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Spring Timeline of Minor Issues

I wanted to reflect upon my training since March and figure out how I got to this point in training.  The point of being burnt out, exhausted and injured. Hopefully, someone falling into the trap doesn’t land here too.  Yes, maybe this post reads more like a diary, but I do believe it’s beneficial for me to look back and reflect upon the roller coaster of 2016.

The Good Times:

carlsbad half
I started 2016 off with a bang.  In January, I PRed in both the 5k and half marathon.  I trained through February and PRed again at the Flower Show 5k.

I ran a disappointing race at Shamrock in March. It took both a mental and physical toll on my body.  I believe that was the beginning of my slow downward spiral. Since March, I’ve had a series of small injuries that caused me not to train consistently.  “It was always something.”

After Shamrock, I had a tight Glute Meade that pulled on my hamstring.   I felt overall tight, and it caused me to take about a week off from running.  After my muscles had loosened up, my training became more sporadic and less consistent.  Looking back, not training consistently caused more and more issues to arise.  I should have just taken an extended break then.  It would have prevented mental fatigue and minor aches to heal.

After running a great race at the Atlantic City half marathon, my right foot was sore.  My metatarsals hurt, and I thought I had another stress fracture in a metatarsal.  My right side doesn’t give me too many problems, but my foot hurt.  I took time off, and they found it was just soft tissue damage and pinched metatarsals.  I panicked “for nothing”.  After a week off and diving back into more haphazard training; I ran a few good races.broad street 10 miler 1

I ran Broad Street, the Newport 10k, and a mile in May. Diving quickly back into training wasn’t the best idea, and I found myself both mentally and physically exhausted.  After the mile, I decided to take a break. I didn’t have any ankle pain, but my legs were tired, and my mind was just as tired as well.

After taking a few days off, I decided to go for a run.  My legs had loosened up but something in my foot just “felt off”.  I couldn’t explain it, but my left foot didn’t feel right when running.  It was an ache more in my ankle.  It was enough to cause concern, so I just continued to rest.  I am relatively cautious, and anything feels off, I prefer to get looked at immediately, so I did.  This goes for pretty much anything, running related or not.

A few days later I got an X-ray and also got ART.  I was walking regularly, but something just felt off.  As I’ve mentioned before, the X-ray came out normally.  The doctors visually looked at my foot including pressing against each metatarsal, pushing against my navicular bone and squeezing my calcaneus.  They engaged with each bone, and I did the “hop test”.  All of which, I could do with no cause for alarm.

They also hit the tuning fork against my foot.  Nothing in my foot hurt, so it was somewhat motivating that my issue wasn’t bone related, and they ordered an MRI.

MRI foot

An MRI image of my foot

During the entire process of getting everything looked at, I didn’t miss running.  Maybe it was because I was mentally exhausted or maybe because I knew my foot felt off but I didn’t even have the interest to run.

The orthopedist thought I probably had an inflamed tendon or muscle in my foot.  Based on everything else, it made sense.  About three weeks after I decided to take the mental break, I received the results of my MRI.  I had a small hairline fracture on my fifth metatarsal closer to my ankle.

As I’ve mentioned, my initial thoughts were: how, why, what, did I do?

It was shocking considering I had run frequently on it before taking a mental break.  Since I was overall sore, tired and tight I think my foot aches were being overruled my overall body ache.

Even though the fracture probably happened sooner, we are considering the initial rest and recovery to start May 23.  It was the day I began taking my mental break.  Here I am, nearly one month later away from running.  It doesn’t feel like a month later, but I believe it was because I spent the first two weeks not knowing my body was even hurt.  I’m allowed to attempt a mile next Monday to see how it feels.  Since this injury hasn’t presented itself normally and I still don’t have many answers, I don’t know how the run will go.  If I feel anything even during the first step or two, I’m not going to continue.

Questions for you:

Have you had a mysterious injury or issue? 

What is the most fun cross training exercise you’ve done? 

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Injured Workout Log: Tests, Swim and Spin

My workouts last were week were all over the place.  While recovering from the injury, I don’t have anything strict and I workout when I feel like it.  I don’t have “a plan”.  I do my PT exercises daily to build strength to my ankle and go to the gym/pool when I’m motivated.  This log is all over the place, though.

swimming

First, my food poisoning finally simmered down last Sunday.

