A History of Injuries

A History of Injuries

One of the most requested posts is about my history with injuries.

I haven’t always stayed injury free, and I have several injuries throughout the years. Before recently, my blog could have alternative names such as fueledbyInjuries or InjuriesNlolz.

Many of my injuries were because I overtrained or ran easy runs too fast.

Over time, I’ve learned that you can’t outrun an injury. Life doesn’t work like that. If you are worried, rest. Resting a few days often saves you from resting a few weeks, months, or even years. You don’t gain fitness in a day and you definitely don’t lose it either.

When I first started running in 2010, I had many years of haphazard running.  It took a lot of trial and error and learning from experience to determine what works best for me. As with anything, I learn best when I do something and make mistakes along the way.

You can read my full running story here (or in one of the headings above).

In summary, I began running in July 2010.  I ran off and on and was still a member of on my collegiate swim team.  Swim season lasted from September until late February, so there was no running during that time.  During the off-season, we were allowed to work out as we pleased, so eventually, I picked up running.

run for the hill of it

Here is my History with Injuries:

My first serious running injury:

Tibial Stress Fracture (July 2011-September 2011)

How it happened:
I ran every day for an hour on the treadmill.  I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to train fast every single day.  I thought to race faster you must train faster.  So every day I made the goal to beat the previous day’s mileage for 1 hour.  I never ran for more than an hour, but I ran seven days a week. I was running between 7-7:15 pace for an hour.

Ultimately I was far more exhausted from running 50 miles then I am now.  My body broke at a road race on my 21st birthday. Midway through a run-swim-run race, my body broke, My tibia fractured and I was done.

I learned more about myself than any other injury.  To be honest, I needed that injury to realize that training was idiotic and not right.  My tibial stress fracture shaped my training to include a lot more easy miles. I don’t time my easy runs anymore, and I don’t GAF whether the pace is 10 minutes or 8 minutes.

Happy 21st birthday to me with my non detected tibia SF

Cyst: August 2012-October 2012:

How it happened:
During September 2012, I developed a cyst in the arch of my foot.  The doctors still don’t know exactly how it formed it could have developed anywhere in my body (I’m so thankful it wasn’t my brain).

They don’t believe it was running related, but it prevented me from running.  I was able to run with minimal pain until the cyst became large enough to rip the muscle from my bone. After tearing the muscle off my metatarsal, it halted running completely.

After recovering for two months and a shot to reduce the swelling, I came back and ran my fastest college cross country race.

 

Fractured Elbow (August 2013):

How it happened: 

While cooling down at a road race in August 2013, I was hit by a cyclist.  I was knocked to the ground, and it fractured my elbow.  I was devastated, but after a week, I was able to run slowly.

I decreased mileage, but it ended up being the most nonserious elbow fracture I could have.  At the time, the decline in mileage was terrifying because I was training for my first marathon, NYCM.

It taught me; you have to roll with the punches. A few days of rest does not impact fitness.

When I got my sling off

Second Metatarsal Fracture (August 2014)

How it happened:
Fast forward to moving to Texas and then New Jersey. In August of 2014, I got a second metatarsal fracture. In hindsight, I believe I upped my mileage too quickly.  Even though I was running easy, I think my mileage went up too fast.  At the time, I was training for my second marathon, Wineglass.  I healed by race day, but it would have been dumb to run a marathon on a newly recovered stress fracture.  To be honest, I don’t think my heart was ready to race another marathon, and it was a good out.

I chose this photo because I think I ran a hard track mile and then the next day ran a 20 miler for the marathon. #dumb

Bum Butt (February 2015-March 2015)

How it happened:
I tweaked something running my second marathon and kept running.  Around mile 18, my butt started to throb.  By the end of the marathon, my whole left side was in pain.  Should I have finished the race?  Probably not…Did I PR? Yes…

I didn’t heal as fast as I should have because I continued to run after the marathon.  I took two weeks off (which helped) but then I ran too hard too fast.  Looking back, I made good progress and then threw it all away running again.  This is something I’m 100% kicking myself for…even though I had an excellent time at Shamrock 2015.  If I had taken a month off, I wouldn’t have had two months to deal with the issues.

