Running These Days

I’ve made my return from being MIA over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been so busy I’ve definitely slacked in this area so here’s a catch-up. Sorry in advance for such length.

New Years Goals:

I’ve stayed true to the new goals I set for 2012 and experimented in the kitchen by cooking tofu a couple weeks ago! I followed this tutorial and it turned out pretty good. It didn’t take too terribly long to make and the husband approved. I served it with onions, mushrooms and asparagus over whole grain pasta. Yum!

Running

Still working on that hip. Here’s what has been going down.

I’ve completed 6 physical therapy sessions with 5 left to go. I love going to those appointments. My therapist is also a runner, so we always have something to talk about while I’m in therapy. He’s got me doing a series of different exercises while I’m with him in addition to the exercises I’m doing at home.

He’s definitely (and so have I) noticed that I’m getting stronger which is encouraging. I seriously leave my appointments with my hip muscles totally fatigued. He has me doing more challenging exercises which I love because I love being challenged and continuously improving.

I had my first run of more than 20 minutes about 1.5 weeks ago. I ran outside for 2.9 miles and felt pretty freakin’ amazing. I had been so reluctant and a little fearful to run more than 20 minutes because I thought I’d end up hurting myself further. When I didn’t, I was elated!

That was Saturday. On Monday I ran 3.1 miles pain-free, finally ran that 5k I was supposed to run back in December. Then on Wednesday I ran 3.6 miles…on the treadmill. After the run (the next day) I had a lot of pain. I went to PT on Friday and we did exercises but a lot of soft tissue work. Feels like a massage, I love it.

In the mean time, Thursday before that PT appointment I went back to my sports medicine doctor who noticed I was looking brighter and a lot happier since the last time I’d seen him. I told him about my progress and he was happy, but told me I definitely qualified for an MRI because of the chronicity of the pain. I asked him how it would change our treatment plan and he was honest and said it probably wouldn’t change anything unless he saw something that surprised him since we already ruled out a stress fracture and I have great range of motion in my hip. So I opted out again.

While I was there, I asked him what he thought my chances of running a marathon this year was. Thankfully he told me he thought I would definitely be ready for one towards the end of the year and I was pretty pumped. I’ve been feverishly searching and contemplating which one I want to register for, but I don’t think I’ll do it until I’m further healed. I would hate to sign up and then be unable to run – especially when marathons can be upwards of $100 a pop. To be determined..

Yesterday I was back at physical therapy and I told Justin about my PT sessions and running from the previous week (he was gone on vacation and I had other therapists). He said he heard and said as soon as he knew I ran on the treadmill that pretty much gave it away.

He explained that I should run outside because the treadmill drags your foot backwards instead of your body doing the work, creating a constant resistance that your hip flexors (i.e. my problem area) has to compensate for. I was happy to hear it was something that simple. I thought it was the distance that was giving me the problem but he assured me the distance was fine.

After a warm-up we did all soft-tissue work. He taught me a few different stretches and a dynamic warm-up to perform before I run. I left there feeling like a whole new person. That’s why every time I get down on myself for still having pain, I get hope again because I leave there a-ok.

I’m feeling good today, as I started the day off with a 3 mile morning run. It was awesome to start the day with an outside run; I wish I could do it more often. I go back to therapy tomorrow, so yay for that.

This whole injury thing is so complex. I have a physical injury but mentally, it’s been so much harder.

I asked my PT about doing the NYC Half Marathon and he said he doesn’t see a problem with me doing it so long as I know to take walk breaks throughout. I told him my attitude about it which is:

I have no expectations of setting a PR and beating my last half marathon time. I’m going out there just to run, have fun, and enjoy a big city race. I realize I’ll probably have to stop and walk a lot but I’m fine with that. I definitely wouldn’t be doing the race had I not already paid for it and a planned a trip, but I’ll do what I can and what my body allows me to do when that day comes.

He said I have a really good outlook about it so I’m glad I am where I need to be mentally, even if I’m not there physically. My health is more important to me than any race will ever be and I keep reminding myself of that.

Am I frustrated that I can’t run long distances? Of course. I miss doing what I love.

 But I can still run.

