Wednesday, October 28, 2020

What Hippened

Sometimes you do everything right but things still go wrong. You foam roll every day, activate your glutes before every run, do yoga 5-7 days a week, strength train 2-3 times a week, run conservative mileage and workouts compared to previous recent marathon builds, and even skip a few workouts out of an overabundance of caution.  We like to think that there is always a reason when bad things happen, especially when they happen to other people, since we need to rationalize why that won’t happen to us, but that’s not always the case.  My hip pain has returned (history here), but I really don't think there is anything I could have done differently, and my doctor agreed.
When you are so in sync with your training
buddy that you have pains that require
cross training on the same days...
Ever since I returned to running in June after 4 months off dealing with a hip impingement, I've had tightness off and on with the same hip.  It's always loosened up within a few minutes, sometimes within a few steps, and hadn't impeded my training until last week.  I was super cautious with it and even if it was just a little too tight I'd skip a workout or plyometrics, but I also figured it might always be a little "off" because hip impingement doesn't go away - but what is also puzzling is that I've always had it, yet ran for years without knowing it.  I'd also noticed that my left side is weaker and lacks power compared to my right side, which I never felt when running but could tell when I did things like single leg hops.

On October 17, I ran a long progression run, and my hip tightened up afterward, but after yoga and foam rolling it felt fine.  No problems on October 18, then on October 19 I ran twice in cold drizzle/rain (it was raining pretty much all day, plus being a work day I didn't have much flexibility in run timing), and it was tight on both runs - enough that even though I thought it was the weather, I told one of my running buddies I might skip my workout the next day.  I felt 100% on my warm up for the October 20 workout, so I ran it and felt fine doing so, but on my cool down I really limped in.  I stretched and foam rolled when I got home, which seemed to help some, and then I had to travel for work and spent almost 3 hours sitting in the car.

On October 21 I got up to run and did not want to go, which almost always means I shouldn't (I have finally learned this!).  I foam rolled and did some glute activation, then did a trial run across my hotel room to ensure I wasn't just being a baby, and went back to bed.  I thought maybe it would feel better after work when it was warmer, so I tried a run then but stopped less than 100 meters in due to sharp deep pain.  The same thing happened on October 22, and then I really acquiesced that this was An Issue.  I made an appointment with a new sports doctor who came highly recommended by a friend, and also asked my previous sports doctor to call in another PT order.

I saw the new doctor on October 26, and she confirmed a hip impingement, pincer type. She said I have it on both sides, but my left side is hurting because of other factors including my left leg being a little longer than my right and the ways my legs have slightly different external/internal rotation and pronation. Impingement refers to the shape of my bones.
Pincer type is on the far left
The doctor adjusted my hips to be more even. She told me to work on proprioception every day (balance with eyes closed), and to work on loosening up my hip flexors and quads, especially on the left, as well as the IT band on the right.  She also said that I didn’t do anything wrong to cause this (no training errors) and that even a millimeter change in movement patterns can cause pain like this with a hip impingement. That kind of makes sense because both times I've developed issues with it were after running in cold rain, when I may run slightly differently. She said to just go by pain level on returning to running.

Everything she said made sense and was logical.  Running is a series of single leg hops, it's all a chain, and running is repetitive so even a little bit of "offness" multiplies.  I’ll work on my balance a lot and take it day by day on returning to running. I'll pay even more attention to my hip flexors and continue to strengthen all surrounding areas.  It's good to know I didn't do anything that caused it and it's nice not to have any restrictions on running, but I wish I knew more about the timeline.  I'm really glad I have my ElliptiGO now though!

The marathon doesn’t owe me anything, nor does marathon training. I’m disappointed that I won't be lining up for my planned race on November 1, but I’m a lot more concerned that this hip impingement issue is something I’m always going to have to deal with now. Sometimes bad things happen, because God cares more about our character than our comfort.  I've already gotten over missing my marathon (the circumstances made that pretty easy - it was a small local one and I'm not in PR shape), but I just don't think I could ever get over an end to my running career and I pray I won't have to try!