9 February 2014

Ministry of silly running


As I lay prostrate on my bed I thought to myself, this feels all too familiar. I’m a master of this move though where I lift my right leg up and with incredible dexterity manoeuvre my sock, using only two fingertips, over my foot. Sure it took three attempts this time but in days gone by it would have taken me till lunch time. From there I lurch forward and up to sit at the end of the bed confident that the hardest part of getting my sock on is done. Now the other foot. And with time ticking on one of my girls kindly offers to tie my shoelaces which I usually and humbly accept.


Welcome to my world of a weak right-side lower back. The image left shows perfectly the spot which is about an inch and a half off centre. For me there is only one trigger event. Lifting my right leg to either – dry it off after a shower or put my pants/socks on. It gets me every time, generally first thing in the morning, and strikes when I least expect it. This bolt of intense pain is like a massive kick up the arse from someone with a pair of winklepickers on. Spasms and a constant throbbing await me now for at least the next 5 days.

Over the past year I’d say Ive had at least 3 episodes. After each event Ive found the only reliable method for getting back to full fitness is rest.


When it comes to sticking to a running schedule I like to think I’m fairly OCD about it. However I’m an absolute shocker at core work, stretches and any other activity involving weights, resistance bands, foam rollers and the like. I know, deep down I have a muscle imbalance or tightness and one of my co-workers even suggested my problem could be caused by shortened hamstrings.


Thursday’s longish run of 20k just couldn’t be put off by yet another one of these episodes, I thought to my OCD self. I have the New Plymouth Marathon now in less than 4 weeks. Besides it might be good for me to test this scenario should it ever happen on race day.  I started conservatively all the while hoping the tightness would go away. By 10k it hadn’t and to add to my discomfort an ever more frequent and involuntary spasm started to KICK IN. It really hurt with each twitch but to an observer it would have looked downright hilarious and not out of place in a Monty Python skit.  

Run completed and I’d have to say that while I’m no better, I’m no worse either. Time to put my feet up and contemplate that foam roller once again. I may even fit in a squat on two but that’ll have to wait till tomorrow or, maybe the day after that and therein lies my problem.



  1. That's a strange one. I'd say you have to go to a good physio and find out exactly what is causing this.

  2. Ive been prescribed a number of psoas and hamstring stretching and strengthening exercises. Truth be known, I'm as stiff as a board and have never done anything about it. I wont quit my run tonight though. Fingers crossed I make it home to try something else new - a hot bath with 2 cups of epsom salts. Apparently works wonders.

  3. I had a good chuckle at the videos. I think you've still got time on your side to become the NZ champion steeplechaser who thinks they're a chicken.

    I had lower back pain like that many years back. One stretch from the physio helped - laying on the stomach, then gradually pushing up with the arms so the back goes into an arch (hips still on the ground), lowering slowly and repeating. Also, squatting and curling forward to stretch the back the other way helped.

    1. The incontinence marathon event ... brilliant. If I ever come back in another life I'll definitely choose a career that doesn't involve a desk and chair. I do both exercises you describe but not as often as I should. Funny enough, I'm getting a lot of relief from the hamstring stretches.

  4. Try some "Clam Shells" and or "Fire Hydrants". 30 times on each side for a week. Helps my lower back issues to a great degree. Google or Youtube if you don't know what they are.

  5. Hi Scott. I do Clam Shells already after every run. Never ever done Fire Hydrants though. Ill give them a go with the curtains drawn and let you know how I get on.