There are a lot of sayings out there that mention things like, “you don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it.” I can honestly say that I did know what I had and I still realize it. I was thankful every single day of marathon training that I could lace up my shoes and run. I didn’t care that it was 98 degrees, that I was tired, or that I missed out on after-work drinks with friends.

I remember thanking God during the majority of my runs for allowing my body to be able to do this. I still thank Him, because my injury is nothing compared to what some people are going through.

I think ultimately this injury has made me grow into a better runner. I’ve been able to focus more on myself as a runner, what my body can do, and how to listen to it. I am still ever grateful for every mile I run, even if that tops at 3 right now.

I’ve still got some progress to make and I do get frustrated, probably every day. But I know I’m better for it and I can’t wait to see how I come out on the other side.

No excuses

Eureka!

I thought I figured it out.

After 2 months off from running and “resting” per the instructions of my sports medicine doctor (actually I only fully rested for 1 of those months..) I began running again on Monday.

I couldn’t take another week of nothing and I got a Garmin 610 running watch for Christmas that I have been DYING to use since opening it on Christmas Eve. I was good and waited a week+ to run after getting it but that was enough.

Plus, my plan going into December was to sit out the whole month and then see where I’m at after the holidays. So here I am.

I ran! I ran 2 slow miles at 9:30 pace on Monday and another (even slower) 2 miles at 10:00 pace on Wednesday (to be fair, I took my 1 year-old dog with me who is still learning how to be a good running partner.) I kept it at 2 miles just to see how I did and not to push myself too hard for the first time back.

Monday’s run went great! I felt so good during the run and so happy to be running again in the sunshine. I love my new watch and all the data I get from it (you know I’m a nerd by now, no hiding it…) To be on the safe side, after the 2 miles I iced my hip for 15-20 minutes and took some ibuprofen.

Tuesday I was feeling pretty good but still took ibuprofen and iced it to be safe. I was super checked-into my body though and analyzing everything that I felt in my hip area and by the end of the day called my sports medicine doctor for an appointment. I got in for the next day but after thinking about it more overnight and feeling like a hypochondriac, I called back at 8am Wednesday and cancelled. Plus, I wanted to run on it again and see how it went just to be sure.

I looked forward to my Wednesday run all day. Seriously, ALL DAY I thought about it. As soon as I got home from work, I changed into running clothes (felt better than putting on PJ’s after a long day!), got Owen (the pup) ready and off we went! The run went well although it was much colder than my run on Monday. Finished up the run at a slower pace than normal because I was wrangling the dog around and constantly scooting his butt over to my right side so he would stop running in front of me and end up hurting us both. Thankfully that didn’t happen and we had a relatively peaceful run. More ice and ibuprofen afterwards as a precaution.

So Thursday. Still feeling good but I could definitely use some ibuprofen. Realistically, I feel like I should be healed if all I needed to do was rest. I’ve rested for 4 weeks and haven’t ran in 8 (before Monday)

I definitely don’t feel 100%.

Then an idea popped into my head today at work.

  • It’s not a stress fracture, ruled that one out at the doctor’s appointment and have been doing his test exercises on my own to see if they have gotten worse
       – they haven’t.
  • I don’t hear clicking or feel popping when I’m running.
  • I’m sore for the first time and haven’t felt sore in over a month. Maybe I should foam roll.

FOAM ROLLING. IT Band pain?

I’m no doctor and I could be completely wrong but like anyone my age does, I Googled it.

I’d learned about IT Band pain and how to keep it healthy right before I started training for the marathon, another reason I bought my foam roller – prevention. While I may not have prevented this injury, it did help me through training and possibly prevented worse injuries. Still an advocate of the foam roller; Homies for life.

Back to my Google results. Sho ‘nuff.

hip pain

Of course I started Googleing hip strengthening exercises and found a lot of helpful tips. Runner’s World had a forum that was specifically talking about it and also suggested hip strengthening. Here is another good article.

That was enough for me, I called my sports medicine doctor and they had an appointment available in 1 hour from the time I called. I finished up at work and made it to find out I can skip the MRI but he recommends.. physical therapy to strengthen my hip!

Wasn’t the IT Band, but I’m glad I looked into it online otherwise, I may never have gone back to the doctor until it was really bad.