Since I found out about food poisoning and a fractured foot within two hours of each other, posts about food poisoning took a back seat.  In summary, I had a rare form of food poisoning caused by under cleaned seafood.  I had to get a series of shots as well as a blood test to make sure it wasn’t a more dangerous form.  I don’t think I mentioned it on the blogging space, but the food poisoning was a huge deal. If I had “only” gotten food poisoning, it would have been enough to knock me out of training for at least a week.  Since I wasn’t running and had other things going on, it took a back seat.

Since I did get a lot of blood taken for the tests related to food poisoning, I had to delay getting blood tests for my Calcium, Vitamin D, and Cortisol levels.  Once they were able to take blood for that, my levels came out in the normal range.  It was once again surprising.

The final and most important test (to me) was the Dexa test.  The Dexa test measures bone density.  Anyone can have what is considered “normal” calcium and Vitamin D levels but the Dexa scan could indicate osteoporosis or low bone density.  Mentally, it was a hard test to take because I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear the results. My bone density came out surprisingly normal and not even in the Osteopenia range.

So here I sit, four weeks off from running.  It doesn’t feel like it’s been four weeks but I was mentally exhausted from running.

What do we know? 
  • We know my bone fracture wasn’t caused by low bone density or poor nutrition.
  • It could have been caused by rolling or spraining my ankle, except I never felt a point that would indicate I did either.
  • It could be caused from running high mileage, except I probably ran on it for a significant amount of time with no suspicion of a fractured bone.
  • It could be caused by my form which puts an abnormal about of pressure on my fifth metatarsals and metatarsals in general.
What did I do last week?
Monday:  Rest
Tuesday: 1 Hour Spin Class+30 minutes core
Wednesday: 45 mins AMT+30 minutes core
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 45 minutes AMT+30 minutes core
Saturday: Swim (3000 Meters)
Sunday: 30 minutes core+ Swim (2000 Meters)

My foot didn’t hurt doing any of the workouts  I don’t have any structured plan but I’m going to classes and working out when I want.  I wasn’t able to get on the Alter G treadmill yet but the timing didn’t work with my schedule last week. I was allowed to run on it.

I am allowed to attempt a short 1 mile run in exactly one week and see how it feels.  My foot and ankle don’t hurt now, so I’m hoping for the best.

Running Related Posts from Last Week:
A Few More Weeks of Rest
So Why? 
8 Things Runners Training through the Summer Understand

Questions for you:
Have you had a mysterious illness, sickness or ailment?
How was your week of workouts?

One Mistake I’m Glad I Made

Lately, I’ve been in a blogging funk, so I decided to participate in a blogging topic challenge. Many of the blog topics are ones I haven’t discussed in a lot of detail. Most of the posts will relate to my personal experience with running, but there might be exceptions too.

Blog Challenge 1: One mistake I’m glad I made

No one likes to make mistakes.  The feeling of failure can be one of the hardest emotions to come to terms with. However, if you can learn from a mistake, it’s hard to consider the mistake a failure.  We all live, and we all make mistakes.

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I’ve made plenty if mistakes in life, in relationships and of course in running too.  

One of my earliest errors in running was overtraining and receiving my first stress fracture.  

At the time, I wasn’t glad.  In fact, I was miserable and upset but in hindsight, I’m glad I made that mistake. Early into my running career, I was running too hard and too fast for every single run.  I was running every mile between 7-7:15.  My 5k PR was around 20 minutes, and I had never even attempted a half or full marathon.

(To compare now my easy runs are above 8:30 pace or untimed and my 5k PR is 18:22.  Running is also not stressful this way.) 

While I wasn’t running extremely high mileage (in the 40-50s), the constant pounding and hard running lasted about a month.  On July 12, 2011 (also known as my 21st birthday), I ran hard and ultimately ended with a severe tibial stress fracture.  Looking back, it’s fairly obvious the cause was overtraining.  

Since I was new and had no idea, I thought, of course, I was training well.  While injured, I took the time to look back at my training and I learned more about myself and running than I had previously.  I began learning that my body is not invincible.  Little pains can manifest themselves into larger issues. It was a lesson I needed to learn early!

