Last week I had the highest weekly mileage of my running life: I hit 50 miles for the week. According to Daily Mile, that may have been epic. I think there have probably been many more epic things in the course of human history than my little 50 miles, but I’ll take it.
Unfortunately, with every high comes some lows. I knew marathon training was going too well to be true, and that my crowing about this training cycle would probably result in some kind of bad karma. And it did, in the form of what I suspect is a hip flexor strain or tendonitis. What started out as a “niggle” in my right hip and quad last week progressed into something more serious over the weekend.
My lower back began to feel a little tight after my first 20-miler last weekend, and by Thursday and Friday my right hip and quad began to feel a bit off. I didn’t think much of it and powered through to do my second 20-miler on Saturday. And those were 20 pretty awesome miles. I did another big loop of the city which involved Rock Creek Park, the Georgetown Branch Trail, and the Capital Crescent Trail.
Around mile 8 I happened to fall in with a group of runners also out for their long run, and we chatted until we split off at mile 14 or so. I have never done that before and I’ve barely ever run with other people, except for occasional short runs with my faster friend John, but this was really fun. We were all running at the same pace and chatted easily, mostly about running and marathons, of course. It made those miles absolutely fly by and it makes me more open to trying more group runs in the future.
Anyway, everything was great until about mile 17 when I began to feel really tired and sore. I decided to stop for a stretch break at mile 18 which was probably a big mistake, because it was so hard to start up again. As soon as I began running again I could feel all the stiffness taking over my body, including my hip. I finished out at just over 20 miles, at an average pace of 9:57, which I was pleased with.
After my run I stretched and took an ice bath, something I had been avoiding so far, but after my first 20-miler last week I was so sore that I thought this might be the week to try it out. I was still quite stiff on Saturday afternoon, but amazingly, I had almost no soreness and my hip and quad felt fine on Sunday, which I credited to the ice bath.
Until….I did some yoga and leg lifts and stretching on Sunday night. I thought that would help strengthen and balance my muscles, but instead, my hip totally flared up again. I don’t regret doing the 20 miles on Saturday, but I do regret the yoga and leg lifts on Sunday night. I’m afraid that was a big mistake.
In what was likely my second mistake, I went for a 9 mile run yesterday (Monday), per my training plan. This included 4 mile repeats at 10K pace, which probably should be 8:10 pace but I couldn’t get any faster than 8:20-8:30 pace. It was a beautiful, crisp, perfect sunrise morning, and I could not resist getting in 9.24 miles on the morning of 9-24, the morning of my birthday. My hip felt tight before the run, mostly fine during the run, and was sore the rest of the day. I have a call in to the doctor.
I skipped today’s easy 4 miles, and this is the very first time I have skipped a run for this marathon cycle. I am trying so hard to be okay with it. I am still so, so glad that the first 11 weeks of marathon training have gone so well. I am so glad that I have an 18-miler and two 20-milers under my belt. This week is a step-back week anyway, and I KNOW that if I have to skip a few runs over the next week or so, or even (god forbid) take off a whole week or so from training, it won’t necessarily mean that I can’t do the marathon. I do know that forcing myself to continue to run WILL mean that I can’t do the marathon. And even more importantly, I would like to be able to run again in the months and years to come, so it is not worth pushing through this injury and making it worse. My fitness level is strong and I can’t lose that overnight.
Also, the irony isn’t that I am using this as an excuse to rest. I was so sad to not be out running this morning, and it’s really hard for my Type-A personality to get used to the idea that I might not run the rest of the week. But I know I need to rest and recover. I am also not going to do any yoga this week and I will limit or avoid stretching and other exercises since it seems that made it all flare up on Sunday night.
I recently replaced my running shoes (and I’m using the same kind I’ve always used), so I don’t think that’s the problem. I reconfigured how I sit at work to be sure I’m not further aggravating the issue. I’m also trying to ice it regularly, although it’s an awkward spot to ice (the front of my hip/top of my quad is where it hurts). I’m really hoping that a few days of rest will let this calm down; I’m sure it’s just an overuse issue since I am running more now than ever.
I have just a few more weeks of peak training and then taper. I am so close, and I know I can get over this hump. If I can’t run the marathon, I will be devastated.
In happier news, the Marine Corps Marathon even wished me a happy birthday and sent me a hilarious video to motivate me to stop celebrating and train harder. Hilarious.
And no, the irony of having hip issues as a I get another year older is not lost on me. I’m inching ever closer to my elderly years and my hip is letting me know it.
But in even better news, last night, I finally got to eat at Rasika, a DC institution. Andy surprised me by making reservations for my birthday 6 weeks ago, and didn’t tell me where we were going until we got there. We ordered a bunch of small dishes to share and it was all incredible. The Palak Chaat (crispy baby spinach / sweet yogurt / tamarind / date chutney) that everyone raves about completely lived up to the hype: so many layers of flavors, so perfectly integrated.
Have you ever had hip flexor issues related to running? Or, were you lucky enough to have a Marine yell at you on your birthday?