It’s no fun not feeling well. In fact, it just sucks. The past four months have been frustrating in that I just haven’t been able to recover from a nagging hamstring injury that has resulted in other ailments, including chronic lazy ass. At least until last Sunday that is, the day I got better.
I’m a bit loath to share the details with you lest I jinx myself. But, I do seem to be on the mend. The story of my injury and miraculous recovery goes something like this…
Since February I have been experiencing extreme pain in my lower abdomen and inner thighs when I run. At the Buffalo run (where I was a spectator), I received a diagnosis from Dr’s Greg Norrander and Matt Hart. They were convinced I had a hernia. So, in I went to see my doc. But alas, no hernia. I think my doc wanted say “Jay, you’re a big baby and I hate whinny patients like you. Stop wasting my time and just deal with whatever your imaginary ailment is.” But, he is too much of a professional to say that. So in lieu of expressing his true thoughts he referred me to a PT.
So off I traipse to the PT. Upon arrival at Memorial Medical Clinic (where the influential Dr. Peter Lindgren practices) I let the fact drop that on occasion I run with the famous Dr. With this knowledge I became an instant celebrity with the question immediately posed to me, “do you run centuries?” It was clear that answering “yes” was going to get me somewhere...
We’ll the right answer resulted in a cadre of three PT’s who ran me through a battery of tests. Most of the tests I passed with flying colors – but there did seem to be a pattern of difficulty with range of motion and strength with my left leg. Additional tests revealed that I was unable to fire my left gluts!! Apparently for some time, my hip, inner thighs and lower abdomen have done much of the work of throwing my left leg forward, stabilizing and lifting with little help from my ass. In fact, there was noticeable muscular atrophy in my left cheek! Which is a whole other subject and suppressed tirade. How come none of my running friends ever said to me, “Jay, your left ass seems to be drooping. It looks real bad!! You OK? Anything wrong??” Some friends they are....
The short version of the PT’s theory and diagnosis goes like this.... Most likely at the Red Hot 50 where my hammies were irritated and inflamed, I likely began to shut down my gluts and compensate with my hip flexor to protect the hammies. In reflecting on that race now, I remember running with a different gait and feeling discomfort in my lower belly after the race. At the time I blamed the snow, red rock, and inflamed hammies for not feeling like I was running the way I usually do. Since that race I have experienced extreme pain and discomfort through my abdomen and thighs – the worst pain being when I coughed or sneezed. The pain was so bad I was unable to even do a single sit up! I could run for about an hour, maybe 90 minutes, but after that I could hardly walk because of the pain.
The instructions from the PT were fairly simple – 1) get the gluts firing, and 2) learn to run correctly again. I’ve got a battery of exercises designed to make my gluts fire and give me major pain in the ass, as well as hopefully a full-figured bottom again. And for several weeks now, I’ve been concentrating on throwing my left leg forward (not around to the side) and not letting my right leg dominate. A difficult task given my predilection to daydreaming.
The first week there was no progress. My abdomen and thighs still hurt. And to add insult, I realized that I was running REALLY WRONG. So discouraging. My left leg swung wide, did not push through, and my right leg did much of the work. I was a mess. The low point was a Saturday ago running the East Rim Trail in Zion and having to hold my lower abdomen on the way down to Zion Canyon in an effort to manage the pain. Would I ever get better?
But then on Sunday I got better!
This ‘miracle’ on Sunday thing is problematic for me. You see, I’m a card-carrying atheist. My wife, a finding her way Christian is convinced the day of my healing has some significance. Significance? Huh? Belief-based, spousal arguments are tricky to start with. But this debate is particularly challenging given that my evidence for why I got better last Sunday is pretty thin. But I digress
I felt much better. The tightness and pain had dissipated greatly. Could this really be? I needed a sign. So on Monday, a day I felt was auspicious for a sign I ran the west approach to Grandeur. I was able to run to the top with little walking. But more importantly, the run down resulted in very little pain.
Still the skeptic, I need some more proof that I had gotten better on Sunday. So on Tuesday, I ran 14 miles at a brisk – almost race-like – pace. I felt great!
Having had several false recoveries over the past months, I was still not convinced. I needed just a little more proof that I had been physically redeemed. A crisp run on Thursday went well. Friday I rested. Then on Saturday, a fast 14. Followed by 23 on Sunday with lots of vertical. Yes, I do believe I am healed.
My recovery makes no sense. How I could be so injured for so long. Feel completely broken one day. Then the very next day feel strong and almost like my old self again. How did I heal? Evidence of higher power? Or just good old-fashioned luck. Frankly – I don’t care. I’m just glad I’m better
Bear Mountain 50 mile on May 8th. Off to the first race of the new year for me - Yippee!!
PS – Missy it was a pleasure meeting you today on the trail and I’m glad you enjoy our musings and dispatches. Good luck on your Zion’s Traverse run next week.