This Body Still Works

Today, I’m finally feeling sore. The good kind of sore. The sore that informs me I did something yesterday. Finally. I put this body to work.

Sitting on the sidelines takes a lot out of you: Passion. Dedication. Energy.

Not being able to run is almost (almost) as draining as running ten miles.

I’ve been feeling that weakness, that all-to-familiar drag of my body. As much as you try to ignore it, it’s there. You can stay positive, put on a smile, but inside—damn it, you just want to run! And when you feel that passion, dedication and energy sucked out of you for doing what you love, those feelings seem to be voided in other areas as well. Healthy eating, cooking, writing—they’ve all taken a hit.

After I ran the Green Bay Half Marathon in mid-May, I didn’t run a step for weeks. It took almost two weeks before what felt like my pubic bone, the bone that you sit on, finally stopped aching. Sitting, laying, it didn’t matter—it nagged me.

By early June, it felt better and I got in a handful of short bike rides. I decided it was time to put it to the test—after all, I had rested and done practically nothing for three weeks, so it had to be better! At a running club meeting, I went for an easy 3-mile jog.

Lying in bed that night, I cursed the running gods. I hurt again.

I had gotten advice from some running club friends, who had similar symptoms and had gone to PT, trained through it, and were fine. Turns out what worked for them, didn’t for me. It pays to pay professionals.

I’ve been going to PT for two weeks now, and it’s improving—slo-o-owly, but surely. The nagging pain is almost gone, but it rears its head if I sit too much. I’m thankful I have a work desk I can stand at.

Tendonitis, the PTs say. The adductors running along my inner thigh were imbalanced, too weak, and the adductor brevis/longus and gracilis that attach to the pubic bone are pulling on it, thus the pain that feels like it comes from the bone. We’ve been working carefully on building strength back up in my legs, butt, and core.

I was allowed to walk 15 minutes last week as my “workout.” Do you run? You can imagine how I felt. But I put on a smile, and thought to myself: You do this now, so you can run for many years later.

In everything, a bright point: I’m sore today, because I finally hopped into a pool for a swimming workout yesterday. I’ve wanted to try swimming for a while—honestly, a couple years. I don’t know why I was so nervous to try, but I was… Maybe because it was new, I didn’t know how one does a “workout” in the pool, and I was afraid of looking like an idiot. However, with no other alternative, this pretty much forced me into the water head-first.

And I totally loved it.

Only 15-20 minutes in the water, and I felt like I got a fantastic workout, with no increase in pain… Just this lovely soreness, that tells me my body does, indeed, still work.

Coming to Terms

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who replied to my last post about being injured! You’ve made me feel so much better about everything. I felt like I was giving up/being a wuss/completely disappointed, but you’ve helped to put my injury in perspective: It’s one race, and it’s not worth injuring myself worse over.

So, I’ve decided: I’m just running the half marathon instead of the full Green Bay Marathon.

And I have to say, I feel totally relieved.

Before, I was truly dreading the thought of the marathon. I wasn’t stoked for the race, the thought of 26.2 miles didn’t seem just daunting—it seemed impossible. I knew I would most likely have to drop out at some point, or limp through the last 10 miles at a slow walk. No thanks. I was not excited at all about the race weekend…which is such a bummer, because I am going with a whole bunch of running club members, and it will be a blast!

With just 13.1 miles (just?) on the docket, I’m pretty excited just thinking of the whole experience: Running a half marathon with my training buddy (who is also injured now) and simply soaking up the running love and atmosphere the whole time. My other training buddies, Liz and Lela, dodged injuries and will be completing the full marathon, so we’ll be rootin’ for them at the finish line.

I’m glad I could come to terms with the fact that it’s okay to change a big goal and aim for something new. Life requires recalibration. A half marathon might not be what I was shooting for, but it’s still a damn good goal, so I’ll take it.

On the other hand, I guess that means I have another marathon in my future… Some day. 😉

Injured, Take 2

Well, hello there! It’s been a while, I know. I’ve been busy with life and biding my time, hoping to pop back in with better news, but here it is:

I’m injured again.