So now I’m set to do physical therapy for the next 4 weeks at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to gain more strength. When he was doing his series of tests he confirmed that my hip bones and socket were indeed fine, but that the surrounding areas of muscles, tendons, etc. were in question. My left hip was noticeably weaker than my right hip, too. He thought this to be the best route and I told him I needed the fastest route, which he assured me it was.

I’m excited for therapy because I’m so ready for this to be behind me. Plus I’ve always wanted to go to a  PT (I have no idea why) and their (sorta?) like personal trainers so why not? One-on-one time to talk sports/recovery is right up my alley!

My mood is on the upswing and I’m so glad to finally have a plan in place.This takes away so much anxiety and unknown that I’ve been mulling over for the past month. I really turned into a grouch before Christmas. I know it’s no guarantee, but it sure beats the heck out of doing nothing!

Happy Friday-Eve!

Ode to Running

Well hello there! How are things on your end of the mouse?

Here’s what’s been going on over here..

1. Last weekend I tried to run and failed. Then I walked a 5k which was humbling to say the least.

2. I was in pain from attempting to run last Thursday for approximately 4 days afterwards.

3. While at the race I decided I really needed to make some changes with how I’m approaching this “hiatus to running.” Let’s face it, I’m injured, no more “hiatus.”

4. This has been a big pill for me to swallow over the past week.

Sorry in advance this isn’t the normal happy, chipper Beth-post..

So about that pill to swallow.

I decided at the race I really need to cut back on the exercise I’ve been doing. Mainly because it hurt to run after only 1 mile instead of the 2.5 miles I ran before I went to the sports doctor just 3 weeks ago.

You see, when I said I took a hiatus from running, I did stop running, but I replaced it with elliptical and the arc trainer which incorporates resistance as part of the workout. The resistance gives me a great workout but I fear it also isn’t helping my hip much. So I haven’t done any of that non-sense in 8 days. (not that anyone is counting)

Cool, so no cardio. Surely there is SOMETHING I can do, right? I went to Yoga on Tuesday night and it was marvelous, obviously. I also am afraid though, with all the bending and stretching and joint work.. this may not be a good option either.

So what’s left?

Technically I’ve exhausted all of my options I conventionally use to stay fit and sane. If we’re talking about being adventurous though, I could always hit the pool. But again, resistance of the water when I’m kicking probably wouldn’t be good for it.

So I think I’m really on the bench this time. Like, no heart-pumping, adrenaline or endorphin producing, sweat dripping, muscles aching AWESOME-NESS.

photo (17)
(After my 5 mile run in 98 degree heat + humidity this summer)

Nope. None of that. Sorry ‘boutcha, Beth.

THAT’S the pill I’m trying swallow.

In retrospect I’ve been training, running, being completely active (my whole life but specifically) for 8 out of 12 months of 2011. I’m sure that’s also the reason I am injured. What? You’re body isn’t indestructible, too? Naïve Beth is learning a lesson.

But from going from 8 months of this new love for distance running to all of sudden Z-E-R-O physical activity is torture. I know I should enjoy the time off, Beth, you’ll get back into it. Be glad you have an excuse to do nothing. Can’t you just relax?

Sure I can relax. I did enjoy the freedom from a training plan, but quite honestly, it’s never really been my style to “do nothing.”

548
(Kayaking in the Bahamas on spring break in college.)

So now I stare extra long at runners I see, a little jealous and a lot creepy. I drive past my old running route while I’m driving home from running errands and physically yearn to park my car, set my distance on my Nike+ to x amount of  miles, and take off down the path.

photo (19)

I hope it’s only temporary, I really need it to be temporary. Not because I identify myself as only a runner, because I’m much more than that, mainly because I miss what I love.

I miss the “me time” to clear my head, to get creative with projects coming up, to get inspired about other aspects of my life, to settle thoughts about situations I have no control over, and mainly just to listen to what my body is telling me.

photo (21)

I love the feeling when you begin to finally sweat after the 1-2 mile mark. I love my heart racing when I’m struggling up a hill. I L.O.V.E. when I hit the 5-6 mile mark and everything falls into place. I mean everything. Breathing, stride, light stepping, feel as light as a feather. I really miss that.

So enough depressing talk – just trying to keep it honest and all.

Thankfully I have a great hubby and a lot of great friends and family that support me. I also have a lot of fun stuff going on not related to being active. It’s a great time of year for parties so I get to see a lot of the people I want to see and that helps me stay sane, too.

