Injuries are always incredibly frustrating. You put in the hours and the miles and gain strength, endurance, and speed. All the elements of training are coming together, your body is becoming a well-honed tool, and suddenly one muscle or tendon can bring it all to a halt. It feels like the ultimate betrayal.
I think I might actually be able to deal with it with a modicum of grace if it weren’t for the other reason injuries are incredibly frustrating: all the conflicting advice. I spent yesterday afternoon reading as much as I could about ITB syndrome from as many sources as I could find. I read medical literature, watched chiropractic videos on YouTube, surveyed Runner’s World and Running Times, and read running blogs. Most of the advice was common across the board: massage, rest, ice, Advil, and lots of foam-rolling. Then there were the assessments of how effective those treatments were, which was all over the map. Some people insisted that rest was absolutely necessary, while others (a few doctors included), admitted that it didn’t seem to help much. Some sources blamed ITBS on running on uneven surfaces, while others blamed treadmills and suggested trail running as an alternative. Several articles attributed ITBS to too much speed work, and others suggested that running at slower paces aggravates the band. Some insisted that overpronation was the problem, and stability shoes and/or orthotics were in order, while another runner claimed that he finally got over ITBS by running exclusively in his Vibrims. It leaves a girl a little confused.
I ran into similar conflicting advice when I was dealing with runner’s knee a few years ago, and in the end, I found the only thing that really helped was strength training. To that end, I have invested in a resistance band, and plan to do everything I can to build up my hips in the next few weeks. Last night I ran through a set of the rehab exercises here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydcy3dPf__M, and I definitely felt the burn in all the right (read: painful) places. I have 6 weeks left until race day, and I hope that will be enough time to build everything up.
The question I’m still struggling with in the mean time is what my immediate running and mileage strategy should be. I’ve been getting through my weeknight runs without incident, so I’m trying to decide if it really makes sense to reduce the mileage on those, when they’re currently my best hope for quality workouts. I know that the long runs are critical, but I’m not at all sure that cutting back during the week will really have a major effect on them. Since I’ll be travelling this week, I’m thinking that I’ll cut my weekday runs back to shorter duration, and probably eliminate one altogether to give myself an extra rest day. Even with those concessions, I’m still a little worried, though. The runs in Maryland will necessarily be a lot more hilly than I’m used to, and downhill running definitely seems to aggravate the problem. Cross training isn’t really a possibility since I won’t have gym access, but as I fall-back plan, I can always do a long walk instead of a run. I’m still hoping to get the 20 in next weekend. In addition to the general race-preparedness issue, it will be my first chance to do a long run with the Caveboy in ages. I’d been looking forward to smoking him thanks to my fourfold advantage on mileage lately, but it looks like I might be in for an ass-kicking.