Imma be a Navy SEAL. Or something like that.

This post brought to you by the new VS bathing suit I ordered yesterday……And a desire to conquer looking good in it….

#INeedATan. Stat.

#INeedATan. Stat.

Cliff notes for those out of the loop: Ashley loves to run. Ashley’s leg(s) are fractured. Ashley can’t run right now. Ashley’s being creative at how she can stay active and not turn into a walrus.

This week was not the best.

My parents are coming next week! (!!!!!! I haven’t seen them in six months. This is exciting.) So that’s meant some serious advance working on other deadlines. It’s been coming together, but suffice to say that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week you might as well have called me Murphy.

Cause I was living Murphy’s Law.

EVERYTHING was going wrong. The worst. I haven’t had stress quite like that in a while.

When things go wrong, what does Ashley typically do to feel better?

Run.

Since that wasn’t an option, I was really blessed to have my rooms Sarah invite me to her Pilates class. She’s invited me a couple of times, but I had resisted because:
a) I thought my school gym pass was better than I have now learned that it is (no classes, what!?)

     b) I was intimidated to try something new

     c) I thought I liked other exercises more.

But let’s face it. “Man that ride on the gym bike just made me feel SO MUCH better,” was said by no one ever.

So Tuesday I squished myself into some Pilates clothes and went to what I thought was going to be mostly a mat workout.

That turned into actually being THIS:

That’s not me. I think my butt maybe got 1/4 of that high during this move.

I have officially been to my first Pilates TRX class.

Let’s just say “Whoa.”

I have never in my life sweat so much from staying in a 2-foot radius. It was pretty crazy. Actually, scratch that. Insanity made me sweat riiiiiidiculously. This was working on par with that though.

The focus on breathing and my muscles was exactly what I needed to stop thinking about everything else that was stressing me out. Not to mention that the way I felt the next day told me that it was a good workout. (My armpits were sore? I don’t know how that happens.)

When you Google TRX you get:

UM. It's serious.

UM. It’s serious.

I alternated between thoughts of:

– If this strap breaks, I’m breaking my face.

– It’s impossible to do this as gracefully as the teacher.

– I wonder if anyone notices I’m doing half of the sets?

– Thank goodness I squished myself into tighter clothes. Otherwise this would be a show in here.

– How in the world is that tiny girl on the other side of the room so good at this?! I don’t see muscles.

It was very hard. And a lot of fun. And now I’ve found another way to spend money and think I’m going to sign up for a month of classes.

I think it may be the just right thing to get me through this injury funk. Not to mention, there are regular pilates and yoga classes at this same studio that I can take advantage of.

Have any of you tried TRX? Anyone in Boston interested in signing up and going with me? It’s only $30 for unlimited classes for 30 days! I’m thinking about signing up at the start of July to get the most bang out of visits given I’ll be out of town a lot next week.

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Body betrayal.

The past 13 months have been challenging. Spend 10 minutes talking to me about running and I immediately delve into how amazing it is; my exciting half marathon in 2013 and then inevitably conversation turns to “the injury.” A tibial stress fracture meant going from 13-mile runs to 2-mile runs. Running two minutes, walking two minutes, etc.

The definition of frustration.

But over time I was running again. It was maybe just three and four miles on a good day. But it was a run.

Until my grand accomplishment two Sundays ago––when Andy got me out on the esplanade and we ran a comfortable, fun, enjoyable five miles.

My longest run in 13 months.

I was enthralled.

And then I woke up to a sore leg that Monday.

And then I ran on TWO painful shins Wednesday.

A nightmare.

How could I have re-triggered the stress fracture so quickly? And how in the world could I now have symptoms of another one in my right leg?

To say that the end of last week I felt defeated was to paint a pretty accurate picture.

Turned out that my reporting assignment this past weekend would be both torture and exactly what I needed: I was covering the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half-Marathon and Festival.

That meant a day of interviews with Runner’s World editors. An interview with elite runner Shalane Flanagan. Seminars. Shoe workshops. And of course, watching thousands of runners conquer one of the most iconic running landmarks in the running community.

