A Look At 4 Months of Being Injured

A lot of people have asked me how I came back from a serious injury so quickly.  This is a longer post for me, so grab your coffee because it will be a while.  After four months, I’m finally running confidently.  While it seems like I’ve come back fast, I’m not recovered or in “peak shape” yet.  It may seem like it’s been a fast recovery period but in reality it’s been 4 months. Time keeps on ticking…into the future…

Right now I’m nowhere near peak condition but I’m not gimping around from an injury…nor am I claiming I’m still “in recovery mode”.  In my mind (knock on wood), I’m just training.  I’m in a weird limbo zone of not injured but not in shape either.  I’m just continuing to build my base up.

The base is the most important part of your running.  Without a strong foundation laid slowly brick by brick, your running will crumble.  As I’ve learned, consistency is one of the most important aspects of base building. 

For a brief time line: I woke up August 22nd with a bruised and swollen foot.  I have absolutely no idea what happened or where it came from.  It was later confirmed (after an MRI and X-ray) that I had a stress fracture.  It didn’t happen during a run and honestly I don’t know how it happened.  When I first woke up, I thought I had walked into a wall.  I just thought I had bruised my foot. After getting out of bed, I realized it was something more severe.

My best guess is the cause was hard training for 2 years and not enough time off. I took sporadic weeks and a couple of months off but I did a lot of hard training and I think it all finally caught up to me. So my injury began August 22.

From August 22 to September 21st, I did not run at all.  After being in a boot a couple of weeks, I did light cross training but focused on just relaxing and resting.  Since the boot was removable, I could have cross trained through the injury but I opted to rest.  

It seemed stupid (because it is) to remove a boot or cast so that you can go to the gym. In my mind there wasn’t a desperate need to train.  I’m not on a collegiate team anymore, I’m not elite and my life does not depend on running…so I didn’t stress about cross training. it’s weird for me to look back and say I was strangely at peace with my injury. After everything leading up to August, I’m not sure I wanted to run the Wineglass marathon anymore.

My doctor cleared me to run 1 mile on September 22.  The doctor (as well as myself) did not believe the injury was as severe (closer to a reaction than fracture) because it did not happen during a run. 

I had been out of the boot for a two weeks and had no pain (or gimp) when walking around. I had cross trained and been on my foot with no pain or issue.

After my checkup I ran the mile. I was told to “see how it goes, if it hurts stop. It doesn’t hurt, still stop after a mile”. During the run and directly after I felt fine.  The next day my foot didn’t feel great so I waited another two weeks before running again.  The day after running the single mile my foot had minor swelling and was achy.  It seemed like I had taken a step back in recovery.  I truly believe that mile cost me a couple of weeks of recovery.  Oh well, you live and learn.

Around mid October I slowly began running again.  I kept to running 1-2 miles outdoors as well as running several miles on the alter G at work.

Timeline:

Week 1-4: Almost complete rest.  Weeks 1-3 were complete rest and a bit of cross training week 4.  Nothing more than 30 minutes and nothing strenuous.

Week 5: 1 mile (regrettable).  I honestly wish I had never run this mile and waited another week or 2.

Week 6: No running.  I did cross train a few times but nothing more than 30-45 minutes.  I alternated between the AMT as well as a standard elliptical.

Week 7: 3 miles outside, 15 miles Alter G (70% body weight).  Each mile felt good (unlike 2 weeks ago).

Alter G life
Alter G life

Week 8:  6 miles outside, 15 miles Alter G (70% body weight)

Week 9:  20 miles outside

 (A photo of how I felt after running a 20 mile week)
(A photo of how I felt after running a 20 mile week)

Week 10 and beyond (I’m at week 17 now):

I have built up from there.  The biggest jump for me was between week 8 and week 9.  I wasn’t sure how my body would take that big of a jump.  I went from 6 miles to 20 miles.  All of these miles were very easy (between 10-12 minute miles).

Was it the smartest idea?  No but I lucked out.  As I continue to build my base, I continue to monitor my foot as well as overall body feelings.  If I feel any pain, I take a rest day.

Just because I’m almost over the hump with one injury does not mean I am out of the clear of a completely different injury. I’ve had a minor hiccup a few weeks ago where my plantar fascia was sore.  I quickly scheduled a deep tissue massage and it went away within a day.

