Tuesday, April 8, 2008

the aches of a track body

This morning I was on the phone with my best friend and she asked why I sounded funny. I informed her that I was standing in an ice bath and I hadn’t gone numb yet—hence the high-pitched quivering voice. Ask any track athlete and they will tell you that willfully submerging themselves in water cold enough to make an Eskimo squirm is a necessary evil of this sport. I admit that I wasn’t so diligent in my younger days, but the older I get—and the more broke down my body becomes I find that my body appreciates and needs this form of torture.

I can go months and months without being able to wake up and feel “normal”. In fact, I am pretty sure I have forgotten exactly what normal feels like. I walk differently, I leave my shoelaces tied so as not to be forced to try and bend over or I adopt a fetal position to get the job done, I ride in a car with pillow support to try and keep my back in a more bearable position…all the things some might take for granted are an obvious effort for me. We run ourselves into the ground. Literally. As in, the effort it takes to merely stand up is too much for our body to handle at times. Last year I almost had to go to rehab for my addiction to Ibuprofen.

Right now my body feels like it is in a heightened state of distress. First there are the chronic problems, such as the horrifically tight lower back that teases me with signs of improvement that never last and the right hamstring that refuses to ever feel like the left one and finds comfort in staying in a perpetual knot. Add to that the tendonitis that has developed on my left kneecap presumably from all the increased jumping I have been doing in practice, and the other knee that just will collapse on occasion, especially after a hard session of running, supposedly because whatever muscle or tendon that connects to it has become extremely tight and pulls it out of position. Ouch. And finally there is just my clumsiness. On Saturday I was in the process of taking a bar off the rack and it slipped out of my hand and fell directly on my foot. So 45 pounds from about 6 ft. up caused an immediate screaming fit from me and a swollen and bruised foot for a few days. Luckily the foot is okay though.

So what’s the solution? More ice baths. Baths with Epson salt. Stretching. Tons of money spent on massage therapists and chiropractors. All of this so I can continue to train as best as possible. If I were to wait until I felt absolutely fantastic without an ache in site, I would be close to collecting social security. So while track bodies may look good, they hardly ever feel good. Take comfort in that fact the next time you secretly yearn for the chiseled perfection that we possess. :)

21 comments:

eclectik said...

I couldn't imagine all the ice...
I'm guessing and hoping that the benefits outweigh the pain...endurance is a beast.

The Shoe Strings, Pillow and Ibu...wow, damn

Whole new respect.

I spose that's why the bodies get some much respect and admiration from me because of all it takes and the sacrifice...least someone apprieciates it!


Shame.
Between you and Joice the clumsiness you guys are gonna kill me though :)

e.

Jewells said...

I didn't realize how much you all go through until Jackie and Joice invited me to their track meet. I saw numerous bodies walking around with ice taped to shoulders, thighs, calves... I couldn't imagine.

Though I have issues in my lower back that require routine attention from Rx (and I so need an epidural but I'm putting that off as long as possible) and I was up from charlie-horses in my calves, I still can't imagine the pain that your bodies go through.

Looking at you all with more respect than ever. That's love and dedication! Bless...

t.v. said...

That was entertaining, and though it might seem that I take pleasure in your pain, I do not envy you one bit. lol
Thanks for reminding us why some of us have "perfect" bodies and some of us don't. That's just too many aches and pain for one's own good. Nuff respect. :)

Kash P said...

Preach sister, I appreicate you for this one. The things we go through just to be able to step to the line when it's time to go. What would you give to feel normal again? Doesn't that seem so far gone?

Malibu said...

You should really consider doing yoga on a regular basis. I know it's extra on the workouts and more mula outta your pocket, but it helps with back pain, joints, etc!! =) Just make sure you go to a real Yogi and not a trendy spot. Bikram (Hot Yoga) is the best...in my opinion!! =) I hope you get back to a "normal" state sometime soon!! =)I used to be a gymnast and competitve cheerleader so I know about aches and pains in areas that I never knew I had and yoga really helped me with what I call my "retirement aches and pains" since I'm no longer doing either!! Best wishes!! =)

Jackie Edwards said...

