Tapering Down to Nothing

This is the official taper week of rest before the my attempt at an ultramarathon on Saturday.  Tapering this week?  NOT a problem. 

I haven't run since Saturday.  Because I can't.  

I suppose I did something slightly dumb.  On Friday, I started a push up challenge.  1500 push ups by June 30.  I did 75 on Friday and 50 on Saturday.  I do pushups on a regular basis-- 50 or more a couple of times a week, so it wasn't totally crazy.  I was sore on Saturday from the Friday push ups, but did my 50.  I ran 8 miles on Saturday at a 10:13 pace as well, a little speedier than my easy pace should be.   

I woke up on Sunday with a very stiff neck.  Throughout the day, it got progressively worse, including spasms during church from neck to right shoulder blade.   I have been taking anti-inflammatories since Sunday.  I fired up the heating pad that night before bed, but hardly slept a wink.  I just couldn't get comfortable in any position.   It was a little better on Monday, so I didn't panic.  Still didn't sleep much on Monday night.   I'd be asleep then move wrong and wake myself up.  Strangely, it was worse on Tuesday.   I didn't try to run until Tuesday afternoon.   I ran all of five minutes.  The jarring hurt my neck and then a pain and tightness moved to my lower right back.  That was when I started freaking out a bit.   A stiff neck is one thing, but an impinged nerve or something is different.  Again, anti-inflammatories and heating pad.  It was a bit better on Wednesday morning.  I tried to jog a mile.  Nope.   The jarring again bothered my neck and the pain radiated into my lower back.  

I called a local sports massage place to get an appointment ASAP.   My sports massage was at 11:30---30 minutes of pain, but hopefully it will put my body on the path to healing.   The masseuse (sp?)  hit some trigger points that were very, very sore.  He applied pressure until the pain subsided.   He diagnosed torticollis, aka stiff neck.  He gave me some exercises to do at home and wants to see me again on Friday.

Now, I sit here five hours post-massage, it still hurts.  The massage wasn't a magic "cure all" as I had hoped, but I'm assuming a good night's rest will help.  I keep reminding myself it's only Wednesday.  The race isn't until Saturday night.

I've talked to a few friends about this injury/condition/whatever-it-is and gotten several theories. 
  • The Crossfit friends tend to lean toward running marathons being pretty terrible for the body and this is my body's way of communicating with me and I should listen.   They are sort of anti-long distance running.  I get that.  It IS hard on the body, except I haven't been doing much in the way of long distances the last few weeks.   Well, OK, that 16 miler 3 weeks ago....
  • The running friends tend to think it is stress-related and that I've been really worried/anxious/stressed-out about this race.  That's not really true.  I planned to take it SO EASY in this run.   I am a little worried about blisters and being up half the night (8:00 pm start) and trying to sleep in a tent when it's hot and I'm tired and sore instead of a real bed.   But I have no delusions of running this thing remotely fast.  I was actually thinking of a 4:1 run/walk from the very beginning.  However, I have had some personal stress over the last month that wasn't about this race. 
  • My physical therapist friend said it is likely a facet impingement in the neck.  I've got to google that.  She advised me NOT to run in the ultra.
  • My massage therapist thought it was a combination of running, push ups, and stress all rolled into one.  He said to wait and decide on Friday but he thinks it is still a possibility. 
Though I didn't have a lot of anxiety regarding this race when this all started on Sunday, I'm GETTING STRESSED every day it doesn't get better.   Now, I've got some serious anxiety about the race!  I can't start a 31-miler with pain in my neck every single step.   I won't do it.   That would be ridiculous.  In a marathon or ultra, you certainly expect to suffer at some point, but not in the first mile.   

So, my dream of doing an ultra may have to be......deferred.    We'll see.


Jennifer P said…
I hope everything works out for you! What a bummer on your neck pain - you've worked so hard to get to the start line!
RunnerMom said…
Thank you, Jennifer!