Thursday, April 7, 2016

An IT band update

Confession time.

After my SI joint went out of whack this summer, and I started having debilitating IT band issues, I dedicated myself to a strong rehab program. I had been doing yoga a couple of times a month at best, but after my running started to suffer, I scaled back the runs to very easy only and did at least a mini-yoga session almost every day. It helped.

After my lightning-aborted 70.3 this past August, I took a much-needed break from swim and bike, focusing on those easy runs and yoga. Within a few weeks I had added in a routine to strengthen my hips and glutes (and also my ankles and feet), which I focused on pretty hard in the six weeks leading up to my October marathon. It worked well enough to allow me to finish, and I tried, I really tried, to keep up with the pre-hab and yoga afterward.

I did OK until about mid-January. By February, I was lucky to get in one full rotation of my pre-hab exercises per week. And March was a bit, fat nothing. Yes, today is April 7, and the last time I have done any pre-hab at all was the last weekend of February. And I only did an hour total of yoga in March.

Sad, sad, sad.

My main problem is simply hours in the day. I feel like that joke from college: Good grades, social life and sleep – pick two. I am lucky to get in a good hour, hour and a half of training in the evening between working a full day and cooking dinner and prepping meals for the next day. I already don’t sleep enough, so I don't have any wiggle room there.

The good news is I don't think I'm running enough to really aggravate my IT band. Lately my weekly mileage has been topping out at 8 or 9, on a good week. I haven't done any speed work and my longest run since October was 6 miles. So I'm really not stressing it.

I'm not sure how I'm going to carve out the time to keep my glutes and hips strong once my mileage starts to pick up. Maybe I can invent a teleporter so I don't have to commute to work. Or borrow a time-turner from Harry Potter. It's going to be a challenge to balance that supplementary training with my real life, and I have to keep thinking and working to find a way that works for me.


  1. I've been battling the same issue since October of last year when I stupidly decided to push through IT Band pain during a marathon. I've done just about everything you can think of with mixed results. I'm working with a PT now and trying ultrasound therapy as a last ditch effort. If this doesn't work it's back to my doctor for an MRI. With that being said, I've found the usually things like foam rolling, stretching, etc didn't make a huge difference for me, though I believe they helped. I currently roll with a lacrosse ball, glutes in particular along with the popliteus (runs behind calf up into knee) and have found that helps.

    Another big change is that I've switched to heart rate based training, which is much easier on my body. If you're interested, lookup the Maffetone method. For example I am trying to keep my heart rate under 139... my first test was a 2 mile run on March 1st and it was painfully slow (not my IT Band, just frustratingly slow). I ran at an average pace of 13:45 with a heart rate of 137. My test last week was around 11:45 pace for 2 miles at the same heart rate and I've even had a great day where I was running close to 10:45... that's an impressive improvement for such a short span of time. My goal is to be able to run around a 10 min/mile pace for my Ironman in October. With that being said, my PT has told me that short little runs are fine and that I can even run if I start to feel it... but I have to stop if there is actual pain. I find it doesn't usually rear it's ugly little head until somewhere between mile 2.5 - 3.5, so it doesn't come into play for most of my runs at this point. I'm hoping to extend a few of them this week just to see if the ultrasound has made a difference.

    1. Ugh -- sorry to hear about your IT band troubles! What's frustrating for me is that there's no real answer... maybe rolling will help, maybe a glute routine, maybe rest... Maybe it's a placebo but I think glute strengthening is helping.

      I haven't tried Maffetone training but I have heard about it. Something to think about trying.