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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)?

 

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So Why?

I’m no stranger to fractured bones, but that’s the problem.

In summary, last week my orthopedist sent for me to get an MRI.  For the last month, I’ve walked normally, and I’ve felt no pain.  I’ve felt a dull ache occasionally in my foot but not often.  Nothing that ever altered my stride or even anything that was enough to cause concern.

Never the less, after two weeks of rest I still felt my ankle, so I got an X-ray.  The X-Ray came out fine, and I felt dumb and like a worry wort.

My foot had been poked, prodded, tuning forked and grastoned with no major issue.

Was my bone broken here? Maybe.

Was my bone broken here? Maybe.

Finally, my newly found orthopedist ordered an MRI.  She was looking for inflamed muscles and tendons or possibly a sprained ankle.  Due to everything else appearing normal, it made sense to look for those sorts of issues.  Then the news of the dreaded news of a rebroken fifth metatarsal happened.

The injury doesn’t make any sense.

How was I able to walk, run and live a normal life with a fifth metatarsal fracture?

How was I able to PR at Broad Street or the Newport 10k? Or run a mile on the track?

All of those must have happened a fractured foot.  My injury hasn’t presented itself normally at all.  Often fifth metatarsal fractures are from blunt force or rolling your ankle. To be honest, I can’t remember doing either.  Maybe I did and didn’t realize it.  Could I have rolled my ankle but never felt it?

If the MRI hadn’t come back with a fracture, I would have probably gone for a short run last weekend.  I’m not limping and my foot feels the same.

However, I’m not running on a broken foot.  
A fracture is a break. 
My foot is broken.

Mentally, I’ve already come to terms with not running. I haven’t run in 3 weeks, what’s couple more?  I know I’ve lost running fitness, and that’s fine. If I heal well, the end of June will mark 6 weeks of not running. I could be running again by then. Since I’ve already taken 3 weeks of being lazy, I’ve had the urge to begin working out again.

Since I’ve already taken 3 weeks of being lazy, I’ve had the urge to begin working out again.  The motivation is the easier part.

I’m more worried about how the stress fracture appeared.

I’m no stranger to broken bones.

Broken bones with no cause are a huge red flag to bone density, eating enough for high mileage and overtraining. 

I’m 5’7 and 130 pounds.  I don’t track calories daily but when I’m running, I typically consume 3000+ calories.  Is it all healthy 3000 calories?  No, but I like diner cake and whipped cream.  It’s not all sugar calories either.  Do I think undereating or being underweight is the issue? No, but it’s something that should always be thought about when dealing with this issue.

With my last bone fracture, two years ago, I received a bone density test. While the results were surprising, I was in the healthy calcium and vitamin D range.  This year the test was the same, and I’m once again in the normal healthy range.  So low bone density is not the issue.

Another hard fact is the wear pattern and my running gait. I put a lot of pressure on my metatarsals.  As you can see from my training over the last few years, I don’t get a lot of muscle injuries.  For the most part, my injuries are foot and bone related.

Last year at the Runners World, Golden, the owner of Altra running was mentioning something about injury.  He said if you run on the forefront of your foot, then you are more susceptible to metatarsal fractures and injuries.  I strike at the very front of my foot so unless I change my stride this could be something I deal with every few years (which seems to be how it goes).

I’m open to having my gait looked at and I’ve already found a great physical therapist to go too.  Since you need to run to be able to have your gait looked at, I must wait.

Finally, the last and most common cause of my fracture could be I rolled or sprained my ankle. The problem with that idea is that I never felt an ankle roll.  There was not a point during any of my runs I felt myself “roll and crack.”  The only aspect of that diagnosis is that it wouldn’t hurt to be weight bearing, and I could run right through and not realize it.

So there begins the processing of thinking about everything I’ve done in the last month.  It reminds me of the TV Show “I didn’t know I was pregnant”, only “I didn’t know I had a fractured foot”.  As I said yesterday, I do have the best case scenario.  The summer was a down time of year for me with no major races on the radar.  Since I’ve already been resting, if all goes well I could run by the end of the month.

Questions for you:

Have you ever rolled your ankle?

What type of cross training should I do next? 

