Clamshells & Gossip Girl

Last week, by the numbers:

  • clamshells: 1400
  • donkey kicks: 700
  • bridge marches: 420
  • knee-to-chest single-leg bridges: 504
  • standing hip extensions: 420
  • “chair of death” squats: 240
  • single leg balances: at least 2-4 per day, per side
  • miles ran/walked: 22.5
  • miles biked (stationary bike): 11
  • yards swam: 0 (decided to take a break and focus on rehab)
  • episodes of Gossip Girl watched: 18

    Just your average high schoolers, right??

    Just your average high schoolers??

I started the week very committed to a new rehab regimen as outlined in Anatomy for Runners, but even I didn’t think I’d actually do the exercises every day.  But guess what?  I did!  One might question whether it’s really necessary to do thousands of clamshells. Well, maybe not, but the theory behind it is that to run with “good form” – i.e., using the right muscles while running – you have to train those muscles to fire on command.  And the way to train your muscles is through thousands of repetitions, thereby increasing your neuromuscular connections.  For most of us, the strength is already there, but the problem is getting the right muscles to activate at the right time.  That’s what neuromuscular training is all about.  (FWIW, this is more relevant to hip extensions, heel lifts, and other form drills than clamshells.)

Is it dull? Yes.  But the good news is that I’ve seen a lot of improvement in just 1 week.  My single leg bridges were abysmal on Monday, by Wednesday they were halfway decent, and one week later, I’ve graduated from 12 to 15 bridges per set.  The other thing that’s been good about these exercises is that some of them come with tips on how to do them correctly.  For instance, for donkey kicks, the book recommends to balance a stick on your lower back (I use a hiking pole) and focus on not moving the stick too much during the exercise.  If the stick jostles around a lot, you might be using the wrong muscles.  I guess I appreciate these tips because it’s so easy to do these exercises the wrong way — i.e., compensate with other muscle groups.

The plan is to continue on for another week and then do the tests again to see if I can move on to Phase II, which includes more advance core work and plyometrics.  The idea is to get the right muscles to fire first before strengthening them.

As for running, I continued to spend quality time with the treadmill — 6 miles on Tuesday (3 min run: 1 min walk) and 6 miles on Thursday (4 min run: 1 min walk).  On Sunday, I ventured outside for my longest run since Big Sur: 10.55 miles in 2 hours at San Leandro Marina.  I managed to convince JT to join me for run-walk intervals.  We had fun catching up and the time flew by.  JT definitely gets a gold star for helping out a injured runner friend!  As for my right hip, it tightened up around 6-7 miles, but it never got worse than that — i.e., escalating to gait-altering pain.  As I’ve mentioned before, my low back has been really tight, so I’ve been trying to be mindful to not arch my back towards the end of the run — my posture definitely suffers when I’m fatigued.  I’ve also been trying to engage my core more to stabilize my pelvis, core, and back.  I don’t know if it’s all in my mind, but the hip pain has yet to return.  Knock on wood!

Today, I’m a bit sore, as one might expect following a post-injury distance record, but I’m feeling okay otherwise.  The goal this week is to back off a little and rest up for the SF 1st Half on Sunday.  Even though the race will be a personal worst for me time-wise, I’m excited to see how far I’ve come in just 2 weeks: from questioning whether I’d make the 3-hour cut-off to looking at a finishing time of 2:30.  Yay for progress!

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Howdy! I'm a 30-something recovering former academic living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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Posted in Injuries, Training
11 comments on “Clamshells & Gossip Girl
  1. dlubi says:

    Congrats on all the great work! Keep up the strength work but be sure to cut back on mileage this week. My other rehab tips: get back in the pool! Swimming is good for core strength…great for endurance… good for triathlons… :) Will be sending good cheers your way all race week!

  2. Grace says:

    Homygahd. Well done!! Here’s to recovery and most importantly enjoying yourself at Sunday’s half!

    How do you motivate yourself to do the exercises? When in the day do you do them? I am still struggling to find a time/ space that works for me – I do most of my training outdoors (run/ pool/ bike) and it’s not like I can just lie down in the middle of the road for clamshells and leg raises…

    • Jen says:

      The thought of you doing clamshells and leg raises in the middle of the road made me LOL!

      I’m very lucky that I have a ton of time on my hands – I don’t have kids and I only work part-time. I usually do the exercises in the evening, which is when I used to do my stretching and rolling, so I was already used to that routine. As for motivation, I’ve been telling myself that I only need to keep up this crazy, intense regimen for a couple of weeks and then I can back off and just work towards new exercises and/or maintenance. The thought of running pain free is also pretty motivating!

  3. BT says:

    Super impressive. 1400 clamshells? Yikes. I’m in awe. Keep it up!

  4. Amy says:

    I started watching Gossip Girl a few months ago, and I watched every single episode (it took me a month and a half). They really know how to draw you in, but I was seriously disgusted with every single character by the end (except Georgina Sparks who at least owns who she is) and the plot gets embarrassingly bad. BUT I loved pretending that I was a gorgeous socialite dropping serious cash around Manhattan and I wouldn’t complain if that was my life. And watching the evolution of the cell phone was kind of funny too.

    ANYWAY Good luck on Sunday. I know these last few weeks haven’t been awesome, but this should at least be a fun race full of people you know. And I’m also trying to work on all of those hips and core things, but it just is so boring. Kudos to you for doing lots of it!

    • Jen says:

      I definitely agree with you about GG, though I admit that if it weren’t for the exercise regimen and the gym time, I wouldn’t be watching nearly as much of it as I am (i.e., I’m not truly addicted…yet). The cell phone technology is hilarious! Also, the fashion trends. I had forgotten that scarf-headbands were a thing until I saw them on Serena and Blair in the first season.

  5. Jan says:

    You have totally motivated me to be more diligent about doing these! It’s just that they’re so BORING and it takes forever to do that many reps. I need to put on a good show and just DO IT.

    • Jen says:

      Oh, I know — they are incredibly boring, tedious, and time-consuming! Putting on a good show, podcast, or audiobook helps tremendously.

  6. […] week, Jen’s post about the exercises inspired me to give them another try. I’ve done them twice this week. She […]

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