Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I *will* be a runner.

My running "career" has been full of ups and downs and I still have not yet figured out a solution. But it's not for lack of trying.

If you've been reading my blog, you can skip this brief recap and scroll down to the What's Next section.

Jan-June 2007
Started couch to 5k walk/run program. Ran 2-3 times a week. Built up to 5k run in 29-30 minutes avg and ran my first 5k race in 26:16 in June. Wasn't very knowledgeable and went too hard/ fast on that race, then didn't stretch or anything after. Ended up with fairly bad shin pain after the race. Life got busy so I stopped running altogether until the fall.

Sept-Dec 2007
Started walk/run program again. Went to massage therapy and physiotherapy, then finally had gait analysis - overpronator - and was prescribed orthotics.

January - June 2008
Continued walk/run program and had varied success. Continued to have foot/shin pain. Had orthotics adjusted several times. Overall, some improvement when I didn't run too far, or too often. Seemed to do best if I had 2 days off between runs. Mostly ran 3-5km at a time, still took some walk breaks on days when things were sore. In June, I did my 2nd 5k race in 26:26 and had shin pain after.

Summer 2008
I did 8k race in 46:17. Shin pain after. For rest of the summer, I babied my shins and only ran twice a week, no speed work, no long runs while training for my tri at end of August. Cont some physio and stretched and iced. My 5k time at my tri was 29:45. Not great but ok.

Sept-Dec 2008
I focused on running and worked toward a 10k for the WWFOR. I had hoped to do the half marathon but was unable to build up my long run during the summer. This time, my ITB locked up at my knee during 10k in Oct. 1:06 including walk breaks. I continued to run with walk breaks and going easy through the winter. I bought Zensah shin compression sleeves and sometimes wear them during or after a run.

February 2009
Bought new shoes that were a half size larger. Pain on top of foot disappeared. I hoped this would also cure my shin probs.

Spring 2009
I was coached for my May tri but every time he had me do some running drills, speed work, plyometrics etc to strengthen my shins/legs, the shin pain returned and I had to cut back my running. My run time in my May triathlon was crappy, 32:09, and I had ITB pain again. In June I ran an easy 5k race with my daughter and had to walk some due to shin and ITB pain. 33:00

Summer 2009
I continued to run easy, slow, take walk breaks, tried trail running, and continued to have pain if I did a brick or ran a bit faster, or a bit longer. My 5k time in my tri in August was 31:07. ITB pain slowed me down. I also went back to massage and was given more strengthening exercises to do. They seemed to be working and for a few months, I thought the shin problems were solved although I hadn't yet figured out the ITB problem that only hit me once in awhile on a long run, or a race, rarely on easy or short runs.

Sept 2009
I decided to try a different approach. Run short, easy, more frequently, and do long runs on the trails. Don't go longer on long runs until the distance feel easy. So for two weeks, I ran 3-5k every second day, slowly (11-12 mi mile). I did a good warmup, and took walk breaks when necessary. I avoided hills. I stretched and did ice massage on my shins after every run.

On the first weekend I did a long run (8k) on the trails but had to walk after 30 min due to ITB pain. The second weekend, I did another 8k trail run on a flat trail and managed 6k before the ITB pain started. This time I was wearing an ITB strap which may or may not have helped. The day after that long run, my shins hurt a lot. I took 2 days off before I ran again but I was unable to run longer than a minute at a time without bad shin pain. Did 2.5 k of mostly walking that day.

2 days after that, my shins are still sore. Not sure if I should run today or not. I am thinking I might go to the gym and do the elliptical instead.

So what to do now?

Possible things to try next:

I've had loads of suggestions from people who have shared what worked for them.

• go back to Okaped and get orthotics adjusted again.

• go to a different place and get new gait analysis to confirm diagnosis

• toss orthotics but wear corrective shoes for overpronation.

• toss orthotics and wear minimalist shoes like Newtons or Nike Free.

• try barefoot running.

• try forefoot running (with current shoes, with new shoes, with and without orthotics, so many options...)

• continue using the foam roller on ITB and doing yoga and doing strengthening exercises for hips flexors and shins.

So what am I going to do?

• Hire a running coach. The one I have in mind encourages forefoot running. My understanding is that he philosophically disagrees with orthotics although he wouldn't tell someone not to use them. He says he's not a doctor and can't make that call. Interestingly, he also thinks Newtons are a crutch to be avoided as well because of the little thingies on them that encourage forefoot running. He says it's better to learn to mid-foot/forefoot run without them.

• I won't do barefoot running. It's not something that can be done year round or safely here so I'm not going to bother. However, I may try it on the treadmill in short spurts for awhile so my body can learn the feel for forefoot running, with the hope that it will transfer to running with shoes on.

• It looks like it would be dumb not to try to switch to mid-foot/forefoot running despite the possibility of having to deal with new aches and pains during the transition. I have been trying it in 30-60 second segments but I don't know if I'm doing it right.

• I have made an appt at my orthotics place to make one last-ditch effort to correct the problems with my current orthotics. I don't know if I want/need to try going to a new place to get a second opinion gait analysis or not, although the place comes highly recommended.

• Shoes - I have not decided what to do. Current shoes (which are very comfortable), with or without orthotics, or minimalist shoes or ??

• I will continue shin strengthening and hip flexor work.

• I will continue to do short, easy runs every 2-3 days. I will cut my long run back until the short runs are comfortable again.

• I will use the elliptical when running hurts too much.

