Monday, March 15, 2010


Not quite out the woods with my hamstring/pirifomis issue but certainly far better than last week. Since my last post it's been weighing heavy on my mind and definitely letting me know who's in charge while running. My mind and body have a fairly cohesive relationship. I am kind to my body and in turn it treats me well. Even when I ask it to go beyond it's limits I generally get my way. Each run my issues have lessoned which is great. I am for sure on the mend. I can run Chuckanut and though I assume I will have some trouble and pain on the last flat 6 heading to the finish I will be fine and cause no further problems. Dogging a bullet is always awesome but I am not out of the woods and need to continue strengthening some weak areas. Another possibility is my body is just adapting to the different kind of workload. Maybe a mini protest. I am hoping we have come to an agreement and a new understanding. ;)

I have been getting my butt kicked on training runs. I am the last to arrive at the junctions and the most thrashed. It's been humbling and rewarding at the same time. Watching my friends gain speed and strength is exciting. I am nervous with anticipation every time I show up at the trail head. What's in store for today? These workouts have been really hard but I am certain it's just what the doctor ordered. As a good friend said, "You needed to work on your short game". Those words really hit home because their so right on. Well, this weekend I will get to see if all this trail tempo work is starting to make a difference.

Looking back I found I have run Chuckanut 3 times. I must have blocked out the 6:10 finish because I completely forgot about it. The other two times I ran 5:44 and 5:43. Do you think those are close enough? I hope to run this in the 5:35 to 5:40 range. My plan is to control myself on the first 8 which are fairly flat. I don't think my hamstring can take the fast start. Once I get it good and warmed up I should be fine. If I feel like I am cured I will run faster. It's probably a good strategy to practice self control on the first 8 anyway. Since all the 4000+ feet of climbing comes in the middle going out too fast probably will leave me shuffling very slow on the flat finish. It's going to be a quick but fun trip with friends. The weather looks awesome too!

Monday, March 8, 2010


In the process of getting my butt kicked it kicked me back. Piriformis pain hurts! I have never really had any piriformis issues but my lower head got so pissed off last week I was seriously worried. What started as mild tightness led to right down pain after a leg workout. Not only my piriformis but the outer head of my hamstring attachment also got flared up. Have you have had a swollen butt cheek? Well not only is it ugly it's painful. I didn't get any sciatic stuff probably because it was more in the lower portion of the piriformis. Last Thursday's 10 mile run was darn painful and I found myself dragging my left leg along to the finish. All the downhill running was awful. It hurt so bad with every step. The flat stuff was not good either but manageable. When I got done and home I got busy. I needed information and I needed it fast. Here is what I found and it hits the nail on the head for me.

The obvious cause of piriformis syndrome is overuse. Ultra runners are a walking overuse injury. I know there has to be more to it. Since I haven't suffered from this kind of pain before and I have run a lot miles and at times overuse would be an understatement I knew there was another reason this hit my like a brick.

First ah ha: The movement pattern. The piriformis can get pissed when you do 3 things:
1. When the thigh bone swings too far back (hip joint in hyper-extension). Check! I do this and have blogged about it before.
2. The knee pointing too far outward (hip joint lateral rotation). No! I think I tend to do the opposite more.
3. Thigh bone swung too far out to the side (hip joint abduction). Not sure, so I would say this is not an issue for me.

Part 2 of the movement pattern theory is:
1. Glute Maximus is slow to activate leaving the piriformis as the sole workhorse for rotational movements of the hip.
2. The pirifomis muscle is being asked to do its solo effort working over a shorter range.

This movement theory is really interesting and part 1 causes part 2. So far I think I only do one of the bad movement habits. But, there is another part of the movement pattern and that is postural issues. The postural issues that most likely aid in a poor movement pattern are:

1. The shoulders are behind the line through the back of the butt hence "sway back". BINGO! That is me. With my natural anterior tilt to my pelvis and my years in the weight room I can have a sway back position while running. In my attempt to stand proud with my shoulders back which is a requirement for proper lifting form I have taken that a bit to far. Finding that neutral pelvis is always hard for me but now I have added a very proud chest resulting in the exact issue described here. I knew I was doing this especially on my downhill running. Well now I need to STOP doing it.

2. The gluteal development is poor, "flat butt syndrome". NO! I may have a bit of weakness in some of glutes but overall they are strong. I don't think this applies to me.