 

 

How to Race Well in Unfavorable Conditions

My last three major Spring Races have been in crappy conditions.  Either it was pouring rain, wind gusts of 50MPH or both.  I know I’m in the best shape of my life, but you have to race for the conditions, and can’t control the weather.

How to Race in Unfavorable Conditions

The Shamrock half marathon was 40s pouring rain and windy

The April Fools Half Marathon was windy and had gusts of up to 50MPH

The Broad Street 10 miler was raining

I’m beginning to think you should avoid racing with me if you want to run in good conditions. 

I decided to think about ways and techniques I’ve learned to:

 Race Well in Unfavorable Conditions:
Rain:
  • Wrap yourself in trash bags. The goal is to keep yourself as dry as possible before the race.  Trash bag your shoes and your entire self.  At Broad Street, several people passed me at the end still wearing their trash bags.
  • Wear form fitting clothing and avoid cotton. The more tightly fitting the clothing, the less it’s going to chafe, rub and become a wet soggy mess.
  • Thin socks: This is a must. The goal is to keep your feet as dry as possible.  There are a lot of thin socks, but my favorite are the low cut CEP compression because they hug your feet.
  • Hats: Before this spring I was never a hat person.  They never stayed on my head.  To keep the rain out of my eyes, I’ve experimented with hats.  I don’t have a recommendation as my favorite hat so far is from the Shamrock half marathon.
  • While I don’t race with a phone, I know many racers do. Put it in a Ziploc bag to make sure it doesn’t get water damage.
Wind:

The problem with races along the shore in the Spring is the wind.  Races along the coast are typically flat, but you never know what kind of wind there will be.  Except the Carlsbad half marathon on the West, Coast…that was a windy shore race that wasn’t flat.

  • Try to run with a group. Running with a group isn’t always possible, but it makes running a lot easier both mentally and physically to run with a pack in the wind.  You also see other racers are battling the same elements.
  • Turn your head to the side to breathe. If you’re running through a headwind, turning your head to the side to breath makes it a lot easier.  I didn’t know that until this year!
  • Invest in a good piece of wind resistant clothing. The wind can be piercing and chill you to the bone.  Combined with rain, it is one of most undesirable weather conditions.  Try a lightweight windproof jacket.  I recommend using as much tight fitting clothing as possible so that it doesn’t blow around.

I’m not getting paid to promote any of these pieces of clothing, but they are items I’ve had success with:

Gortex Running Jacket ($249.99)

This is the most expensive piece of running apparel I own, but it’s worth it.  It kept me dry at Broad Street and kept the wind out.  If you can, I would recommend investing in a Gortex Jacket.  I never knew how amazing they were until I did.

CEP Low Compression Socks ($20):

I like the low cut socks because I can use compression sleeves as well.  My shoe size and calf size are different so the high socks won’t fit my feet and calves.  The socks themselves are thin, and if they do get wet, they won’t weigh you down.

The best piece of advice for any racing is to stay positive.  At the end of the day, you can’t control the weather.  You have to make the best of the situation, and if you’re able to think positively, you’ll be able

Questions for you:

How do you race in unfavorable conditions?

What is the worst weather you’ve run in? 

Five Years Worth of Injuries

After writing a post about staying injury free last month, I received the question of what types of injuries I’ve dealt with.  Honestly, I’ve dealt with a lot of different issues.  Before recently, my blog could have alternative names such as fueledbyInjuries or InjuriesNlolz. To be fair, two out of five of my issues were due to blunt force or falling. 

Luckily, for myself and training I’ve realized what has worked with training and what hasn’t.  Since I’m a relatively new runner, I don’t have the experience many other people do.  I don’t have eight years of high school and college running.  I have a few years of haphazard LOLZ running and a couple of years of effective training.  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 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 I picked up running.

An early road race

An early road race

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 days mileage for 1 hour.  I was running between 7-7:15 pace for an hour.  Ultimately I was far more exhausted running 50 miles then I am now.  My body broke at a road race on my 21st birthday.

I learned more about myself than any other injury.  To be honest, I needed that injury to realize that training was idiotic.  My tibial stress fracture shaped my training to include a lot more easy miles.

Later that night still enjoying my 21st birthday...

