Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. Nothing in this post should be considered medical advice. If you believe you have a running related injury, or any other injury or illness, please conduct with a medical professional.
…Or: How I Developed Piriformis Syndrome Two Winters in a Row
I felt the onset. I was on a treadmill, pursuing the first speed training session of an intermediate half marathon training plan that I like.
I was about to begin training with a focus on the Manhattan Half as a goal winter race (now it’s just a “run for fun!” winter race, because it’s a month from tomorrow and I have yet to properly train), when this sudden stinging, deep in my left cheek (no, not a rosy one) was settling in.
El Profesor has been cracking jokes to our friends about how I “broke my ass!” Haha! OMG, that is so funny. NOT!
Of course, I finished that workout — because I am a stubborn runner.
But I vowed to take ten days off (it has now been three weeks) after and rethink my next goal race — because I am not a stupid runner.
Generally, you can run with a piriformis strain — I mean, that physically you can and plenty of runners do, but you probably shouldn’t. You’re likely worsening your condition and extending your recovery time.
Last winter, I ignored the tingling stinging sensation while I pushed through the Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak. And two days before the end of the streak, I threw my back out while putting laundry away, and was stuck in bed with sciatica for a week. I lost three solid weeks of training time. And I didn’t want that to happen again (it did).
When it occurred to me that I developed this injury around the same time last year, I had to ask myself, what other parallels were there?
Piriformis syndrome typically develops as a result of long distance running and/or sitting two much. As a marathoner and a lawyer, I am the frequent victim of both.
Distance running is a culprit because of prolonged and frequent trauma to the area, and sitting is because it weakens the hip flexors, and generally all of the muscles and joints of the “seat”.
Those are common causes.
For distance runners, common aggravators are:
1. Not warming up
2. Running on uneven surfaces
And here is where the parallel between last year’s injury and this year’s injury undeniably arises.
It’s cold out! And the best way to heat your body is to get moving. I’ve been literally running right out of my door — no squats, no lunges, no dynamic stretches or walking for a few blocks before beginning my runs. And better yet, the first block of my run is a straight shot uphill.
I usually start my runs at an easy pace, so I hadn’t even considered how traumatic this was to my body.
I was doing the same thing last year during the run streak — literally running right out of the door.
Running on uneven surfaces is certainly also something that I do regularly this time of year. Maybe it’s my inner teenager pushing through…still dreaming of being a XC star.
I LOVE TRAIL RUNNING, and this is the time of year to do it — before the Central Park bridle path and North Woods trails begin their seasonal alternation between mud pit and ice luge from January through March.
Better yet, since finishing the marathon, I’ve decided to explore more and more of Central Park’s trails.
The weekend before my injury set in, ran an 11.5 mile long run, mostly in the muddy steep trails of the North Wo0ds, and otherwise on dirt paths and cracked gravel trails.
It isn’t surprising that kind of run could be rough on a body I hadn’t even warmed up.
So now, I’ve taken some time to rest and recover.
But by asking the right questions and seeking out the right answers,
I can wise up
and I will warm up
so that soon I will get up