When I trained for my first marathon last year, I was plagued with ITBS—my hips and knees weren’t happy, but dedication, determination and $1000+ of PT helped me get across the finish line. I was SO happy to get there, but I didn’t feel 100% fulfilled. I knew I could have done better had I not been injured. So I signed up for my second marathon.

THIS time it would be different. I knew the PT exercises to do to stave off the ITBS. I would be smart! I would be experienced! I would run this race MY way!

I made it to my 18-mile training run a few weeks ago.

18 mile long run for Green Bay Marathon

I ran it alone, and it was a glorious run—relaxing, enjoyable, sunny. About 15 miles in, I started getting some tightness in [what I thought was] my left hip flexor. I had been having tightness on-and-off in my hip flexors so I took note and kept stretching, but I figured it’d pass. I made it through the 18 miles and was all smiles when I finished.

18 mile long run for Green Bay Marathon

I even did a little dance up the driveway when I finished, and pretty sure my neighbor who drove by at the time prob thinks I’m a nut. Ah, well.

That night, my hip flexor-ish area started to hurt while I was walking around. Then it ached all night and all the next day. Proceed with icing, ibuprofen and rest. The next couple weeks my long runs consisted of 9 miles (supposed to be 19) on April 12; the next weekend off to rest; and 10 miles (supposed to be 20 miles) on April 26.

The doomed 20-miler was the most frustrating, because after taking off almost the entire previous week from running, I thought I would be doing much better. But just 6 miles into the run, I could tell something didn’t feel right…and I couldn’t get my hip to stretch out. I got back home at around 10 miles and I was starting to limp-run, so I called it quits before I did more damage.

After a few tears out of pure frustration (UGH), I pulled it together and thought about where the pain and tightness were happening. It seemed like the achiness would be at the top inside of my thigh where it meets the pubic bone, then go straight up. This is why I thought the problem was my hip flexor, but after doing some research, I am now wondering if I might be dealing with a strained groin? It explains the pain/dull ache at the very top of my thigh/pubic bone, but not the tightness that radiates up, does it?

So there we are. Green Bay Marathon training: Only two weeks left, and I’m injured again. [Cue sad trombone noise.]

At this point, I can’t decide—still try for the full marathon (I’ve already sworn up and down this will be my last)…or just downgrade to the half marathon so I don’t risk hurting myself more? After all, I don’t want to hurt myself to the point of being unable to run when spring & summer weather is just around the corner…

Advice? What would you do—full or half marathon?

P.S. Icing the groin region = weirdly uncomfortable. Glad I am not a dude.

Chicago Marathon Training, Week 13 Recap

Week 13 of the Chicago Marathon training has come and gone. There are only 4 weeks to go ‘til the big day, and I’m just happy I was able to run at all this week! Here’s the breakdown…

Sunday, September 8th: 60 minutes cross-train
Went on a bike ride.

Monday: rest • 15 min. bike ride
Matt said he wanted to bike, so I was all for it. Unfortunately, there were swarms of tiny flies all around our neighborhood. They were all over our shirts and shorts, pinging off our faces, and we couldn’t talk because every time we opened our mouths they somehow managed to find their way in. So gross. Obviously we decided to cut this ride short!

Tuesday: 5 miles • PT
Had a PT appointment, so did all my exercises and stretches for that. Got the green light to try some run/walking, if I didn’t have any pain before I started, so I decided Wednesday would be the day…

Wednesday: 5 miles • 50 min. bike ride + 24 min. run/walk
I had two friends who were going biking so I met up with them before attempting my run/walk. I figured it would help me warm up + loosen my legs, plus I wanted some extra cardio time since I knew I wouldn’t try to run/walk very far. The bike ride felt good, then I foam rolled my IT band and stretched really well. You can read my whole post about my run/walk success, but I ran 2 minutes/walked 1 minute for a total of 24 minutes, with no pain. YAY! Major spirit lifter.

Thursday: 5 miles PT
I was so stoked to go to the PT office and let them know about my run/walk success. They suggested I only run/walk every other day for now, so I did all my PT exercises and stretches and called it a day.

