Doing things the right way – Part 1

*my spine, circa 2008.

What’s interesting to me is there is some semblance of a debate on health and nutrition when it comes to this sport.   In retrospect on my training, I really wish I had focused on this, because it would have saved my legs from the Chicago Marathon.  My thing is, there is a reason why science and medical advances exist.  There are experts out there who have done this before, so why not consult them?

There is also the notion of insurance, which is always tricky.  I’d prefer to have everything on record so that I don’t die prematurely.  But I digress, some have recommended to me to find a way to find out everything without involving an insurance company.  On top of this, I’m sure that most doctors far and wide will lean away from anyone participating in long distance sports, but I digress.

One of the main reasons why I keep up with my health is because I have a plethora of ailments to which I have to pay attention to.   Mind you however, the worst of all these symptoms (asthma, insomnia in particular) actually got better the more I trained.  I never felt better than I did in my life almost two weeks before the Chicago Marathon.

As part of my training this year, I recruited various members of the health and wellness community.    Their expressed purpose is for peak performance during my training and racing this year.  Thankfully, most of these people are my friends that I’ve developed relationships over the years, and I finally get to use their services.

To start, I met with Dr. Michael Rosen, who practices out of West Loop Chiropractic here in Chicago.   I attended the clinic before for a back issue, but I never got a chance to see him for any of my training.   I chalk it up to being extremely busy during the summer, but I should have made time.    After a short re-acquaintance, I mentioned that I did the marathon last year, and what ‘injuries’ I had sustained during so.

Thankfully, I made the right call.   For starters, I run with orthotics in my shoes, which I received last year from Dr. Rosen.  I attribute having them to keeping my gait neutral and my heels from not hurting like hell.   It always surprises me during informal gait analysis clinics how many runners have shoes to compensate for an imbalance someplace.    What I didn’t realize however was that while my gait is neutral, the rest of my body was compensating for an imbalance someplace else.

It was somewhat awkward discussing my eventual knee X-rays, but the bottom line is that I need to get an MRI.  Dr. Rosen stopped short of telling me that my endurance career is over before it started, but he did make some good remarks.  Along with one of my trainers, David Hardin, also mentioned the same hopeful good news.   I definitely have an ‘instability’ issue, and I have to focus on rehabbing (or pre-habbing in this case) my knees for the next 3 weeks or so.   I know that I’ve had tight hip flexors and quads, and regulary have IT band issues in the past.   From both Dr. Rosen and Dave, once I get in the swing of things, this will help all of that.

In the meantime, I have to put the brakes on my upcoming plans for the ING Miami Marathon and the Austin Half-Marathon.     Which sucks, but I’d prefer to come back stronger and ready to go.  In the meantime, I signed up for the Shamrock Shuffle, which I may later regret. . but I need to do something to jumpstart the sping.

Getting Back to Work

So, this actually worked out better than I expected.

I finally got a chance to sit down with David Hardin, of www.dhfit.com.   Until my race report gets posted about the Chicago Marathon, you’ll have to do with this short story.

I met Dave as part of Imerman Active last year, and at the time, we only discussed business, and not what he actually did.  And in usual fashion, I did not follow up with him.

However, sometime after the Chicago Half Marathon, and the Newton 20-Miler, I had messed up my hamstring behind my left knee.   I had to walk the last 4 to 5 miles or so with only an icepack and some pain killers.   From all accounts, both online and through a last minute physical therapist that I had seen, I had just a minor sprain, and was given a book and some exercises to do.

However, on the day before the Marathon, at the expo, I was still feeling some residual pain from that area, and was kind of bummed that I would be running pretty much injured.  I was also severely tight in my hip flexors, which I didn’t even know that I was tight in.  However, I got a very quick stretch from Dave, on the expo floor no less, and I felt FANTASTIC afterwards.  He also made some observations and last minute tips which also helped, and I felt fantastic during the first half of my Marathon.

So, I kept him in the back of my mind, and finally got a chance to meet with him for an assessment.  During of which, I tested for a few things

  • Flexibility – Turns out that I’m fine in this regard.   My legs went 90 degrees, I can touch my hands behind my back, and I can reach my toes sitting down, no problem.   Mind you, I’ve experienced other people that can reach farther than I can, so I always thought I was a newbie in that regard.
  • Balance – Same, which is again surprising.  I thought I would be off-balance due to the curvature in my spine that’s going to take forever in a day to fix.  I’ve also had orthotics in my shoes for the past year or so, might be a testament to that effect.
  • Push-up Test – Only got to 16 before I had to give in.   I think I did 10 for a test last year, and CrossFit KILLED me on workouts that had that part in.  Dave wants me to get to 100 pushups (what??)
  • Squat Test – I don’t know how many squats I did, but from what I retained from explanations, I just have to work on my form, which shouldn’t be much of an issue.  I got a bit of correction in my Crossfit training.  Dave wants me to get to 200 squats (what?? I could only get to so many without weight!)

So afterwards, I did some additional ‘warm-up’ exercises, one of which exposed my main issue, which seems to be hips and glutes.  This makes sense, considering that I sit at my computer most of the day.  Most of the other topics we discussed were music to my ears, because I had read about them in The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris, and wanted to implement.

On top of this, I found out that he’s a sprint coach, and more than likely will be taking over for speed training with my other coach, Kimberly Shah, who I’m consulting for Distance.  I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

In the meantime, gotta whip myself into shape, somewhat fast.  I’ve got less than two months for the ING Miami Marathon, and somehow I got to get a 20 mile run in before the event starts.  Although, I’m thinking of just switching to the Half Marathon, and just focusing on PR’ing that race.