I got some of the best feelings of:

– Companionship. These people know how I feel.

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– Encouragement. (This was the best consolation ever on an injured runner having to rest.)

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– Inspiration.

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– Reassurance. I’m not a total dummy for hurting myself. It’s part of the package.

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 8.43.52 PM One of the takeaways I sadly but also comfortingly took away from the seminars I visited was that injuries are a part of the package. You just have to know how to best try to prevent and then also best try to treat.

My current plan is a full week of rest. That week is up tomorrow. In the meantime I’ve retreated to my November Project Deck workouts since they’re less weight-bearing and still a good strengthening workout.

November Project Deck-A-Day

[Easy, just use a deck of cards. Draw a card. Black? Do that number of push-ups. Red? Do that number of crunches. I’m not big on crunches so I do planks, Britney Spearses (haha, I don’t know what those are really called) or other core holds.]

November Project Deck-A-Day

Does this look like a happy runner to you? I didn’t think so.

From here out, I’m going to do better about writing about running. When I’m intentional with running and recovery, I think that’s when I’m healthier and safer about it as well.

Grad school, you’ve been great for so many things! But you’ve been terrible for schedule and routine.

How do you keep consistent with your recovery plan? Any tips for coming back from an injury the right way? Have you been to the doctor multiple times about your running injury?

I’m seriously considering a visit back to the specialist–but I think I’m going to try to rehab it myself (the right way) first.

Kick-Ass Workouts + Grassroots Fitness: November Project

Hey guys, remember when about three months ago I was getting really whiney about how out of shape that I was getting? Well that’s stress fracture recovery for you.  Granted, I now more than ever, know that I should have really tried swimming.

Well as of almost three weeks ago, I’ve started going to the most f***ing intense workouts ever.  November Project.

(They use that word a lot, so I’m allowed to here too. I’ll censor it for my grandma-reading audience though. Hey Mamaw : ) )

Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 6:30 a.m. all over Boston come rain, snow, ice or shine. And these workouts are hard. as. hell. But the community that’s there is incredible. You show up and you don’t know 95 percent of the 100 people there. But somehow as you’re doing this workout at the crack of dawn, you feel a weird endearment and bonding to all of the people sweating, hurting and pushing alongside you.

New Balance really said it best with the video about the group and honestly, watch it. Like seriously. Watch it:


We joke that it’s like a cult. But seriously, I’m knee deep into the kool aid. Like can’t even stop talking about it. Since my first Friday hills workout I went to class afterwards and told new friend Jeanna. The next time I went it was me + Brian + Jeanna + Roxanne and the next time Dana + Andy came.  It’s an addiction. (And also, obviously good for making friends.)

To get that kind of adrenaline kick at 6:30 a.m.?

It’s all great in September when workouts are a balmy 60 degrees. In January? This is going to be ROUGH. But more than anything I’m seeing the importance of accountability which is what this program is all about. This morning and Monday morning, there is no doubt that I probably would have flaked out if I hadn’t told Jeanna that I would be there and then know she would be waiting for me.

But beyond just working out. This is so good for my mindset when it comes to recovering from the ongoing stress-fracture debacle.

In four months of recovery I had done a few lame runs. Towards the end of my time in Winston-Salem I think I did three or four walk/run days.

Since I’ve started November Project? *Mind you, these are MWF days. So not consecutive.

  • Day 1: Hills. A total of over 4 miles including my first long solid run (HA, 1.2 miles) home.
  • Day 2: Stadiums. I did half of Harvard Stadium. 19 sections. I couldn’t do stairs right for four days after that.
  • Day 3: Hills. Over 3 miles of hill running. There was walking. But it wasn’t because of my leg. It was because that hill was kicking my butt.
  • Day 4: I ran 3 miles. THREE MILES. All the way to a circuit workout.
  • Day 5: I ran another 3 miles. THREE MILES. No stops. No pauses. No walking. No checking the clock. But I finished it in less than 30 minutes. And I felt good enough to then do 12 stadiums at Harvard Stadium.
First day at Harvard Stadium. You guys, this is where thighs and butts get wrecked. So. Steep.

