Since SIR we’ve been hitting the water with the aim of improving our leg strength.
The worst workout in the past week was the 2 x 10 min erg at a damper 10 (highest resistance) at a low rate, like 16spm. Luckily I read the email from a team mate who attempted it before I did and I changed the setting to damper 8.
The problem with rowing low rate on the erg is you enter a time warp and the pieces take forever. I emphasized with my students on a boring class day–the countdown timer read 7:00 and all I could think was, “I have to do this for seven more minutes? And then do it again? Seriously?” Since Alan returned my erg to our outdoor glorified “third room” shed, I had nothing but a stain-glassed window in the door to try and distract me. No news to watch or blaring hard rock from station 832. Listening to rock on a slow erg was a bad idea anyway–I tried it during the first erg. The beat was way too fast. You need slow jams for a slow session. (“Six minutes left? This is the worst erg ever!”)
On the second 10-minute piece, I opted to close my eyes for forty strokes, open ten, close forty, open ten–until the piece was done. That way I didn’t have to look at the screen’s agonizingly slow countdown. Taking away sight is a great way to really focus in on what your body is doing. Are you engaging with the legs first? Does it feel like you are sitting up? Are you staying center throughout the stroke? Pretend you are on the boat and feel the slide glide under you as the boat moves past.
The second piece was a 5 x 4 minute with two minute rest. I alternated rates on each piece, (26/28/24/28/26.) During the fifth piece, and the same issue cropped up as when I did a 10k erg the previous week.
The sensation is best described as a knife stabbing into my left gluteus maximus with each stroke. The blade jams in and twists as I come back to the release. If I could describe it to a doctor, I would say it feels like my leg bone is twisting in and out of my hip socket. I know your leg bones move in your sockets naturally, but you normally don’t sense the movement when you’re walking, standing, or sitting. Erging, I felt it happening. And it’s only the left side and thus far, it’s occurred well into the workout (at the 8k of the 10k, and the 5th of the 4-min pieces–approximately 4k rowed), and after dropping down from the high rate to a low rate.
That’s not the only pain my body is throwing my way. My knee problem is persisting. After about six weeks not running, I attempted an easy 4k, alternating walking a block and jogging lightly a block. On the first run, my knee performed well, but towards the end of the second run, I felt a tug and a shoot of pain. I had to humiliatingly walk the rest of the way back. The outside has reminded me off and on all week that it’s not happy by sending little aching bursts from my knee. I’ve been doing the exercises–the donkey kicks, turning the toe out, bridges–and rolling the IT band, the quads, and the hamstrings. I’ve iced it, too.
Speaking of icing, my left lat has received its fair share of ice since the OARS regatta. At first I though I simply had slept wrong, but the pain in that muscle has persisted. It’s not consistent, either. Sometimes, it feels perfectly fine. Then I’ll move some strange way and it hurts. It feels like a pulled, sore muscle. One erg, it won’t ache, and the next it stings. One sessions of lat pulls, no problem, the next it throbs and begs for mercy. There are days where the muscle will not hurt at all, but today as I sit typing I feel sore twinges depending on how I move and sit in the chair.
I think the left side of my body is just giving up.
The issue I’ve pondered about this week is how far to let it go? The knee and the lat have gone several weeks now with intermittent icing, foam rolling, and exercises. But it’s not getting better. I even took a week off from upper body work to try and rest the back muscle. How do you know when it’s time to get it checked out? Is it worth the time and expense?
And, is it really a body issue? What if you go for an assessment the doctor says you are perfectly fine? Should you opt away from the doctor and go for a massage to work out any kinked tissue? Could my knee situation be improved by new shoes? Is my gluteus maximus erg and back muscle issue the result of poor technique? Since everything is on the left side, is it because I’ve been rowing starboard persistently? Could the problem be solved by sculling more or doing some rowing on the port side to use and lengthen the opposite muscles?
Right now I’m debating what is the best course of action for me to take. And with four months to Nationals, I’m not sure if I have the time to take off if the solution is rest. On the flip side, if I don’t, I could be making it worse and scratching myself out of the opportunity completely.