Overall Health:

There were a few things (with nutrition and health), I questioned when I was diagnosed with a stress fracture.  I questioned my bone density.  I have a regular period (and always had) but getting a stress fracture made me worry about my hormones and bone density. After being diagnosed, I wanted my bone density and hormones checked.  Overall health is more important to me than logging miles.   Both my hormone levels and bone density came back normal.

Nutrition:

Before getting my stress fracture I normally got roughly 100% of my daily required calcium intake through food.  I also took a calcium supplement daily (So in total I was in taking between 100-150% of my calcium daily).

After my diagnosis, I upped my calcium intake and am currently in taking 200% of my calcium daily (from milk, cheese and dairy…IE food) as well as taking a calcium supplement twice daily.

Overall thoughts:

Throughout this injury I’ve done a lot of little things that have helped me to come back.  I took time off, I ate foods that helped me nutritionally and I’ve paid more attention to myself both physically and mentally.  I think it’s important to look at a multiple prong attack plan. Just resting or just eating well would probably not allow me to come back stronger.

So where does this take me now?

I’ve been running well. I’ve been thinking a lot about my previous marathon experiences.  In both NYCM and preparing for Wineglass I believe I was overtrained.  Last May-June I was having very successful 20 mile runs (for a race that wasn’t until October).  I fear if I waited until the fall doing the same type of training again I would be overtrained again.  

That is why I’ve chosen to sign up for the Phoenix Full Marathon on February 28th.

pheonix full marathon

It will be roughly 4 months post injury.  I think it gives me a short but doable training cycle.  Will it be a sub 3 hour full marathon?  No, probably not.  My primary goal is to make it to both the start and finish lines healthy.  I would by lying if I said I wasn’t nervous but I think I’m sitting at a good spot right now.  I’ve completed a 17 miler 2 months out (with the hopes to complete a 20 miler in the next 2 weeks).  It gives me enough time to build fitness but not enough time to overdo it. Due to course differences and logistics, I might be able to take a stab at my marathon PR (3:17). Phoenix is much easier and low key race compared to New York. I’m also not driving 2000 miles prior.

Who knows what the future holds? As always thank you to my family, friends and readers for your support throughout the last four months. 💁💁

Questions for you:

How do you build a strong foundation post injury?

What is your average marathon training cycle length?

 

 

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Author: Hollie

Posts are written and maintained by Hollie. I'm just runner who is blogging her way through internet life. If you see me in the real world, you might be dreaming. If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to email me at fueledbyLOLZ@gmail.com

35 thoughts on “A Look At 4 Months of Being Injured”

  1. I definitely worked really hard at developing a really solid foundation after last years slew of injuries. I think I am dealing with a little bit of overtraining at the moment, though, and my body is letting me know! So now that I have exactly 2 months left before Phoenix, I am going to have to re-toggle some of my training plans and do what is best for my body. Le sigh, but hopefully it will work for the best!

  2. Hey holly! Thank you for all of your blogs and advice in injury recovery! I’m currently recovering from my first stress fracture (also had to defer wineglass marathon until 2015) and reading about your recovery helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel! Good luck at Phoenix full marathon. I’m big believer in shorter training cycles. They’ve worked the best for me in the past, maybe not for super speedy times but for reduced risk of injury. 3-4 months hard training then 6-8 weeks “recovery/easy running” seemed to be best cycle. I was trying to push harder to break 3:30 when I fractured my foot.

    1. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, I swear! I would rather have a slower time as well than sit out a race due to injury. Best of luck in your recovery!

  3. I cross trained through my injury with spin and BodyPump, and when I came back to running I tried to just ease in. I did run/walk a good bit as well, that helped me build back my endurance. I didn’t put any sort of pace or time expectations out there, just ran and enjoyed it, and I think that made a big difference. I did more group runs and made some new friends doing that.

    It changed my mindset on a lot of running, made me glad I could get out there a few days and also not scared to take a day off or cross train if something felt off instead of pushing through.

  4. First, thanks for the coffee reminder because I was about 15 minutes away from a withdrawal headache!

    Second, I think did so many things right while recovering from injury. Also, so smart of you to take your bone density into consideration because every female athlete should think that way, especially after a stress fracture.

    Training wise, I also found consistency is the biggest factor in building up running fitness. For me, it also involved dropping cross training activities that I was enjoying but that weren’t helping my running. I have also experienced peaking too soon that resulted in overtraining. This was partially to blame with my injury as well. There’s a delicate balance and I haven’t quite found the perfect marathon training cycle yet, but it’s shorter than I used to think.

