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)

 

Why You Should Take a Rest Week

Cutback week…

Down Week…

Less Running…

Essentially all phrases that mean, not running…Why You Should Take a Rest WeekIt seems counter-intuitive to take a week to back off mileage, intensity, and speed.  So why do it at all? 

Reducing your training for a week can help keep injuries away.  Rest weeks allow your body to repair damaged muscles but also allow your mental state to rebuild.

As runners we often want to run as fast and as long as possible.  We want our mileage to be consistently high, and we want to be at our best all of the time.

Rest, down weeks and taper, can be the hardest weeks to incorporate into training.

When Should You Take a Cutback Week?

Like there is a different shoe for every runner, there is a different “right time” to take a cutback week for every runner.  Generally, every 4-6 weeks, athletes should take time a week of decreased mileage and intensity.

How Much Should You Actually Cut Back?

Again, there is no right or wrong answer.  Anywhere between 25-50% of weekly mileage or 50-90% of the highest mileage weeks.

How Can Rest Weeks Prevent Mental Burnout?

Let’s face it, at some point, most runners “burn out”.  My burnout came shortly before I got injured.  I tried to push through it but looking back my body was telling me to rest.  I should have rested both physically and mentally.

Taking a rest week allows yourself to “miss running” and to rebuild the confidence you once had.

Bottom Line:

Any runner, elite or not, can benefit from taking a rest week.  It will help recover mentally, physically and emotionally.  You aren’t going to lose fitness from taking a step back from running for a week.  In fact, you are going to recover and gain fitness.

Question for you: Do you take recovery weeks?

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:

Training is getting progressively better.  I’m feeling fewer residual aches and pains as my ankle continues to heal and get stronger.  I’m not training for anything, and I don’t have my sights on anything.

As I mentioned in my July recap, my goal for August is to continue building a base and make sure I’m completely injury free.  All injuries heal at different rates, and there is no sense in choosing a goal race when I don’t know how this one will heal.

Monday: Easy 45 minute run Core
Tuesday: 60-minute run Core
Wednesday: 85-minute run  
Thursday: Rest  
Friday: Easy 45 minute run  
Saturday: Donar Dash 5k (20:21)  
Sunday: Long Run (12.5 miles) Core
Total: Total: Roughly 45 miles  

Thursday through Sunday are typically the busiest days for work.  There is a big townwide event, and it’s like working Black Friday at a big retail store.  I don’t know why I decided to race on Saturday, but I want to continue testing my foot.  It was my first 5k and first road race (last week was on a soft trail in Wissahickon).  I will write a race recap soon, but I was happy with it.  The weather was hot, and my body was exhausted from working.  Of course, it’s hard not to compare to previous 5k times, but I know I’ll eventually get back there.  Hopefully, it doesn’t take me an entire year like last time.

donar dash

I ran with a good friend and coworker on Sunday.  I had planned to do a “long run” but didn’t know how far.  We ended up running 12.5 miles.  It was a little bit further than I anticipated but the miles went by quickly, and my ankle felt okay during the entire run.  Today, however, I’m sore as (explicit here).

julie and i

Thoughts:

I’m happy my running feels as though I’m progressing well.  I’m making good progressing while increasing mileage.  I’m feeling less achy and even after my longer runs, I felt far less residual pain than previous 6 or even 8 mile runs.  I’m hoping having more cushion in the Hoka Clifton is helping me keep aches in pains away too. Max cushioning has been good for my feet since coming back.

 

I might have increased my mileage and time a little bit faster than I should have this week.  I’m happy with how the week went.  My plan is to hold between 45-55 miles for the rest of the month.

Questions for you:

How was your week of workouts?

Do you have a busy season of the year for work?

Blood Test Results

As I mentioned last week, I opted to try Inside Tracker.

InsiderTracker

After my injury, I had no answers about how my ankle fracture occurred.  It blindsided me. I received a DEXA scan which came out normal (not even flagged for osteopenia).  I also got my calcium and Vitamin D levels which both came out normal.  Just like my blood test with at my doctors, my blood test with Inside Tracker indicated Vitamin D and Calcium were both normal too.  Even though I don’t believe I got answers about my fracture, and do believe the information I obtained from Inside Tracker is beneficial.

So after essential nutrients from my first blood test came out, why did I decide to go further with Inside Tracker?
My quality of life is fine, and I live my day to day normally.  I live a pretty balanced lifestyle and enjoy cake, cookies, salad and meat.  I don’t have any health red flags such as exhaustion or loss of period.  While most signs of my fracture point towards gait or a rolled ankle, I wanted to at least get a full picture of my health.  Thinking out loud, I would rather rule out any problems then the question, “what if.”

