Yes, I pay money, and a good deal of it, to be tortured by another human being twice per week.
All jokes aside, the trainer I hired to help me fire up my glutes is a good guy. He came highly recommended by a fellow runner. But 30min sessions with him are miserable. All we do is focus on my glutes and hamstrings. I got really frustrated a few weeks ago, and almost cried no fewer than six times during my 30min appointment.
That’s once every five minutes.
Anyway, at my first meeting with this trainer, I discovered that my brain and butt don’t talk to each other. That’s a very simplistic way to look at my glute issue, but that’s essentially what’s going on. I unconsciously engage other muscles (namely, my hamstrings and quads) to do the work that my glutes should be doing. As a result, my glutes are very weak. And my weak glutes are the cause of my hip flexor pain.
My physical therapist told me, “Your glutes are your engine. You need strong glutes to be a strong runner.” So now I walk around saying, “Ya booty’s ya ENGINE!” and yet mine isn’t even remotely close to being an effective engine.
I’m not sure what’s causing my knee pain. I mean, I know it’s my IT band, but I’m unclear of the relationship that has to anything else that is going on. It could be an isolated thing. I don’t know. All I know is my knee pain is the ultimate bitch and has become worse than my hip.
I started seeing my trainer the first week I took off after Tink. He has me do lots of exercises that make me feel silly, because they’re so small, and I feel like I should be doing more (??? I don’t actually think I should be doing more, but it seems strange to do such small, isolated exercises). I do mini glute bridges. Mini, meaning I look like I’m about to do a glute bridge, but all I do is squeeze my butt cheeks and barely lift off the floor. The goal is to establish a pathway between my brain and butt, so I actually do these when I’m hanging out on the couch watching TV and also in bed before I go to sleep. Can’t hurt, right? I also do RDLs (I had to ask… Romanian dead lifts), and weighted glute bridges on an exercise ball or bench (where the bar for the weights actually kind of bruises my hip bones). Leg extensions on all fours with an elastic band for tension. And lots of side steps and monster walks with the elastic band of death around my ankles. GROSS. I sweat more in 30min doing this stuff than I would running outside on a 90-degree day. WHY.
I (unrealistically) thought that fitting him into the four-week break I gave myself would be enough to get me started so I could go on my way and start training for my first full marathon.
NOPE. I was wrong.
Not only am I not even close to being ready to forge ahead on my own with my own strength plan, I had planned to start training mid-June… but after a frank discussion with my trainer, I can only do speed work. No long runs. Not at first, anyway. His reason: the long and slow runs won’t allow me to get full hip extension, so I’ll just be doing myself more damage than good by starting up with my long runs. Speed work, however, will allow me to get that full extension.
Here’s where my skeptic steps in and takes over… I have to keep up my cardio some other way (he recommended the bike) to substitute the long runs. Key words here: SUBSTITUTE LONG RUNS. I’m training for a fucking marathon… HOW on Earth is riding a stationary bike going to help me be prepared for a marathon if I’m not doing LONG RUNS.
In case anyone reading this forgets… a marathon is 26.2mi. That is the very definition of a long run. It seems counter-intuitive to not train for a long run with… long runs.
Talk about a let-me-down. I’ve been looking forward to jumping back into training. I miss my chatty long runs. I feel like speed work has turned me into a solitary runner, and I don’t love it. I mean, I enjoy speed work, but it lacks the social aspect of running next to another person for several hours.
So… recap: continue with the trainer. Speed work 2x per week. Start biking.
I gotta figure out a way to bike outside. The only upside to this biking thing is that I need 45min of it (compared to several hours of running). But I don’t want to be stuck indoors on a stationary bike when I could be outdoors enjoying fresh air and sunshine. I could rent a bike from a local bike shop… maybe I’ll do that and take it out on the Nashua River Rail Trail… because it’s nice and flat, and straight, so I could get some good cardio going busting my ass (see what I did there?) to get my heart rate up.
I’ve said before that I don’t need to be a fast runner. But I DO want to be a strong and technical runner. And that starts here. I just wish I had known this last fall. Hindsight…
Have you trained for a long distance without doing long runs? If so, how did it go for you? I need positive reinforcement here.