If I had continued down that path of running, it would have been a disaster and honestly, I would be injured with something more serious.

During my two months of rest and recovery, I learned that running isn’t and never will be everything in my life. I also learned that it’s appropriate to listen to cues of injury. Taking a rest day here and there is far easier than taking 8+ weeks off.

My tibial stress fracture shaped my training now that I’m not afraid to run easier miles, cut back mileage or take rest days altogether. Just thinking about back to back 7-minute miles is enough to exhaust me.

Each injury teaches us something about ourselves. Instead of dwelling in the injury, I think it’s important to look back and realize what can be improved.

Questions for you:
What is one mistake you are glad you made?
Has an injury taught you something recently?

The #bumbutt Week 4

To begin this post, it’s all over the place.  I think my brain exploded into Microsoft word and the baby was this post.

Was this worth it...I don't know at this point...

Was this worth it…I don’t know at this point…

To be honest the longer my butt issues are prolonged, the more frustrated I get.  Last week was not enjoyable.  I am doing everything the sports doctor has said but it seems like nothing is working.  Part of the problem is that I need to find out the problem.  I am not 100% convinced that my only issue stems from the hip.  Often times with the body the pain manifests itself one place but is actually coming from somewhere else.

So physically my bum butt pain is still there.  The pain does not affect my gait or stride but it’s noticeable and unenjoyable.

Mentally: 

I have questioned a lot about myself and running lately (but it in all seriousness who doesn’t when they are injured?)

I don’t think the marathon was worth the struggle I’m having right now.  I didn’t particularly enjoy the marathon more than another event (At this point, it’s safe to say I did a lot of damage).

To be honest if I didn’t have my wedding to look forward too, I would be down on myself.  I would be down on running and I would be more upset.  I alluding to this last week but I haven’t had the training or enjoyment out of running that I once had.

Is it because I’m not doing well?

Is it because I’m running distances I don’t even enjoy?

I don’t know but probably.  Why do something you don’t enjoy?

I’ve mentioned this a lot lately but the next few weeks are going to be a nice break that I need from running but also blogging and social media.

Yes I could take a break from social media at any time (LOL, no one is forcing me to blog) but this is largely a running blog.

If I’m not running, what am I blogging about?

I need to figure out what I want to do with my running and where I want to go.  I’m obviously all over the place and honestly don’t have an answer for what I want to do.

Do I want to completely take off time from running?  Maybe…

Do I want to cross train or even get back into the pool?  That also crossed my mind.

Do I want to train for shorter races and bypass a marathon this year?   I think that is a very strong contender.  I don’t enjoy marathoning (there I said it).

I feel like a broken record the last year about back to back injuries.  It’s been a hard year both physically and mentally (running wise…life has been great!).  I am looking forward to having better races soon.

Since this is a lot to follow and makes sense to me (but probably not people who aren’t in my mind).  Basically I am frustrated.  I am beginning to exhaust all of my options to figure out my #bumbutt.   Once we pin point the exact muscle location of injury, we can fix it but until then the frustration continues.

Questions for you:

What is your favorite race distance?

How was your weekend?

 

Training with No Gravity Part 2

A few people asked me to write a bit more about my experience with the Alter G.  I’ve run on it 5 times now (so I’m not any sort of expert).  I do know I have not regretted a single run.  I haven’t felt pain during or after run, so I’m honestly glad I’ve started using it.  I actually think my recovery is starting to go really well (but I also feel extremely jaded because my last run was at 77% body weight).

Before last week, I had heard about an Alter G treadmill but never used it for myself.  I had seen it downstairs but never used it.  I had seen one of my elite coworkers use it but seeing someone run 5 min miles like no big deal….well you don’t stop to chat while they are doing workouts.

I honestly hadn’t even done that much research about it prior to last week. I was letting an extremely useful training tool pass by me.  After my doctor said I could use the alter G, I did more research and decided to give it a go.

I knew we had one at Haddonfield Running Company to rent and use.  Finding one would have probably been the hardest hurdle.  Life granted me a ray on sunshine though.

So last week I went in to do my 20 minutes.  I knew nothing and once again I had done very little research until about an hour prior.  70% seemed to be the optimal starting point in beginning to run post stress fracture.