Unfortunately, my insurance is great but doesn’t cover the cost of a blood test, “just to know”.  If I were dying or going through something serious my insurance would cover the test (as they covered it to check my Vitamin D and Calcium levels). They do not include a test just check key nutrients.  Heck why not throw in an MRI just to get some photos too? If only health care worked like that…

Due to the price, my husband and I went back and forth with Inside Tracker.  For a full blood analysis, the cost is $499.  In the medical world that is comparable for blood work, however, without insurance it’s steep. Do I want a blood test or do I want Louboutins? Decisions of the month…(kidding).  I was fortunate Inside Tracker gave me a discount but even if they did not, we decided the price would be worth it to have the knowledge.

Since I don’t give blood well, I opted to pay the extra fee for the White Glove Service.  This meant a registered nurse come to my house and collected my blood.  Another thing I don’t deal well with is the test also requires you to fast for 12 hours.  Even after eating directly before and after, I’ve passed out the majority of time giving blood or getting shots.

So being the diva I am, I ordered a test for the earliest time possible time of 7 am. The woman who came was professional, timely and done by 7:10. She works with several different but similar companies. In fact, she has been a mobile blood collector for 20 years. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

I got my blood drawn on a Thursday, and my results were available the Tuesday after.  I was impatiently waiting all weekend.  To be honest, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to know the results. I had seen plenty of people shocked by their results. What if they found I had a serious issue?  At least I would have answers I guess.

So with that, what did they find?

Inside Tracker classifies your result from “Optimal”, “Needs Work” and “At Risk”.

Let’s start with my “At a Risk”:
Cortisol Levels:

Cortisol insidetracker

My biggest issue is my cortisol level.  My cortisol level is too high. This definitely plays a role in my stress level as well as bloating.  I’m also a very type A person, and I do stress out from anxiety. I’ve always had a higher than average cortisol level due to stress, anxiety and occasionally depression.  To be honest, I’m getting out of a rough time in my life, so it’s not surprising my cortisol level is rather high.

How am I combating that? Mentally, I am making relaxing a priority.  I’m trying to focus on sleep as well as adding a few more of the nutrients indicated.  A lot can play a role in cortisol levels, and I need to make it a priority to just relax and not overbook myself.  Better said than done right?

Vitamin B12:

Vitamin B12 insidetracker

 

My second risk is my Vitamin B12 is extremely high. This surprised me!  I drink no more than 20 ounces of coffee daily (decaf after noon).  I drink soda once in a blue moon (maybe once every other month?).  I looked at my multivitamin which also has 100% of my daily intake.  A lot of the food I consume is enriched with B12 too.  So for now, I’ll look for nonenriched foods.  I’ll look to find a multivitamin without Vitamin B12 too. I like the taste of coffee, so hopefully, by substituting nonenriched foods, I’ll be able to lower my B12.

Next to my High levels:

Iron: 
I am honestly shocked, but my iron is too high.  I don’t know a lot of runners who have this issue.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was too low.  This will be a hard one to work on, to be honest.  It recommends eating less red meat.  I wouldn’t say I overeat red meat, but I do have a few serving a week.

Iron inside tracker

 

Iron inside tracker

Liver Enzymes:

My liver enzymes are too high. I had no idea what that even meant. I had to do more research after getting my results, but it is great information to have.  It recommends taking a probiotic and eating a few servings of nuts, so I’ll be adding those to my diet and monitoring the results.

liver enzymes inside tracker

So What’s the Plan?
  • I intend to focus on my Cortisol and Vitamin B12 because those are most important.
  • It was recommended to take a probiotic.  Is that the band-aid to fix everything?  I’ve been taking a probiotic for just over a week now.  To be honest, I can’t feel any difference, and I feel more bloated, but I think it will take a few weeks to assimilate.
  • I’m still researching how to decrease my iron levels.  I have a feeling my higher iron is inhibiting my calcium and vitamin D,  While I tested in the normal range, it was towards the lower end (and make a huge effort to intake a lot of both).

They are minor fixes and adding a few more nutrients and foods to my diet.  There is nothing drastic or a crash diet.

I’m also going to get retested in 8-10 weeks to see if I am improving.

Would I recommend Inside Tracker?

I would.  While the price is high, the quality of information you receive is worth it.  While I had several higher than average and two “at risk” categories, I didn’t have any major red flags.  That doesn’t mean the knowledge won’t help.  I would have never thought my iron levels were too high, and honestly, I was debating taking an iron supplement because “that’s what female runners do”.

I don’t believe any of these imbalances caused my ankle fracture, however, I’m glad I chose to get the blood work. I do feel as though as I begin running and increase mileage, my body will respond better to the mileage.

Chances are if you decide to utilize Inside Tracker, there will be results that surprise you.  Maybe your blood work comes out in the optimal range.  Or maybe you have nutrients that “need work” that you never would have thought. For me, I didn’t think my liver enzymes weren’t optimal or that my iron was too high.

