Another Mile Marker

strengthpersistance

Today I passed another mile marker in running. Today I finished 6 weeks of physical therapy, 15 weeks after my first marathon.

What a journey these past 15 weeks have been. Frustration, doubt, hope, physical and mental pain. Today, I won.

I’m so glad I stuck with it and didn’t throw in the towel for an easier way out, even though there were times (namely, week 3 of PT) that I thought it just wasn’t working.

Honestly, just 2 weeks ago I had a melt down because the pain hadn’t gone away in 10 full days. That’s just after we discovered how my hip hates the treadmill and my PT poked around in my hip, which was uncomfortable, but did the trick. The week after that (last week) was the best running week I’ve had since before the marathon. I’m happy to report this week is much like last week.

I haven’t ran the race yet, we’re still 24 days away, but I’m not and haven’t been measuring my success by the race. My success is being measured everyday in the little victories I accomplish from running another mile farther, waking up without pain, and getting excited instead of getting anxious to run.

I am so excited and not to be boastful, but proud of how far I’ve come. Literally, 10 weeks ago I couldn’t even run a mile without having to stop because of the pain. I’m now up to 6 miles, pain-free.

So, 6 weeks of PT.

That’s 2 hours each week dedicated to strengthening exercises one-on-one with my therapist, lots of poking/pressing/pulling around in my hip by my PT, extra exercises at home for 20+ minutes/night 6 days per week, trying to decide if I should get an MRI (never did and glad I didn’t!), all while trying to increase my mileage so I have some kind of shot of finishing this half marathon. I’m confident I will now.

On to bigger and better things! Details to come…

P.S. If you need some inspiration today, here’s an oldie but goodie!

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Physical Therapy Day1

How’s your week going?

As I mentioned on Tuesday, yesterday was my first physical therapy appointment. I’ve been excited since I made the appointment last week and I wasn’t disappointed.

I was evaluated and treated by Justin, my physical therapist. He seemed very knowledgeable and I feel confident in his treatment plan.

We first talked about my history with how I got the injury (or how I think I got it since I honestly have no idea). I went into a lot of detail about my training for the marathon, when and why I switched my shoes (from a supportive shoe to a neutral shoe), how I didn’t feel any major pain other than what I guessed was “normal marathon pain” after running for 4+ hours at a 9:30 mile pace during the marathon. We talked about what the pain has been like since the marathon, when it flares up, what kind of activity am I doing when it flares up, and how I’ve been coping.

Whew.

To start, he had me run on the treadmill for about 5 minutes while he recorded my feet up-close from behind, my entire body from behind, and my entire body from the side. This helped him see how/where I was landing on my feet, how my hips were landing, their positioning during my strides, and also a general sense of how my running efficiency was.

A+ on the running efficiency; could’ve told you that. 😉 Being an efficient runner means you’re not flailing your arms expending extra energy or bobbing up and down too high. This helps you conserve energy and oxygen for more efficient delivery of oxygen to your muscles and less wasted energy on your arms or too much up and down movement vs. propelling yourself forward. When you look at elite runners (I’m by no means claiming that I’m elite..), they don’t have that up and down bounce that some novice runners may have. Here’s what it looks like:

Efficient runner: Arms tight to the body, propelling forward, head in a pretty even straight line.

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Non-Efficient Runner (brought to you by Beth’s artistic talent and Microsoft Paint): Uses energy to move up instead of forward, creating a bounce-like run.

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If you’ve never seen this episode of Friends where Phoebe and Rachel run in Central Park, it’s the epitome of non-efficient running. Although I hope none of you actually run like that. Haha

Back to the PT appointment.

The PT noticed my left foot rolls inward a little bit during my landing; something my neutral shoe is not helping with in terms of support. Before I switched shoes I was wearing Brooks Adrenalines but those, he said, are a little too much support than what I need. He instead suggested a mid-line support shoe like Brooks Ravenna (my favorite brand’s version of this line of support). He even wrote me a cute little “prescription” for new shoes to take to my running store. Discount, perhaps?

He also noticed my right hip drops when I land on my left foot. He said this could definitely indicate a sign of hip weakness. With that, he gave me three different exercises to do at home in between my appointments to help strengthen my hips.

I asked him if my left hip was trying to overcompensate for my right hip weakness, even though both hips are weak, and he said it was a definite possibility. So, more exercising for me!

Wanna hear the best news? (Besides an excuse to get new running shoes..)

He said I could run! Since my 2 mile runs didn’t really bother me last week in terms of pain, he said I might as well continue to run. I told him about the NYC Half Marathon and he said it seems pretty do-able.

He wants me to start running just for time instead of distance for now. 10 minutes the first couple of runs, then we can increase it. As long as I don’t run back-to-back days, I can run as many times a week that I want. He also said that since I’d tried not running on it or doing anything for the month of December, it’s probably better that I run on it anyway since we know resting didn’t help it. He also confirmed that running will act as more of a strengthening exercise. Music to my ears!

I’m hoping I’ll get to the running store and try on a pair of new running shoes this week or early next week. It feels too soon to get new shoes since I just got the Brooks Ghost 4’s in October and barely put any miles on them, but if it’ll help me run pain-free, I’ll do anything. (Buyers Note: My PT said Brooks is an excellent running shoe; just be sure to get fitted at your local running store or by a PT to know what kind of support/non-support shoe is best for your running style.)

I go back to PT next Wednesday and every week after that until the end of February. Let’s see what we can do!

Have you ever had physical therapy? Did it help your injury/rehabilitation?

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!