Sunday, April 21, 2013


So I haven't been super motivated to blog lately. I've had lots to say but most of what's taking up my brain space at the moment is related to my hamstring situation... and I don't know... I think I was hoping to wait to write a blog until I had it all figured out... but the way things are going it might be a while before I've got this thing fully resolved so I figured I'd try to sit down and organize an interim report of sorts. The purpose of this is mostly to organize my thoughts in my own head as I am trying to solve this problem but then I figured maybe somebody out there is going through something similar and this could help you avoid ending up in my scenario??

I think I've got my diagnosis dialed in as High Hamstring Tendonitis. If I were to say how/why I got this, since hindsight is 20/20, here's what I would say: Hamstrings were wicked tight after Cabo. I took a week and did next to nothing but then I thought I felt better so I started training again. I was pretty pissed/frustrated that my marathon was so shitty in Cabo, so coach and I got aggressive with the run training too early post-race. My hamstrings were telling me it was too much and I was making note of it in my PWN but I didn't stop the quality run sessions. I don't know if I just figured eventually they would just stop being pissed even though I was irritating them fairly often... whatever. They didn't stop getting pissed. They got more pissed. And one of them is still currently holding a grudge. Apparently hamstrings are like that.

So there was no one session that made this happen. It was a culmination of me being stubborn and pushing through with run sessions against my own better judgement. I *knew* in my gut that more hard running was going to hurt me but I did it anyway because it was on my schedule and heaven forbid I miss a workout once it's on my schedule. That was my mistake for sure. I should have known better. Maybe at some point I will heed this lesson that I have learned like 100 times already. <bangs head on wall>

Beyond this though I am finding out about the underlying factors that made me vulnerable to this in the first place. There are several, though maybe they are related??

I've always thought of myself as a strong athlete... like strength is my thing. But as it turns out, my strength has developed quite lopsided over the years. I've heard the term 'Quad Dominant Athlete' before but didn't totally understand what it meant, nor did I know that it applied to me!? Turns out, it does! And this is not a good thing for running. I'll go out on a limb and guess that maybe spending tons and tons of time mashing big gears on my bike pre-disposed me to developing this way, as well as having some faulty mechanics on the run... but the run mechanics thing is like the chicken and the egg, you know? Let me go back.

Last weekend I went to Jaco Rehab and had a run analysis done. It was super informative as the PT was awesome and she took me through a whole battery of physical 'tests' to see where my strengths and weaknesses are... where I am tight vs where I am not, etc. I'm going to guess I'm not totally unique here, but what she found was weak hamstrings, weak glutes, super tight hip flexors. Strong quads, strong abductors, weak adductors, weak core. Because of this hot mess my lower body as become, my run mechanics suck. I've learned a ton about biomechanics on the run recently and as it turns out, I'm doing pretty much all of it incorrectly. I think I have known this for a while but didn't really know exactly what was wrong or where to start in fixing it!? But it's not just about trying to focus on fixing it, because I am missing the basic ability to extend my hips since they are so tight... and since my hamstrings and glutes are so weak, they can't act to help extend that back leg anyway!

So given this info, no wonder I constantly get hurt when I try to run faster. I don't currently have the functional strength or mobility to support faster running.

So, #1 focus at this point is increasing my ability to extend my hips, and increasing strength in my core, hamstrings, and glutes. Basically, hold planks and single leg bridges like they are my job. I was told to be holding those single leg bridges for a minute at a time, 6x/day. Um ok. I'm up to being able to hold it for 20" now before I feel like my hamstrings are about to seize up in that debilitating cramp I am all to familiar with. Lovely. How the hell did my hamstrings become so completely non-functional?? I swear I remember having strong hamstrings but I guess that was years ago and I have since neglected functional strength exercises in favor of spending my time actually swimming, biking, and running. There are multiple views on this of course- some believing functional strength work is essential to triathlon performance and others believing you get all the functional strength work you need from swim/bike/run. You can guess which camp I used to be in and also which one I am in now. ;)

Next up, how to fix high hamstring tendonitis in a hurry? Honu is in 6 weeks and I have not been able to run at all for 2 weeks. Less than ideal for sure. Again, lots of conflicting advice when it comes to this as well! Ice. Don't ice! Heat. Leave it alone- don't touch it so it can heal on its own! No! Beat the crap out of it with ART, manual massage, graston, foam rollers, etc. Keep running easy- it won't heal unless it's stimulated. Don't run until it's all better. It's really important to stretch. Don't stretch or it will be more irritated... WTF??