Ankle Fracture June 2016:

How it Happened:
This was the only injury I’m not entirely sure what I did. Did I tweak my ankle running on trails? Did I run too much? I don’t know. In June of 2016, something felt off. I couldn’t pinpoint it, and it almost felt like plantar fasciitis on the outside of my foot. An X-ray confirmed I had a minor fracture. The fracture healed with time off but it worried something else was not right. Test results found my calcium, vitamin D, and blood levels were fine.

One thing my ankle fracture taught me was I liked hiking. After healing, I spent a good portion of the summer hiking and enjoying the outdoors that way.

There are many times I look back at my training and think: If I had taken a few more days off, or if I had realized that ache was a minor bone pain….but each is a lesson to move on.  I have learned that running in pain isn’t worth it to me.

You cannot outrun injury, and it will catch up to you.

I tell any runner, new or old; there is no shame in rest and easy days. I am to the point in life and running that it will never be my sole purpose in life. Resting and staying healthy is more important to me than running every day.

Question for you: Have you had a running injury before?

Techniques to Help Recover Faster:

Techniques to Help Recover Faster:

Last week was my longest half marathon in a while and I’ve been spending a lot more time on recovery.  Plus, as I continue to build mileage, I’ve been focusing more on recovery too.  Most people know but I’m injury prone, so I can’t get away with not focusing on recovery.  At this point, I don’t even try too.

Someone once told me that days off save seasons and I think it’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.  Thinking out loud, now I apply them every time I have an injury scare.  Believe me, I’ve gone to my PT convinced I have a stress fracture, only for him to say…no your leg is just tight.

Here are a Few Techniques to Help Recover Faster:

Stretching:

We all know you should but how many people actually stretch after runs or night.  Probably not many of us.

Graston/ART:

I’m a big fan of ART.  It flushes out acid from your legs and muscles quicker and you recover faster.  I’ve always recovered faster when I opted to get a deep tissue massage or ART.  If you are local, I highly recommend Dr. Kemenosh and his staff (and no they aren’t paying me to tell you that).  They have helped me in multiple situations from fixing my hip/piriformis after my last marathon to loosening up my calves, and even feet.

Upping my Protein:

I’m not saying I have steak every meal but adding extra protein: including more eggs, greek yogurt, and lean meat has helped muscles recover faster.  I’m not a nutritionist or dietician and don’t claim to be, I’ve just found it’s been working.

Sleep:

This is an obvious one, but more sleep allows the muscles to repair. We know sleep is important, but there are so many distractions that make it difficult to get to bed. I try and log off the internet around 9 pm.  Sometimes I read, sometimes I go straight to bed.

Rest and Easy Runs:

This week most of my easy runs have been in the 9-10 minute pace which is fine.  There is no point in racing training runs, that is when injuries are caused.  If you struggle with not being able to run slower, I highly recommend leaving the watch at home.

Recovery from anything, whether it’s a race or hard training cycle takes time.  Just like training, there is no secret that does it all at once.

Related Posts:

Quick Core Ideas for Runners

Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury

Question for you: How do you recover from hard workouts? Any tips?

How to Find the Perfect Pair of Running Shoes

 How to Find Perfect Running Shoes

One of the most important decisions you can make as a runner is choosing the right pair of running shoes.

It’s important to spend both time and money to pick out the best shoes for you.  Without proper running shoes, you won’t be running for very long.  While you can choose a shoe off of the shelf, it’s important to get properly fitted by an expert.

How to find the perfect running shoe

Thinking out loud, proper running shoes are going to prevent many injuries such as shin splints and plantar fasciitis.  They are going help you run faster and further because aches will be the last thing you’re thinking about.

So how do you find the best running shoes?

First, it’s important to realize there is no “best-running shoe.”  Each running shoe is designed for a different foot type.  What works for me, might not work for you or your friend.  Reading internet shoe reviews isn’t going to help you find a shoe that will help you.  Every foot is different, including your left and right.

Second, go to a running specialty store. Employees at running speciality stores go through training to figure out which shoes work for which feet.  They can tell you within a matter of minutes which shoe will work for you.  A process that can take you hours will be cut into minutes.  Employees at running stores also have a wealth of knowledge about the sport of running including local events and races.  They are runners themselves and will know local races or even doctors or podiatrists.

You should plan to spend time in the store because the employee will ask you several questions, take a look at your feet, gait and running form.  Don’t get to the store 5 minutes before closing time and expect to have time to be fitted.

