share. As you might know, my main goal for 2011 is to run the NYC Marathon. I spent all of 2010 qualifying for this race by running nine New York Road Runners races and volunteering at the 2010 NYC Marathon expo. I ran three half marathons and increased my strength and speed in preparation. And now I am told I might not be able to run this marathon that I worked so hard for. Here is my story.
In June 2009 I decided to become a runner. I’d been reading lots of health and fitness blogs, learning about these women who run outside for exercise and participate in races. Until then, running had never crossed my mind as a workout — at least, not running outside. I’d attempted the treadmill a couple of times in my gym-going life, but I never got the hang of it and always went back to the elliptical. Running, it seemed, was not for me.
But as summer started to approach, the idea of being stuck indoors exercising started to repulse me. I wanted to be outside where the weather was nice! So it made sense that I’d combine those two and work out in the sun. I attempted this the year before with Missy through rollerblading but that wasn’t right for me. It is impossible to rollerblade outdoors when you are terrified of every little dip and hill, as I am.
This fear also affects cycling.
With all wheel-sports out of consideration, that left me with running. So I set off to become a runner!
My very first attempt was weak. I had to walk from the west side of Manhattan to the east as part of a commute (it was actually to attend Brynn’s previous class at Sports Club/LA!) and decided to try running there to see how I did. The thing was, I had a small backpack on me — one not intended for running. It had drawstrings and I attempted to string it tight to me, but it kept bouncing and getting in the way. But that was not the main problem. About 15 seconds into my jog, I felt a pain around my right hip flexor. When I stopped, the pain stopped. When I started running again, the pain came back, and it was strong.
I gave up my very first running attempt and walked the rest of the way.
I tried again another day, sans backpack. After a little while, the same hip pain returned. I tried a third time, and it happened again. I asked a personal trainer/dancer that I knew about this and she suggested I try stretching before and after I run. She taught my some hip stretches to do (laying on my black, cross one ankle over the other knee, press my leg toward me and my knee out). The next time I decided to run, I did this stretch first and — great news — my hip did not hurt at all!
I continued to stretch before running, and built up my mileage. I trained for and ran a 5k, 3 miler, many 4- and 5-milers, some 10ks and three half marathons. It was only during one of these 15 races, the 4 mile Run for Central Park in July, that my hip ever bothered me at all. The pain disappeared after that. In August, right before I left for Seattle to visit my brother, I took a Core Fusion class. We did the pretzel position and I felt the front of my hip hurting, rather than my butt working. I didn’t think too much of it, and while sitting on a plane for six hours was not ideal, I stretched a lot after and went to hot yoga. By the time I ran nine miles per my half marathon training plan, the pain was totally gone. That run through Kirkland, Washington was glorious. It wasn’t until the very last half mile that I felt any discomfort in my hip at all, and by then it was time to stop running anyway.
After that race I continued to train for and ran the Divas Half Marathon with no hip issues.
However, that half marathon brought with it other problems. Around mile 6 (out of 13), both of my knees hurt to badly that it hurt to bend them. But because I was mid-half marathon, I had to run about 7 miles on knees that could not function properly. If I wasn’t using my knees, I was using something to compensate. I suspect my hip took the brunt of the work that day. This is just a theory, but it fits with the rest of my story.
Let’s say my hips had to overcompensate for my knees not working. Like many people, I have two hips: left and right. My left hip was in excellent condition and I believe it was strong enough to handle my weight for 7 miles. My right hip, on the other hand, always had some sort of issue as evidenced by my very first attempt at running. While it never once bothered me during this race, I believe it was not strong enough for the pressure I put on it that day.
Once I was all recovered from my half marathon, I went back to taking Core Fusion classes in mid-October. For some reason, a few teachers were choosing that pretzel exercise during this one week — the same exercise that gave me some hip trouble back in August. Again, I felt the work in the front of my hip and not in my glutes. The next time we did this exercise, later that week, I went up to the teacher after class and asked him if this was normal. Looking back, I was not clear about just how much it hurt, because he told me it was normal to feel the work in the hip in this exercise. However, if I specified I was feeling PAIN, I am sure he would have told me it was not normal. I mean — it was pain! Of course that is not normal!
But I didn’t think of it this way. I figured it was just some discomfort and not a big deal. I ignored all the advice I regularly give everyone else — rest, ice, stretch. I ran a few times (including a 4 mile PR and an 8 mile run with J) and felt no hip pain at all while running, which further led me to believe the problem wasn’t too serious. And I continued to take class. And now that the pain was embedded after a few days of pretzel, I started feeling my hip during all glutes exercises. It got to the point where I was unable to perform the knee lifts before class, and after class I would find myself in pain and unable to walk comfortably.
It finally hit me that this was a bigger problem than I realized.
My hip was swollen 100% of the time. Ice did not help. And it reacted intensely to touch. I had to turn down a movie date because the thought of sitting for two hours was more than I could bear. I never experienced anything like this, but I assumed I had something easily fixed like tendinitis or bursitis. I couldn’t go to the doctor to find out for sure because I just started a new job and my deductible was very high, and would just be starting over in January. It made much more sense to wait until January to get a diagnosis, and avoid exercises and activities that hurt my hip in the meantime. I thought about which workouts caused pain and decided to cut the following from my routine: running (even though running hadn’t specifically hurt me, I knew it was bad for the hip, and running has hurt that area in the past), yoga, and — here is the kicker — Core Fusion.
That one was mentally hard to deal with. I love Core Fusion. I lived for Core Fusion! Part of the reason I was even in this situation to begin with is because I didn’t want to STOP taking Core Fusion even though I felt pain. I worked so hard for the last year taking class 4-5 times a week and was terrified of losing everything I worked so hard to achieve.
What happened next? Come back next week Click to read Part 2 of My Hip Injury.