My action plan started on Thursday because I knew if I didn't get a handle on it was going to be a full blown injury. Not simply the piriformis but the compensation due to the pain was setting in my outer hamstring head. That was causing some serious pain as well. I started with some mild stretching but not over stretching the already limp muscle. I did not stretch my hamstring but instead rolled it out with a roller and sat on a massage ball which was positioned right in the sweet spot of my hamstring attachment. I cut short my track workout when I realized the lack length in my hip and hamstring along with the pain was not worth the workout. I trigger pointed the lower head of the piriformis with roller and my thumper (electric thumping device). I sat on ice 3 times a day for 20 minutes with 1.5 hours off. The inflammation and pain got better and last night I did some hip and gluteal exercises to help re-connect those muscles with their action and my brain. I also took Advil on my long run Friday. It's been at least 2 years since I have resorted to anti inflammatory stuff but I felt it better to dull the pain and not compensate. I still felt quite a bit of pain on the downhills but it was doable. With last Thursday's run being a 7-8 on the pain meter meaning my mouth would occasionally water it hurt so bad to today being a 2-3 I think I have made progress.

Watching my sway back positioning is key along with the hyper striding especially on the downhills. I sure hope I have dodged a bullet here but thought I would share the info. I found. The article on which outlines all of this.

Despite the pain in the butt, which I deserved, training has been good. Absent the un-productive track workout I am getting stronger on the trails. I am ready for Chuckanut and excited to race. I have run this race 2 times and need to go back and dig up my best but I think it's somewhere around 5:40ish. I am hoping to better this but I remember being in pretty good shape when I ran it last. Plus I had Kris to chase but this year I will have Cheri to chase.

I have been eating non-stop! All great food an my body is digging the higher calories and the abundance of carbs. I have moved to almost all fish for protein. I used to eat tons of chicken but felt so bogged down in the digestion. Since I like to keep my lean muscle I need the protein. Fish is quick to digest so I can get more food in. I have grown a love for salmon and cod. If you have asked me a year ago about fish I would have scrunched up my face big time. The benefits are too good to pass up. The bonus is Alex loves fish, Bill not so much but he's coming around :). For me the issue while training hard is to feed myself enough food to sustain my training and fat loss. Pizza and hamburgers are not part of the plan. :) I made some other changes I am finding beneficial with food timing. Adding fruit at just the right times, recovery drinks directly followed up by a well rounded meal is helping. I am drinking a fair amount of BCAA's because along with running I am doing at least 4 weight workouts. Cheri gave me the book, "Racing Weight" and I have just started it. I am curious to see how the theory differs from the one I follow now.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


(I got pooped on in the woods)

I love the word extreme. It simply defines things that are out of the norm. However much I love the word people over use it all the time. I am not sure why in so many cases the word extreme brings so many emotions. I know all you ultra runners have heard it over and over again when asked about what you do and why. Certainly you have heard the word extreme used to define the sport. I love it because ultra runnering extreme but in the most positive and wonderful ways.

I don't find myself to be extreme. I am simply a 40 something mom who likes to push herself. There is a song on my IPOD that has a line that comes after a powerful chorus that says, "And why am I so intense". Every single time I hear that I smile. I live to be intense or maybe because I am intense I live. Who knows but the more intense I am the more I feel content. Now the hard part. Sharing that intensity can be dangerous. Not everyone can handle intensity nor do they want to. When you are allowed to embrace your personal attributes with freedom it's amazing. Challenge yourself to find those folks who embrace your attributes and the most exciting things will happen. Ignore the ones that don't but give them grace as they struggle to wiggle out of their own box.

Switched up the training this year. First the marathon now the trails. Given the goals in my previous post I have some work to do. Things need to be changed up, challenged and a new edge needs to be found. After one week of recovery post marathon it's been nothing but intense. I love it. I have been running trail for almost every workout. All my M-Pace and T-Pace type workouts have moved to the trail and it's hard. I have actually had the opportunity to blow my own mind. Running harder and faster than I thought I could, changing my own perceptions and ideas of how to run trail. Here's the the reason why. Because someone said I could. How wonderful. Have you ever had anyone believe in you more than you did yourself? My hubby thinks I can do anything but for some reason that doesn't sink in. :) It almost like I expect that from him so it carries less weight. Plus I know he loves me no matter what I accomplish.

Goal number 2 was to push my Sunday runs like I never had before. Last Sunday was the first session of implementing and I can say though it was super tough it was incredibly satisfying. Setting a PR for a common Gorge route was awesome and I was elated! It's so early and I have run that route so many times working to better myself. Here I was in February cutting nearly 7 minutes off my best. Was I intense? Most definitely. Better yet so was everyone else. Pushing each other and having a total blast doing it was really cool. The heck with Black Saturday's. Every other day is a Black Saturday. No worries it's a controlled BS but it feels the same. I am dressing in camo now to hide from my intense friends. :) There are a 2 things I need to work on. First, I need to stop running uphill like a girl! Just kidding, I am a girl and most certainly like to be girly. But, I need to RUN hard uphill. I can shuffle and trot uphill for 3,000 and not break 155 on my heart rate. With years of hill repeats I have gotten fairly efficient with the small stride. I need to power up the hills in training to get stronger. Secondly I need to find in inner bomber. My down hill running is weak! I know I will get better as the season progresses but I really suck right now. Time to grow some quads!