The Diagnosis: Strained Gluteus Medius (a.k.a. A Pain In The Butt)

8 miles at warp speed on the Alter G—engage!

The fix: Cancelling my marathon plans and diving head first into rehab. (Cue: Amy Whinehouse, “They tried to make me go to rehab.”)

I mentioned last week that my marathon training wasn’t going well. I’d been plagued with pain, and I was debating whether to push through and run the marathon anyway. To help me make the best possible choice for my body and future running, I made an appointment with physical therapist extraordinaire Michael Conlon at Finish Line PT. I picked him for three reasons: 1. He and Michael K. Farrell are buddies. 2. He takes my insurance. 3. He has the most adorable golden retriever, Miles, who sometimes hangs out in the office. (I’m a sucker for a cute pup!)

After a thorough evaluation that involved me standing on one leg and leaning awkwardly in several precarious directions, doing moves reminiscent of a hula dancer, and getting a torturous psoas massage, Michael diagnosed the problem: left gluteus medius strain. (I would like to formally apologize to my hip. I’ve been complaining about the poor thing for weeks, when it was a broke-down butt muscle causing the problem the entire time.)

I didn’t decide to cancel my marathon plans right away. Nope, instead I attempted to run a half marathon four days after being diagnosed. I dropped out when the pain set in at mile three—my first, and hopefully last, DNF…did not finish. I cried the whole walk home and I didn’t even feel better when a plate of banana and Nutella crepes showed up in front of me.

My legs are in outer space and my head is in Shasta County, California—I’m watching game wardens bust poachers on NatGeo’s Wild Justice.

I’ll be spending time with Michael at Finish Line PT for the next 4 to 6 weeks. I’m pretty bummed about not running the NYC marathon in November, but the gadgets in this high-tech treatment center should keep me distracted. And I still get to run—at 75 percent body weight on an Alter G treadmill! It’s not Central Park, but at least I don’t have to completely cut running out of my life.

Have you ever run on an Alter G treadmill? What’s your “pain in the butt” running story?

This Bridge Makes Me Feel Groovy

I had to drop my foster dog off at the vet to get neutered this morning. And since the clinic is conveniently located near the 59th Street Bridge, a.k.a. the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, I decided to run over it a couple of times before heading home. (Sans pooch, since he was getting snipped.)

In NYC, the Brooklyn Bridge gets all the glory for being attractive and runner-friendly, while the humble 59th Street Bridge stoically performs its transport duties without fanfare. No fair! Here’s why this structure earns the title of MVB (most valuable bridge) in my book:

  • It’s long From on ramp to off ramp, the 59th Street Bridge clocks in at around 1.2 miles. At that distance, there’s plenty of length to meander up the slow incline and then enjoy the decline, which helps you mentally prepare to turn around a go over it again.
  • Traffic is light The running and biking lanes are completely separate from the lanes for cars and trucks, making it safe and spacious. But surprisingly, there’s hardly anyone on it. This morning I counted 7 cyclists and 4 pedestrians—not including myself, and the last time I crossed on a Saturday there were only a dozen or so more people.
  • The views are cool The bridge itself is fun to look at while you’re on it and crossing it gives you a neat look at Manhattan. Heading back across the river from Queens you get to check out all the buildings on the Upper East Side—a skyline that doesn’t often show up in movies.
  • It comes with a soundtrack You can’t have a bad run on a bridge that inspires lyrics like “Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last.” Simon and Garfunkel may not have pounded out the miles on this path, but they were on to something!

After going over and back twice, I stopped at Starbuck’s for a recovery grande mocha and went home to wait for the vet to call. In case you’re curious, the pupcake made it through surgery just fine, but he has to wear a cone collar for the next two weeks to prevent him from licking himself. That plastic lampshade was just too depressing to bear, so I got him an inflatable neck cozy that serves the same purpose. All aboard the puppy love boat!

Have you ever run across the 59th Street Bridge? Where is your favorite bridge?

Off And Running!

I recently left a full-time staff writer job, and now I work from home. Which is great because I can finally finish a couple of big projects that I started (what feels like) forever ago. And I can pick up more freelance writing gigs. (Assigning editors, feel free to contact me!)

But what’s not so great is that setting my own schedule means I’m free to do whatever I want, and I’m not always motivated to sit down and work during business hours. To give my day more structure, I’ve started to rethink the purpose of my morning runs. I used to run whenever I could find the time—usually in the a.m., but sometimes squeezed into a lunch hour or after work. Now, a daily workout anchors my 9 to 5 existence.

I get up, pull on some shorts, and head to the park for a loop. Once I’ve pounded out a few miles, I’m ready to focus on the other tasks I have planned. On days that I don’t workout first thing, I move aimlessly from one ultra-important activity (scrubbing the tub) to the next (watching yet another awkward date on The Millionaire Matchmaker). So in an effort to prevent myself from cheating or skipping runs, I signed up for Grete’s Great Gallop half marathon on 1 October in Central Park. Here’s to a focused fall!

Does running give your day structure, too? Do you run before or after work?