Feeling recovered after 3 ultra's in 6 weeks I started to ramp up the miles in mid June and seemed to be running well, 2 weeks of 70 miles a week, lots of sub 7 minute mile running comfortably, and then suddenly I developed a dull ache. I blamed this on wearing old trainers so changed and the next day it was more painful… day 3 I did 5 miles and it was bad.. that night I set off for a steady 6 and stopped within 400 yards..
I guessed from the pain it was the old IT Band…
I get more emails on this issue that any other running related problem. My advice is always quit running.. instantly.. of course that doesn't apply to me, so stupidly I ran 2 days longer than I should have done..
With IT band issues the first stop is always to stop. Get that inflammation down, so give it 24-48 hours. I'm as bad as anyone for 'I'll just do 5k'… all you are doing is lengthening your time off proper training, let the IT band recover, then work on the issue causing the IT issue..
There's no way you can 'run off' an IT band issue, so even if its mid race, just stop, the less inflammation there is the sooner you can get back and slowly build back up.
In September last year I had a DNF in a 50k due to core issues and I suspected this was the same. IT band issues coming from a generally weak, inflexible core. So I tried some of the old exercises.. one legged squats, balance work.. leg raises.. I was chronically weak on the bad leg. Literally could not do a 1 legged squat.. not all the way down just drop the knee. I had no balance, my pelvis dropped, and I was weak.
So I decided just to copy what the physio gave me last time and hoped I could get back in 2 weeks.
So I took 4 days off, no running. Each day I just did 1 hour plus on the stationary bike and also did a lot of hiking as by chance we were just off to the Catskills and then up to Maine.
Every visit to the gym would also be 30-40 minutes of rolling with the foam roller. The IT bands were agony but each day it gets easier. Then I'd just do core, various planks, side planks, side leg raises, 1 legged squats, squats, clams.. some light weights then the rolling and stretching. At first I could barely even fire the glute medius on the bad side, it's like the muscle just is no longer there.. doing the clams I really had to focus on my bad side to not just lift the leg by rotating the hips or lifting from the inner leg, and on the bad leg I'd feel the fatigue on the glute much earlier.
A trainer I worked with in Germany, Andreas at Aloha Vitalis, used to work a lot with myself and Ts'otleho Fane on our squats as they are such a functional movement we do throughout the day and something believed to help with your running technique and its something which I've found has helped.
After just one week of 4 days of biking and then 3 days of hiking, and the core work, I did a light 5k on a beach and felt OK.. since then I've kept the core work and built back up and have just finished an 80 mile week.. nothing over 20 k, but 3 runs of 12 miles or more with one at 6:50 pace in the midday sun in high humidity, which is probably equal to a 6:30 paced run in good conditions so feeling pretty good again..
But the key to being back so soon was detecting it early and stopping, but then addressing the issue. Do not just rest, let the inflammation go down, and start again.. all you are doing by that is treating the symptom and not the underlying issue.. which for me, like the last time, was a chronically weak core and inflexibility in the hip flexors and gluteus.. nothing new but its only when things go wrong I address it. I need to keep on top of the core, stretching and rolling to keep my training consistently high, which is the key to progress...
With me as soon as I can re-train the gluteus to actually do some work I just feel much more in control running.. so I find the clams, one legged squats and side leg raises key. Then just build up again, get the confidence back and keep training.
I thought I'd blog about it because you should blog about the good and the bad, we all have those shit periods, but also how it can be overcome quickly if you can find the root cause and address it.