So what should you expect?

First, the employee will ask you several questions such as:

  • What are you using the shoes for?
  • Every day walking? Training? Racing? Gym classes?  There is no right or “good” answer!
  • Do you have any aches or pains? Do you have blisters or black toenails? Do you have shin splints or knee pain? Pain in your hips or back? Let the employee know everything and anything…but please don’t show me an open wound.
  • What kind running are you doing?
  • How often you run?
  • Where do you run? What kind of surface are you running on? Grass? Sidewalk? The treadmill?
  • Are you training for race or event

Those are just a few questions you might encounter about your personal activity.

Then the employee will look at the shape of your feet as well as the arch.  It’s extremely common for someone to have two different sized feet.  They will look to see if you pronate,supinate or have a neutral gait.  Determining your foot type is the most important part of finding the right running shoes.

Next, the employee will measure your foot. Keep in mind, your foot size changes and grows.  After having children, most women gain a half size.  Even if you’ve been the same size for years, your foot might have gotten longer or wider.

Another thing to keep in mind is running shoes should be 1/2 to a full size bigger than your casual shoe size.  There are very few exceptions to this rule.  When you workout, your feet swell.  If you are losing toenails, chances are your shoes are too small.  Blisters also form at the top of your feet because of improper sizing.  As someone who works in a speciality store, about 75% of athletes who come in are wearing the wrong size shoe.

After the employee is done proding you with questions, they’ll bring a few options that are best fits for you.  They’ll have you try them on and run around in them.   From there you will decide how you like the shoe.  Do you prefer a soft shoe? Firm? Light weight or heavier? Only you can decide what feels right.

Make sure you are ready to run.  Standing awkwardly in the shoe for one second isn’t going to decide whether you like the shoe or not.  You should run in each pair of shoes.  Trust the employee they have chosen appropriate shoes for you.  The employee’s job isn’t too bring out the wrong shoes.

After making your final decision make sure to test your shoes at home too.  If you develop pain, they may not be the right shoes. Most specialty stores have a policy to allow you to exchange the shoes even if you have run in them.  For instance, the store I work at allows you to exchange shoes for up to two weeks.  If they don’t work out, we want to know and for you to find something that does!

Since I work in a speciality running store, I do believe getting fit for a pair of shoes is one of the best things you can do for yourself as a runner.  There is no right or wrong answer for the best pair of running shoes, but there is a right or wrong answer for the best pair for you.

Other Posts You Might be Interested In:
There is No Perfect Running Shoe
There Difference Between Runners and Non-Runners
Why Running Shoe Reviews are (Mostly) Worthless
Why You Should Rotate Running Shoes

Questions for you:
What are your current pair of running shoes?
Have you ever been fit for a pair of running shoes?

Workouts: Recovery and a 5k

Is it that time already for another training log?

Last week flew by for me!

As most people know, I ran Rock n Roll VA Beach the weekend before last.  It drastically affected my training week because I spent the majority of the week recovering from the race.

I spent most of the week recovering and doing easy runs, but I’m doing easy runs throughout the week anyways right now.  There is no sense in doing another workout when I am racing pretty regularly. Hopefully, in a few weeks, I’ll feel comfortable enough to add a speed workout on top of racing too.

Monday: Easy 45 minutes Core (15 mins)
Tuesday: Easy 60 minutes ART release session
Wednesday: Easy 60 minutes
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Easy 45 minutes Core
Saturday: Flying Fish 6k (19:35)
Sunday: Easy 90 minutes
Easy Runs:

There is never much to say about them.  They are easy, boring and injury free.  To be honest, the half marathon took a lot out of me.  My calves are still tighter than normal.  It’s to be expected because it was my longest run, race, and sustained effort in quite a while.  In fact, I hadn’t raced a half since the April Fools half marathon in early April.

Flying Fish 5k (19:35):

flying-fish-5k

For the last few months, I’ve been excited about the Flying Fish 5k.  The race starts and is sponsored by the Flying Fish Brewery.  My work put on a group run with Flying Fish about three weeks ago, and I had been excited to race the rest of the month.