I like Inside Tracker because the information is high quality and useful for my situation.  It isn’t telling me to completely overhaul my diet or fast on juju juice for eight weeks.  It’s giving me minor tweaks of how I can improve myself and easy to update my diet with.

Question for you: Have you ever gotten blood work done? 

26 Things I Learned Before Age 26

Today is my 26th birthday.  I’ve been blogging for while and have celebrated five birthdays on LOLZ blog.  Sometimes I post about my birthday and other times I don’t.

To be honest, age 25 wasn’t my favorite year but not every year can be.  At age 24, I moved, got married, bought my car and was riding the high of a newly wed.  Age 25 wasn’t bad and had both its fair share of both good and bad moments.

I thought it would be fun to reflect upon and think out loud about some of the things I learned over the past year.  Some were good, some bad.  Some are running related; some are life-related.

26 Things I Learned Before Age 26

Life is not perfect and never will be.  Social media doesn’t tell the full story.  We all have issues and problems behind the scenes. We all have tagged facebook photos we wish never existed.  Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. About a month ago, I found out I had a severe case of food poisoning as well as a fracture in my ankle.

MRI foot
An MRI image of my foot

Do things you like and skip what you don’t like.  Your life is yours to live and no one else’s.  Enjoy it as much as you can.  Choose wisely of activities and things you want to do.

Do what you like and skip what you don’t like part 2: Enjoy your job.  A job could be in an office full time, blogging or taking care of children. I like my job at the Running Store.  I like seeing my friends, helping plan group runs and seeing new running excel! Whatever you choose, enjoy it.

Rest up.  You only have one body and it follows you around. Your body is direct reflection of how you treat yourself.  Treat your mind, body and soul well. carlsbad half

Enjoy the moment.  In this day and age we find ourselves looking into the future far too much.  One of my favorite quotes: The future has yet to be written, and the past is written in permanent marker.  You have the power to write the present.  Enjoy the current moment.

Small things don’t matter.  Trivial things like the slow driver in front of you, a paper cut, small issues…you probably won’t remember any of this stuff in a week.

Be confident in your beliefs and values. If you don’t stand behind yourself, who will stand behind you?

Don’t lie. A lie turns into ten lies which turn in 100 lies that you can’t remember. It’s never worth it to lie.

Similarly, speeding only gets you a ticket which ultimately slows you down. If you live in New Jersey, then you know there is always a faster drive in the left lane anyways…

Nothing comes easy. If everything in life were easy, we would all be Olympic multimillionaire CEOs. Pick and choose your battles.

These two images are within a week: 

shamrock marathon 1

via Phillies facebook

You are not always right. It’s impossible always to be right.  Accept advice and help from others.  You will grow as a person both mentally and physically.

When you are late, you waste other people’s time. No one’s time is more valuable.  Time cannot be replaced. It is one thing that cannot be bought.  Respect other people’s time.

Smile.  Smile as much as possible, so people don’t think you’re a mean girl (When in reality you just have a resting bitch face…like me).

atlantic city april fools half me

Be flexible in everything.  If everyone was able to do every single thing they wanted, the world would be chaos. Your plans are not always the most important.

Our culture is full of extremes. Extreme beauty, extreme sports talent, extreme music talent, extreme weight loss or weight gain…Real life doesn’t work like that and moderation, and balance is key.

Everyone wants to be treated the same. Be polite and caring. No one likes a jerk.  No one deserves that.

Find your most productive hours of the day and do what you need to do. I find myself most productive in the mornings. As the day flies by, I typically become less productive. I try and do the most important things in the morning.

Do what you don’t want to do: first.  Save the best for last and do the tasks that you don’t want first.  That way they get done.

Quiet days are never a bad thing but social days are not a bad thing either.  It’s so important to balance both.  Everything is moderation.

How you dress says a lot. It’s easy to dress like a college student or an old lady. Dressing like a 26-year-old is tough!  Have a few well-fitted outfits that make you feel confident.

It’s totally okay to be by yourself. It’s okay to go out to eat at a restaurant by yourself, and it’s okay to treat yourself.  Doing things by yourself is okay.

To stay in touch with friends, it’s a two-way street. If you don’t go down the road, you can’t expect someone else too.  Make time for your friends and family.

Always thankful for friends
Always thankful for friends

Sometimes life needs an exact plan and sometimes it doesn’t.When I moved in with Tim 3 years ago, I had no plan. We worked through the current time, not the future, and it ended up working out.

My first visit to Texas

Stay Confident in Yourself. You are your biggest fan and your biggest critic! Make sure to stay confident in yourself.

Be Open to Others. Other people have different beliefs and viewpoints of the world.  Be open to ideas that do not agree with your own.

The End is Not Now: Remember, your life, your story, and your book are not complete. Always strive to be the best and add more words to your story.

Questions for you:

How did you celebrate your last birthday?

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned recently?

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)?