Don’t Call it a Comeback!

(Contributed by Anthony McGrath, Pamakid member since 2010)

“Don’t call it a comeback, I been here for years!” –LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out (1991)

It’s been quite a journey to get back to this place, picking up where I left off as a Masters runner while I got a bit smarter in the process.  This LL Cool J track has been my unofficial theme song as I recovered from surgery and began a rehab process that got me to the start line of the Reach for A Star 5K in Brisbane. This is my journey from July 2014 until now. Hopefully I can offer some tips I’ve learned along the way.

Oh my hips! Or is it my groin?

After a busy spring of racing in 2013 I started feeling shooting pain in my hip flexors that radiated into my adductor (groin) area. I tried rest and home remedies, but the symptoms persisted. I couldn’t  run more than 20 miles a week before the pain started, making the days and nights miserable. After about 9 months of this, I became proactive and got some steroid injections that helped to diagnose the origin of the problem — the effectiveness of the injections ruled out the hip labral tears an MRI had indicated.  I found Dr. William Brown in Fremont who specializes in adductor repair.  On July 19, 2014 he repaired both adductors with outpatient surgery. My rehab began in earnest two weeks later.

Rehab and Clean Up

Tony 1

I lucked out and found great PT at Therapydia here in San Francisco. Lindsay Haas built me back up and focused on strengthening my hips and glutes. I zeroed in on my running form, what was wrong with it, what was right, and what could use some help. It’s important to look at your form, especially as you get older. Wear and tear can be worsened by over reliance on certain muscles (in my case the adductors) and under reliance on others (usually glutes in runners–and I was no exception). I encourage you (yes you!) to have your form evaluated and see if it can be “cleaned up” to maximize efficiency and minimize over reliance on muscle groups that aren’t designed to carry the full load.

Cross-training and making friends with the Treadmill (boo!)

One thing in my favor during my injury woes was cross-training.  Cardio-Tone is near my house and offers spinning, TRX, core and more! I could spin to my heart’s content during this injury, so I became a dedicated spinner. Shannon Boughn made sure I wasn’t sandbagging and I got some great workouts under her guidance. I still incorporate spinning twice a week in my training regimen and is a secret weapon when used as active recovery. As I ramped up the training, I started to incorporate treadmill running. It’s a great way to get in the miles without too much pounding. You have more control over pace and it’s a great place to focus on your form. I have some great recommendations for podcasts now that I get on the treadmill twice a week.

Tony 2

Race Time

I had a good build up over the winter and was ready to test my fitness against the PA’s finest at the Reach for A Star 5K (formerly Zippy) in sleepy Brisbane. 5Ks are over before you know it, so with that in mind, I decided to pace aggressively for the first mile and let the chips fall where they may. Shortly after mile 1, the first woman caught up to me. I had raced her before, the formidable Kris Paaso of Strava Racing Club (formerly NB Silicon Valley). She and I duked it out for the next 1.5 miles. She really made my race. I was able to gap her in the last 800 but she was right on my tail the whole way!  My chip time was 17:01 which is a road 5K PR for me.

Tony 3

The Road Ahead

I’m happy to get the “Don’t call it a comeback” race over with, and I’m looking forward to a great year of racing on the PA circuit for both road and cross-country. We have quite a group of talented Masters Male runners and we hope to build on the success of what the Masters Women achieved in 2014. Everyone has a role to play and contributions, large and small, are made by Pamakids like me and you. I’m proud to be part of a “big-tent” inclusive club like Pamakids and also want to inspire my fellow Pamakids to be the best runners they can be. Follow me on Twitter @runtony67 as we have a great 2015! Go Green!

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