However, during the last week, my legs were clearly very tight, and the weather became a big factor.  I had already signed up for the sold-out race, so I decided to gut it out.  I ended up surprising myself with my fastest 5k time post injury by 30 seconds.  The race itself was well put together and a lot of fun.  If you are NJ/Philadelphia local, I recommend it.

I plan to keep trucking along and to recover.  I’m happy with how my recovery is going.  As I said last week, I wouldn’t classify myself in the injured stage anymore.  I would classify myself in the recovered but getting back into shape stage.  This might be the hardest stage to be in because you want to make goals for the next training cycle but you have no idea how fast you will “get back into shape”.

Posts from last week:
The Time I Saw A Bear While Hiking
A Timeline of my Ankle Injury

Questions for you:
Have you ever done a brewery race?
What is the hottest weather you’ve run in?

A Timeline of Injury

Since I’ve been injured, it’s a good time to reflect on injuries and talk about things that have helped me personally through this particular injury.  It’s much easier to talk about injuries when you are actually injured versus reflecting upon it when you are completely healthy.

I’m not a doctor, expert or coach, but I do have personal experience in being injured.  (What great personal experience that is…).  Thinking out loud, It’s important to remember, every injury heals at a different rate and every person recovers differently.

So in summary, what works or has happened to me, might not for you.  But if you’re anything like me, you enjoy reading about other people and what has worked (or not) for them.

A Timeline of Injury

So here is a timeline of my injury:

Early to Mid May:

I began to feel burnt out with running.  I wasn’t injured, and I ran several races including Broad Street, the Newport 10k, and the Track Mile.  Both Broad Street and the Newport 10k went well and I ran Personal Bests, but I felt eh after the mile.  I didn’t feel good, but I didn’t feel bad.  I didn’t feel injured either (which is important).  I began to read signs that I felt burnt out and decided to take some time off.

In late May I got a bad case of food poisoning.  It forced me to take five days off no questions asked.  When I went out for a short run on day six something in my ankle felt off and weird.  It wasn’t sharp, but it was a dull ache.  I thought I had rolled my ankle, but I just decided to rest and take a 2-week break.

During that period my foot progressed and felt worse.  Finally, I decided to go to the doctor and get an MRI.  Since I have a special form of insurance, I was able to book someone in network (Who I wanted to see) without primary care approval.

Early June: MRI and Diagnosis

My MRI concluded I had fractured my ankle. I was ordered into a boot for a week.  I was allowed to spin and swim but nothing weight bearing.  So for a week, I did just that.  I was still burnt out from running, so the rest didn’t bother me.

Mid June:

Mid June hit me pretty hard.  There was a half marathon I wanted to do, The Odyssey half, that I had to skip.  I wasn’t in pain, but I knew it would be idiotic to run knowing I had a broken bone.  I could have probably run through it but who knows what sort of bones I might have shattered…running on a broken bone is dumb. Plus I probably wouldn’t limp but I wouldn’t feel great either.  I spent most of June in a funk.  I didn’t feel good and I mentally struggled with not being able to run.

Late June:

I was ordered for four weeks of rest and by the time I knew it, the end of June was here, and I was allowed to attempt a run.  (Run being .25 miles).  I ran, and it felt like a typical first run back: awkward and awful. I didn’t expect a magical run but I had hoped to feel a little bit better.

July:

I spent July slowly building my base.  Slowly being key.  I ran every other day and only ran a few miles at the most.  By the end of July, I worked up to my first race back: The Run for the Hill of It.  Luckily it was scorching that day and took all of the pressure off of me. I didn’t feel in shape racing but I was injury free.

August:

August was both the best and worst month for me.  How?  I logged a lot of miles, and I felt as if I *finally* got over my injury.

So how could it be bad?

I raced frequently enough that I wanted more, and wanted to be where I was previously.  Before my injury, I was running 2 minutes faster in 5ks.  My half marathon pace was faster than the 5k pace I was struggling to keep.  Running a 20 minute 5k just felt like I was starting over.

September:

Here I am just over 100 days since my initial injury.  I feel like I’m recovered.  I hate declaring that because you never know what could happen but I do feel as if my injury is in the past.  Am I in shape?  No, but I am injury free which is the first important step.

100 days ago and I was injured but who knows where I’ll be in 100 days?

100 days isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things.  I know my fitness will come back.

Questions for you:

What was your last injury?

Where do you see yourself in 100 days? (December time frame)

 

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