WOW! Hello friends! It’s been a long time…I NEVER thought 2015 would be my longest hiatus from running (or blogging). But all that matters is that I am back now!! 🙂
Since I’ve been gone, this blog turned one! On June 28, 2014, this blog started as a place for running, healthy tips, vegetarian recipes, and random musings from my life to all come together in one place. I’d like to think that over a year later, that is still the case. So, I am going to throw it back to my very first blog post to celebrate Black Bean Queen turning one.
Moving forward, I hope to focus even more on running on the blog. This post in particular is a special running update. I have not posted much about running here, because in the year I’ve had this blog I have spent over half of that time injured. 🙁
My five month IT band/lower back injury
Let’s travel back in time to the winter of 2014/2015…I noticed some pain near my right knee in late December, so I took a few days off. I thought it was weird because I had been running pain free since August. After some rest and stretching, it seemed to be okay so I resumed running, but I was cautious. I kept my mileage extremely low, cross trained, and noticed some twinges now and again, but nothing that alarmed me.
In early February, I agreed to do a 5k in late February with my boyfriend. During the last half mile of the 5k race I noticed a sharp pain in my right knee and I pushed past it to finish the race (mistake #1). I could barely walk or run a cool down with my boyfriend without pain. I still stubbornly tried to go for a run the day after the race. I didn’t even make a mile before the sharp pain in my knee returned. I knew right then and there that I reinjured my IT band. I also noticed lower back pain after the run, which was something I’ve never had before.
I knew I was in really bad shape, yet I was positive I could fix my injuries myself (mistake #2). For the next month I stopped running, but I tried everything I could think of. I foam rolled, did yoga, and all the old PT exercises that I could remember. Nothing was working. I knew I was a far away from running healthy and pain free as I had ever been in my life. Finally, at the end of March I swallowed my pride and sought help from a physical therapist (finally good choice #1).
My physical therapy experience
My physical therapist is wonderful. When she first assessed me in March, she was surprised I was even able to walk somewhat pain free. My glutes and hips were very weak and my running form was somewhat poor as a result of the injuries. All the years of college running and only barely healing my previous injuries caught up to me. This IT-band/ lower back injury was the result of all my misalignments, weaknesses, and past injuries all in one. I remember thinking to myself, how would I ever get better???? While it was a relapse of my prior injuries, it was also my fault I got injured. :/ I got lazy about my strength work. Core, glute, and hip strength are key to staying strong and injury free, especially in a society where we spend over half of our day sitting.
So, since the end of March I have been going to PT 1-2 times per week to aggressively strengthen my glutes, hips, and core in order to realign everything, run strong, and correct my running form. Next week is likely my last week, though, as long as my measurements and strength tests go well.
In between sessions I do select exercises at home. In June, I started a four week, three times per week return to running program. In week one I started at 0.5 min of running, 4 min of walking x 6 and week four had me at three thirty minute runs. I completed the return to running program and now I am slowly building the distance of my runs and the amount of runs per week. I am at four runs per week now.
Now for fun, I did a list of the 10 things I learned from this injury and hopefully it provides some inspiration and laughs for anyone out there who has had a running injury! 🙂
11 things I learned after nearly 4 months of physical therapy
2. Trust yourself, but trust the experts more.
3. Hard work. Just like you need to run various speeds and terrain to be a great runner, you need to do various strength and rehabilitation exercises to overcome an injury.
4. Do not skip your PT exercises at home. They will know! 😛
5. One minute of running is better than the zero minutes of running you will get if you try to return to running to soon. This will always be a tough one for me…
6. It takes a lot of glute strength for dogs to pee…I learned this after my PT added the fire hydrant move to my physical therapy routine. I look like a dog taking a leak and my butt is on fire all in the same move.
7. Bird dog is not nearly as easy as it looks if you are doing it correctly. I am still working on this one. I will be for life… How do the elites make it look so easy??
8. When in doubt do another set of clamshells and bridges. Glute strength is key for all runners. I will be strengthening my glutes for life…. but hey if I get to keep running injury free, that’s a fair price!
10. Change your goals and focus on the positive. So running the Chicago Marathon is off the table for me this year…but now my goal is to be able to do long runs by October. I am still working toward a goal that will make me happy, but is realistic.
11-1 million. PATIENCE AND TRUST IN THE PROCESS. After two months of PT I was unsure if I would ever be done and allowed to run. Now, four months later I am running, slowing building up my mileage, and I’m pain free!
Later today, I will be going for a beautiful run and I could not be happier or more grateful! It’s tough for me to run slow now, but I am trusting the process. I just want to continue to run and I know that the speed, workouts, and races will come later when I am stronger. This injury has reminded me why I love running in the first place. Outside of competition, running is a time to breathe in fresh air, forget my worries, do something healthy for my body, and enjoy nature. Have a happy Sunday everyone. 🙂
Have any of you struggled with the same injury on and off for a while? Did you finally heal? What did you learn from your injury? I’d love to hear your stories too!