The benefit of recovering from a strenuous race is you get a keen physical sense of your body’s weaknesses.
Before running ther HURT 100, I visited a highly-recommended physical therapist who, after giving me a thorough evalutation, found that I had a weakness in my gluteus medius. These muscles, right and left, are responsible for keeping the body in balance when the weight is on one leg, something which occurs continually for a runner. Additionally, when they are weak they put additional pressure on the Ilio-tibial Band. I had this condition diagnosed the year before when I was recovering from some ITB issues, so it wasn’t a surprise. I had worked on the muscles the year before, but I now sensed that after my race I would have to focus on strenghtening them some more.
So off I went to run HURT. After slipping in the mud for many hours late into the evening and morning, I have come to believe that I aggravated the muscle on my right side. I didn’t’ realize this right away, if only because almost everything hurt after the race. The first week of running (three weeks after the race) I was a bit stiff, with some discomfort in my feet and ankle tendons. After trying to run uphill on my morning route, I’m noticing my gluteus medius muscle weakness and soreness. Well, that’s what all this recovery/self-assessment is about – finding where you need to put attention in recovering, stretching and strengthening.
I have taken three days off from running and, lucky for me, used the neighbor’s hot tub to stretch in. My physical therapist gave me some strenghtening exercises to slowly regain the strength in the medius and hip flexor muscles. Key to recovering the strength will be assuring that each side gets complimentary workouts. Then I’ll again assess how they’re doing, before charging hard into the hills. Still, I’m able to run as long as I keep it easy and focus on stable, non-technical foot plants.
This is all fairly normal for me. There is always a weak point. As a mentor at work once mentioned to me “Knowing your weakness is a strength. It allows you to guard against it failing you, and keeps you from being blind-sided where you’re vulnerable.”