Jun 7, 2012
Distance today = 48.46 km; Total distance = 7416.87 km; Location = Sisseton – 45 39.641′ N, 97 01.271′ W; Start time = 0838, Finish time = 1611
After yesterday’s trouble with my right leg, I was filled with trepidation when I started out this morning. But let me first fill you in on events between runs.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s missive, my right leg felt like it wasn’t working yesterday. This was not entirely a new problem. For the past few years, until about July last year, I’d had a problem with sitting – my right buttock area would ache whenever I sat for more than ten minutes or so. It didn’t really bother me when running, but I could feel it lurking below the surface.
I tried just about every treatment for this problem, before the right diagnosis was made. I had let my “core” muscles become weak and ineffective. These are the muscles which stabilize you when sitting, standing, walking, and running – they work all the time at a low intensity. Consequently, other muscles – ones designed for occasional but high intensity activity – were doing the job of the core muscles. These other muscles, therefore, were fatiguing, resulting in the aching feeling I had. The best way to descibe it is to imagine the ache you get in your stomach muscles when you reach your limit of sit-ups. The muscles are screaming out for you to stop, because they are fatigued. This was what was happening in the muscles around my right buttock – the gluteus maximus and others.
After being put on a program of core stengthening exercises, my problem rapidly evaporated. But since I’ve been on my world run, I’ve neglected my core strength, and the problem has resurfaced. I am now physiologically “unstable” while running, and various muscles are starting to take on roles they shouldn’t have to perform. So I have begun my regime of core strengthening again, and I’ve already felt the benefit. After a painful start to the day, I finished feeling much more balanced and virtually without that ache I had yesterday with every step. I didn’t think it would improve that quickly.
I still have some way to go. I reckon it will be a few weeks before I’m back to my best. In retrospect, I should have realised the drop in my pace over the past month or two was a precursor to this problem. At least I know what the problem is and how to fix it. To clarify, the pain is not due to an injury or inflammation. It is case of muscle fatigue. There is no cure other than to stop using the wrong muscles and start using the right ones.
Last night, as part of my program, I tested various muscle masses. I was horrified to find my right buttock felt only half the size of the left. I know some will find this amusing, and I can just hear the jokes, such as “you were always only half-arsed anyway”. But loss of muscle mass in my case is a reality that comes from performing certain physical activities regularly (long slow running) to the detriment of others (faster running, jumping etc.). Many of my muscles, like the glutes, have atrophied to large extent. I now need to work on getting my bum back – maybe not an Andrew Johns lard-arse (or the even more grotesque case of Mr Reefton Humblewood), but something that will provide me with some balance.
So that’s the wrap-up on that issue. I’ll keep readers informed of progress. As for today’s run, I took it slow and easy, mixing some faster than normal running with short walks between. It was almost a fartlek session. That was until the heat really kicked in during the afternoon. It was pretty extreme (my guess is around 35C in the shade, and about 45C for me in the direct sunshine on the tarmac). I was pleased to finish and have a cold drink.
Tomorrow it’s on to North Dakota.