Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Embracing Strength Training

My knee has been playing up.

Not happy! I'm just into my second week of marathon training and it's been just a little bit niggly. Right when I want everything to be perfect - or as perfect as they can be in this ageing body.

I know what the problem is. ITBS - Iliotibial band syndrome. I've had it before. A few times.

First time was when I was training for my first half marathon and it was uncomfortable for weeks. I had to scale back my training and visit my friend Chris, the physio, quite a lot. But it did eventually get better and I was able to run my half quite happily. Or maybe I should really say I ran it pain-free because I do remember that there were some not-so-happy moments in that event - like throwing up over someone's shoes when I crossed the finish line.

It reared its head again a few years later and again Chris's magic fingers put it right. Plus this time she showed me how to strap my ankles/arches so I could keep the problem at bay.

That was about five years ago and apart from running a half marathon on a very cambered road which caused another short relapse, I've really had no problems with it.

I ran the Sydney Morning Herald Half back in May and during the race I started to feel that old familiar tug around my knee at around the 17k mark. But diligent stretching and rolling whipped it back into line pretty quickly. Then after the Gold Coast 10k I felt it again. I managed to get through the whole Jetty to Jetty race before I had any issues this time but the 45 minute drive home made my knee seize up.

Back on the roller, tennis ball, heat pack, stretching and ibuprofen and it's not too bad now. I was able to run the speed session yesterday without too much issue but it's left me a little concerned about the long runs that are ahead of me.

As chance would have it, I had a coffee date with Chris yesterday and was able to talk to her about it. She agreed with my theory of why it's raised its ugly head again which basically all stems back to the health issues that Yaz caused me. I lost a lot of muscle strength because of the lack of testosterone and because I was so exhausted all the time, I didn't bother to do any strength work. My core and hip strength has suffered.

I'm okay over shorter distance - up to 12k or even 20k if I'm not running hard. But once I start to get tired my form suffers, my hip drops and my ITB starts to tighten up.

Exhibit A
Luckily the cure's not too difficult. It just means that I can no longer ignore the need for at least a little bit of strength training. I had been doing some hip strengthening exercises but I have to confess that I was a bit slip-shod about them. If I didn't feel like doing them I didn't. I can't do that any more and I also have to do a lot more (a lot more than nothing really isn't that much) core work.

So I started last night. All those hip exercises that Chris and Sam had given me and the dynamic core work that both of them had suggested. Planks are passe now - unless they involve movement. And I thought that just holding it still was hard enough.

Guess what? Today I'm a bit sore. Not my knee. Just all those muscles that haven't had to work for a couple of years - they're complaining like a dole-bludger who's been forced into a work program to keep his entitlements. Gotta love DOMS! Means I'm getting stronger.


  1. Sorry to hear that, but I hope you have it beat, hope the exercise work and not only do you beat ITB, but you BEAT the PB's...

  2. I put off boring strength traiig for years, until I did my marathon training this year. Then I did stretching and strength work to try to fend off injury, and it seems to have helped.

    Since the marathon of course, I haven't so much as picked up a dumbbell (except to dust it). Hope the ITB goes away!

  3. Have you thought about pilates? It'd be good for strengthening the problem areas like your hips and other bits and pieces (can you tell I'm not an expert??)

  4. Sorry to hear about this. I have been lucky so far that I never had an injury (keep my fingers crossed it stays that way). But I need to do more strength training too, at least once a week. Will pay more attention to that in September after my vacation because I have planned a couple of long walks in my vacation on my non running days.

    Take care and I keep my fingers crossed for you it doesn't get worse.

  5. That doesn't sound good but at least you know what you need to do to improve it. And being sore is a very good sign!

  6. Keep doing that they tell you! I'm interested in these exercises you speak of. Fellow ItBS almost not quite maybe showing its head?

  7. That is such a crappy injury. I had it many years ago (1995) and was sidelined for almost 6 months. It is the only real running injury I've ever had. Luckily after some shoe changes I have never had it again. The strength training will be great. I'm not a fan of any training other than running but know I must just put my head down and get it done. All the best!

  8. I hate ITBS--it's a bugger. I hope the exercises help you knock it out for good!

  9. Good luck getting over it. Sounds like you're on the right track. I've been a real sloth about strength training.

  10. I hope that with some strength training you will be on the mend quickly!! You have been working too hard to not get that problem under control!!

  11. The strength training is a great start! Your boys are on it! I find rolling and stretching help, too!

  12. As much as I love strength training, its so easy to neglect and often falls by the wayside here too. That said, ITBS is nothing to mess with. I'm glad you're heeding the warning signs.

  13. Strength and core training are definitely important and it's so easy to push them aside especially when you are tired from all the running, Keep them up and you'll be glad you did. I know I'm better for it, but still have a long way to go.

  14. Yup, I need to get back into the strength training as well. Good on you Char!

  15. Congrats on your great time under 1h50' in your last half.
    I learned too late to include the strength training in my routine.
    All the best.

  16. Strength training keeps a lot of my injuries at bay. Glad to see you doing so well with your training. Stay strong my friend.


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