In the summer, I like to get up early on Sunday mornings and go for a run around Lake Calhoun.
A breeze comes off the lake even in high summer. Most of the way around is tree-shaded. It's never crowded at 7 am on a Sunday. The scenery is pretty all the way around, at least to my urban tastes: the busy waterfront restaurant, wheeling gulls, a small forest of boat-masts, big houses up on the hill, public beaches, dogs and frisbees and volleyball nets, the sun glinting off the water. The running path around measures exactly 5K, and I'm not in a season in my life where I have time to train for longer runs than that.
Sometimes I try to go fast, and I check my watch to see how well I did against previous timed 5Ks I've run. Sometimes I just go out with the goal of enjoying the morning. My PR is a not-embarrassing but not-particularly-special twenty-seven-something; for lazy Sunday runs I am happy to come in between 30 and 38 minutes; if I try to go fast I want to be between 28 and 32 minutes.
A couple of Sundays ago I went for a lazy Sunday run in which I did not check my watch. I specifically did not try to go fast, and was thinking to myself that the victory was just in showing up that morning. I was just ending an unusually symptomatic menstrual period. I don't typically experience much in the way of cramping, heavy/prolonged bleeding, or mood swings; for me it's more lower back pain, fatigue, and general feelings of crappiness. I crave extra rest, and if I can just take a couple of extra naps and some ibuprofen, I weather it fine.
This past cycle I felt like I had been hit by a truck, with pronounced achiness and several days of exhaustion. For the first half of it I wondered if I was pregnant, I felt so exhausted. For the second half of it I wondered if I actually had some kind of intestinal bug. In the end I decided it was just my normal menstrual symptoms, just intensified. I'm old enough now that things are starting to fluctuate and get weird, and I guessed I had just had some kind of hormone surge that made all the usual stuff feel a lot worse. I spent several evenings in bed. I skipped one swim workout, which is not unusual, and took the second one a bit easier than usual.
So anyway, back to this Sunday. I went on my easy run, enjoying the feel of moving a bit faster. At the end I got in the car and drove a short distance to one of my favorite breakfast spots, where I enjoyed coffee and toast and eggs and a very nice fruit cup. Everything was perfectly lovely until it was time to get up out of the booth and OH MY WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY HIP.
I limped out the door, bent like an old person, and eased myself into the driver's seat of the Prius. Once I got all the parts aligned in the seat, with my foot on the pedal and such, the pain disappeared. "A bit stiff," I thought, and drove home, and then when it was time to get out of the car again OW OW OW.
I spent the whole day and most of the next day being totally fine except when I had to change from sitting to standing and from standing to sitting, and it was worse the longer I had been sitting. Just this intense irritation in the outside of my right hip, wrapping around a bit to the back and shooting a bit down the outside of the thigh. It diminished over the next few days.
I skipped another swim workout for good measure and then tried a very slow and easy swim. There was the pain again, not as bad as after that Sunday run, but still annoying. I quit early and took ibuprofen, but I still spent the next couple of days stiffly and painfully sitting down and getting up out of chairs.
I'm a little afraid to go for another run.
+ + +
I fretted aloud to Mark about my injury that came out of nowhere. He was unsympathetic. "I hurt every time I do anything," he pointed out.
"But this is new! I'm not you! I don't hurt when I run! I definitely don't hurt when I swim! This is terrible!"
He observed that I was still walking just fine and that I had not even tried increasing my ibuprofen dose. I realized I was not going to get any sympathy for my very first ever running-related pain from a man who has had (mostly in series, not parallel) plantar fasciitis, shin splints, a compressed disc, tibial stress fractures, and chronic injury to an assortment of muscles in both legs, and who wants to do a lot more than I want to do.
+ + +
First, since the only unusual thing about the past week was the massively worse-than-usual menstrual syndrome, I thought that maybe I'd had some kind of immense hormone surge that had loosened up my joints and the like. But all the information on that seems to be about knee injuries, so that rabbit trail was inconclusive.
I did some more reading and convinced myself that the best match to my symptoms was greater trochanteric bursitis, although the match wasn't perfect. Pain when changing positions: check. Tenderness over the greater trochanter: not really. Then I found out that gluteus medius tendinopathy is often mistaken for trochanteric bursitis. So maybe it's one of these things? They're both associated with scoliosis among other things. I have a type of scoliosis that tilts my pelvis to one side (can't remember which side is higher than the other); in my twenties I had a spate of back pain that was treated by an OMPT, by putting a lift in one of my shoes to force the pelvis back to level. Maybe I should go see an OMPT or sports med physician to see if that is part of the problem.
At any rate, it seems that iliotibial band stretches -- "IT band" stretches -- are the thing to try for both diagnoses, so I guess I'll be doing that for the time being. I tried a few of them this morning and the stretches felt good, so that's one thing in their favor. It's inexpensive and unlikely to cause more problems, so it's worth a try, especially since the pain isn't severe enough to interfere with most of my activities, just really annoying.
+ + +
The one significant thing I am not clear on is whether I should stop running and swimming for a while, or whether to cut back on either or both. And here's where the silver lining lies: I find myself hoping that I don't have to cut back.
Not looking for an excuse to skip workouts, but hoping I can keep up my (admittedly time-constrained and not very rigorous) routine.
I've unlocked a new achievement: my first encounter with running-related pain -- and with hoping to keep running, or at least swimming, hopefully both, right through it.
I'm one of you, athletes.
But if Mark is any indication, I probably still shouldn't whine about it to the rest of you.