  5. Post injury: I’m focusing on strength training and technique right now, since it was overuse of muscle groups which had weak antagonistic groups that got me into this mess in the first place. wow, that sentence was a mess all by itself. So lad I’ma programmer. I’m adding yardage (mileage in your speak) as I go but right now my sets are pretty much sprint distance. Good read that should get people thinking.

    1. Tee hee, I spoke the yardage language for 15 years. I don’t know if I could even swim a 50 right now though ;).

      Thanks for your support Lance, it always means a lot!

  6. This is a great post about coming back from an injury, I found it really interesting. I commented a few times that I thought you were being smart about recovery and the amount of time you took completely off from running, and it looks like it paid off.

  7. I think sometimes it seems to people on the outside that you’re recovering fast, while on the inside it feels like it is taking forever! I have gotten some of the same comments on my blog, but it feels sloooow to me. At the same time, I’ve read yours and marveled at how quickly you are recovering! So I guess it is just all a matter of perspective.

  8. Congrats on picking a big race! You’ve made a great recovery-I’ll be virtually cheering for you! I think it’s super important to get your hormones checked and to remember how much they affect your health.

  9. Sometimes, I think an injury gives your body a chance to fully recover and rest, which you don’t get otherwise. This is only the case if you are injury-free for a long period of time, like you were, so hopefully this results in some stronger-than-before times for you.

  10. Woohoo for a goal race! This is awesome news! I really like what you said about multiple-pronged approach to running. So many factors contribute to a successful race and/or training block, especially in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish.

  11. I run pretty consistently year-round, so I don’t do a ‘normal’ training cycle. I usually do about 12 weeks of actual training and the rest is just keeping my base mileage up. Since NYCM this year, where I had foot drop, I took most of November and December off and have just run a few times a week. Good job on stopping to rest and relax and let your body heal, so many people don’t do that. Good luck with your race in Phoenix! I’ll be excited to keep reading about your training/recovery and the race!

  12. Great post Hollie – I have really enjoyed reading your journey back from injury and feel you have done about as well as possible and really worked to stay positive throughout. I have never been injured (Feb ’15 will be 26 years) and hope to keep it that way for as long as possible .. but I always read these posts from blog friends because there is so much to learn.

  13. I’m glad you’ve been able to get through the injury all right. I would be so frustrated having to take so much time off.

  14. Great post, I cannot believe it has been four months. I was just starting a pre/post injury post yesterday after looking at how wonky my training was leading up to my big injury. In my head at the time everything seemed fine, but things were veryyyyy whackkkkyyyy

  15. Ooh, exciting marathon news 🙂

    I think your approach is a very good one: I know I’ve run most of my best races when I’ve felt undertrained following a period of injury. Yet I still can’t shake the obsession with being overtrained for everything. Go figure. Anyway, I’m excited for you and I really do think you’re going to run an excellent time.

    I do my best to build a decent foundation by incorporating more easy runs and also by strength training to the max. I possibly overdo it on that front because I’m so fixated on having a decent amount of muscle to support my fragile bones (and thus I end up with very fatigued legs, which carries over to my races), so it might be counterproductive in some ways!

  16. Your approach is a lot like mine. Maybe not what everyone would consider smart, but it’s life.

    I totally agree with you, a strong base is veryy important. When people ask me about running a race, I always like to emphasize on this.

    And February 28th is a perfect day. ( my daughter was born that day, hehe so I’m bias)

  17. I’m a fellow SJ runner battling a high hamstring injury (On week #6 of a complete running shut down). I stumbled across your blog through a training buddy of mine. Reading this has helped to give me hope that I’ll get healthy as long as I’m smart and continue to take the right steps to treat the injury. Thanks for posting!

  18. Reading this late but I loved it. I sprained my ankle Sept 2013 (texting and walking, is there anything more embarrassing?) and re-injured the same ankle Sept 2014 canyoning. At first I kept running on it since nothing was broken but by Thanksgiving I fully stopped and am going to PT. It’s getting better but still a little sore/weak. Reading your story put the timing of everything in perspective. Thanks for sharing!!

      1. I have not. I broke a bone and didn’t think it would help much. I’ve heard a lot of people having really great success with it for muscle issues!

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