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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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!

Getting healthy. Or, at the very least, trying.

Last week was the perfect storm of eating out. It was terrible (in the best way, of course). But it was at the least paired with some good workouts, a re-introduction to “Insanity,” a very strenuous 4.5-mile hike and finally a weekend-wrap up 5-mile run. Victory in physical forms. Less in eating forms.

But today, thanks to encouragement from officemate Victoria, I have a fun new water cup (seriously, we find motivation in the most simple ways) and am determined to up my water consumption.

I’m remembering to put on chapstick.

I’m lifting weights again.

Getting more sleep.

Going to paint my nails (it’s weird how that can make you feel more put together and focused).

And getting my butt to the gym in the morning. And hopefully, starting tomorrow, also in the evening. 10K is already on the calendar for April 6th and I’m feeling more and more confident for the half-marathon April 27th!

I figure with a 5-mile run this week, if I up my longest run by one mile each week I’ll have plenty of time to get up to par over the course of the next two months.

This girl refuses to be afraid of a swimsuit come the month of May.

Seeking ridiculously fun running partners, who are also good for follow-through.

 One of my best friend, Michelle’s, first 5k last year–this is prior to being beasted by some serious hills.

Anyone up for a half marathon?

OK, friends. I have this half marathon that must happen before October (thank you, 25 by 25) and I’m really leaning toward the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half in Nashville, April 27th.

But only three things will make that as fun as it can be:

1) I really need to get my butt in training order. But four months feels very, very feasible. (Disclaimer, I have trained for this in the past.)

2) I need friends to either commit to run with me or go and hold me accountable.

3) A huge build-up of excitement. Races of this nature just require a lot of motivation. And I think 80 percent of that comes from the anxiety : ) and excitement that you’re going to run over 13 miles. And you’re going to celebrate so hard when you finish. So, I’m looking for others who can get as excited about this as I am. And I’m forewarning you for more posts about progress along the way.

Sound a little long? How about half of a half marathon?

An alternative consideration, if you’re not ready for half-marathon level commitment yet is the Charleston Cooper River Bridge Run, which is a 10K.

Deets? It’s April 6, 2013 and just over 6 miles. Totally do-able in four months time! Registration needs to get in soon though; and if you register by January 15th you get your name on your bib.

Alright runner friends, who’s up for some event t-shirts and a little bit of sweat?