Half marathon Training: Week 4

This has not been the greatest week of my training so far. I did not get any cross-training done and skipped one of my runs, all sue to some stubborn back pain. I occasionally sleep wrong or tweak my back somehow and am almost always able to resolve it through a day or so of rest and stretching. I assume this sort of thing is normal. It happened just a few weeks ago, in fact, and I attributed it to sleeping in awkward positions in order to protect my sore shoulder.

This week, however, the back pain I had on Sunday never really went away. It didn’t hurt me to sit, stand, walk, or run, but bending, twisting, or getting up from a seated position really did hurt. When I thought the pain was going away, I ran on Tuesday, but that may have been a bad idea.

I saw a chiropractor on Thursday, who told me that running was probably fine since I was able to do it pain free. However, he said to watch out for any increase in pain after the run or on the following day. I have some specific stretches and instructions to ice immediately after a run.

My consultation and X-Rays revealed that the problem is the same culprit that so often causes me hip flexor issues — it was just showing up on the other side this time — a rotated/misaligned hip. We think that the PT and hip strengthening I’ve done has helped me avoid hip flexor strain, but that the misalignment was going to cause problems somewhere, and if it wasn’t the right hip, it was going to be the left SI joint. It makes sense, the two areas being in complementary positions.

I had some ultrasound and electro-stimulation for pain relief on Thursday and I’ve been stretching and icing as recommended. I feel better enough to resume running, and on Monday I’ll go back for adjustments that should hopefully help me continue to run without re-aggravating my back.

So, with all that going on, workouts were minimal. Here’s what I managed to get done:

Monday: Rest. My back had been hurting me all day Sunday and felt no better Monday, so I skipped any workouts.

Tuesday: Speedwork, 3×1600 (5 miles total). This run went really well. I felt capable of the pace and felt satisfied with how I did. I just dialed in the requisite 8:57 for the first two reps, then took it down to about 8:50 for the final 1600. Not too shabby. My back felt OK the whole time, too.

Wednesday: Rest. Woke up with the back pain a bit worse (due to the prior day’s run?!), so I decided to make an appointment with a chiropractor to see if they could help.

Thursday: Rest and Chiropractor. This day was scheduled to be my 4 mile tempo run, which I had been excited to try outside, but instead I found myself lying flat on my face at the chiropractor with electrodes stuck to my lower back and butt. I could, I suppose, have run afterward (the doctor said it would be OK), but I thought it better to wait a couple of days.

Friday: Rest and PT. 

Saturday: Long Run, 10 miles. I woke up feeling much less pain when I moved around, and I decided that this day would be the day to put the doctor’s words about running to the test. This would be my longest run in quite some time. A year, maybe? The weather was perfect (40s and sunny) — I snapped the header photo for this post at mile seven. The entire run was pain free, and there was no increase in pain/discomfort afterward OR the next day. Victory! I didn’t try to push myself on pace because I was worried about angering my hips/back, but even still, I managed to be significantly faster on this hilly stretch of road than I was two weeks ago. My target pace for long runs is 9:45-10:00. Two weeks ago on these hills I ran 8 miles at 10:24 pace. Not so great, but okay. This week, I did 10 miles on those same tough hills at 10:13. Much better! The pace was even better than that average suggests, at least before the last mile or two, when my hamstrings tightened up. I need to work on that, because tight hamstrings cause problems for my hips, back, and knees.

Sunday: Rest and PT. 

I hope to get back to my usual 3 runs + 2 XTs training plan this week. I’ll likely not workout on Monday, because that’s the day of my chiro adjustment. Tuesday I hope to hit the track for 800s, and then Thursday I’ll have a brutal 8-mile tempo run. The Saturday long run will be a stepback at only 8 miles. Maybe a spin class or two for cross training? If my back allows it? Fingers crossed for me!

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