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I haven’t talked about it too much on the blog, lest I be deemed a whiner, but I haven’t been able to really run much since about a week post-Ragnar, when I developed a very random case of shin splints. The shin splints, I think, came from my attempts to strengthen my calves, which I think left an imbalance on the front of my lower legs. I’m still doing weights for the calves but I’m also doing PT-type exercises to strengthen my shins. Neither of those have been an issue for about 6 weeks.

BUT.

While I was resting my shins for a week or so, I hit up the stationary bike at the gym. I do enjoy the bike as a way to keep up cardio while I rest during running-related problems, but of course I’d rather be putting miles on my shoes. However, I was trucking along on the bike for nearly an hour and feeling good. I’ve never taken the time to learn how to properly adjust a bike for my height though, and when I was done… something was wrong. The muscle in the very top of my hip, which I knew had been tweaked during my marathon training, was suddenly out again, and in a major way. It seemed to be a part of the muscle that runs into either the IT Band or the glute, and I was really hoping that it would be the latter.

I took some more time off running. I iced it. A LOT. I hit the rowing machine. I started being very careful about which moves I do in core class–a lot of the moves targeting the obliques–anything with lateral movement across my body, seemed to exacerbate it.

Yesterday I finally ran two miles–on the treadmill, to eliminate any weird lateral-move-possibilities. It felt amazing. And of course when I got off the treadmill, and done with core class, it was yelping again.

Then I went for my massage. And my dear, sweet, new therapist, Kellian, worked wonders on it. I’m thinking the problem may actual stem from my tight glute muscle that I’ve struggled with, because she really gave my bum a beating, much more so than she did the actual hip area. Oh, it hurt. But the deep tissue massage is always of the hurts-so-good variety and that was certainly true of this one.

And then, I got off the table. And… it didn’t hurt. This morning, it is just a minor twinge instead of full blown yelping of the muscle. I’m thrilled.

You’ll note that in my self-treatments above, the one thing I wasn’t doing was foam rolling. It is becoming more obvious that foam rolling is going to have to become part of my routing–every. single. day. Plus, the tennis ball will be going back in the car. Sometimes it seems like I need to spend as much time stretching and foam rolling and getting massages as I do actually running. And that may be the case. But for running, I’ll do it!

As for massage, I have another one scheduled for three weeks from now. It is hard to spend the money on something that is pretty much viewed by everyone as a luxury. People tell me to ‘Enjoy Your Massage!’ when they hear that’s where I’m headed. But this is not relaxation time. It HURTS. But for someone with back issues–and mine are such that some part of my body is tense at all times, especially when I sleep, it’s actually pretty essential and not a luxury at all. This is all me telling myself this–even I feel like there should be some way to get around having to get it done. But as good of a maintenance tool as the foam roller is, for me, the deep tissue massage every so often–and certainly at least bi-weekly during peak marathon training–will have to be continually budgeted for.

So, how do you budget for it? I’m sure this is much to the chagrin of my friends who own spas, but I have found that the Massage Envy chain often employs some really good people, if you can just find them. Plus, they have late hours during the week, so I don’t have to take even more weekend time away from the family to get worked on. Being a member means that each massage is just $49 for an hour, as opposed to upwards of $70 that you’ll spend at a pricier spa. And you don’t have to go in blind– if you ask around with your runner friends, you’ll probably find someone that is good enough to be loyal too. Or, I ask the staff member doing the booking, who is particularly popular or who is particularly good at deep tissue or sports massage. The atmosphere is calm and quiet, but not quite as chi-chi as at a private spa. But again, you’re not going for the sheer relaxation of it, you’re there to get worked on, so who cares?

I remember thinking, when my friend Kristiana first suggested that I get massages after our long runs during training for our first 1/2 marathon, that it was a crazy splurge. And for a long time, I had about 7 monthly massages banked because I just wouldn’t afford myself the luxury of it. But the more I’ve run, the more my muscles have begged for someone to work out the kinks. Massage is the nicest and most beneficial way to reward them for all the foot tours of all the many areas I’ve now traveled thanks to their hard work.

So here’s to your hard-working runner’s body. And here’s to a painful, perfect, muscle-mending massage!

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