Cupping Therapy - My New Love

First, thank you to all of you who sent emails, texts, and comments regarding my last post.  I am really, really glad I decided to share.  I discovered many of you hold the same disdain for running with a phone. There are two things I use to make this possible without too much annoyance.  The first is a Flip Belt, pictured below.  I have never had luck with running with anything around my waist for two reasons:  first, I believe it causes GI distress (for me).  Second, I feel like I can never get a secure fit and whatever I'm using bounces all over the place.  Not the case with the Flip Belt!  I can slide my phone, gels, whatever, into the belt and forget about it.

 PC:  Flipbelt.com

PC:  Flipbelt.com

After my nerve wracking experience last week, I found a pretty sweet running bra from Lululemon (sorry, guys!) that has a pocket for your phone on the back of the bra!  I tried it today and loved it.

 PC:  Lululemon.com

PC:  Lululemon.com

A few months ago I was discussing my perpetually cranky right hamstring/piriformis with a friend and she urged me to try her sports massage therapist who specializes in cupping.  Like many of you, when I think of cupping, I think of Michael Phelps and his odd bruises at the 2016 Olympics. Cupping is a treatment modality that is actually thousands of years old.  It is believed to alleviate pain, inflammation, and improve range of motion.  The suction created by the cups promotes blood flow to injured areas and loosens fascia.  

I decided I had nothing to lose.  I have tried physical therapy, ultrasound, and dry needling without much success.  (Side note - dry needling was amazing for my Achilles tendinitis!).  I admit I was a little nervous given the bruising I associated with the treatment.  

My massage therapist used a combination of deep tissue massage and cupping on my piriformis, hamstrings, calves, and feet during the one hour session.  I immediately noticed a difference - I could sit down without my piriformis screaming, and the range of motion in my hamstring was greatly improved. Did I bruise?  You bet.  However, I don't find the sessions painful at all.

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My first session was in June.  Since then I have been getting treated every other week and cannot believe how much better I feel.  My therapist has encouraged me to try the cupping on myself but I'm not quite ready for that!  If you are, here is an interesting article.

Any other cupping fans out there?

What I'm Doing to Reverse Burnout

August is here, and summer is going a little too quickly for my liking!  I have about 13 weeks to go until the Indy Monumental marathon.  A few weeks ago I was not in a good place with my running - feeling a little burned out, much more tired than normal, basically not enthused about running.  Around that same time my left hip flexor started feeling off - not painful, just off.  A little tight, could feel a clicking sensation, just an overall painless awareness of the area.  Given that I have endured two pelvic stress fractures on that side, I panicked, but thankfully the issue is still nothing more than feeling a little odd.  The last two weeks I have lowered my mileage and eliminated speed sessions just to be safe.  I do not notice anything during my easy runs but am leery of picking up the pace just yet.  I will see my doctor next week just to be sure things are alright and am continuing to base build for Indy until I get an official all clear.  I am also seeing my fantastic cupping specialist tomorrow (that is the topic of my next post, so check back soon!).

Back to burnout.  I think this is something every runner encounters at some point.  Around this time last year I felt the same way (maybe the heat and humidity taking its toll?) and instead of honoring what I was feeling, I pushed through and stuck to my training plan.  The result?  I toed the line in Indy feeling overcooked.  From the first mile my legs felt dead and it never got any better.  It was really disappointing.  I'll never make that mistake again.

At the first sign of those same feelings, I started to think about what I could do differently and not have a repeat performance of last year. First, I focused on increasing my sleep and hydration.  Second, I started to pay close attention to my heart rate during my easy runs.  I am a big fan of heart rate based training.  It's so easy to tell yourself a certain pace feels "easy", but your heart rate will call you out if you're running too hard.  Racing your training runs is one of the most common errors made in training.  I made a commitment to stay in Zone 3, my aerobic zone, during my easy runs, no matter what my pace was.  And believe me, sometimes I don't like the numbers I see on my watch!  I remind myself if it's just a number and refocus on my goal I went back in my training log to last summer, when I was feeling burned out, and sure enough, my heart rate on my easy runs was WAY too high.  So yes, my runs this summer are going to be slower than last year but they are having the appropriate training effect on my aerobic system, and I will recover faster.  I already feel much better than I did two weeks ago. Here is an excellent article by Sarah Crouch on the subject of burnout.

 One of my most prized training tools!

One of my most prized training tools!

So what's next?  Making sure my hip is healthy, and adding some intensity back into my miles. Thankfully November is still quite a ways off and I have plenty of time to add some speed to my nice base of miles!