First day at Harvard Stadium. You guys, this is where thighs and butts get wrecked. So. Steep.

You can BARELY see her; but my girl Jeanna finished the whole freakin' stadium this morning. 37 sections. Her second time. She's a badass.

You can BARELY see her; but my girl Jeanna finished the whole freakin’ stadium this morning. 37 sections. Her second time. She’s a badass.

Like seriously, that’s the dedication? I missed my alarm clock this morning and missed my ride. So instead of taking a cab or whatever, I ran three miles. I booked it to get there just in time to start with the last group.

I’m so excited to be reclaiming what was an active lifestyle. These guys are badass. I’ll never be quite like that. But you know what? Just being around that energy makes you find something else a little deeper you might not have ever discovered.

There are November Projects starting all over the country. Don’t live in a city that has one but want to get involved? This month November Project is doing a #DeckADay challenge. You can find out all of the details here (all you need is a deck of cards); but suffice to say it’s an amazing bootcamp for your core and arms–and it’s pretty straightforward. Love me some simple workouts.

Man, I love running.

Now, about that GPS watch I’m asking for for my birthday. Any tips on brands or what to look for?

Next up in fitness posts: I’m finally starting a book that I got from Lily over at Sincerely Lily. Can’t wait to share some more running good stuff.

Back to Being “Me.”

Today was my second workout since getting the clearance to run again and boy, was it lovely.

It had just stopped a torrential downpour, so while it was steamy––the air smelled wonderful. Every tree I ran under was beautifully fragrant.

photo 1

Winston-Salem kind of view.

Plus, those new running pups I showed off last week? Amazing.

What’s your favorite part of running in new kicks?

Mine is a number of things: the way the rubber feels like it’s kissing the pavement with each step; the way the laces are clean and shiny; the way your foot feels like it’s getting to know a new friend and isn’t entirely familiar with its accompanying sole. It was a good bonding first run in my new Brooks. They are really living up to my hopes. While I had totally aimed to roll back on the effort while running I still managed to keep my miles under 12 minutes––again alternating 1 minute running, 5 minutes walking, repeat.

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The ole’ stress fracture felt fine. That leg continually has a little discomfort, but it’s no longer the fear of “am I going to land funny and my leg break!?” — Drama queen. Now it’s just the familiar tight muscles and aches that come with an injury and too long on the couch. That said, calf stretches are my very best friend right now.

photo 2

New shoe love. Calf stretch love even more.

For the first week in a while I’m actually focusing on cooking + healthy + veggies + balance when it comes to eating. There has been a wealth of things to stress about the last few weeks and as such, so many things to stress eat on : ) It was super nice to have some green pepper, spinach pasta and chicken sausage for dinner. SO tasty.

Great start to finally feeling like I’m getting a grip on how things used to be! Back to being me.

Shoes are serious.

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New running kicks! Love. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13.

Now, while I’m the first to admitting that I can go a little crazier than needed on flats and wedges and boots…oooh, boots. Those shoes are important, but running shoes? So much more important. You need to take it serious. Why?

Darn injuries. Wander over to my search bar and enter “stress fracture.” That will get you up to date.

So for this reason, if you’re a beginner runner (who may not know better), an average runner (who may be too cheap or maybe just a little lazy), or even an advanced runner (who may be stuck in a shoe routine rut)––I wholeheartedly recommend getting fit for shoes.

Tonight I went for the third time to our local Fleet Feet in Winston-Salem. I wish that I had taken more photos to document, alas. More important things on the brain like shoes!

So. Why get fit?

– Everyone’s feet are different. (Are you flat footed? Do you have a high arch? Do you have weird toes? Ok, maybe less of the last one.)