Friday: rest + PT
I had another PT appointment, this time with the doc I had originally wanted to see (she owns the clinic and is a runner herself). She suggested again that I try a run/walk method for the marathon, then gave me advice on how to build up my run/walk routine to eventually get back to running a mile at a time (you’ll see that plan in this week’s upcoming schedule at the bottom).

Since Wednesday’s 2:1 run/walk went well, she told me I could try a 4:2 run/walk on Saturday, but not to increase the time (25 minutes) unless I just added a 5-minute walk warm-up and 5-minute walk cool-down. Sold.

The PT doc massaged my IT band for a decent amount of time at the appointment, and it was a little achy all night afterwards. (This slight achiness or tenderness has continued through the weekend, so I hope it was just the massage breaking up the knots and stuff?)

Saturday: 19 miles • 3.48 miles (~2 running)
Last week I had said I’d hoped I could run 13 miles on this day, and obviously that wasn’t going to happen. I listened to my PT and started with the 5-minute walk to warm up, did some stretching, and then started my 4 minutes of running followed by 2 minutes of walking.

I think the toughest part was actually stopping to walk after the 4-minute running periods were up, especially when I was feeling really good. It was just so exhilarating to finally get moving again! It was also tough once when, after a run interval, I stopped to do my 2-minute walk and a passing runner tried to encourage me, “Don’t stop, you’re looking strong!” Thanks for the compliment & encouragement, runner, but it’s doctor’s orders!

On the plus side, the walk breaks did give nice opportunities for some pretty photo ops:

This sunrise is the best part of early morning runs!

This sunrise is the best part of early morning runs!

I ended up tacking on an extra 4:2 set, so my total run/walk time was 30 minutes instead of 25. Heh. Who’s surprised by the stubborn runner? I did feel pretty good most of the time, but at the end, the outside of my knee started to feel uncomfortable. It didn’t hurt, but it didn’t feel right, either. Then I had about a 10-minute walk back to my car, so I had a total of almost 45 minutes on my feet, and probably about 2 miles of running.

This week’s schedule:
I plan to continue the run/walks, hoping to slowly up the time I can go without pain… (The crossed out items are what would be on my running schedule if I were healthy.)

  • Sunday: rest
  • Monday: 5 miles 35 minute run/walk (4:2 ratio +10 min walk warm-up/cool-down)
  • Tuesday: 60-minute cross train + PT appt
  • Wednesday: 8 miles 35 minute run/walk (6:2 ratio, if Monday brings no pain +10 min walk warm-up/cool-down)
  • Thursday: 5 miles PT appt + 60 min. bike ride
  • Friday: rest + PT appt
  • Saturday: 12 miles 35 minute run/walk (10:1 ratio, if Wednesday brings no pain +10 min walk warm-up/cool-down)

With only four weeks to go until the Chicago Marathon, I know at this point I won’t be able to run the whole thing… But I’m hopeful that I can at least run a mile at a time, perhaps take a minute walk break between each mile, and still finish. It will just be a loooong marathon!

What do you think of run/walking? Is it something you normally do, or would try? How’s your training going?

I have to admit, stopping to walk in the middle of my running at first felt SOOO slow. I didn’t have the patience for it. But after a couple times, I realized that the short walk breaks make running MUCH easier! I would definitely recommend new runners, or people who’ve been out of training for a while, try run/walking. It’s much less torturous. 🙂

Run-Walk Success

You guys, I did it! I ran yesterday!

Without PAINNN.

Take that, ITBS – you pain in the ass knee.

At my PT appointment on Tuesday, I asked my doctor to get real with me about when I could start trying to run regularly again. It’s been a couple weeks since my last real run, and I’m only a month out from the Chicago Marathon now. Sure, I’ve been biking a lot, doing some PT exercises to build strength, and working on my core muscles…but to complete 26.2 miles by foot, I need to get some lots of miles in on these legs. Plain and simple.

