About a month back, I lifted a weight that was way too heavy for me during Power Hour. There were so many people in class, and I was late, as usual, so the yellow or green weights I typically use were all gone. Instead of taking a wimpy orange weight, I took a blue weight. Guys use blue weights. Some guys, like Kevin, use green weights – just kidding! Really strong girls, like my friend Mary who was teaching the class, or me in my swimming prime (read: LARGE back/shoulders) use the blue weights. However, I put a lot of effort into shrinking my upper body, so I cannot use the blue weights anymore. I haven’t been all that successful at shrinking my arms or shoulders, but if you could have seen my upper body 10 years ago- yikes. So I figured, “eh, I could have lifted two blue weights with one hand back in the day,” and swung it over my head with way too much momentum and zero control. Exactly the opposite of what you are supposed to do. I felt an immediate pain in my clavicle (bone between your neck and shoulder, right?) and I can’t recall if it popped, I just know it hurt. Like, drop my weight on the floor hurt. So I did what anyone else in my situation would do- I continued using the blue weight once the pain dulled from a 10 to a 9. After that day, I don’t think I’ve really done any upper body work, as I have mainly only had time to run and again, want my upper body to shrink. Thus, it didn’t bother me too much until a couple weeks ago. That’s when the trapezius gristle/rock ball started popping up. I assumed it was my neck, or just general tightness from running with bad form. But then I realized that I run with perfect form, relaxed shoulders, arms down, textbook style. Could it be my job? Not really, I use the mouse with my other hand and have spent a great deal of time making my work station ergonomically correct. Plus, I use my dictaphone a lot and don’t type nearly as much as I used to, except when blogging or writing nasty emails to opposing counsel. Well, the weekly massages have not been helping – my shoulder/neck/gristle ball OR my wallet. The chiropractor hasn’t helped. And my shoulder has started aching and feeling weak, popping out of joint, generally making my life less enjoyable. So much so that running has become more difficult. This confused me, because I assume that you really just need healthy legs to run, right? Wrong.
Yesterday, I did some push-ups and ran about 3.5 miles during Power Hour and afterwards. Oops. I just thought I had tight or weak muscles and needed to strengthen them. Anyway, I broke down and went to the doctor today because if weekly massages and chiropractic visits don’t do the job, then something must legitimately be wrong. Our new insurance plan almost convinced me to just deal with the pain or cut off my arm, but I look better in long-sleeved shirts than sleeveless tops, and besides, part of my back near my scapula hurts too, so that wouldn’t solve the problem. I figured I should just be a responsible adult and pay the piper. The doctor said that it could very well be my neck, but because I am having a hard time running, and because of a host of other tests and what not, it’s most likely a tear in my labrum, part of the shoulder. I was puzzled, until I remembered the blue weight episode. Ah, light bulb! All the pieces suddenly fit together. After the doctor has a chance to look at my MRI on March 1 (yes, I have to wait that long for a return visit. Man, this guy must be good), I will know what’s wrong with my arm, shoulder, neck, whatever. He did not specifically restrict me from doing anything, probably because I’m not on workers’ comp, so I assumed that meant I could keep running.
Tonight I ran a little over 6 miles with Riley. We went at a comfortable 7:50 pace and sprinkled in some hill sprints here and there. It was comfortable from an aerobic standpoint, but not so much in the shoulder department. Am I really that mental? Has being told that I might have a torn labrum (and that those typically hurt when you run) made me instantly become some wimp whose shoulder hurts during a 47 minute run? Or have I been so focused on my IT band, shins, and the rock/gristle ball in my trap that I didn’t notice the weakness and aching in my shoulder? Either way, I realized that it’s not easy to run without the full use of your upper body. That’s probably why you don’t see to many double-arm amputees out there doing marathons. Well, that’s probably not the only reason they don’t do marathons. So people, go do some pushups and military presses and whatever else Runner’s World tells runners to do to strengthen their upper bodies. I used to laugh when I saw those little articles with the pictorial demonstrations of “dips,” side rows, flys, etc, because they were child’s play compared to the legitimate lifting that we swimmers did, but now it’s not so funny is it? If I had heeded the advice of the editors at Runner’s World, I would have had no problem with the blue weights. Now the joke’s on me I guess. Is this my payback for making fun of the guy in the Vibrams? No, I was hurting before that post.
Fear not, I will continue to run. If there is something wrong with my labrum and they need to operate on it, I might as well go down in a blaze of glory and make them work for their money. Like someone eating a 10,000 calorie meal right before going in for gastric bypass. Speaking of which, I have actually reduced my Bojangles intake to once a week! I will let you know how that plan is working out after my 13-miler on Saturday. I may need to do some serious cajun filet biscuit refueling.
Just couldn’t resist throwing that in there could you?