Later that night still enjoying my 21st birthday…

 

Between 2011-2012, I improved and Pred in everything.

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.  They don’t believe it was running related, but it prevented me from running.  I am lucky it didn’t develop in my brain or somewhere very serious.   I was able to run with minimal pain until the cyst became large enough to rip the muscle from my bone.

After recovering for 2 months,  I came back and ran my fastest XC race.

After recovering for two months, I came back and ran my fastest XC race.

Ultimately I gave my bone two months to heal, and steroid shots took away the cyst.

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, fracturing my elbow.  I was devastated but after a week, I was able to run slowly.  I decreased mileage for a while, but it ended up being the most nonserious elbow fracture I could have.  At the time, the decline in mileage was not great because I was training for my first marathon, NYCM.

It was so nonserious they just put a soft cast on

It was so nonserious break so they just put a soft cast on

In between August 2013-August 2014, I trained for my first marathon and then took some time off afterward.  I didn’t run consistently because the marathon burnt me out.  I also moved across the country and had a lot of life changes.

Metarsal Fracture (August 2014)

How it happened: 

Fast forward to August of 2014 and I received my other stress fracture in my second metatarsal.  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 the time the marathon started, 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 to have an out was good for me.

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.  Eventually 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…

Oh Phoenix...

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.  I wrote more about what helped my butt, hamstring, IT band and everything else here.

When looking at my running injuries, I’ve realized I’ve had bad luck with some:

  • Foot cyst
  • Getting hit by a cyclist

And I’ve not trained smartly for others:

  • Tibial stress fracture
  • Metatarsal fracture
  • Bum Butt

I’ve received bone scans and gotten my calcium levels checked and despite a few breaks, I’m surprisingly in the normal range.   It was important to me to get those bone tests done.  My passion for running might come and go, but overall health does not.  There are other things in life that cannot be done without being physically healthy. I take a calcium and bone supplement daily as well as drinking milk and taking calcium rich sources.

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 health, and it will catch up to you. 

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

The Most Random Post

I haven’t done a traditional style “thinking out loud” for a while.  What am I thinking about this week?

Who really cares…I doubt anyone was at the edge of their seat waiting…

It’s been a rough welcome back to New Jersey.  I’m not shy about admitting that snow is my thing.  After going to college in the tundra of Upstate, NY where it was too cold for snow, I’m done with it.  At least in Upstate, they plowed the roads efficiently.

LOLZ red dot indicates where I went to college

LOLZ red dot indicates where I went to college

I will admit, however, I was extremely impressed with how well the roads and the Philadelphia airport parking lot was plowed.  Not having to dig my car out at 11:30 at night was a nice surprise.

It was Christmas!

It was Christmas!

Complaining about the weather doesn’t change the fact that is winter so realistically we just need to make it through February.

In addition, to the weather change I’m transitioning back to East Coast time.  Now I feel “young again” because I’m up until midnight and wake up at 8-9.  Versus crashing at 9pm…that will be next week.

A little late but I don’t know if I’ve ever discussed on the blog.  I’m a Panthers fan and the team is going to the Super Bowl.  Am I die hard, scream at the TV type of person?  No but I have followed the team and games since freshman year of college.  This year was the first year I didn’t do a fantasy football team with them winning every day (literally I have for the last 6 years…) and of course this happens.  Oh well, Kevin and I might not be freinds after this game.

I’m a Panthers fan, and we are going to the Super Bowl.  Am I die hard, scream at the TV type of person?  No, but I have followed the team and games since freshman year of college.  This was the first year I didn’t do a fantasy football team with them winning every single game (literally I have for the last six years…) and of course, this happens.

So what else am I thinking about?
A Spring Race schedule of course! I’m going back to my two favorite half marathons.

Shamrock Half (Virginia Beach) 
This is one of the best, and well put together races.  If you are looking for a good Spring half or full marathon, this is your best bet. shamrock 3

April Fools half (Atlantic City)
I am going to run the April Fools half marathon in Atlantic City.  It was my favorite race in 2014, unfortunately (LOLOLOL), I got married the same day last year.

I guess that is all I have for now, and I’ll go for a run.

Question for you: Tell me a random thought you’re having right now. 

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