I finally have an answer on what's going on with my shoulder (which is still quite painful.) My doctor said that the MRI revealed a partial tear in one of the tendons in my rotator cuff, plus a bone bruise. He also said that partial tears are a bit of a mystery... ie. they really have no idea if it will heal on its own or not. It mostly depends on the individual, age, etc.
So... I'll start 6 weeks of physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and adjacent tendons and see if they can take over the load that the torn one is currently carrying. If that doesn't work, then surgery is an option... apparently they just "file down" the tear, which spurs a healing reaction.
I asked if I could make it worse by swimming. He said, "probably not, but we don't really know. If you do make it worse, we think it could be easily fixed." Hmmm. I'll hold off on swimming for the next few weeks and then give it another shot. I'm also having trouble holding my upper body weight on the bike; hopefully PT can help with that as well.
One interesting point: when I told him that I'm a newbie when it comes to athletics, he pointed out that we gain muscle mass and strength much faster than tendon strength, and this can become an issue for those jumping into sport later in life. Slow & steady is the key.
Soooo..... that leaves running. Hurray!! It no longer hurts my shoulder to run, so I've been slowly ramping up distance and pace running 3 - 4 x per week. I pushed both simultaneously until I got up to my regular 5 mile route, but I'll stay at this distance for another couple runs and continue working on pace before bumping up to 6 mi. Here are my recent stats; what I find very cool is that I really haven't tried to run faster... I've just felt stronger each run.
- last Tues: 3.18 miles at 10:03 pace
- last Thurs: 4.7 mi at 9:52 pace
- last Sat: 5.23 at 9:47 pace
- yesterday: 5.28 at 9:27 pace
I signed up for a 1/2 marathon training group which meets 3x per week starting on 11/19 with the Kaiser Half as the goal on Feb 5. If you live in SF, check it out! I'm so excited to start training in a group.
So my goal in the off-season is to fix my weak link -- running -- and work on strength training. I've been thinking about what I want to do next year race-wise. As long as my shoulder stops giving me problems, I'll do Wildflower again with a goal of sub-3 hours. I'm still on the fence about whether I want to tackle another 70.3 next year. We'll see how I feel.