Running Fall Creek: aka "I'm Back!"

Feb 18, 2017

I've struggled with an order of magnitude higher pain in my left psoas and hip flexors ever since the Redwood City Half Marathon 4 months ago. I've tried everything; Xrays, massage, electric massager pointed directly into the psoas, roller work, strength building on the adductor and abductor machines, and more weight room work on legs in general, core strength building by hard work with "the Wheel", and with tripled yardage weeks in swimming (which emphasizes core strength if you do it well), and re-newed effort in stretching all the musculature till my left side is even more flexible than my completely normal right side. And all to no effect whatsoever. My miles before strong and crippling hip inflammation declined to only 1 mile or sometimes even just a few hundred yards. But normal walking is fine, and even long hard hill climbing on the bike is also just fine. Frustrated, I tried one last thing. Ferrell's been needling me on each of the out-of-town races of the past couple of years where we'd use our respective rollers for getting out the kinks on the motel floor the night before. He'd put his hand on the black hard styrofoam version he had and say to me "men's roller", then pick up my blue foam roller which was admitedly softer, but still fairly firm, and say "ladies roller", in Ferrell's usual way. I laughed it off... but then. At the gym, they had one of the black hard versions and I got the gym over an hour ahead of our Wednesday swim workout determined to "roll the Hell" out of every muscle I could find anywhere in my legs and hips on both sides. Quite painful, more so than with my own blue roller. Unsure the next day whether it did any good, and now a bit gun-shy about running at all. I'd begun to get out of the habit of doing what had been my standard daily runs... I decided to try. To my delight, I was able to do my standard daily run entirely without my psoas or other hip soft tissue pain stopping me, or even slowing me down. I ran to the beach, doffed shoes, ran barefoot on the low-tide flat hard sand to the river and back, and then back home. 3.3 miles. New hope! I took Friday off, just swimming (it rained all day anyway). Then Saturday was to be our brief rainless day and I decided to "go big" and try my standard LONG run; the Fall Creek loop, which is over 10 miles depending on choices up high on the ridge. It all went amazingly well! I was able to run the flat and steep uphill sections and all the way to Empire Grade Rd. The bridges are washed out in the mid and upper sections of the creek and so I turned left at the trail up to the lime quarry and kilns, getting to the Big Ben tree, and then the loop up to Sunlit Lane. There were a few stops for photos, and for getting past downed trees and trail washouts of course. And, my psoas did start to complain during the final 3 miles, but not crippling, and I was able to powerhike without much fuss. Pretty much like my runs on this trail of later last year before my descent into hip lock-up. I've got a visit with the physical therapist in a few days and will puzzle out what it all means, but clearly I need to ditch the blue roller.

Soft is out. Hard is in!