Thursday, June 25, 2009

pain in the arse, why?

Last week I posted about how humans infer causation; this is a follow up. But first, some running history.

The week of June 7, I only ran once, the TNR at twin brook. I had taken 8 days off before that. Felt piriformis soreness immediately, so took rest of week off.

The week of June 14, I ran 4 days in a row, starting at Great Glen, then a 4miler on the road, then the TNR at Twin Brook, then I paced Lily at Back Cove and ran the 5K @ 6:45 pace, then took Thur & Fri off and ran Mt. Washington Saturday. My piriformis felt pretty good all week, even following the runs, and felt awesome on Sunday following Mt. Washington. No pain or soreness at all.

This week I took Sunday off, then ran 5.5 slow miles on mixed singletrack and road, then TNR at Twin Brook, then I did 5X400m repeats at Back Cove 5K (which paled in comparison to Kevin's trackwork). I don't remember how my arse felt monday morning, but it was noticeably sorer the evening after my mixed road/singletrack run and on Tuesday, and even more noticeably sorer yesterday (wednesday) (back cove 5K is at 6PM, so this wasn't an issue).

So, yesterday I spent a great deal of energy doing what humans do, that is, tabulating all the activities prior to this augmented soreness to try to infer the cause. Mt. Washington? Maybe except that it felt awesome the day after. Plus I ran hard one day last week and didn't have any increased soreness after that. Twin Brook - maybe except I ran there last week without any augemented pain. Road? also did that last week with no apparent effect. Singletrack? Ah - didn't do that last week. Was it the single track? Clearly the uneven surface of the singletrack made my pirformis, which is a hip stabilizer, work extra hard. And the singletrack was the last run I did before I really noticed the augmented pain. What I've just done is what humans do - we justify inferred causes backwards, with "explanations" that make sense.

This backward justification is a terrible way to gain knowledge. Humans are very, very creative animals that can construct reasonable stories to explain anything. Novelists exploit this capacity, and psychologists have a fun time devising experiments to show how delusional we all are (an especially stunning example of this of this is the split-brain work from Michael Gazzaniga).

So I have no idea why my my soreness is worse. Maybe it has nothing at all to do with any of my running activities (riding in the car to/from Mt. washington???). But I'm going to implicate the singletrack as a working hypothesis - not that I'll be able to test the hypothesis in any robust way.


  1. Did you consider the 5x400s? When sprinting we tend to lift the leg higher and stretch the stride out which puts more pressure on the hamstring causing it to snap at the and of leg extention.....which then pulls on the arse muscle....on top of that you were at Backbay which tends to slide out from under the toe a bit causing even more extention.

  2. DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is not uncommon...

  3. The Back Cove is ruled out because my increased soreness happened before that. Mt. Washington and DOMS is ruled out because it doesn't fit in with how I wish the world to be (i.e. I wasn't dumb to run the rockpile).

  4. It's settled then, it was the eight days off that caused the whole damn thing.....the muscles didn't know what to to with all that rest! DDS (delayed denial syndrome) That is when you deny the running had anything to do with it. On top of that, if you had to trade the pain for the great finish at the rock pile....wouldn't you?

  5. Hah - I like that, DDS. And exactly, Mt Dub was worth it!