Today has been the most educational day of my short running career. It was–wait for it–long run Sunday! My favorite run of the week, my first 8-miler, and, to make it extra-special, my first long run at less than 5000 feet elevation. I had a route planned along a lovely desert wash, and woke up at 8am to beat the heat.
Lesson #1: just because the desert morning is cool and lovely does not mean you can skip sunscreen. My pale, winterized skin is now super-pink. I know better.
I borrowed my cousin’s water-bottle belt, packed up sports beans and a little bottle of water, and walked down to the start of the wash path. When I started to run, the water bottle bounced around like crazy and eventually flew out onto the sidewalk.
Lesson #2: Buy a proper running belt.
I looked around for crazies who would spike my water with drugs and then follow me until I passed out, and upon finding none, stashed my bottle in some sage bushes. (Hey, you never know. 🙂 There were various shopping carts stashed in the wash, and I’m guessing it’s home to more than a few vagrants.) Took off running again, busting out This American Life because it works with the slow long-run pace. All was well.
I stopped for a quick walk break at the end of the wash and the “hip” pain came flooding in. Badly. I walked for a bit, pushing on various parts of my muscles to see if I could isolate the pain. Looked really brilliant, too, wandering around on the sidewalk, squeezing my butt muscles. It didn’t hurt much when I was running, so I turned back to complete the first loop. Gulped down half of the water and tried to stomach some sports beans while fighting the indulge-the-pain-and-go-home-now part of my brain.
Lesson #3: I’m going to need a ton of water when running in hot Colombia. It was only about 65 this morning in Phoenix and my accustomed-to-the-cold body was miserable.
Lesson #4: sports beans are gross. They taste like chemicals. I managed to eat about 4 before giving up.
I finally talked myself into doing the second out-and-back to complete the 8 miles, but it was a serious mental struggle made worse by my sore butt. (Turns out, the pain wasn’t in my hip.)
Lesson #5: one out-and-back is better for my mental state during running. It stinks to repeat the same one twice in one run, even if it was a lovely path.
Lesson #6: if you run with the beat of Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend,” it puts you around a 9:40 mile. I need to make a playlist with some faster songs.
I finally made it back to the starting point, and literally limped back to the house. It took almost 20 minutes to walk 1/4 mile. My cousin’s friend came over for lunch, and she just happens to be finishing up her rotations in physical therapy. So, within 2 minutes of meeting me, she was pushing on my butt to find the pain and instantly recognized it as a weak gluteus medius. Nice to meet you, too. ha
Lesson #7: I have a weak ass, which is leading to weak-ass runs. Apparently, this weak gluteus medius of mine is causing all of the weird little issues I have on longer runs. Like, whenever I get tired, my right leg kicks the left ankle–today, I looked down and I’d actually drawn blood. The left GM is what’s giving me pain, and my new PT guru said that that when I’m tired, that hip drops and the leg rotates in, putting it closer to my right foot. And, I overcompensate with the right hip, so my stride changes when I start to fatigue–which is when I start noticing it.
Lesson #8: I have to strengthen my gluteus medius, and run at 75% of my training volume until it starts to feel better. What a relief to know that it’s a specific problem with a simple fix–and even more, that it won’t stop me from running!