Thursday, March 29, 2012

Coming Out of a Running Rut?

So, lately, racing and/or group runs have been some of the furthest things from my mind, ever since suffering from my weird, enthusiasm-busting shin insult.  (I am now not even sure that I should call it an "injury," since it seems to defy everyone's understanding of acceptable injuries.)  I have shied away from signing up for races or committing to even run with friends, because I have felt I couldn't trust that I would be well enough to run when said events rolled around.  Lately, however, I find myself getting excited again.

I wouldn't say the shin is 100-percent, however I do feel I have a better understanding of how to manage it.  The past couple of weeks, I have successfully gone on eight- and nine-mile runs, done speed work, and enjoyed some group runs without any long-lasting fallout from my efforts.  The shin is still sore afterward, but not lingeringly so.  I can even kneel on the floor without it bothering me.

I don't know what has changed, but a few things do come to mind:
  1. I did start that hot yoga class, taking my yoga up to twice a week.  
  2. I have been more committed to wearing the calf sleeves while running and for recovery after.  
  3. I got the new shoes - the Cortanas - which I am really liking.  
  4. And, ... I have discovered the softball.

This is the newest tool in my injury management tool belt.  My massage therapist was the first one to recommend it a while back while she was torturing me soothing my overtight muscles.  She is a huge fan of using a tennis ball or softball to work some of the deeper muscles and thought if I rolled one along my hamstring it might help with everything.  Well, not knowing which would be better - the tennis ball or the softball - I bought both.  As it turns out, the softball worked better for me.  (My dog really appreciated the tennis balls, though.)  I find it has been useful for rolling around on the hamstring - just like she recommended - and the calves.  However, I also find it useful for rolling my shin muscle.

So, rolling a shin muscle with a softball is not easy.  (Kids, you may not want to try this at home.)  However, I am finding that it really makes a big difference.  After my nine-miler on the trails last Sunday, I noticed the sore spot along my shin was really bothering me.  I grabbed my trusty softball (whose other great benefit is that it is HIGHLY PORTABLE) and decided to give the shin rolling thing a whirl.  Now, I didn't come up with the idea of rolling this particular body part myself.  PT #2 actually recommended I try it a while back with a foam roller.  (That was a funny appointment, as she got down on a foam roller to try it herself before asking me to do it.  She had to make sure it was even possible.)  Well, I did roll my shin with a foam roller a couple of times, but I didn't find it that helpful.  Sunday, though, with the softball, it was like magic!  It seemed to release whatever tightness was pulling on my shin (just below the knee), and I felt relief almost immediately.  Even pressing on the sore spot, it didn't seem so sore anymore.

I don't know.  Maybe it is just my attitude that has changed, but whatever it is I will take it.  I am getting excited about runs again!  In fact, I have three in particular that I am looking forward to in the next couple of weeks:

  • This weekend, I am signed up for the Scheels Run for Home.  It's a home-grown event that is in its 11th year.  I'll be doing the 10K, but I haven't decided yet if I will do it slowly (a la long run pace) or try to kill it (inasmuch as I can kill anything).  It all probably depends on how I feel Sunday morning.  Being in early April, this race has run the gamut as far as weather is concerned, but this Sunday promises to be in the 70s and partly cloudy.  Regardless of how I run, it should be an enjoyable day.
  • Next on tap will be a friend's birthday run.  She's turning 42 and has invited folks to join her for all or part of a 42K jaunt around a Green Bay trail.  I've never run up there and was hoping for ten miles that weekend anyway, so I thought I would go join her for some of her run.  I love celebrating birthdays anyway, and this seems like an awesome way to do it!  (Hmm, I turn 42 later this year as well...)
  • Finally, the opportunity fell into my lap to join a team for the inaugural Run Away to the Bay relay event in a couple of weeks.  Originally, I didn't plan on doing it because of my leg, but now that my confidence is creeping up there, I am excited to give it a go.  This 55-mile relay should be a lot of fun, and I am really looking forward to it.  
Happy Running (again)!

So, what runs are you looking forward to in the near future? Far future?

Have you ever tried rolling a body part with a tennis ball, softball, foam roller, anything else?  What works for you?

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  1. the tennis ball definitely, i can't quite imagine the softball actually

    it's funny how little things can add up, i do think yoga has helped tremendously with all kinds of aches

    1. Hi there, Amanda! I know, the softball thing is weird. Most people I know like tennis balls, too. For me, though, they just don't cut it. I don't know why. The tennis balls just don't even feel like they are there. Is it a pain tolerance thing, too much fat on the body thing, what? I'm not sure. All I know is that once I tried both, the dog got the tennis balls and I got the softball. Now, the hardest part is convincing the dog and the kids that the softball is mine and mine alone. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!