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  1. #1
    Senior Member teresamichele's Avatar
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    Finished my first race...with back pain! Help!

    I did the Chicago Triathlon this weekend, Sprint Distance. The bike was only 13.6 miles which I realize is a drop in the bucket for most of you, but it was pretty much my longest ride ever.

    When I got off the bike my legs were mostly fine (knees were a bit sore) but my lower back was KILLING ME. This was NOT the spine - I've had bulging discs before and those were fine. This was the actual muscle in the lower half of my back above my rear end. I got off the bike and stretched it as well as I could but I ended up walking the run portion, save the very end (because you HAVE to run across the finish line, obviously).

    Is this a sign I need to either get more experience on the bike or maybe do some core exercises to strengthen my abs and back? The pain is gone now, but it lasted through the morning after the race.

    Thoughts and/or advice?
    Grace and Spark - my blog!

    "It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them." - G. Eliot

  2. #2
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Strengthen your core.

    I have the same issue ... and I've been too lazy to work on my core.

    Kudos for doing the sprint!

  3. #3
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    I'll echo what ill.clyde said about core strengthening. I've had lower back issues all my adult life, and occasionally get what I would describe as a feeling like severe fatigue in the muscles just above my butt, especially to the right of my spine. It's more a pronounced discomfort than pain. As I go through the season, and do some core exercises, the point at which this happens gets farther and farther out, depending on how hard I push myself, and what the terrain is like. Right now, on flat routes, it seems to hit at about 30-35 miles.

    My recommedations would actually be three-fold:

    1. Do some core exercises regularly. I know they're difficult to do, and no fun at all, but they're pretty necessary.
    2. Stand up occasionally while coasting and stretch. Stand up, drop one foot to the bottom of your pedal stroke, and bend backwards at the waist. Then drop your other foot and do it again. It helps your back, your legs and your butt.
    3. Talk to someone knowledgable about your bike fit. That can help, especially with saddle height and position.
    Last edited by CraigB; 08-30-11 at 07:06 PM.
    Craig in Indy

  4. #4
    2nd Amendment Cyclist RichardGlover's Avatar
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    Core strength exercises.

    Bike fitting if you haven't had one.


    An easy-to-start exercise is the plank. If you can't do that, then try knee planks.
    DFL > DNF > DNS
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  5. #5
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teresamichele View Post
    Is this a sign I need to either get more experience on the bike or maybe do some core exercises to strengthen my abs and back? The pain is gone now, but it lasted through the morning after the race.
    Yes. What everyone else has said.

    I get pretty bad back pain when completing a race/ride that extends my capabilities, either in distance, speed, or terrain (or any combination). I actually don't notice it much until I stop & try to stand up, which I usually cannot do.

    My solution? Get used to the distances & speed & terrain. This past weekend, I did a long, hard ride, that I had trained pretty well for. My back was fine after.

    Core work also greatly helps. I'll be working on that over this winter.

    Visit The C-Blog : the blog about cycling.

  6. #6
    Senior Member teresamichele's Avatar
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    Thank you all SO much!

    A friend last night was giving away things because he's moving and trying to downsize. He had a set of pedals with toe straps (I currently just use bare pedals) so I am going to put those on tonight and see how much it helps to be able to pull and push on my mountain bike. I'll be getting a road bike in the next few months - need to save some money first - so for now it's me and a 20 year old mountain bike I've been borrowing from a co-worker's wife.

    I am going to get out my old Pilates DVDs and work on my core. I'm also planning on sticking with triathlons (I LOVED it, except for the motion sickness after the swim), so if I start swimming 3 times a week, that should do good things for my core as well!
    Grace and Spark - my blog!

    "It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them." - G. Eliot

  7. #7
    Member Duckles McGee's Avatar
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    How far was the swim and where does the sprint take you? I absolutely love Chicago. I lived there for a year after college and sometimes considered moving back there.

  8. #8
    Senior Member teresamichele's Avatar
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    The swim was only a half mile in Monroe Harbor but there were riptides in other parts of the lake and the water was INCREDIBLY choppy. People were puking and I felt lucky my motion sickness was cured by walking to T1 instead of running. One of my teammates (I did Team In Training) who has run marathons and done 150 mile bike races had to be pulled from the water and I felt so badly for him. The waves were just horrible.

    The Sprint takes you up Lake Shore Drive about 6 miles, then back down it to (I think) Randolph. It's 13.6 or so, overall. The 5k run takes you from there down past Shedd and then back up over to the finish line which is closer to Michigan Ave.

    I actually wrote up a Race Report if you're interested: http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/di...asp?tid=266685

    Beginner Triathlete has GREAT Race Reports so you can always read other people's experiences before you decide what to sign up for! I am going to do some small, local ones next year and then do Team In Training again for Nation's Tri in September of 2012. It's an Olypmic Length (twice a Sprint) but I think if I work hard, I can do it and not make a fool of myself.
    Grace and Spark - my blog!

    "It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them." - G. Eliot

  9. #9
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Congrats again ... I'm contemplating a tri next year at some point ...

  10. #10
    Senior Member Sundance89's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teresamichele View Post
    I did the Chicago Triathlon this weekend, Sprint Distance. The bike was only 13.6 miles which I realize is a drop in the bucket for most of you, but it was pretty much my longest ride ever.

    When I got off the bike my legs were mostly fine (knees were a bit sore) but my lower back was KILLING ME. This was NOT the spine - I've had bulging discs before and those were fine. This was the actual muscle in the lower half of my back above my rear end. I got off the bike and stretched it as well as I could but I ended up walking the run portion, save the very end (because you HAVE to run across the finish line, obviously).

    Is this a sign I need to either get more experience on the bike or maybe do some core exercises to strengthen my abs and back? The pain is gone now, but it lasted through the morning after the race.

    Thoughts and/or advice?
    I say this to you kindly and as a fellow athlete, but that was a pretty dumb thing to do and extremely reckless. You were NOT prepared - period. You enter a competitive race? - a triathlon no less? and have never even done 13.6 miles on your bike before?

    Yes, I commend you for your goal. But prepare for it with your conditioning first in "every" event. Then prepare your body with core and other strength training routines at the gym, as others have said. I've seen heart attacks happen with that same kind of ill prepared "courage" too. So maybe you got off good with just your back hurting?

  11. #11
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    When I first got my bike with drop bars, I was more bent over than what I was used to, and had some minor back soreness the first time or two I rode it. It just went away by itself after a couple of days and wasn't a problem.

    And just as a general principle, I'd say you want to to a lot more riding than that if you're actually racing at that distance.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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