Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury

It feels like I picked the hottest and most miserable weather to get back into shape.  Even though I only took two months off due to injury, I lost a lot of fitness.  Honestly, that’s fine.  Thinking out loud, We can’t be in peak fitness forever and a break doesn’t hurt anyone.

Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury

Getting back into shape isn’t always the most pleasant experience.  Getting back into shape when it’s extremely hot, can be even more miserable. A lot of fellow runners have asked how I am getting back out there.  I’m not a coach, expert or anything close.  I’m just a female who likes to run and blog through the journey.

Here are a Few Tips:  
  1. Track Everything: When coming back from injury, this is especially important. I began tracking when I felt any residual soreness and how I felt during the run.  Slowly, the residual pain started at 1 mile.  Then later it was 2.  Then even later it was 3 and finally after I finished a 5-mile run, I realized I was completely pain-free.  Tracking things allows you to see physical progress.
  2. Set Achievable Goals: You aren’t going to be 100% pain-free or set a PR within the first week of running. Setting realistic and achievable goals is important.  Maybe it’s to work up to racing again, or maybe it’s run consistently every day.  Making a goal keeps you focused.
  3. It’s All Mental: Fitness is based on a collection of runs and races. It isn’t based on one single event.  Even if you get discouraged during one single run, chances are you’ll have a better one soon.
  4. Stay Positive: This is easier said than done.  I try and focus on the positives on each run.  Even if the positive if just “I ran injury free”.
  5. Constantly Reassess: Injuries are tricky that way. Some injuries, you come back and feel on top of the world.  Other injuries, you feel as though it will take months or even years to go back to where you left.  To be honest, this is an injury that is taking longer than anticipated. I reassess my foot daily to see where I’m at and how I feel.
Finally, just remember your fitness is a collection of workouts. A day, week, month or event a year isn’t going to make or break your journey.

Questions for you:
How do you come back stronger from an injury?
What is your favorite type of weather to run in?

Workouts: Racing and Taking a Step Back

Like most of the Northeast, it was scorching last week.  If I weren’t motivated to get back out there, I would have struggled with most runners. Luckily I was driven by the pure fact I’m able to run again.  Plus I don’t have certain paces or workouts I need to hit in the heat, so that makes it a little bit easier too.

All of my runs have been easy.  They are boring, and I’ve been running for about any hour 4 days a week and two longer runs.  This time, period makes for several uneventful training logs.

Monday: Easy 60 minutes
Tuesday: Easy 60 minutes
Wednesday: Midweek Long Run 85 minutes
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Easy 50 minutes
Saturday: Healthy Kids 6k (20:01)
Sunday: Long Run 90 minutes
Total: Roughly 50 miles

My race on Saturday went better than expected. Despite the heat, I was able to run a 20:01.  It was about 20 seconds faster than the week before.  I ran the race last year in cooler conditions and ran a 20:13. So I’m happy with the time for now.

running 12

The main question: So how’s my ankle feeling?

I do still have a little bit of achiness.  It’s not painful, but it is noticeable. I’ve had three weeks of solid base building, so I’m taking a step back next week and taking a few days off.  While I do believe it’s residual pain but, I would rather be safe than sorry.  There is no need to push it now.

Thus another short and relatively boring training log complete.  I wish I had something exciting to share, but the boring parts of training have their place as well.

Questions for you:

How long after an injury do you normally feel “good’?

Is it hot where you are?

Workout Log: (99% Injury Free?)

Training log:

As demotivating last week was, this week was much better.  In fact, this was the best week I’ve had while returning after my injury.  Along with my running feeling good, I decided to get my butt in gear and actually do the little things.

Me running

Monday: 40-minute easy run
Tuesday: 40-minute easy run
Wednesday: 60-minute easy run Core
Thursday: 3000-meter swim Core
Friday: 30-minute easy run Core
Saturday: 30-minute easy run
Sunday: 65-minute easy run
Total: Roughly 30 miles

Thoughts:

To be honest, this was the first week of running I didn’t feel “injured.”  It’s been eight weeks, but I finally feel, “normal.”  I’m nervous to type that out. My ankle doesn’t ache during the before, during or after which motivates me.

However, I’m still monitoring my ankle.  While this week felt good, that doesn’t mean every run will.  I’m at the point that I miss running and training consistently.  I’ve been out for most of the summer, and I miss it.  Hopefully, I’ve made it through the initial hardest part of recovery, and now it’s back to increasing mileage.

I was happy to get to the pool once and do a few core workouts throughout the week too.

My plan for the next month is to continue to slowly increase mileage and possibly add a few races too. I know I’ve lost fitness, but it will be nice to get a good baseline.  I don’t have any major goal races picked out because no injury recovers the same. I don’t know where my fitness is or how fast I’ll be able to return to running.  Honestly, I don’t even know what I want to train for.

Questions for you:
How was your week of workouts?
Is it scorching hot where you are? 