So I'm kind of experimenting with all this to figure out what makes me personally feel better vs what does not. Running (even super easy jogging) does not make it feel better. Both heat and ice massage have made it temporarily feel better. Beating the crap out of it hurts a ton while it's being done but afterward does tend to make it feel better. Direct hamstring stretching does not make it feel better. Doing hip mobility drills/exercises and stretching other areas (hip flexors, adductors, quads) does tend to make it feel better. I found this website which has been one of the most informative sites I've ever come across and I am still exploring all these videos- but some of those mobility drills have been great. That said, I can get to the point where it feels pretty much 100% and I think  maybe I'm good to go but then I take one running step and pain comes right back. GAH. When that happened on Friday, after all this energy I've been putting into making this thing better, I just felt like completely throwing in the towel on this whole triathlon thing.

This morning I painted a smile on my face and went to cheer on some of my athletes and friends who were racing. It was a shitty morning for a triathlon, as you can plainly see. Racing this morning would have totally sucked. I didn't want to be out there at all. <ahem>
So, the moral of the story?
~Figure out where you're weak and fix it. You might need professional assistance here to figure it out.
~Listen to your body when it's talking to you.
~Don't get greedy with your training, especially when it comes to quality run sessions.

My gut says I'm not going to have this thing resolved in time for Honu, but I'm going to go do those damn single leg bridges again right now anyway. Maybe I'll manage 25" this time.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Swimming: The Only Subject I Can Talk About...

Can you guess which lane we swim in?? Lol. (Hint: It's not the chat lane!)

OK so still working out this hamstring/adductor issue. Leaving no stone unturned in my quest to fix it and feel like maybe I've earned a freakin' PHD in hip and posterior leg anatomy with all the learning I've done... Still no running or biking though so don't have a ton of results to report there. Will let you know once I have some concrete info on what actually fixed it.

In the meantime, I've been swimming a ton so that's all I really have as a subject to blog about. :( NOT that I hate swimming, but, you know, I'd prefer to have some good stories about running at this point.


~25K swimming in the last 6 days and swim fitness feels like it's running deeper than ever. I remember one time years ago (seriously, like 15 years ago!) when I was swimming really well and I remember thinking I hope I'm never swimming this fast again... with the point being that the only reason I was swimming so well was because I had no residual fatigue from bike or run. Alas, here I am again with no bike no run so not surprisingly, swim goes fairly well.

For the first time maybe ever, I swore out loud when I saw instructions for one of my swim sessions this week. 80x50's?!? WTF?? UGH. I swear had it said 40x100's I wouldn't have blinked an eye but 80x50's just sounded like hell to me. So.Boring. And not even really THAT challenging. Just boring! I fixed it though... since 80x50's sounds way more BSC than it actually is, I figured I'd make it actually BSC by doing it all with bands. 80x50's, 1 hard/1 easy, bands only qualifies as BSC in a way that plain old 80x50's does not. (SEE? I go freakin' insane when I can't run. It's bad. have to find other ways to torture myself! Ha!)

Since it was now a meaty enough set to take a real bite, I enjoyed that set in a way I would not have enjoyed it otherwise. And I felt a sense of fatigue getting out of the pool that I have not felt in some time, so that was satisfying. Save for the gross old guy swimming next to me in his underwear, TRUE STORY I shit you not, I'd call it a really good session.