If my knee wasn’t hurting me, she said, I could try it, but shouldn’t go overboard. And of course, if it started hurting, I promised myself I would stop immediately and walk, so I don’t make things worse.

Naturally, on Wednesday I decided it was time to try a little running. Even after some massaging, exercises and stretches on Tuesday night, I didn’t have any pain or tenderness around my knee or IT band. The other doctor in the clinic had suggested I look up a run/walk plan for the marathon (since I told her I was getting nervous about it), so I figured I might as well start out run/walking now.

It doesn't matter how slow you go, as long as you don't stop.

I started my workout with a 45-minute bike ride, since I knew I needed to put in some real cardio time, more than I would be able to run. Plus, I figured this would be a great way to get my legs warmed up and loose, which would help to stretch them before I ran.

After the biking, I did some foam rolling on my IT bands, and then stretched really well.

Then I was off, almost holding my breath with each step I took. Except, you know, I was running and all, so I had to breathe.

I decided I would do 2 minutes of running, followed by 1 minute of walking, and repeat that. I didn’t really have a set time or distance in my head, as I had no clue how my knee would feel, so I just trotted off without a plan, happy that it seemed the run would go okay as I took my first steps.

I continued my run/walking iterations until I got to about 12 minutes. Ecstatic that I wasn’t feeling any pain or anything at this point, I decided I better turn around and start the 12-minute jaunt back home, just in case. I didn’t want to push myself too far, right away.

By the time I got home, I was grinning like a freak, sweating like an even bigger freak, and restraining myself from jumping around. In total, I did 24 minutes of run-walking (16 minutes of running/8 minutes of walking). Not a ton, but, 16 minutes of running was longer than I could run this past Saturday, and without any aches or pains. I’ll take it.

We’ll see tonight at my next PT appointment if the little workout did anything adverse—I bet I will probably be a little tighter than the last several days, but hopefully the doc can continue to work out the tightness and knots in my IT band.

I’m taking this all as a reminder that when you start losing hope and wonder when things will turn around, you should never really worry—because before you know it, a little miracle just might happen. 🙂

Thanks for all encouraging responses to my last few posts & on Twitter, folks! And to my everyday friends and runner pals who’ve heard me yak on and on about all of this. You poor souls. I lova ya.

Running Withdrawals

Hi all! I realize my blog posts haven’t been as exciting lately—mostly due to the fact that I can’t run. Womp.

{However, I shall uplift this post with a sprinkling of funny runner memes.}

Ryan Gosling makes everything better.

Ryan Gosling makes everything better.

I’ll admit, I’ve been trying to stay positive, but it’s been tough. I was sure everything would be okay the first week my knee started bugging me. I thought I’d just enjoy several days’ rest and then take my runs easy for a few weeks, and I’d be A-OK and back on my way to marathon training bliss.

Then the next week moseyed on by and my knee was still bothering me. Not to worry! I’d just take the whole week off, go see a PT, and all would be fixed.

But, no. Now I’m on week three of injury patrol and it’s starting to wear on me. Gone are the positive thoughts and relaxed attitude. Enter the psychotic, cliché, injured runner symptoms of worrying and obsessing over the fact that I can NOT run.

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I find myself constantly googling things about my injury online, reading articles, posting on message boards, babbling the ears off of anyone who will listen, and seeking out advice from every other runner I know. I’m doing all of this while already seeing a professional physical therapist…who should really be the only person I’m asking for advice from, not the interwebs.

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But alas, I’ve arrived here, to the injured-runner-exile, where self-pity and crabby pants abound. And I am so not about self-pity and crabby pants type of person, so on top of not being able to run, you can imagine how much this all annoys me.

So forgive me, dear friends and fellow readers, for my lack of oomph and passion and fun posts lately. You see, I choose to just keep my crabby pants to myself, to spare you from the headcase that I’m slowly becoming. You don’t need to see the slow unraveling of wits that is starting to fray at the seams.

Yes. Wine does help.

Yes. Wine does help.

The bike, foam roller & PT are my new BFFs, and while they’re all good listeners, they just doesn’t compare to my oldest friends…my running shoes.

I hope we’re reunited soon.

