Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Monday, 19 July 2010

Speedwork and Acupuncture

I had really been looking forward to my speedwork session on Thursday. I had not run hard since the 20 mile long run on Sunday and I felt really good. I had a 4 mile warm up and then planned to do an 8 mile tempo across some hilly farm trails. I had a loose goal of under 60 minutes: a record on this route, but it was really warm (I never look at the forecast in Denmark because nothing is so extreme that it warrants action, but I would estimate 28 deg Celsius). This and I had NEVER tried speedwork pregnant, so I hadn’t a clue what to expect. The one unusual thing I did in preparation was bring a water bottle. (This is a time of major expansion of blood volume, so it is even harder to stay hydrated). I planned 2 miles out, 2 back, quick drink, repeat. I ran the first mile in under seven minutes, but quickly slowed and ran the first 4 miles in twenty-nine minutes. So I was on track, but could feel things weren’t quite right. It’s hard to explain, but my left hip was bothering me again and I felt, well, terrible. I stopped for my drink and almost vomited. And then came this terrible pain in the area of my uterus and my lower back and my left hip. I COULD have kept running, but I was scared. I was scared of something happening to the tiny, wonderful bundle of cells in my uterus. IS speedwork dangerous?, I wondered. I was in no frame of mind to finish the tempo. Maybe I got overheated, maybe dehydrated, maybe it was just my hip spasming and I imagined the worst. Well, the pain didn’t go away, but I went on to jog another three miles, and by the time I got home, I felt normal again.

I had thought that interlude would be the end of speedwork in my pregnancy. But 1. I have come to realize that my hip was the biggest factor in that pain. 2. I finished the book Graviditet og Motion by Bente Klarlund Pedersen

In English: Pregnancy and Exercise. She's an MD, PhD (actually she’s a Dr.Med, which is a higher degree than PhD in Europe), specializing in molecular mechanisms in physical activity. I read it in one sitting. The only other three books I read in one sitting were, and in this order, The Road Less Travelled, at 12 years old, mostly in the bathtub, Go Ask Alice, 16, on a plane and The Iliad, 18, in one chair at the library. Granted that is a weird list, I am just trying to say that it was an excellent book. It debunks so many myths about exercise in pregnancy and while trying to get pregnant in a very systematic, scientific way; though it is clear what the author believes, and she is an exerciser. Anyway, running reduces risk of miscarriage in the first trimester from twenty five to seventeen percent. And that percent is pretty much as low as can be seen in any female population. The only specific types of physical activity associated with miscarriage are working on feet all day, quickly lifting a heavy object, and the only type of free time exercise associated with an adverse outcome was a very physically stressful event on the day of implantation. She goes on to discuss the Norwegian, Ingrid Kristiansen, who ran a marathon in 2:33, 4 months pregnant. Granted, she is in better shape than me, but she ran a whole marathon at a faster pace than I ran those 4 miles.

So my focus is now on finding a remedy for my left hip, which has been bothering me since 50 k I ran in the relay at the end beginning of June. And I was feeling a bit desperate since the Voyageur 50 miler is this Saturday. I discussed things with my friend and yoga instructor. She suggested I see my doctor, and I told her my doctor wouldn’t have any helpful suggestions, except to rest, which would of course be helpful, but anyway, I went to an acupuncturist. I am a huge fan of acupuncture and used to receive it from a good friend for free about every month for a debilitating heart burn when I was living in France. Acupuncture works amazingly well as a painkiller for about 2 weeks, or at least that's my experience. So I went to The Nordic Center for Chinese Medicine in Naestved, which SR affectionately refers to as “the seediest place on the planet”. I told the “doctor” about my hip and being pregnant, only to find out she was an MD, PhD who did a study at The London School of Tropical Medicine about using a woman’s birth date to determine which organ was weakest and giving more strength to that organ through acupuncture and thus hopefully preventing miscarriage. I suddenly felt extremely Western. WHAT was that about birth date? Anyway, she gave me special acupuncture for the pregnant woman, which helped my hip, but also helped my kidneys. I do not know why kidneys are the pregnancy organ in Chinese medicine. Well, anyway, it worked!
It sort of looked like the above and did not use any points in my feet, as opposed to normal acupuncture.

I have had no pain in my hip in my last two runs: a one hour and a two hour run, where I shocked myself with my speed and energy. Though I can tell that something is still out of line as my left knee is now bothering me instead. It is as if that hip muscle is still pulling but I can’t feel it. SR went on to make fun of me for believing this woman was an MD. Oh, well. I’ll take the Nordic center of Chinese Medicine for my hip pain any day.
I'm feeling a little more optimistic about Voyaguer, but am still worried about my hip carrying me all those miles. So this week, no more running whatsoever, just various forms of cross training, yoga and a visit to my old favorite chiropractor in La Crosse, WI.

Oh, yeah, we’re on the plane on the way to the US right now for our 2 ½ week vacation.

Running song of the day: J'ai Demandé à La Lune by Indochine


Julie said...

Good luck in your upcoming race!
Have you ever had IT band pain or issues? I've been dealing with that off and on the past year or so and it started with my hip and quickly that moved down to my knee and now when it's acting up I feel it in both places.

SteveQ said...

There's no way you read the entire Iliad in one sitting; it had to be condensed. At age 40, it took me 6 weeks, reading about three hours per day.

Unknown said...

Safe travels!
I love that you are finding relief in using acupuncture!

cherelli said...

Happy holidays! I have enjoyed using acupuncture and am still choosing to use it for the first trimester...thanks for translating some European studies - sometimes I wonder if the US almost doesn't try to "hide" some of that research...

sea legs girl said...


Good question about the IT band and I'm sorry you've had to deal with it. My knee problem is actually on the medial side of my knee so I don't think it's IT band, but just a tight bunch of hamstrings being pulled by my hip. I think my problem rests in my SI joint being out of alignment. Thank you so much for the comment and the thought!

Steve, I absolutely must have read an abbreviated version. Perhaps I knew it at the time and conveniently forgot. I will say it did take me about 12 hours. Before I did running ultras, I did reading ultras, I guess.

Thanks, Angie. Yep, we made it safely, but not without jetlag. I'm up at 3 am right now.

That is great that you use acupuncture, too, Cherelli. And congrats again on this exciting time for you and Brett!! :)