Followed that up with a truly hard 5K session this morning. Interesting I hopped in the water and ripped off my fastest 1000 w/u ever (yes I time my 1000 warm-ups but don't race them per say- I just like to have an idea of my current easy-ish pace). I found it truly interesting that 4K bands only set yesterday forced me to really find my power in my catch/pull and it totally translated over to today. Super cool. So then we did 4K main set and I will say that when your swim fitness is deep, you can push SO MUCH HARDER than when your swim fitness is low. Every time we got to a part that was supposed to be 'fast' today, I was capable of pushing until I felt nauseous. And then HOLDING that pace. I'm not always capable of that. Sometimes (ok usually!) I fail muscularly before I can really dig like I could today. So that was cool.

Of interesting note- why are men incapable of hearing and understanding how to execute a long swim set?? And why are they incapable of understanding how to pace one when it's going to be both long and hard? Why do they feel the need to bolt on the first part that's supposed to be the easiest of the day?? Do they think that all of a sudden TODAY they are superman and will magically be able to hold their fastest 100 pace for 4000 meters? And when they get out half way through because they're too tired to continue do they think that next time they'll be able to keep up with the girls who managed to rip through the whole thing?? Hint: Maybe it's better to swallow your ego a bit and swim at a pace that enables you to actually finish the session.

So ya, Nalani and I swim together and usually there are 2 guys who join in... Interesting today they were both CRUSHING us for the first 5x100's (you know, the ones that were supposed to be just 'steady')... then we got to the fast parts and um, Hey what happened you guys?? Missed school the day they defined 'pace'? Lol. Sorry. I just had to vent b/c it's frustrating to feel like someone is racing you on the 'easy' parts then has nothing left to even attempt to change pace when it's supposed to be fast. <Rant over>

Hopefully one of these days I'll have a more interesting post about biking or running.... :)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

On Taking Risks... and Being Broken

Lots of thoughts in my head right now... let's see if I can communicate them in any coherent way?

I've written before about searching for the edge... the cliff... where you're pushing in training because you're trying to improve and get faster... and at some point if you want to race to win you must do this. So we push until we sense that we're right near the edge of the cliff and then (if we're smart ad patient) we back off and rest/recover and then repeat... and then next time the edge is a little further out than it was before. All good stuff!

Sometimes though this means we end up flat on our backs under a tree mid run, or walking off the track in tears... Which means maybe we took a step (or three) too far and actually started falling off that cliff. It's easy to do, you know, when you're hungry and pushing and you just get greedy and go after a few more watts on the bike or a few seconds faster on that 800... This is what I have gone through this past week and now I'm paying the price.

Of course I sent an SOS email to coach that started off something like "So, um, how trashed should I be??" In all honesty the training I was trying to do was not outrageous but I guess 3 weeks post IM it was just too much as my body just wasn't ready to go as hard as I was trying to make it go. So when the plan calls for 1/2 IM effort on the bike and I rip 1/2IM watts out of my legs even though they don't want to do that today, well, I'm just digging a deeper hole for myself every day! Lesson: 1/2IM effort and 1/2IM watts are not always the same thing.

My other issue is that apparently my body just It is so freaking frustrating, you know?? I've got this great big base so now trying to get faster, which means I need to run faster... so I'm trying to run faster and my body is just rebelling in every way. Before Cabo is was my hip and my foot. My expectation was that I was going to be completely crippled post Cabo but to my pleasant surprise I was not... hip and foot are good... so ok... game on let's start working that run again and them BAM. Hamstring is pissed. If it's not one thing its another with me and this damn running. Clearly I am doing something mechanically incorrect when I try to pick up the pace on these runs so I am still trying to figure out what this is. Interesting to me that if I'm running easy/slow I can run 50+mpw no problems at all but if I'm trying to run faster, 30mpw and I'm injured.

So the plan going forward? I don't know. Coach yanked my power meter for the next 2 weeks on the bike b/c it makes me work too hard as I'm chasing the numbers I want to see. I need to listen to my body vs the gadget and only give what body wants to give that day... ok. And back off the speed work again on the run b/c clearly my body hates that stuff... but how frustrating is that? I want to make my run more competitive by running faster than 9' pace all the time but pushing and taking that risk is backfiring at the moment so I guess we just be more patient. BLAH. I hate being broken.