Training Last Week: Unmotivation Station

To be honest, last week didn’t go as planned.  I was able to get 30 minute runs in, but that is a half hour of my day.  I didn’t make time for core, strength or any extra stuff.

running me

Workouts:

Monday: 3-mile group run
Tuesday: 30-minute run
Wednesday: 35-minute run
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 30-minute run
Saturday: 40-minute run
Sunday 30 minute run
Total: Between 20-25 miles

My favorite run was the Saucony “Run Pops” Group Run.  Saucony has come out with a line of limited edition bold colored shoes called “run pops” (think popsicles).  It was not only great to run with people but it was my favorite run too.  Lemon is my favorite popsicle flavor and the Saucony Triumph is my favorite shoe…I should probably purchase these when I’m back to running 100%.

saucony run pops group run

So what happened?

I fell off the cross training planet last week.  I could make a lot of excuses, but I was busy and honestly the heat just unmotivated me. In 95 degrees, I feel like the pool should have been welcoming.  But I chose to stay inside and didn’t get out there.  I’ve also taken on another project, so that has kept me busier than normal too.

How does my foot feel?

Last week, my foot felt achier than it has in previous weeks.  Whenever I come back from any injury, I’m always achy for about a month afterwords.  Each time, my doctors tell me it’s soft tissue damage, but I get nervous.

Right now I’m in the phase of thinking: is my bone not healing? Is it just soft tissue and residual gunk? I would rather have answers and not question things. Also, I have struggled the last two weeks of missing running normally and not worrying about it.  I miss the ability to go out for a healthy run and not be plagued with worrying if I have completely healed.

My running last week was going through the motion of getting back into shape.  It’s been nearly two months since I’ve run much, so everything is sore.  I know I haven’t lost all of my fitness, but I do know I’ve lost some.

So combined with the unknown of my foot, wondering if I’m healing and the heat I lost most of my motivation last week.  It wasn’t a week I’m particularly proud of but not every week can be perfect. Next week I plan to get back into my routine with core and cross training.

Questions for you:

How was your week last week?  Was it hot?

How do you stay motivated in the heat?   

Workout Log: Hiking, Humidity and Swimming

Last week flew by. Since the Fourth of July landed on a Monday, the week felt much shorter.  Which is odd because generally “short” weeks feel like they last longer.  Is that the case with anyone else?

Training wise, I’m just trucking along. Right now my foot is fine, but I’ve started to worry my foot will not respond well to an increase in mileage.  This stage of injury recovery is the hardest for me.  I find myself questioning a lot: will my foot respond well to an increase in distance? Will it not?

I’m better at just resting and “not running”.  Each time I’m cleared to run again (like now), I just constantly worry about every minor detail.

I keep questioning: will this be the run to completely break my foot?

Then I remember, I never broke my foot across the bone.  I fractured it and was still running 70 miles.

So in summary, my ankle is fine now but my fear is that I’ll gradually build my mileage back, but I will still have the same pain as before I stopped running. My biggest concern is: What if we’ve never solved the problem?  What if there is something else?

Moving on to workouts: 

Monday: —– Hike at Hemlock Falls
Tuesday: 3000 meters Swim 20 minute run
Wednesday: Core and Arm Strength 30 minute run
Thursday: Core 20 minute run
Friday: —— Complete Rest
Saturday: Core 35 minute run
Sunday: 3000 Meter Swim 20 minute run

On Monday, my husband and I went hiking at Hemlock Falls. It was more of an outing versus an intense hike. It was not a rest day either, and my legs were fatigued afterwords.  My ankle never felt any pain during the hike, and we weren’t pace pushers.  We just wanted to enjoy some of the scenes of the Garden State.

Hemlock Falls

My short runs consisted of a 20-minute run. Nothing hurt or felt off during those runs.

When I go to the pool, I prefer to swim laps versus pool running.  Both times I swam laps I swam 3X1000 meters.  One without a pull buoy, one with and one without.  It felt good.  It still baffles me I used to race that event. Swimming 3X1000s is what I like to do, and it’s enjoyable to deplug and stare mindlessly at the bottom of the pool with no interruptions.
My midweek “long run” was 30 minutes. This was where my ankle felt off, and it made me a little bit nervous. My ankle didn’t hurt, but it felt off. I know my ankle has made an improvement, but I’m worried it’s not enough. I guess we all have those fears, though.

Friday I needed complete rest. I needed it.  Between hiking, running and swimming I was exhausted.  Last week was the most hot and humid, we’ve had all summer. I haven’t missed running in that!

I decided to run my 35 minute run on Saturday because I was anxious to run, felt good and had rested the day before.  I didn’t have a reason to run on Sunday versus Saturday, so I switched them.  I felt a little bit of pressure on the back of my heel but nothing like before.  My breathing felt awful, and my legs felt tired at the end, but I ran. For the most part, my ankle felt fine.  Now we are two days later, and it still feels okay so I am making progress.

running injury free

In summary, I’m continuing to run and right now my ankle feels fine.  I’m a natural worrier but hopefully gradually increasing mileage keeps all injuries at bay.

Question for you:

Have you ever been hiking? 

What was your favorite workout last week? 