You wear a pair of party pants that essentially zip you into the machine.  As it calibrates, you stand completely still with you arms crossed.  It’s a lot easier said then done.   The chamber where you will run fills with air.  The gravity almost feels as if it’s lifting you off the ground. It’s a strange and indescribable feeling. I felt like I was running in the pool but with no resistance.

alter G treadmill pantsSo with that I ran for 20 minutes at 6.5 pace and 70% body weight.  I didn’t listen to music because I wanted to be hyper aware of my foot.  During the run it felt as if there was no pain or pressure on it.  It felt fine.  I honestly wasn’t surprised since it was putting very little pressure on my foot.

After I made it through my 20 minutes completely pain free, it was more the afterwords I was worried about. The next few minutes I felt fine. I chatted with my coworkers. I drove home and felt fine afterwords. I haven’t had any extra aches, pains or problems since adding these Alter G runs. I’ve started to slowly up my body weight use from 70% body weight to 77%. My plan is to keep slowly upping my body weight until I feel good running at 95%, then I will try running outdoors.

Alter G Treadmill

(I’m not being payed to be injured and review an Alter G)

Questions for you:
Have you tried an Alter G?
How do you come back post injury?

 

Training With No Gravity

This could be my most exciting training post ever. It’s not many weeks you get to use a multithousand dollar piece of equipment.  Does it make me instafast?

At the beginning of last week I had my foot check up.  At my previous foot check up a few weeks ago, my doctor said “your foot is healing really well.  You are at the point that you can try running 1 mile to see how it feels.  Just one mile and go by pain”.  So I did that and the next day I truly felt like I had set myself back in another week or two in recovery.  So after my doctor said I could run on the alter G and “see how it goes”, I felt very indifferent.  Would set me back again? Am I too cautious? I had also gotten a second opinion from another doctor who said the Alter G wouldn’t hurt.

Two doctors cleared me to run a little bit and I still wasn’t excited? That makes complete sense…When I was cleared a few weeks ago, I tried running one mile and it only ended in dramatic heartbreak. I didn’t feel as if I had made the right progress. While I felt good during my run, I did not feel great after my run. I only felt as if I had made my entire situation worse.  That was close to three weeks ago and I decided to give the alter G a shot.  So this time (despite not even full out running) I was very hesitant.

After my doctors appointment, I decided to go give the Alter G a shot.  I knew i wouldn’t gain this much momentum to get out to Haddonfield very often. I had to take full advantage! I will be honest, I got there a bit nervous and not knowing what to expect. I’m (very) lucky to work at Haddonfield Running Co, which has an Alter G available to rent and use.

Alter G Treadmill

So with that I put on the jazzy zipper pants and I was zipped into place. I was told to keep my feet firm on the ground. I can stand straight (or so I thought). My legs were nearly reduced to nothing. I ran for 20 minutes with 70% body weight. My biggest worry was my foot would hurt post run. I didn’t think it would hurt during the run because it’s such a reduced pressure on your foot.

After I was done it was time to come back into real life with gravity. You don’t realize how heavy your butt is until you come back into gravity and everything comes back into true weight. I thought I had a butt that rivaled Nikki Minaj after I was done…but sadly I was just back to normal.

The big question is: how am I feeling now? Honestly I feel okay. I don’t feel like I put any extra pressure on my foot and by the nature of the alter G, I didn’t put much pressure on my foot. I will continue to use the alter G for another week or two.  I do realize that I’m only running at 70-77% of my body weight right now.  It’s very hard to fathom an alter G because you truly are leaving “real life”.  If I tried to run on a regular treadmill the same amount of time, I would be posting about how I rebroke my foot.  I really hope this is the plateau in my injury that I’ve finally broken out of. I’m ready to run. I’m hungry to run outside again. It’s hard to say how I’m really feeling because I’m running with less weight.

As far as pain while I’m walking around.  I am aware of an ache but not in pain if that makes sense. I’m in no pain and it feels like a dull ache, I’m hyper aware of because I know my injury history.