– The way your feet are determine a little bit the way you walk and run. (Maybe you’re one of those golden “neutral” runners, but I bet a majority are under- or over-pronators; which means you roll your ankles a little inward or outward when you run. You may have no idea you do this. In fact, you’re probably totally unaware.)

– The way you walk or run affects your feet, your ankles, your legs and even your hips. (If your ankles are rolling around while you run, muscles are having to work harder than they should.)

– Shoes can affect your personal gait to make it more perfect.

Which all means, the right shoes mean no injuries and a faster, healthier you.

So, what to expect? That classic shiny silver foot measurement. I’m always appalled by this. I typically have totally average 8.5 sized feet. That’s totally normal. Impossible to find cute shoes in the sale section. But for running shoes? I’m a 9.5.

In regular shoes? I’m a regular.

In running shoes? Narrow is SO MUCH more comfortable. (Stop judging my long skinny feet, I can feel it.)

Lastly, I’m a little flat-footed which means that I roll my ankles outward a little more than usual when I run.

So that means I get some pretty sexy superfeet inserts and I get the foxy running shoes with a thicker sole (stability runners, total hot stuff material). Again, don’t judge.

But once you’re given some choices of shoes to try out, walk around the store in, and just as importantly to run on the treadmill in—it’s really easy to figure out which ones are best for you. They just fit right. Which means, they just feel right.

I’ve been an Asics loyalist (specifically the 2000 series) since I started running so tonight I felt a little bit like a cheater; but . . . I switched to Brooks. And these babies? They feel AWESOME. No more scary recovery runs where I keep wondering if I’m going to re-injure myself on the next step because there will no longer be that voice in the back of my head that says “You need other shoes!”

Here’s to running!

#runhappy

Stress Fracture Recovery Day 1

Today is a great day. Today is the first day that I’ve been able to lace up for a run in TWO months. That’s a long time to someone who is used to running five days a week. Forever I went back and forth as to, do I go to an orthopedist? Do I just rest on my own?

A month into my injury I knew I needed someone to look at my leg and I’m extremely glad that I did. It wasn’t cheap. But for someone who’s hoping to run a marathon in the next 12 months it’s worth it. I can’t imagine the doctor bills if I returned to running too fast and landed myself with a worse injury or something that would plague me moving forward indefinitely.

Two months of doing nothing was hard (and I shouldn’t have done nothing. I can’t help that swimming just doesn’t quite seem to be my thing : ) Maybe it was that I was scared of swallowing water so I didn’t breath normal? Whatever it was I sucked, but I digress). But my doctor told me that’s exactly what’s helped me get to where I am today, two months later and able to start on a recovery plan!

Fractured leg, take that.

This past week I went for my follow-up orthopedist appointment and he told me that while yes, I should likely have a bone scan–he’s confident enough in the injury and happy enough with my progress to not go that route. Instead, he asked how I felt about starting to run every so often. I replied that I had a dream that I was running 10 miles the night before and laughed that I could only assume that that is NOT what he had in mind.

Instead I take it gradual.

Has anyone done a couch-to-5K? I haven’t but I’ve been told my plan is similar.

Run 1 minute. Walk 5 minutes. Run 2 minutes. Walk 5 minutes. Run 1 minute. Walk 5 minutes. Repeat.

Every other day. Three days a week.

I can increase the running part by 1 minute next week. But I have to take it easy and listen to my body. I should never feel that same pain in my leg. Who knew? If I hadn’t gone to a doctor and started to run, experiencing a little pain I would have assumed it was “normal, just getting back to routine.” Instead I’m having to really listen to my leg.

Running today was freaking exciting, but there was a part of me that was scared the whole time. Is it going to start hurting this time? Is this hill going to hurt it? Oh no, forget uphill…downhill is much more difficult. Maybe this bridge is bad for it . . .

But come a return around Lake Junaluska back to my car I was a little happily surprised to see two things:

1) I finished 2.3 miles with a sub-12 minute pace. (I maybe should have gone a little slower when I was running, ha.)

2) My leg was just kind of sore in a muscle way. Someone has sore calves and shins!