How to Come Back Stronger from an Injury

Each time I’ve had an injury, I’ve come back stronger.  I haven’t PRed the next day, but I have gone on to PR after every injury I’ve had.

How to Come Back Stronger from an Injury

Thinking out loud, It isn’t by luck or by a miracle, but it comes from taking the appropriate amount of rest and starting back slowly. It’s not a short process by any means, but if you don’t take the time to recover well, you’ll just end up where you started-hurt.

As I’ve come to realize, I’m more susceptible to bone related injuries.  Not because of weak bones but because of my running form. This “comeback” will consist of more strength and target weak areas.

Here is some information I’ve learned about Coming Back from an Injury:

Don’t Push It:
When coming back from any injury, it’s important not to push your mileage, pace or distance. As I mentioned in my training log, I’m running for time. I don’t care about distance and speed.  Running for more than 20-30 minutes feels like another lifetime ago.  I’m just happy to run.

You aren’t a hero for going zero to full mileage.  In fact, you’ll end up reinjuring yourself or coming back with a new injury.

Calories In>Calories Out
My orthopedist is a strong believer in making sure you flood your body with the appropriate nutrition. I’m currently taking a vitamin for calcium and vitamin D, and I’m also not skimping on meals just because I’m not running as much.  I would rather come back into running knowing I have the appropriate nutrients to keep me running versus end up injured because of a vitamin deficiency.  I could write a lengthy post about the importance of eating enough to train.  You won’t recover from an injury by not fueling appropriately and getting proper nutrients.

Don’t Worry Fall into the Comparison Trap:
It’s human nature to compare yourself in any situation, but it’s not smart especially coming back from an injury.  With social media, it’s easy to compare someone else’s training and comeback.  Don’t compare yourself to others because it’s only going to result in frustration. Don’t worry about what another person is doing.  It isn’t going to effect your training.  We are all different, and we all respond from injuries differently.

Finding the Right Shoe:
When you are healthy, looking for the right shoe is hard enough.  When you are injured, it could be ten times as hard.  Right now I’m looking for a well-cushioned shoe, especially in the heel.  It’s already led to a lot of experimenting. As most people know, my favorite shoe is the Saucony Triumph. However, I believe right now I need more cushion than that shoe can provide.  I’ve run a little bit in the Hoka Clifton 3, Mizuno Enigma as and Asics Cumulus.  Currently, I haven’t found a favorite, but my hunch says the Mizuno. I’ll have shoe reviews once I put more mileage on each.  I’m lucky to work at a running store and have access to so much knowledge about shoes and what could be possible options.

So why does shoe choice matter?

After any injury, it’s important to figure out whether you need a different shoe or even shoe size. Broken bones can alter your gait or form. You might need a different shoe altogether.  There have been customers that come into the store whose foot has swollen an entire size or whose form has completely changed.  If you’ve had an issue in your foot that has kept you sidelined, it’s important to get your gait looked at again.

Questions for you:

What have you learned from being injured (or hopefully you’ve just never had a running injury)?

How do you avoid comparing yourself to others (in anything)?

 

Training: Hello Running

I feel as though I should have Adele lyrics playing in the background.  Last week’s training began the slow transition from cross-training to running. As I make this slow transition, my plan is to continue cross training and slowly integrate running back in.

me running

A fracture is a broken bone, and it’s so important to gradually increase mileage from any broken bone.  I don’t plan to build up to my regular mileage until the end of the summer. I’ll build strength from other workouts, strength training and running.

So what did I do?
Right now I’m running 20 minutes daily.  The mileage has varied, but it doesn’t matter.  Sometimes I don’t even know how I ran, and I forget to go back in check. I am just happy I’m able to run.

Sunday long run (30 minutes):
I ran for 30 minutes.  My ankle was more sore than normal, but it was my longest run.  It didn’t alter my stride, but I felt random twinges throughout the day. Nothing serious and it felt more muscle related than bone.  My run was on Sunday and two days later I feel fine.

Cross training:
This summer, I’ll continue to swim, and I might continue to participate in spin classes. The elliptical and AMT cross trainer will slowly disappear as my running increases.

Shoe Wise:
I have more thoughts about this soon, but I currently need more cushion in the heel of my shoe.  As much as I love my Saucony Triumph, I need a shoe with more cushion in the heel to support my ankle.

I’ve run a little bit in the Hoka Clifton 3.  I like the cushion in the heel, but I do believe I prefer the “traditional” 10-12 millimeter drop.  Hoka’s have maximum cushioning, but they also have a lot of properties of minimalist shoes.  I don’t hate the Clifton 3, but I haven’t fallen in love either.  They are getting the job done…I’ve also run in the Asics Cumulus, which I like the gel in the back of the heel.  I haven’t found a shoe I love right now but I’m also recovering from an injury, so I’m biased too.  It’s a long slow process of finding something that works.

In summary, I probably ran about 15 injury free miles.  I’m continuing to cross train and search for a shoe with more cushion in the heel.

Questions for you:

How was your Fourth of July?

What is your current running shoe?