Funny you should mention ice baths. Just yesterday I was taking one and during that first 2 minutes while I was waiting for my body to go numb, I swore I was going to quit track...again!! I too am having the lower back aches from too much of everything. I am at the point that I ease myself out of bed and barely want to bend over to tie my shoelaces - I find it's easier to lift my foot up than it is for me to bend down. I'm also killing the ibuprofen right now too. I'm not sure how I would function every day if I didn't have it. Can you say Ibuprofen Anonymous??!!! LOL!!!

the gamelord said...

Brianna, I was wondering if you have any tips or tricks for taking ice baths? Last Summer after playing three, three-set tennis matches in the span of 7 hours, I decided to try my first (and last) ice bath. Since a brotha's legs felt like someone just beat them down with a couple of 2 x 4's and because I had read that Andy Roddick takes one after each match and swears by them,, I decided to take the plunge. :-) Well, A-Rod must be masochist, because ice baths aint nuthin' nice. It took me about a minute just to get over the initial shock of having just my right foot submerged. I finally mustered the strength to dunk my entire lower body into the water for about 10 excruciating minutes. The IB helped, but I still haven't forgotten the trauma. You must be one tough chick to subject yourself to that on the regular. LOL

Tournament season will be here before I know it, so my question is do you just man up and jump in or do you "piecemeal" yourself into the water? Please bear in mind that my "male equipment" plays a major factor in the recommended method. :-)

Nigel "6five" Bigbee said...

HAHA Oh the Ice bath is the greatest evil in track and field. I would throw on some DMX and get pumped up to get into the cold tub because if you tried to just ease up in it, you would be screaming and or biting down on a towel. Treat the ice bath like a track meet. Get pumped up for it, it's still gonna suck though.

melanie said...

wow. this one was deep, breezie.
hurry up and come to la. i miss you...and bianca is good at massages. ;o)
this was a good read--your writing is constantly improving and content-wise, i'm inspired. really. you're amazing. a.m.a.z.i.n.g.
but, chiseled perfection?! oh brianna. if i didn't love you beyond reason, i would hate you beyond belief! you crack my isht up!!! i LOVE you and i can't wait til burke-williams-bomb-squad-best-friend-birthday weekend extravaganza! woo-hoo! 8 more days!

ktizzle said...

this post definitely hits home for me even though i am years removed from running track in college. i still remember the dreaded worldpool room and the scoops of ice that people would always love to try to add as they walked by laughing at your expense.
if i had the choice to have my eight pack stomach back by doing the workouts that i did while in college but have to worldpool on a daily basis or live with the soft six and only 2-3 times a week in the gym and no worldpool. i'll stick with the latter.
it's bad enough that i punish my out of shape body by trying to play in basketball and flag football leagues. i had a flag football game this last weekend and caught a few too many instances of incidental contact. that was the first time i had walked off the field and asked for an ice pack before i left. i couldn't get to sleep that night without taking Aleve Gelcaps.

my years of T&F have blessed me with a bad rotator cuff, flat pronating feet, and chronic patella tendonitis in both knees. i think the tight lower back afflicts every athlete. i stopped after college so i can only somewhat understand the constant pain that you're going through.
as far as normalcy? i think the closest i've been to that is when i'm only doing a lite workout and i stretch on a regular basis. i've looked into the Bikrams yoga and i've heard that it definitely helps with your flexibility in muscle, ligaments and tendons.

'gamelord' what nigel says was pretty much my approach to the worldpool. you gotta just get in. it also helps to have a stand up worldpool were you can get in and it comes up to thigh height without having to put your package in. i might have been a baby (i didn't know too many people, if any that did it without), but the neoprene footies that go over your toes are a lifesaver. the only advice i can give you about the package is wear spandex shorts. they hold the package tight to the body. you might do boxer briefs and the spandex to add insulation, but it's still going to be cold. all i know is that without the footies it was a lot harder to make it to that numb point.

i think anyone at, around or over the age of 30 that is still professionally active in a sport has to ice bath to make it. after the age of 25 the body is in a state of decline so you have to do more every year to maintain or improve. without ice to help the healing process it's not going to happen.

so to conclude; Bri, keep ya head up and get yo ass in that tub. =]

sorry yall i ramble...

the gamelord said...

