Most of you reading this today are probably unaware of the fact that I have not run for the past six months. Last August I was diagnosed with a herniated disc. Before this happened I could not provide you with a clear definition of disc herniation. Today, I feel like an expert. For months I could not move more than two inches in any direction without excruciating pain shooting up and down my back and into my leg and foot. My leg and foot would then go numb. I was stopped dead in my tracks as far as running was concerned, even walking was out of the question. For months on end I could not sleep longer than two or three hours straight.
How did this happen in the first place? I did not fall or hurt my back. I was not in a car accident. I did not suffer an injury in the past two years since my stress fracture. What was the root cause of this horrible predicament I now found myself in?
My physical therapist offered up the theory that it was a direct result of back-to-back cesarean sections only 18 months apart followed by a failure to re-strengthen more core.
My doctor offered no explanations, only the tools to make me feel better.
My neighbor, Lou Schuler, who happens to be a fitness and exercise journalist and author, offered me a copy of his book, The New Rules of Lifting for Abs. The main idea that popped out at me as I thumbed through his book was that everything boiled down to my core, and everything is connected.
Reasoning through all of the minor injuries and inconveniences that I have experienced since beginning running five years ago, suddenly everything made sense. I had a sudden epiphany that went something like this: two c-sections > failure to re-strengthen my abdominal muscles > start lifting > start running > stop lifting and add more running > train for first half marathon > iliotibial band syndrome > hip flexor problems > sacroiliac problem > train for first marathon > stress fracture > run a couple more marathons > more hip flexor problems > begin ultra running > severe back pain > herniated disc.
In retrospect, there is a very linear explanation for all of my pains. I never bothered working on my core! I jumped right into the good stuff without ever considering the basics, and I developed extraordinarily strong back muscles to make up for my weakness, propelling me into an even more imbalanced state of being.
After several courses of drugs with long names, physical therapy sessions, and a couple of steroid injections shot into the nerve near my spinal cord my life began to slowly get back to normal. The only thing now missing was my regular workout routine.
I know a lot of you can relate with what I am going to say next. Even though I cut out all alcohol, junk food and curbed my diet since last August, I have lost muscle and gained fat. I had to go out and buy new “fat” jeans and now even those are feeling a bit tight. I joined the gym but have only visited it once in the last six weeks.
It all boils down to motivation, and I have none.
Today, this all changes. No more excuses. Period. Today I turned to Phase I of Lou’s workout rules which will get me back on the trails in much better shape than when I left them six months ago.
Wish me luck!