Post By: Darren Brown – Husband/Father/Coach
Last week, the onset of PGP (Pevlic Girdle Pain – AKA SPD, Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) caused us to remove running and lifting from the last four days of Sarah’s schedule, replacing it with even more cross-training and corrective exercises. This allowed us to combat the pain while still keeping volume up. It seemed to work, as Sarah’s pain level decreased significantly by the end of the weekend. Turn the page, and this week, we began to build some easy running and weights back into the schedule.
We took this week day by day, adding in one piece at a time; then, sitting back to see how Sarah’s body would react to the stimulus. This is a new process for me. Having worked together since 2012, I had become accustomed to how Sarah’s body & mind would react to certain stimuli. Now, however, I am having to learn this process all over again … and the worst thing I could do at this point would be to rush it. We have a lot of time and made some really good progress this week. We continued to perform the corrective exercises alongside a heavy volume of cross-training, but also managed to run a solid 30 miles (across 5 days), with a long run of an hour and even some strides added in on Friday. We continued to avoid lateral movements and completed her two planned quality workouts on the ElliptiGO. Overall, we are very happy with the week’s training.
Now, 30 miles may not seem like much for an athlete with Sarah’s 2016 goals, but for us, this week wasn’t about “this week”. It was about taking a step forward again. It was about learning. After feeling like we had to take a small step back, this week was about better understanding Sarah’s body in a state of pregnancy so we can take even more steps forward during the next 20 weeks of training. Did I mention that alongside the 30mi of running, she also swam 4.5 miles and spent 10 hours on the ElliptiGO? All in all, Sarah got in 3.5hrs of running, 2hrs of swimming, 10hrs of elliptical biking (including 3hrs of quality), 2.5hrs of strength training and 2hrs of corrective/rehab exercises for a total of 20hrs (16 in an aerobic state). For someone in a base-building phase of the year, I’m pretty happy with the amount of aerobic development that took place this week. Here’s how it looked:
This week was also a week of questions. Every day, we asked her body a question (or two) and waited for it to tell us the answer. Here they are:
Q: After 4 days off of running and a manageable pain level, we started with a very simple question: Was it the MOVEMENT of running itself that was causing the PGP? (Keep in mind that there are other variables that could have been responsible for it’s onset last week, including A LOT of travel the week before, but we wanted to go back to square one and take the most cautious approach possible.)
A: Good news! It’s not the movement. After a 5mi easy run and 60min of ElliptiGO riding, Sarah’s pain did not increase.
Q: Is her pain at a manageable enough level to re-introduce basic body-weight strength training movements?
A: Yes, but lateral and single-leg balance movements still cause a slight increase in discomfort, so we avoided them for the remainder of this workout and will work with our strength coach, Greg Adamson, to find replacements for them going forward.
Q: Could we continue to incorporate higher-intensity aerobic and threshold-level workouts through ElliptiGO-integrated cross-training?
A: YES! Sarah had no increase in pain after a fartlek of 5x5min w/2min rec. She even did the warm-up as a run.
Q: Was it the CUMULATIVE IMPACT across multiple days of running that was causing the PGP?
A: Nope. After a third day in a row of running, a 45min run w/45min ElliptiGO Chaser (see last training article for a description of an ElliptiGO Chaser), Sarah had no increase in pain. In fact, Wednesday evening, she mentioned that she thought her pain may have been even lower than it was at the beginning of the week.
Thursday – In an effort not to be “too annoying”, we gave Sarah’s body a break from any more questions today. Instead, we returned to the type of work we know won’t exacerbate the pain, while allowing us to get in some volume: ElliptiGO biking and swimming.
Q: Was it the PACE of running that was causing the PGP?
A: Not 100% clear, but the initial thought is no. After a 30min run, we added in a few strides before a fartlek on the ElliptiGO. While there was a little discomfort during the strides, it had completely subsided by the end of the ElliptiGO session and did not return at all throughout the day. It is unclear whether a longer running effort at that pace would exacerbate the discomfort she felt, but it is also possible that she may be able to manage discomfort of quality running efforts by following them up with ElliptiGO sessions (Sarah has also made this comment about swimming after runs). More to come on this …
Q: If we avoid lateral movements, can we increase the resistance in strength training through weights and bands?
A: Yes! Sarah successfully completed multiple “push” and “pull” movements in frontal, horizontal and sagittal planes. This will allow us to continue to work major muscle groups and potentially incorporate more conservative, controlled triple-extension movements, such as the overhead push press shown HERE.
Q: Was it the repetitive IMPACT and VOLUME of longer runs that was causing the PGP?
A: Doesn’t appear so … at this point. Typically, Sarah’s long-run (LR) at this time of year is 14-15mi; sometimes with an uptempo finish, steady 10mi in the middle or progression built throughout. This is something we began in an effort to re-build Sarah’s strength after a two-year injury hiatus from 2010-2011, and which we feel has helped her become a stronger, more efficient runner. Now, while I still hope that we will be able to return to slightly lengthier LRs before we get too far along in the pregnancy, I’ll take 60min of running with 2hrs of total volume as a substitute any day. Remember, Sarah is a 1500m runner, not a marathoner. Plus, in college, under Coach JJ Clark (one of the best middle-distance coaches of all time – IMO), Sarah never ran LRs of more than 60min and ran 4:05 – a time that will surely be competitive come July. If that’s all she can do from here on out, then we’ll continue to add on ElliptiGO Chasers, keep volume up and have faith that we can squeeze even more time out of her performance.
Q: How will we continue to adapt, progress and build her fitness next week?
A: Check back next Monday to find out!
I’ll finish with this. While we are gradually making our way through all the possible variables that may have led to some early PGP, there are a few things to keep in mind. There are a lot of variables that could have led to this issue and it may not be just one, but rather a combination of a few that created the issue in the first place. We expect that this will be a continuous try and learn process throughout the entire pregnancy. However, we did hear from a friend this past week that a cross-country flight caused her to experience some temporary PGP pain during her pregnancy, and that it went away shortly after she returned home. We have also read that this symptom affects all women differently, but can go away as quickly as it showed up and typically happens around the 20 week mark. We are only three weeks away from that point, so if we have to maintain a reduced schedule until then, so be it. We continue to approach each day without expectation, but also without being afraid to try.