Thursday, May 5, 2022

Running Faster but Gait's A Disaster

In other words, I'm limping
In my April 14 post, I wrote about the way my blood pressure medicine was negatively affecting my running performance. A change in dosage made such a difference that I'm now running about 2 minutes per mile faster than my pace prior to March. 

While that's great, my lower back is not on board with it. Running harder seems to have triggered an old disc issue and on most runs my stride starts slightly unbalanced. This is likely due to nerve aggravation. This irritation has gone on for a few weeks and my aggravated nerves are beginning to aggravate me.
 
The problem minimizes after about 8 minutes into the run but it doesn't completely disappear and my antalgic gait appears to be costing me 30 to 45 seconds on my first mile. I really want that time back. I'm applying heat and ice to my lower back and have been doing active leg swings on the advice of Runsketeer TPP. It's helping, but recovery has been slow. 

In terms of performance, I looked at my running history on Garmin Connect and the data revealed a sharp drop-off in my pace that started in June 2017. 

This coincided with two interesting data points:

  • My stride length shortened 8.5% compared to the prior six months. 
  • My average cadence/SPM fell 8.6% over the same period.
I usually prefer downhill, but not in this case
Something caused this and I wanted to know what it was. Looking at my medical history at that time, I saw two things that happened around June 2017 that could explain it. 
  • My doctor put me on blood pressure medication. 
  • My ophthalmologist put me on a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor to address an eye pressure condition. 
I suspected that these drugs were negatively affecting my running, but I didn't know to what extent. Now that my BP medication is at the correct dosage and I'm no longer on that eye medication, my cadence and speed have returned to May 2017 levels. As great as that is, my stride length has not dramatically improved. I attribute that to my current back issue, so I still have a problem to solve.

I'm going to keep heating, icing and dynamic stretching and hopefully the nerve issues in my lower back will recede. If that happens, I think I may be able to improve my average pace by at least 30 seconds per mile. Will I ever get back to running well enough to credibly compete again? Well, that's the subject for another post.

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