This week marks week seven of half marathon training. The longest distance I have completed thus far is 5 miles, however, the training schedule says I should have already completed up to 6. I have had a few small obstacles along the way, but I’m doing what I can to listen to my body while preparing for my first race.
I have experienced two obstacles in the training process so far. The first: training over the holidays. November and December are months full of indulging in good food and spending time with family and friends. With all of that comes traveling as well! Talk about lack of motivation. Have you ever tried to complete a 3 mile run the morning after a white elephant Christmas party? Me either, haha! However, I did my best to stay on track and not over-indulge in the wine and desserts. That being said, I still allowed myself to enjoy the holidays to the fullest. The most challenging day was the morning after Christmas day. I was with Milton at my parents’ house in Azle, TX where the temperature was about 22 degrees. We were due for another 3 mile run. Luckily, Milton had already spoiled me with my Christmas present of Lululemon running gear, so I had no real excuses not to run. We suited up and headed out the door to get some distance in. Milton and I completed two miles and felt like we had done enough. I call that a victory. Once we got back to Galveston I got back on track with the regular running schedule. Then the next obstacle arose.
Photography: Milton Sampson
I have experienced this problem before, but since I was closely following my running schedule I figured I was doing everything I could to protect my body from injury. I started to experience a dull pain in my lower back, and then I realized I was having pain in my tailbone. Fun fact: the tailbone is more specifically referred to as the coccyx. Cool name, right? Haha, NOT. Of course, I google and try to self-diagnose the problem (I do not advise this). Most diagnoses seemed logical: running on an uneven surface, lack of core strength, worn out shoes…cancer, disease, tumors, what?!
To prevent my injury from worsening, I would take a day off from running here and there, but the pain kept coming back. I also alternated ice and heat, and took Epsom salt baths. All of these things helped, but they weren’t doing the trick. I talked to a few friends that are more experienced runners than I am to see what their opinion was. They asked questions like, “Are you stretching?” Yes. “Do you use a roller?” Yes. Flexibility wasn’t my issue. So I finally looked into the one thing I had been avoiding the whole time…lack of core strength. If you’re anything like me, you probably spent hours in high school doing crunches thinking it would give you a flat stomach. I think I did so many dang crunches as a teen that I got tired of doing core. Bible, I couldn’t tell you the last time I did core exercises in the gym. I hate it! I’m terrible at planking, so I just don’t do it. Hello! There is your problem! In order to keep good posture our body relies on our back AND stomach muscles. Because I had been neglecting my core, my body was relying solely on my back during runs. My tailbone had finally had enough of it and started screaming for help. I started doing some simple core moves once a day to engage my stomach muscles. Even if Milton and I were going to be in the car for hours at a time, I would engage my stomach muscles while sitting in the passenger seat. I also took a solid 3 days off from all physical activity. Yesterday I went for a four mile run, and my tailbone felt fine afterwards! I owe it to the core exercises.
Good ol’ Pinterest had my back when I was looking for some good core exercises. I saved this infographic to my phone and refer to it when I do my core workouts. View the pin here. Follow my Exercise and Fitness board on Pinterest here! This is where I save my favorite workouts and exercise inspo.
What I’ve learned in the last few weeks: Always pack workout clothes so you have no excuses while traveling, and don’t neglect any part of your workout. Only four and a half weeks until race day. I’m only freaking out a little bit, haha! Excited to continue my training.