It’s been a (busy) couple of weeks since I’ve written. The last time I wrote, I had made some breakthroughs with my training–running faster, longer distances, etc. It was very exciting and encouraging to make progress. Unfortunately, shortly after I wrote, I sustained an injury. During a long run, my right knee gave out on me. I was on mile 7 of what was supposed to be an 8 mile run, when all of the sudden I just couldn’t take another step. I limped off of the treadmill and out of the gym, and after some research realized I had IT band syndrome. For non-runners, this is a very common running injury that many times puts runners on the sidelines for weeks. So needless to say, I was more than dismayed to have this issue so close to half marathon time.
This is not the first time I have experienced IT band issues. I am a researcher by nature, so the first thing I did was research what causes IT band problems and what I could do about it. The IT (illiotibial) band is a thick band of muscle fibers that begins at the hip and runs down the outside of the thigh, attaching to the knee. It can get inflamed from overuse, causing a lot of pain. What I needed to know was how to rehab my IT band so I could continue running. The first thing was to get rid of the pain and inflammation, so I iced the area and took NSAIDs. The second thing was to strengthen the IT band by doing some resistance training. I added heel drops, hip abduction, and clam shell exercises to my daily regiment. I also decided to try to get a handle on another injury I’ve been struggling with–shin splints. Again, my right leg is the one most affected. So I’m doing some things to strengthen my calves and ankles, like calf raises, and using my new favorite piece of gym equipment, the agility ladder.
The agility ladder is simply a collapsible ladder you lay on the floor. There are a variety of different moves/footwork you can do that will not only strengthen the smaller muscles in your calves, ankles, and knees, but also give you a great high intensity work out. I knew soccer and football players used it, but had never heard of runners using the agility ladder before. I got the idea after I saw one of the personal trainers at the gym use one with a client. Now I use it every chance I get!
So far, the new exercises seem to be helping. I was able to finish my first ‘long’ race on Feb. 28th, a 15K (about 7.8 miles)! Finishing this race was a big confidence boost. I am now running 9 miles for my long run, with plans to do an 11 mile group training run (Ed Dibble Run) the first weekend of April. After this run, I will make my decision about running the Glass City half marathon.
I am excited about the arrival of spring, as it has meant more outdoor running! It is so nice to give the ‘dreadmill’ a break, and enjoy the birds and fresh air! Til next time!