Nigel and Ktizzle, thanks for the tips. Ktizzle, I especially want to thank you for the package "frostbite" prevention advice. LOL You don't spare any details. :-) As part of the over 30 "still tryna be an athlete" crowd, I will definitely take your advice to heart.

Brianna said...

@malibu...I have tried yoga in the past (see post yoga for dummies) and i think that i am so unflexible it is hard for me to continue and i really hate the fact that i suck. i am just THAT bad. but maybe i will still benefit.

@jacks...remember last year when we all were taking ibuprofin like it was candy? and i never bought my own so i would just use up all of yours and Grace's.

@gamelord...don't be a WUSS! haha. you've already heard it but the trick is definitely just to go for it. the more you do it, the less you fear it and your body knows it's going to suck but you can handle it a lot better. i have no tricks for the "package" department but you definitely can wear those little footsies if you don't mind looking like a chump. :) and i suggest going in to your waist anyhow because i always think it's important to ice the glute area. oh yea...and definitely try music. it takes your mind off the pain just a little.

@mel...lol. i am surprised you are the only one who mentioned my 'chiseled perfection' comment. i admit...so over the top. but i love it.

@ktizzle...i think you secretly want to blog. :)

Just_Wondering said...

Wow reading your post made my body ache! I was wondering how many advils would you take in order to escape the pain you felt?

Joice said...

I HATE ice baths. I have tried so many permutations of how to do it.

Run the tap and add the ice is my MO theses days.

Im the one that whimpers like a wounded animal. Who hops in and out of the ice bath, never really getting the job done.

Its funny Jack and I promised each other that we would ice bath regular. She swears it gets easier the more you take.

Its funny Jack and I promised eachother that we would ice bath regular. She swears it gets easier the more you take.

Ibuprofen goes on my list along with M&M's and Skittles.

Brianna said...

I usually take about 800 mg of ibuprofen. if you just take two like is recommended that would be good if only your big toe hurt.

also...if you have it available, doing combination hot/cold works well. people think you are getting a treat by being able to go to the hot whirlpool as well but the truth is, it just makes it so that your body has to readjust to the cold pool each time and then when you switch it feels like a bunch of pinpricks all over.

ktizzle said...

@ Bri. if i started a blog it would be more like a journal cause i'd probably be the only person that would want to write or read in it. and that defeats the purpose of having a blog. beside i wouldn't call my random diarrhea of the mouth anything interesting enough for someone to want/need to blog about anyway.

oh and OUCH on the chump comment. =\ LOL if they keep my toes from feeling like they are going to break off i guess i'll have to look like a chump... LOL

James said...

All that and you can't change a diaper ?:) hot/cold/hot/cold works best for me, but there is no one easy answer to recovery; there is only one easy question: how bad do you want it ?! Add to the pains of training and recovery, eating chicken, broccoli and brown rice 6x's day, every day while popping aminos and advil in between, and you have the difference between an NCAA All American and an Olympian. Do your thing Bri...I'll see you on the podium!

anonymousnupe said...

What a coinky-dink! My shorty came home from a meet last night and coach had instructed her to take an ice bath. We picked up two big bags on the way home from her bus drop off. I was out when she went to bed, and saw her only briefly this a.m. I need to find out how it went. She was dreading it.

Anonymous said...

Ktizzle, get your own blog.

old teammate said...

lol...what a coincidence, I just told my athletes to start taking ice baths because we started are speed phase.

I was also watching some athletes train and I get amped up and ready to train (for what, I don't know). But then I remembered how my body felt when I was younger, and the residual effects of that training on my body now....and came to the conclusion that I'm just happy to let my body deteriorate into a something sloppy so I can go on the "Biggest Loser." Good blog, you brought back memories...

T.R.E.N.T. said...

hey... its worth it