Workouts-

Monday: 1 Hour AMT
Tuesday: 20 minutes Alter G at 70% body weight
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 24 minutes Alter G at 70% body weight
Friday: 30 minutes Alter G at 75% body weight
Saturday:  Rest
Sunday:  30 minutes Alter G at 77% body weight

So that wraps up another week.  If you have questions about the Alter G, feel free to ask.  It’s certainly new to me and something I hope to incorporate more of.

Questions for you:

Have you ever used an alter G?

What was your best/favorite workout this week? 

From Limping to Long Runs (39 miles)

I think this is 6 weeks to go.  Everything seems to be blending together since moving. 

To be completely honest last week after my 20 mile run, my left (and more dominate) knee started to get a “niggle”.  It felt pretty tight and by the evening last Sunday I was limping.  I had planned to take Monday off from running (like I do after long runs) but with every step my knee seemed to get worse. By Sunday evening I had thrown myself a huge pity party and was in the pits.

 I went through a lot of thoughts like my marathon training is over, I can’t catch a break, this is my first running injury in quite some time, how did it happen…ect.  I hadn’t felt a pop during training nor had I done anything stupid in regards to training. I took Monday off and scheduled a deep tissue massage on Tuesday.  By Tuesday my entire upper thigh was more sore and hurt.  I gave myself a time limit that if I was not running in two weeks I was not going to push myself to get back into the groove for the marathon.  (read: I would DNS New York).

The deep tissue massage was one of the most painful massages I’ve ever gotten.  The lady was the best at getting painfully deep into every muscle I had.  She left me sore everywhere and only wanting to lay in bed.

On Thursday I went for a 6.65 mile untimed run on the flattest areas of town.  I wasn’t sure how this would go but my knee didn’t seem to get any worse or better.  It stayed the same which was still better then Sunday. 

Training for the week:

Sunday:

20 mile run

Knee pain during: Not felt, possibly due to adrenine knee pain a few hours afterwords: limping (10)

Monday:

Rest

Knee pain: limping and upper thigh pain (10)

Tuesday:

Elliptical/cross train and deep tissue massage

Before: Knee pain able to walk still hurts, thigh pain hurts (8) After massage: Everything is sore

Wednesday:

Elliptical/cross train (I chose machines that didn’t hurt or make anything worse)

Overall soreness from massage (everything 7)

Thursday:

Elliptical/cross train and 6.65 mile run

Greatest day of improvement no thigh pain and knee 5..while running knee was 5

Friday:

Elliptical/cross train and 15 minute core work

Knee pain: 3

Saturday:

Run 12.1 miles

Knee pain:3

Sunday:

Long Run 20.36 miles

Knee pain: 2

Total:

39 miles miles

 

 

On Sunday I decided to switch my shoes and look for more flat terrain to run on.  If my knee progressively got worse during the run then I would stop.  I was going to stop the moment it got worse.  The first couple of miles went by quickly and as I continued to run I noticed my knee pain was actually going away.  By mile 16 my pain was almost completely gone.  I am hoping my pain stemmed from a bad pair of Newton Gravities and possibly the titled terrain here. 

There were also some huge differences between this long run and last weeks long run:

Last week: I thought I was going to die after mile 12.  It was hot, hard and I was slogging through the final miles.  I honestly don’t think I could have run any further if I had tried.  When I came home I was incoherent and just layed down for 20 minutes.  After this weeks long run: I felt strong and like I could keep going.  My last few miles were well below a 7:30 pace.  I was talking to Tim the entire time (he rode his bike).  I felt strong and I might have been able to finish a marathon. 

Overall training thoughts of this week:

I am so glad I took that time off and am healthy again.  It sucked, it was hard and made me question everything about my training but I’m now 5 weeks away and healthy as opposed to 6 weeks away and unable to walk.

As you can see (and I wrote each of these daily to keep myself in check) my knee progressively got better throughout the week.  If I had not rested and decided to run Monday-Thursday I do not think it would have gotten better.  I would still be injured.

I’ll be the first to tell you I was a hot mess this week.  I was a big pile of emotion wondering if my marathon training was out the door.  I had flashbacks from last year with my cyst and watching my training go away.  It doesn’t really help that I don’t have a job so I get to sit here and fester on my injury as opposed to staying occupied. 

Questions for you:

Ever had those niggle pains?  Do you run through?

What is your cross training method of choice? 

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