Category Archives: General Discussion

Pain in the Ass

Sometimes, running can be a real pain in the ass. Literally.

At some point while training for my last run, the Shiver by the River 10K, I learned a few new things about my body. I think when I mentioned in my opening blog post that my knees felt great, that I jinxed myself, because not long after that a few things got dicey. What did I learn?

First, I am flat-footed and was wearing the wrong running shoes. I was in a pair of Nike Lunarglide Plus‘s. But because of my flat-footed gait, I tend to pronate a bit more than I should with my left foot when in a normal stride. This was causing me to have some mild runner’s knee in my left knee, which I was complaining about a bit in my last post. I discovered this because of another rather unpleasant thing I learned about my body.

The second thing I learned is that I got myself a nice little case of piriformis syndrome. Thus the title of this post; I had a moderately annoying tight pain in the left side of my butt. At first I thought it was just muscular pain from some uphills I did either in a training run or on race day. But when it didn’t go away after a few days, I got a little concerned and sought some medical advice. It turns out that because of my uneven gait when I was running (because of the over-pronation) I caused the piriformis muscle to get irritated, and it inflamed, pinching a portion of my sciatic nerve. Ouch! Thankfully, once I knew what it was, it wasn’t that hard to alleviate. First ice. I sat on some ice packs for about 20 minutes at a time, 3 – 4 times a day. Then heat. The next day I got out the electric blanket, sat on it, and turned it on high to try and help the muscle to relax. There are also a few stretches I found online that are extremely helpful.
Piriformis Stretch 1
Piriformis Stretch 2

It took me the better part of 2 weeks to get it to finally let go and start feeling better. The next thing to do then after resting up was to get a better pair of shoes and try a few easy runs. I took a friend’s advice and took a little drive up to Emmaus (near Allentown, PA) to visit the Finish Line Running Store. Great recommendation! They have a super-knowledgeable staff and were able to see right away what was getting me in trouble. They sent me home with a pair of Asics Gel T-2000‘s. I could feel the difference right away.

I also invested in a pair of knee straps, to give my kneecaps some additional support while I re-train in my new shoes. I went with a Runner’s World Magazine recommendation and got the Cho-Pat Dual Action Knee Strap. The straps feel great, and take the pressure off of my kneecaps extremely well.

So very cautiously, I have returned to some slow, easy training runs. I can certainly feel the difference now with better shoes and being more conscious of staying properly aligned and running with good posture. My right leg is definitely more sore after my runs because it is finally having to share the burden more evenly, which is a very good thing. There are no signs of any returning Piriformis Syndrome, which is also a very good thing. My runner’s knee is still present, but getting better. I have a few races coming up, which I am inclined to do rather than forfeit. If I race one and don’t feel good, I’m going to take a break for a while longer much to my chagrin. But I ran the last two mornings and feel really good, so I’m hoping the trend will continue for my next race this Saturday, the Quakertown Rotary 10-miler. It will be my longest distance to date. I’m being cautiously optimistic, but as of today, it’s still a go in my mind.

Why do I run?

I’m probably the most unlikely runner you’ll ever meet. If you would have told me a year ago that I’d be running races and loving it, I would have laughed so hard I would cry. Seriously. Why? Simple. After 8 years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force, I learned just about every bad way there is to run, and often got hurt. My feet ached, my knees hurt and would swell up painfully. Running in formation is bad for me. I’m 6’3″, so short choppy steps over and over are not the best way to run mechanically. I’ve struggled with my knees ever since, and that was over 10 years ago. Coupled with being a nerd and not athletically inclined, I just had bad ideas about running in my head.

Fast-forward to today. Now I’m 40 years old, have a demanding desk job where I sit all day. And sit. And sit. I don’t have a gym near by that is convenient to use, and I don’t have enough home gym equipment to make a big difference. I’m a tech nerd, so I started trying to use technology tools to help keep my weight in order. I’ll be writing up reviews of all of the apps and tools and equipment I’ve used over the years in more detail later on. Back to the story. Round-about last summer (July 2012), I was inspired by my friend and colleague Dallas Marks who started tweeting the fact that he was using an app called Couch to 5K. I thought about it for a long time, but kept thinking that I can’t run. It hurts my knees and my feet. But finally on a day when I tipped the scale at 215lbs, I knew I had to try something very different. I downloaded the app and I gave it a try, and I haven’t looked back since. And guess what? My knees feel great. The stronger my legs get, the less knee pain I have. Oh they still get a good ache on if I get to aggressive or hit too many hills, but overall they feel better than they ever have.

I found out quickly that not only could I run, but that I really enjoyed it. I mean REALLY enjoyed it. I ran my first 5K in September 2012 and finished in just under 30 minutes. No awards won, but a respectable time.

Just before my first 5K race in September 2012

Just before my first 5K race in September 2012

My results for Zane's Run, Malvern, PA September 30th, 2012

My results for Zane’s Run, Malvern, PA September 30th, 2012

The question at hand, “Why do I run?”.

I run because I love to get outside and breathe the fresh air. I love to get some good, efficient exercise and make my body leaner and stronger. I love to be competitive and race in organized events, constantly striving to get a better time or go a longer distance. I love meeting positive-minded healthy people at these events. I love how I feel after a good, long run. I love being able to eat more of what I like, because I burn so many calories on a good run. I love that no matter where I travel, I need only bring my running shoes and I can keep up with my workout routine.

I hope to use this site for a couple of things. I hope to catalog my runs and races, to show whoever is interested that if a desk-jockey computer nerd like me can do it, nearly anyone can. I also hope to use this space to discuss and review the technology I use and new things I try to keep myself on track. Thanks for reading. Get out there and run!