Since I can’t write so much about running right now, what would you like to hear more of? My PT & cross-training, other various workouts? Or something entirely different?

Wedding planning is on the upswing, so I’m thinking that will be making a regular appearance soon. Promise that I’ll get creative and come up with some happier workout posts & healthy eats soon, too, though.

Chicago Marathon Training, Week 12 recap

Week 12 gone, huh? I am trying to stay positive, but this injury is starting to get to me. I’ve had to take off most of the week, but at least I got to see a physical therapist a couple times. So I’m hopeful this coming week will mean more running…at some point…

Sunday, September 1st: rest

Monday: 60 minutes cross-train
Bike ride.

Tuesday: 5 miles
No running. Had my first PT appointment after work so I didn’t have time to bike afterwards.

Wednesday: 8 miles • 50 min. bike ride
No running still, but biked. Ran into some friends just as I began my ride, so I joined them & that raised my spirits. Made the bike ride fun and took my mind off the lack of running.

Thursday: 5 miles
Honestly forget what I did this evening. I didn’t do any working out, besides my PT exercises and stretches. I think I worked late-ish and then did some blogging stuff. Looked forward to my Friday PT appointment, hoping to have good prospects for my Saturday run.

Friday: rest
Had my next PT appointment. Got more stretches and exercises to help with the hips (which I will fill you in on soon). However, when I asked advice for weekend running, my doc said nonchalantly, “Oh, well you can just try a mile and see how it goes. But I wouldn’t recommend more than that.”

A mile? ONE? HA. My PT is not a runner and, I thought snobbishly, doesn’t seem to understand how I’m training for a marathon, which I’m supposed to run in 5 weeks. So one mile, nope—that’s just not gonna cut it.

I figured since I was able to run 3 miles last Thursday, after only taking four days off, that at this point (10 days off) I would definitely be okay with three miles. So I decided that I’d try three miles Saturday morning, and if I still felt no achiness or pain, I’d keep going up to six miles, max…

Saturday: 13 miles • 1.75 miles
And then it was Saturday morning. I ran my one singular mile and felt great. Stopped to stretch and really took my time with it. Started the next mile and halfway in, the aching started on the outside of my left knee again. Already?! I had taken 10 DAYS off!!! Ugh, so frustrating, I can’t even put into words. I started walking back to where I began. Twice, I tried stretching and running a really slow pace back, but both times the pain started to flare up worse than before. So… I didn’t even get 2 miles of running in.

Not what I was expecting.

Talk about discouraging.

This week’s schedule:
This week’s runs are again up in the air. I hope to run AT ALL. Here’s what my schedule should be, if I were healthy…

  • Sunday: 60 minutes cross-train
  • Monday: rest
  • Tuesday: 5 miles
  • Wednesday: 5 miles
  • Thursday: 5 miles
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 19 miles (really hoping I can do 13 by then, to stay on track)

I have PT appointments on Tuesday and Thursday. I’ll have a third appointment sometime this week with the clinic director (who I had wanted to see in the first place, but was on vacation this past week). She is a runner and had come to speak at our running club meeting several months ago, so I’m hoping she’ll better understand how I hope to get moving again if I want to run this marathon. I am also hoping she will be able to tell me for sure that this knee pain I’m feeling is coming from my weak hips. Cross your fingers…

I am really trying not to be one of those runners, who gets injured and turns into an antsy freak that becomes obsessed with when they will be able to run again. I was doing really well with it, but now I’ve come to the 2-week mark and am starting to worry about timing with the Chicago Marathon. Will I be able to run the marathon still? Will my injury go away, or be under control in time to run 26.2 miles pain-free?

I’m really trying to stay positive, but after two weeks off and no results (in fact, feeling worse after 10 days off that I did after 5 days off)—it is tough!

Have you ever had an injury impede running a race? What did you do to handle being injured, but stay on top of your fitness? Have you ever had hip/knee/IT band issues? 

I think the biking is a decent workout, and all these new exercises are definitely pushing me, but I just feel like without running, I am losing my fitness. Fast.