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
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!