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It was a gorgeous day though and I am so freaking optimistic about getting back on track.

This is seriously one of my faaavorite places to run.

Happy girl.

Now for the fun to-do list:
– Buy new shoes. Yup. These darn pink things are the culprit, I just know it.

– Find a half to run next spring.

– Find a full to run next summer / fall.

And I’ll be raring to go (who am I kidding, I already am).

 

Mama’s Outta’ Shape.

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ESPN, I love ya.

You’ve heard my whining about how I can’t run.

But I have legitimate reason that I’m not good at coping with stress when I can’t run.

I end up eating or social drinking my feelings.

And Hot & Spicy Cheese-its and Sam Adams beer do not a fit girl make.

So then there’s been the down spiral of “Oh my gosh why did I eat those 12 cookies at 11 p.m.??” and “Of course I’m available for happy hours every night this week.” And six weeks later mama’s totally outta’ shape.

End rant. Because today I broke the rules and ellipticated.

Mostly, I feel guilty because my leg felt great so it seemed worth the risk––but I know that’s the trap you’re supposed to avoid.

But I felt good. And I got to watch ESPN (one of the things I miss most about cable) and I was super happy about all of the above.

Pending how I feel tomorrow I plan to do something LIGHT. I’m still “flying under the radar” of course. Tonight that meant stopping at 20 minutes when I felt like I could do 30. This also means I plan to very gradually work back into consecutive workouts.

Fingers crossed I get my feet back under me. I can’t wait to get back to the grind!

Running injuries declared “no fun.”

Full disclosure, this is not my personal x-ray. However, I’ve totally requested. Hello Doc, I wanna see what my bones look like! Can you tell this was my first ever x-ray?  🙂

Two months ago I finished my first half-marathon, with a sub-eight minute final mile. I felt awesome.

I rested like instructed. Babied my body while it recovered. And took to the roads a week later for a nice recovery jog.

Ouch.

“It’s just muscle tenderness,” I thought.

Tried again the following week. And the week after. And the week after. The only thing changing being the degree of pain I experience during and after run, and how crippled I was for hours after finishing. I finally was done in by a 3-mile (puny) run in Savannah at the very beginning of June. And I had to throw in the towel.

Concentrated pain. Aching deep to the bone. Sensitivity to any weight pressure. I was a mess at stairs and any long-distance walking was uncomfortable. No more running temporarily. Maybe a week or two off was all I needed.

But the pain continued. So I went to a doctor.

That was no good, since the “only stress fractures she had ever seen were with women who had osteoporosis.” Of which, I was not.

To someone who typically logs around at least 25 miles running a week––to stop completely and not run for a month with a mystery, undiagnosed pain? Maddening.

I have literally been losing my mind. I tried swimming for exercise (that’s a joke). I tried biking. It’s just not the same.

As time passed and the pain subsided, there was still some swelling and tenderness. Occasional aching and feeling of discomfort while I’m sitting or trying to go to sleep.

So, finally I went to see an orthopaedic specialist today and all of my suspicions were verified. Almost completely confident there’s at minimum a stress reaction. The specialist was flabbergasted at my previous doctor’s treatment (and suggested I find someone else for regular primary care) and was even concerned of the possibility of a break. An x-ray later it was in the clear that there wasn’t a break (thank goodness, that would’ve meant surgery)––but it was still highly likely that I have a fracture.

In the coming weeks I may need to have a bone scan––but for now I at least have a timeline to count against for when I can maybe start training again. 20 weeks. 20. freaking. weeks. Luckily the first five that I’ve rested count. And I can start running two days at a time likely in September. But, until then? Biking and swimming.

Talk about a lesson in patience.

But I would far rather fly under the radar for five months than rush back and deal with this injury indefinitely (and potentially make it far worse than current).

The only other saving grace was that I don’t have to wear a boot. It was discussed. And as fashion-forward as that would be in July––I was grateful the doc seems confident that I can heal up as is.

