Regular maintenance required
Often, the same personality traits that make us good runners also make us terrible runners.
Our type-A personalities make us hard-working and dedicated … but also reluctant to ease off or — heaven forbid — take time off.
We are rarely hesitant to give advice, but always loathe to take it.
I will willingly put myself up as a perfect example. After five years of working in a running retail store, there are certain things I know.
1. Shoes don’t last nearly as long as you wish they did. For years, I’ve trashed most pairs after 250 miles. My duck-footed supination causes the outsides to wear down quickly, and after about 250 miles I’m pretty much just running on my pinky toe. So even though the medial (inside) half of the insole is probably fine, I’m running off-kilter.
So how long did I wear my most recent pair? 400 miles. Was that a good idea? No.
My shins were hurting, my hamstring was hurting, everything was hurting but I kept putting it off even though I knew better.
2. Like with your car, regular maintenance will keep it running longer. For me, that maintenance came in the form of sports massage every-other week. The cost was essentially that of not eating out two days a week, tops, and was worth every penny. But, schedule changes, work changes, buying a car … A number of things made it more difficult for me to commit to and I tapered off.
And I convinced myself I didn’t need regular massage — my mileage is much lower than it was several years ago, for example.
That lower mileage stems from a hamstring pull and stress fracture that happened pretty much simultaneously back in 2010.
When that same hamstring started screaming at me in recent weeks, I was worried. I could feel a knotty, grainy spot right were it hurt before.
So I caved.
After a mere 30, albeit painful, minutes, the knot is gone. I know it’ll probably come back, but hopefully not before I’m on my way back in to see my massage therapist again.
3. Prevention is worth a half-hour of cross-training. If you read my previous cross-training column, you know this is really my weak spot. I can make excuses for why I’m skipping my daily hip and core exercises like there’s no tomorrow.
For instance, writing this column is providing a great excuse right now.
But when I talk about that hamstring injury, I know why it hurts. My hips and core, especially my lower abs, aren’t strong enough to hold my posture upright while running. I slump forward which extends my hamstring beyond it’s comfortable range … then BAM! Hamstring pain.
I’ve been getting up early every day for two weeks and doing yoga using my “Yoga for Endurance Athletes” DVD — and I’m pretty proud of that.
By the way, it’s a great DVD and I highly recommend it. Designed for runners and triathletes, you can put together your own choice of segments to make a customized routine.
Mine involves IT band, hip and hamstring segments most days, with core rotated in on others.
I’m also doing more of the “Myrtl” hip routine developed by the Nike folks. No equipment, 15 minutes, hits all the tiny hip muscles along with some low back and abs.
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but maybe I should make some spring marathon resolutions. And I think they’d be good for all of us: replace your shoes and commit to whatever maintenance and prevention strategies work best for you.
Hopefully, my spring marathon will be better for it — if not my pocketbook.
Running Times had a great story in the April edition about this, too.