• I will try not to complain too much. (I am so frustrated, this one is hard...)

I will try to remember Randy Pausch's saying:

"Roadblocks are only a test of your commitment to your goals."


lisaannr said...

I still highly recommend ART therapy for your ITB issues, I had problems for about 2 years. Everytime I got up to ~15k I would start having issues. There was a lot of "build up" which the ART therapy broke down in about 3-4 sessions. Since then, 3 years ago, I've only had to go back for two sessions at one time when I was experiencing some issues.

I've done 4 halfs since the therapy with no real ITB issues, it gets sore but I just stretch it hasn't stopped me like it did before.

I feel your frustration though, so hard when you want to run but can't. I hope you can get it sorted out so you can do the half-marathon you want to do.

Melanie said...

I know it is very frustrating. I have a recurring hamstring injury which has slowed me down a lot. Your plan sounds like a good one, but have you been to see a good sports physiotherapist? They may be able to find a reason for your shin and IT band pain. Three days ago I saw a physio, recommended by a couple of my running friends. The Physio found I had a rotated Pelvis. He unrotated it for me, ever since then my hamstring has felt a bit better, less pain. Like you, I've been taking it easy, avoiding hills, running slower etc. Everyone, except doctors, have told me not to give up running. You have properly already done this but going to a speciality running shoe store to get properly fitted with the right shoes is a good idea, not just to get fitted properly but to mine the staffs brains for their running knowledge. Anyhow good luck with your plan. Stick with it. You will be running a half marathon next spring, I just know it.

Sheila said...

I hope the coaching works for you. I don't think saying it hurts when it hurts is complaining. Unless you keep repeating it after everyone already knows, which you don't seem to do as far as I can see?

By the way, Newtons are not minimalist shoes. The sole is way too built up to call them minimalist. Minimalist shoes have almost no sole. Very, very thin.

RTSAN said...

I sure hope you get this figured out. You are probably on the right track with the shorter more frequent runs. And DEFINITELY on track hiring a coach. Good luck.

tarheeltri said...

I would definitely recommend getting a coach or taking a class to learn forefoot running. I don't think it's as "natural" as it sounds.

For me personal, I overcame a serious running plateau by focusing on cycling in the summer and running in the winter.

In the summer, I alternate between 1 run/3 bikes per week & 2 run/2 bikes per week. I usually swim the day after I run to help my legs recover and I always strength train once a week (something I never did until two years ago).

In the winter, I train for a long running event and alternate between 2-3 days a week running and 1-2 days a week of cycling (the reverse of what I do during tri season). AGain, I swim twice and a strength train once per week.

Since I started following this routine versus the typical 3-5 days of running I used to do, I've dropped 2 minutes from my 5k time and 4 from my 10k.

It seems counter-intuitive to think I could get faster by running less, but it's worked for me. The last marathon I ran, I was running 4-5 days per week and finished in 4:40. I'm training at 2-3 days per week now and am shooting for 3:45. We'll see how it plays out on Nov 14!

Good luck with your running!

Jen Blalock said...

ART is good for ITB problems. Mine have been a problem off and on for me for years. FYI My last injury that I struggled with for 1.5 yrs finally went away after I was forced to take two months off running because of pneumonia. Ended up being a blessing in disguise. Healed it up enough that I can now run without pain. I RELIGIOUSLY stretch after every run now. Lesson learned. It only took me about 10 years. :) Stuborn bunch, us runners. Good luck!

Kelownagurl said...

Wow, thanks for all the comments folks. :)

Lisannr, Melanie, and Jen - I have been to a good sports physio BUT I have now found a new place that looks very promising and I checked - they do ART! They also take care of our local cycling team so that must count for something. Going to make an appointment.

Sheila - thanks, I'm still not up totally on all the lingo. Yeah, I guess Newtons would not be categorized as minimalist shoes, you're right.

Tarheeltri and RTSAN - thanks, I've been thinking shorter, more frequent would work. I guess I need to go even shorter than I have so I'm going to cut back on the long run until I can do short easy runs every second day for at least a month.

triitagain said...

I know that is frustrating. I have periodic trouble with my knees. I hope that you find a good solution soon. I am a mid-foot runner due to corrective shoes for lack of arches as a child. I like my Newtons, but I also like my Sauncony Hurricanes. Good luck, Stacy

Anonymous said...

When you choose a new runner have someone like the expert at OKAPED look at your running. IT bands also get overworked when weakness in the pelvis arises specifically in the gluteus medius.

Tim said...

I got very frustrated with my shins and ITB for about a year of running. It almost enough for me to wonder if it was worth it. But then I happened to find Danny Dreyer's book ChiRunning, and using some of the techniques in the book, I was able to run with a more relaxed form and most of the pain is now gone. Whew... I agree that finding a coach will be able to look at your form and see if there is something that needs to be corrected. One foot in front of the other...

Gina Harris said...

It sounds like you are committed to continue your running, just like me. lol Keep working on it, you'll figure it out, I know.


Anonymous said...

I happened to find your blog by searching "panic in the swim portion of tri". haha..i laughed so hard reading it, as i just did a tri yesterday which I totally freaked again at the start. 4th tri so far, in two years...always have the same awful result. I was not able to find your post about the first tri and how it went and how you got through the panic. what advice can you give me!!!!

Kelownagurl said...

Dear Anonymous. Not sure how to contact you but you can skim thru July and August of 2008 to read about some of my struggles with the OWS fear. Email me if you want more info.

Here are a few specific posts.