Cross training and Hip Update

Hi there!  First, I want to thank everyone who commented on my last post re: “Are marathons bad for your health?” So many insightful comments and valid points!

So, what have I been up to?  Well, as promised, I did not run for 7 days – a whole week!  I don’t remember when I last took that much time off from running.  I filled my time with a lot of cross-training, including:

Tuesday: swimming, 680 yds.
Wednesday: stationary bike, 45 minutes
Friday: swimming, 800 yds.
Saturday: epic 3 hour cardio-thon at the gym (45 min bike + 20 min treadmill @ highest incline + 45 min elliptical + 20 min treadmill @ highest incline + 45 min elliptical #2)
Sunday: hot yoga, 75 min
Monday: 3 miles of hilly hiking at Lake Chabot
…plus a few sessions of strengthening, rolling, and stretching!

This is what I’ve learned from my one week of cross-training with no running:

  1. As much as I love running, it’s also fun to do different things.  Yes, it’s scary at first (especially swimming), but new experiences are exciting and challenging.
  2. With every swim, I get a little bit better.  Once I get over my water anxiety, I’ll be 100x better.  Maybe then I’ll consider a triathlon.
  3. No matter what my sports chiro says, yoga (or at least, hot yoga) IS a strength workout.  I was so freaking sore after Sunday’s class — and still am, 2 days later!
  4. 3 hour gym cardio-thons are considerably more palatable with Netflix.  Thankfully, my new gym has free wifi.
  5. If you want a good laugh, watch me do a single leg squat.  I’m such a weakling!  No wonder I have hip issues.
  6. My gym might have wifi, but it doesn’t provide towels.  Bringing a towel from home is advisable, but not when said towel is a not very absorbent dish towel.
  7. Take the time to roll every muscle with various speeds and with different tools.  In the last 2 weeks, I’ve discovered new ways of torturing myself, such as slowly rolling my TFL and outer quad (as demonstrated in this video) and rolling my glutes and calves with a lacrosse ball.  Earlier this week, I discovered a huge knot on my upper calf with the trigger point foam roller, but then I had to use the lacrosse ball to really work it out.

I had fun with my week of cross-training, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t itching to go for a run by the end of it.  My hips felt fine – great, even – all week, so I kept my fingers crossed that the aches and pains would stay at bay.

I decided to go for a short test run around my flat-as-a-pancake neighborhood this morning to see how my hips held up.  The first 1.5 miles were okay, but not great.  My muscles felt tight and I didn’t feel like I was in very good running shape, but it wasn’t the worst either.   After 2-2.5 miles, I could feel the familiar aches and twinges coming on.  My left glute was tightening up and the acute pain in my right hip started flaring up as well.  As I jogged back home after 3.3 miles, I felt extremely despondent.  This wasn’t exactly the triumphant comeback I had hoped for, not even close.   Things I had been optimistic about doing, such as going on the long-awaited trail run on Saturday at Mt. Tamalpais with Cathryn & Co. and, of course, the Big Basin Marathon, now seemed very much doomed.

I’ve spent all day with a cloud over my head, lamenting over my stupid hips.  (Talk about First World Running Problems!)  The thing is, I can actually tolerate running on my left hip with the chronic, nagging ache.  It’s the right hip pain that’s got me concerned, with its sudden onset 10 days ago and the acute pain with each step I take.  If  I had to make a self diagnosis, I’d say the left hip is a muscle issue, whereas the right is a joint or bone issue.

Maybe this sounds naive, but I thought I could at least start Big Basin and DNF (did not finish) if I had to.  Now I’m thinking that, unless there’s a miraculous turn of events, I’m better off with a DNS (did not start) and just take the next 4 weeks off from running to let everything heal up.  I’ve made an appointment with Dr. J tomorrow to see what he thinks and if he can work some magic on my hips.  Fingers crossed!


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live 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
22 comments on “Cross training and Hip Update
  1. BT says:

    Wow. That’s a solid cross-training week, my friend. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Dr. J comes back with good news.

  2. Yang says:

    Totally agree with you that hot yoga is a strength work out. I don’t know if your yoga studios offer hip workshops but they are supposed to be really helpful. Hope you get better soon!

  3. Sherry says:

    I feel your frustration! I feel like I’m coming out the other side of my injury (cross fingers!) and hope you do soon too. I’ve been doing a ton of clams, and my single leg squats are 100% steadier!

  4. Angela says:

    Arrrrrrrgh, this stuff is so annoying. On the plus side, I would kind of be surprised if something that just started hurting you 10 days ago turned out to be a bone issue. For comparison, my stress fracture took over a month to progress from a minor ache like any other to pain so bad I couldn’t bear weight on the leg. Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin!!

    • Jen says:

      Yep, you’re right Angela. Dr. J said it was a high hamstring issue — mostly just tight and maybe inflamed, but that I could still run on it if I didn’t mind the pain.

  5. I really need to do my hip strengtheners too. 😦 My right hip is still giving me issues.

    Very annoying. Another week of no running, icing and keeping up the cross training and strengthening should help. When I went to PT, it was pretty much the issue (weak hips) for me. Granted I should take my own advice and do them as well.

    And hot yoga kicks my butt each time.

    Is there another trail marathon you could do aim for after BB?

    • Jen says:

      Ugh, why do our hips suck? Shouldn’t they just be strong and get with the program?? 😉

      As for another trail marathon… unfortunately, I’m out of town for 2 weeks starting on the 13th, and I’ll be doing very little to no running during that trip. I’ve pretty much decided not to run CIM (80% sure) so North Face Endurance Challenge in December might be a possibility.

  6. Jan says:

    So frustrating. 😦 I’m sorry!! I hope you get some answers and are feeling better soon!!

  7. Kathryn says:

    Such a bummer, but your month off is probably a good idea. Sounds like more swimming in your future! You done any open water yet? 😛

    • Jen says:

      Ha, no open water yet. I have to say that’s one of the major deterrents for me in regards to triathlons. Not just open water swimming, but all of those people kicking and hitting you… EEK!

  8. Cathryn says:

    I can’t quite grasp three hours at the gym…especially with a dish towel. You’re a beast! I’m so sorry that your hip isn’t mending as fast as you want – we will miss you so much if you can’t run this weekend, but you know it may well be the right thing to do.

    I do think that cross training is ultimately better than running. I say that as a girl who doesn’t really do any cross training, you know that! But watching the Husband train for triathlons has persuaded me that it probably helps stave off injuries as well as works different muscles to make you fitter all round. You’re doing yourself a load of good there, dull as it might be.

    If you can access Netflix at the gym, have you watched Luther? It’s amazing, but terrifying, so only watch it in daylight or when the Gypsy Runner is at home. It’ll make the time pass super-fast anyway!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks for the encouragement re: cross-training. I thought of the 3 hour gym session as great mental training. 🙂 I think cycling outside would be a heck of a lot more enjoyable. The Bay Trail is nearby, but I’d have to bike through some major streets to get there, which scares me a bit. Maybe I’ll make the GR ride with me one of these days…

      I confess that the GR and I watched one episode of Luther and neither of us liked it very much. Does it get better? I really like the main actor though! He was awesome in The Wire.

  9. […] a sad and painful run on Tuesday, I made an appointment for Wednesday (yesterday) to see Dr. J, sports chiropractor/ART therapist […]

  10. Dominick S. says:

    Dr. J! He’s not a real doctor you know…its just a nickname. Anyway, bad jokes aside, hope the hip is feeling better. No one is going to be mad at you if you take some time off running and get in the yoga/swimming groove, we are all here to learn.

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