I’ll keep you updated on the hip. I may go back to my sports medicine doctor next week to take him up on that MRI offer. Cross your fingers he just wants me to rest!

I’ve Been Benched

Well, I tried. I set a goal and was determined to finish it out. One minor issue.. that hip/foot pain I was telling you about never really went away.

After I tried running on it last Tuesday for a mere 2.5 miles I had to quit. My goal was to get in 4 or 5 miles that day but there was no way that was happening because of my hip pain. I promised myself if I had any intense pain during that run I’d go straight to the doctor.

I found a sports medicine doctor through a friend of mine and was there at 9:30am the next day. He had me do a few tests, moving my foot in different directions, which didn’t bother it.

He moved my leg in a few different directions with me putting resistance against him and that didn’t hurt. He had me jump 10 times on my right foot then 10 times on my left foot and that didn’t bother me at all. We discussed my training plan leading up to the marathon and I told him I did everything I could to come to the starting line injury-free, which I did.

He told me on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being perfectly healthy and 10 being a stress fracture, I was at about a 3. He said that people with stress fractures can’t even do 3 of those hops on their affected leg. I caught it early and I was smart for coming in. His words, not mine, promise!

“So you know that half marathon you were talking about? I wouldn’t recommend that you run it.”

While I could probably run the half marathon, I could end up hurting myself a lot worse and end up more towards an 8 or worse, a 10 on the “stress fracture number scale.” I was actually very relieved to hear this coming from him because, being who I am, I felt like I needed to buck up so I could finish this goal I had set.

“If it’s really important to you, you could do it, but if you feel pain you should stop.”

“No, it’s not important at all, just a fun run I thought would be cool to do.”

“Good, I’m glad to hear that. Give yourself a 3 week break from running and you should be good as new. If not, come back to see me.”

I asked him about cross-training (spin, elliptical, yoga, etc.) and he said he didn’t have a problem with me doing that since I told him earlier that I didn’t have any pain when I did those exercises.

He offered to do an MRI but wasn’t pushy about it. It would most likely tell us what we already knew. I had “made my hip angry” and it needs some time to cool off. It wouldn’t change the road to recovery.

He asked me about a prescription strength dosage of ibuprofen but he said if I wasn’t going to use it there was no sense in filling it. It’s true, I wouldn’t have used it. The pain isn’t constant, only when I run.

He asked me about my diet and calcium but he already knew I am a registered dietitian so he didn’t spend much time on that subject. (and I always get 3 servings of dairy or other form of calcium+ vitamin D each day.. you should too!!)

Overall, I really liked this MD. He’s a straight shooter who is used to dealing with sports injuries and runners, he wasn’t pushy for unnecessary scans, and he didn’t try to force drugs on me. A+, Dr. Kendall, A+.

So, what now?

LOTS!! Over the past week I’ve been attending spin classes, group power classes, yoga, getting some time back on the elliptical, and focusing more on what my fitness goals should be over the winter outside of running. I’ve discovered that doing all this running has left me extremely weak in my upper body so that is definitely something I’ll be working on, along with flexibility and overall strength.

On the flip side, I’d be lying to you if I said I don’t miss running.

Today was the first day that running starting to consume my thoughts. I missed coming into work this morning without a long run behind me from the weekend.

I went to the gym today after work to do elliptical and accidentally (by habit) walked to the row of treadmills instead. I sighed and literally had to pull against the desire to start flying on that thing. I got to my elliptical and did my interval workout and felt a lot better once I started sweating and working hard.

By the time my workout was over I felt good, just not as good as after a run. A run completely takes it out of you. When I was working out today I know I got some of that energy that had built up over the weekend out, but it wasn’t like a run. I feel like I have so much pent-up energy, still.

Alas! In order to run injury-free in the future, I’ve got to do this now. I honestly don’t mind the change-up from only running to other forms physical activity. I just wish I could run a couple of miles a week to “cure the itch.”

So what about that half marathon? Well, that’s not happening, but there is a 5k (3.1 miles) option I may do if I’m feeling good a couple of days before then. If not,  I’ll wait it out and continue to let my body heal itself. It’s the least I can do after a year of demanding so much from it!

Keep On Keepin’ On