Saturday, May 29, 2010

How to fracture your Sacrum

Ok, lets face it, unless you are involved in the world of medicine, or
have a really keen interest in human anatomy, you probably don't know
where your sacrum is. I'll be honest and admit that I would have had to
guess if I was asked to locate it.

Well, actually pre-Internet I would have had to guess, now-a-days I
would just fire up Google on my Android smart phone and I would know
exactly within a couple of seconds. Who needs a brain the size of a
planet when the entire planet is search-able?

So in January I decided to reverse my life long loathing of running by
getting good at it. I was fortunate to have access to highly
experienced and accomplished runners who offered me plenty of great
advice, and even made up a training schedule for me. The schedule had
things progressing at a nice sedate pace, following the universally
accepted principle of increasing distance by around 10% a week. When I
look at that training schedule now I notice that in late Feb I was still
supposed to be doing run/walks and I would have progressed to a 30Min jog by mid March.

This is what I actually did...

Actually in February I covered about 130km with my longest run being
18km. I was averaging a 6.15Min/Km pace and starting to actually enjoy
some of the runs after the hard slog that was January.

In March I covered about 200km with my greatest distance in one day
being 25km. I was averaging a 5.57Min/Km pace and starting to push
myself harder in search of the speed I felt was just around the corner.
I enjoyed most of my runs.

In April I covered about 250km with a couple of runs over 20km. My
average pace was down to 5.39Min/Km and I was feeling good about my
running. I still wanted more speed, but I was used to my local 8km
training loop and could run that at race pace and enjoy the feeling of
speed. I was starting to learn that hills were going to be my nemesis
until my fitness and strength improved further. On the 25th I took part
in the Perth Marathon Clubs 10km race around the river and I managed a
4.42Min/Km pace. At this point I was starting to convince myself that
the rules that might apply to other people were not applicable to me,
all that 10% small increases stuff...

In early May I started to get some general hip pain when running, I also
had pain in the area of my left hip flexor. It was general and could be
acute at times but came and went in severity. I was used to occasional
muscle glitches, after all I was pushing as hard as I could, I assumed
it was a recalcitrant muscle. I started taking Vitamin I before long
runs and after long runs to help with the inflammation. After my success
at the 10km race I figured I was ready to step up to the half marathon
and so I was signed up for the Bunbury event. Looking back now I think I
started to notice the fracture in early May, I can remember a night of
pain that I put down to my left hip flexor, but now that I actually know
what I am feeling I realise it must have been when my sacrum gave out.

For 2 weeks before the half marathon I tried everything I could think of
to heal myself, but rest and massage did not seem to help. Vitamin I was
still the only solution when it came to pain management. The day before
the event I decided that I was going to run anyway, Vitamin I was not
enough and It took every ounce of my determination and perseverance to
drag myself through the event. As it turned out I still managed a time
of 1.48 which I am quite pleased with as such a new runner.

After the event no amount of rest days would take the pain away and
running became excruciating. I was incredibly fortunate to be sent to
see the top sports medicine people in WA and I was quickly diagnosed
with a likely stress fracture. then ensued a barrage of X-Rays and Bone
Scans and CT Scans and now I know what I have broken and where exactly
it is.

This is what broke...

I have a very impatient personality type, I am very determined, I expect
great things of myself. I was determined to push myself to the limit and
use the limit as my guide for how hard to push. It turns out that just
maybe the established running community does know something when they
talk about incremental training programmes!

I am optimistic that it will take 2 weeks for the fracture to heal to
the point where I can at least walk freely and perhaps ride a bike a
bit, I am hoping to be back to running in 4-6 weeks. This time I think I
might actually stick to an incremental program that is created for me by
someone who knows.

If you are like me you are probably reading this and thinking that it
won't happen to you, fair enough.

For everybody else this should serve as a warning about ignoring the rules.

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