There is so much to be said for a doctor who:
1) Spends time with patients

2) Listens to patients’ crazy “Well, I know I shouldn’t, but Google told me…” and is affirmative that you’re being a good self advocate

3) Gives you advice in a personal way. “If you were my daughter, I’d tell you…”

4) Acknowledges your personal goals and adjusts your treatment to be right for you as an individual. “You want to run marathons? We’ll fix you up. You want to switch to cycling? You’re good to go.”

Luckily, the doctor was incredibly encouraging about the prognosis. “You finished a half marathon just fine and this happened after? You’re golden. Just had a streak of bad luck is all.”

I put off going to the doctor for so long because I didn’t see the point if I was just supposed to rest. But now I have a clear action plan for healing and I have way more confidence that I’m going to get this right to not re-injure myself. It’s well worth the co-pay and test fees. (Maybe ask me again maybe if I have to have the bone scan though 🙂 )

Runner friends, any suggestions for keeping your sanity while being sidelined? I’m going to need to find better ways to entertain myself for the next 15 weeks!

Symptoms of a Running Addiction: The Injury

And it’s driving me entirely crazy.

I’ve known all along that the pavement is my best place to shed stress, worries, anxieties and over thinking–but, just spending one measly week not running and resting my mysterious leg injury is sending me into a complex. I think I have an addiction.

The first weekend of “rest” seemed to have all of my friends running 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons.

I proudly doted on them all with encouragement and excitement; but with no “end of the tunnel” on this rest quite yet–I was a little sad for myself. want to go run!

The mysterious injury? A bum shin. Not a bum knee, or foot, or ankle. My shin.

It started about a month before my half marathon. That nagging soreness after a run and sometimes during that I suspected was a case of shin splints. I have a history of needing shoes that offer more stability and when I opted for some lighter trainers before my race (dear Sauconys, you’re super cute and awesomely light but I know you’re the reason I’m injured. Only myself to blame) I knew it was maybe going to be trouble down the road.

The soreness was usually much better when I ran on asphalt (no surprise) and also better with some ice.

I was a little paranoid about it going into my half; but surprisingly I didn’t feel it one bit during or after my race.

Every single run that came thereafter though has been some varying level of brutality. Be it the five-mile run that left me hobbling through the grocery store afterwards or the three-mile run in Savannah that has now completely decommissioned me. Since Sunday before last it’s been constant pain, hobbling and discomfort.

The symptoms? Swelling. Concentrated pain in one place on my inner left leg. Radiating pain. Sensitivity to bearing any weight.

I’m still going through the diagnosis process of what’s gone wrong. A blood test today will confirm whether or not it’s a blood clot. (Of course, I’ve been walking around the office all day wondering ‘Do I feel short of breath?’ and ‘Am I feeling dizzy?’ and ‘Is this pain traveling up my leg?’ Of course it’s a matter of life or death : ) )

If the blood test comes back OK I’ve been referred for x-rays; but the stubborn stingy part of me who has done reading that says stress fractures do not show on x-rays doesn’t want to go.

So, I think I’ll opt for a specialist instead. I need a doctor who understands runners injuries; not a physicians assistant who actually just wanted to give me a shot for muscle pain until I convinced her that maybe it was something more than a strained muscle. (I mean, seriously . . . come on.) The lady pressed all over my leg and confidently said “it’s a strain, not even swollen.” Um, do you want to look at it from my angle? She also told me though that “Fractures usually happen to women with osteoporosis. Young people rarely, if ever, get these.” Par for the course? I gave blood middle of last week and they forgot to do the test on it . . . so they needed me to come give more today. Yes, I think next step calls for a specialist.

So, dear runner friends please tack an additional mile on your log today for me. I miss it so much and it’s killing me to keep “taking it easy.” This is just not my nature. Fingers crossed that this one week of rest can mark off of the grand total of (God forbid, worst case scenario) up to 8 weeks of complete rest.

Anyone else have experience with injuries of these types? No fun, I tell you that—but all the same, misery loves company. So if you have advice, I’m all ears.