So many things worked out so well for me in the Boston Marathon that I had been trying to pinpoint what was it that did it, mostly under the crappy circumstances I was in 2 months ago (piriformis syndrome, and then the evil ITBS). I decided I’d jot them down because it is REALLY IMPORTANT I keep them around…
The race was a blast. And it was the opposite of what I always do. No music, running with Andrea, going out just to enjoy the race. But what I think really did make the difference was running with no pace bracelet. And having no time goal or clue what time I was doing during the race. That took all the pressure off me and allowed for everything else to work and to finally run a smartly-paced marathon.
The ITB issue
A LOT of people told me to defer Boston and to stop running for a bunch of months. Of course you know I didn’t, and this is what I found helped:
#1: GET OFF THE PAVEMENT. This was Toby (Tanser)’s idea and it did wonders. I had trouble first with the idea of doing even the long runs there, but it was a major factor on my super fast recovery. I will keep at it. Toby also never said to stop running and helped me plan the whole thing out. As much as I read and listen, there’s nothing to get advice from someone who’s lived it. Just keep running through it, you won’t make it worse, it doesn’t matter what people say, don’t stop running. That is, if you can handle the pain. Run on a softer surface if you can, and a flat area (the downhills hurt more as you know. In NYC, I did my long runs in the reservoir (up top) and it was fine.
#2: Brutal MASSAGES. Also Toby’s idea. So I went to Chinatown to pay for pain a few times to Toby’s guy. But then, a friend lent (more like shoved) me her PT: Paul was so good I’d end up all bruised from the massages!! Seems like as much as you want to roll on the ITB, that stoooopid thing doesn’t stretch, so he went deep into the quads (the ITB runs below). I did all I could not to cry on those sessions and look tough. Since then, I’ve never foam rolled again. Massages are 50 times better.
#3: STRENGTHENING. As my knees bend inwards, I needed to strengthen some particular muscles (the inside of the knee, the forward rotation of the glutes, etc.): you have to find someone who knows where the deficiencies are and would give you specific exercises to work that area. And you have to do them. Every day. I am still doing them. I have added the thera-band to my torture devices. Basically focus on strengthening the quads and the glutes. ok? that’s KEY. 2-3 times a day. GO at it.
#4: STRETCHING. Foam rolling the ITB, the quads, the hamstrings; tennis ball in the piriformis, hip flexors, use a yoga band to stretch out your hamstrings, glutes… any kind of “fun” stretching: the marathon stick; the yoga band… Every day, as many times as you can. When I am home, it’s 8 times a day. Every time I pee, I stretch!
#5: The rest. Warm compress the sore spots (knee, etc) before a run to let it warm up, and ICE the crap out of it after, as many times as you can (like three times a day)
If you do all those 5 things, you can get rid of ITBS in anything from 2 days to 2 weeks. Once a day stretching won’t do it though. You have to be aggressive and attack it, ok? Like, you’ll be in more pain from this than from the ITBS. The more you suffer, the faster it’ll go away. –I’ve seen people have their ITBS disappear after two days of this. OKAY???
It was short and fickle (given post NYCM piriformis syndrome and then the ITB…) but here’s what did it:
#1: BLAISE, my TP (NOT Toilet Paper: Training Partner!). I needed trails, trails it was; there was a monsoon, there he was. He trained through a brutal winter with me and followed my training program even though he had no marathon coming up. There he was for every long run I could NOT have done by myself. All I’d hear is “whatever time/route/day/surface is fine”. It’s amazing to me how you’d come across people like that in the world. There are no words to say how much I appreciate having a TP like this.
#2: See above for trails and Toby’s support!
#3: My friends, family, and everyone’s patience. You don’t get these things done on your own, and yeah, it takes a village: Thanks to all of you who shut up and didn’t tell me how crazy you thought I was running like that. It’s great that by now you know better and that’s all I needed. Thanks to all of you who supported me, helped me, and pushed me forward on those crazy days. And thanks to all of you inspire me, and to all of you who believed in me.
Ok, I now swear that I am done writing about Boston (for a few months??). I did 5 miles this morning, all back to normal!