Just Breathe

Seems so simple, right?

Remember last week when I mentioned I was just getting over an upper respiratory infection? Yeah, I completed the 5 day Z-pack last weekend, but sadly I still had a lot of chest tightness and trouble breathing.

It felt like I couldn’t take a deep enough breath so I just kept taking lots of shallow breaths all the while my chest feeling really tight/congested. I somehow stuck to my Tuesday/Thursday runs but at the end of them I was waaay more out of breath than I should’ve been. I felt like I ran really hard sprints after just a couple of miles.

When I set out to do my long run of 18 miles yesterday, I got no farther than a mile from home and was waiting at a traffic light to take me into the park, when I realized there was no way this was going to happen. I was out of breath after less than a mile.

I turned around and ran home, rinsed off and took my butt back to the doctor. After explaining my symptoms and rehashing the past month of terrible running, Brandon having pneumonia and a course of antibiotics not making me feel better, the doctor decided I should either have a breathing treatment or prescribe me an inhaler. Apparently, there has been a lot of respiratory stuff going around here recently and she said I presented as such. Asthma-like symptoms, etc. So I stayed and did a 10-15 minute breathing treatment where I breathed in albuterol to dilate my bronchial tubes.

It made me pretty jittery afterwards, a common side effect, but the doctor said she could hear a big difference in my lungs than before the treatment. She said the effect would peak about 15-30 minutes after the treatment and I should be back to normal.

It made a BIG difference! I felt like I could finally breathe again. She said not to attempt running again that day, so I took advantage of my free morning to run some errands.

Then, Brandon and I met up with our friends downtown for an O.A.R./Carbon Leaf concert!

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It was a blast – despite getting poured on for about 15 minutes!

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I woke up this morning ready to tackle my long run. Again, 18 miles on the schedule. It was a beautiful morning, in the 60s, sunny skies, light breeze.

I brought my headphones but didn’t end up using them for the whole 2.5 hours, I just wanted to see how I was going to handle running. I was off and found running to be A LOT easier than it had been for the past 3 weeks. I actually had hope that I’d be able to complete this run.

So, I did what any marathoner would do. I kept running. And running… And I wasn’t gasping for air. My body felt strong and I wanted to go faster, but I knew I’d never finish if I went my usual 8:30 pace as I was doing before all this began. So, I kept it around a 9:00min/mi and felt really good for the first 10ish miles of the run. I ate some PowerBar energy chews, got some water and was on my way.

Then the hills came. More hills on the second half of my run than the first and I think they were a little too aggressive for me just coming back from all this. My longest run since Labor Day was last weekend at 12.75 miles, so I knew the last few would probably not be as fun as the first.

I ended up running 16.5 miles and I’m really happy with that.

16.5

18 just wasn’t in the cards today and I don’t want to stress my body more than it has been over the past month.

The doctor gave me an inhaler prescription to fill if I want to, which I haven’t yet. I’m thinking I may though because I want to be able to finish out strong for this marathon. At least getting all (or most of) my miles in.

After my run today, my chest is a little tight (understandably so), but I may take an appointment with the pulmonologist just to make sure everything is ok.

My hip has been doing exceedingly well throughout all of training this summer. I do PT exercises during the week to keep it strong and ice it occasionally when I feel a tinge of pain. I’m so thankful I don’t have that to deal with, too.

One thing that having an injury taught me (last winter) is that now, I train more conservatively. The goal isn’t to run 18 miles because my training schedule said so. The goal isn’t to even run this marathon in a month.

The goal is to be runner for life. Maybe not a marathoner, but a runner.

I don’t want to be over-zealous now and eff up my body for the rest of my life. It’s just not worth it to me. No time goal is worth that, no distance goal is worth that. Just being able to run.

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I’m a pretty simplistic person, really. I’m happy with the small things in life. So give me a few minutes of your time and go on a run with me; I’ll be a pretty happy camper.

I was really frustrated by this setback since I had really high hopes for September. My training over the summer was going really well and I was getting pretty fast. But again, while I may be disappointed about slowing down, I’m still running.

I leave for Naples, FL on Tuesday evening so I’ll be running my long run in FL on Saturday! I’m hoping the humidity won’t kill me since I’m just bouncing back, but I only have 10 to run, so at least I won’t be out there forever.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

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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

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