Time to Heal…

Being patient with your body and allowing time to heal is difficult, but absolutely necessary if your goal is to run for a long time. I struggle with taking time off just to rest and recover; an injury is just as difficult for me. Usually, I continue running on it-telling myself I can run through it. And many times running through minor injuries is fine. It’s the not so minor ones that you can’t run through. Even some minor ones, get worse if you try to run through them. Knowing the difference, is the difference between an experienced and novice runner.

Injury and time off is unfortunately part of the running experience. Alternatives to running are just not the same. You don’t get that runners high. You don’t get that peace and sense of freedom. The longer it takes to heal the more agitated you become. It’s easy to fall into a pessimistic and defeatist attitude. You become an expert at positive self talk or you fall into a depression. The longer you are in the recovery mode, the farther off running feels.

You definitely go through the seven stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance.

Shock and denial are lumped together most of the time, “It’s not that bad,” “I can’t believe this has happened.” “It’s nothing to worry about,” “I can still run, it’s fine.” “It’s the shoes, I’ll just get a new pair.”

Anger is directed at pretty much everyone including other runners and yourself. You beat yourself up about not taking time off right when it happened. You decide you could have prevented it and were just stupid.

Bargaining-” Dear God, I’ll take time off right away next time, if I can just have my running back now.” “I’ll volunteer more and donate money, if I can just get back out there.” “I’ll do anything to get back out there!!” Anything, but take the time to heal that is. You  begin doing research about the fastest way to heal. You spend hours looking at new training programs, super foods, stretches, miracle vitamins, and strength training.

Depression comes in the form of the defeatist. “I’ll never run again.” “this is going to take years to heal.” “It will always hurt to run.” “I can’t be happy without my running.” “I can’t live without my running (you think this is going to far until you’ve been there).”

Testing-“I’ve taken a few days off, I can go back.” “I know it still hurts a little, but a little run won’t hurt it.” “Just an easy three miles.”

Acceptance- “this sucks, but my goal is to run until I die, so I guess I’ll spend six months doing physical therapy and then I’ll take the time to get back to running in the right way because if I don’t, I’ll be back where I was when this started.”

When you’re ready to start your epic return to running make sure it’s slow. Review my return from injury training program found above under the 5k and 10k training program link.

It’s a shame that we can’t start with acceptance. Maybe that should be our goal for our next injury because if we’re honest with ourselves, the next injury will come.

What in the Hell do people do on the weekend?

ice knee

Last Wednesday, while doing my strength routine, my left knee popped as I twisted out of the plank position. It had never done that before. It hurt a little. I poked and prodded it, and everything felt fine, nothing was tender. I finished my workout and didn’t think about it the rest of the evening.

The next morning, I went out for a ten mile run. Around mile seven, my knee started to hurt. It didn’t hurt bad, just a small ache at the inner top corner of the knee near the spot that had popped the night before.

“Oh god,” I thought, that would be perfect, an injured knee five weeks before a 100 mile race.

I kept running, of course, the pain didn’t get worse and after two miles it went away. “Whew. Dodged that bullet.”

Once I was back home, I ate breakfast, sucked down some coffee, and got ready for work. As I was bending to get into my car, my knee hurt. In fact it hurt for the rest of the day when I bent it more than just walking. It felt like it needed to pop. The skin was tight over my knee.

“Just great, it’s swollen,” I thought. I iced my knee at lunch and wrapped it with the ace wrap I keep in my desk drawer. I Iced it when I got back from court that afternoon and again after dinner.

I knew I was out of running and cycling for the weekend. I guess I should count myself lucky that it is a low mileage weekend. But, Saturday was the first team marathon training run. So Lame.

I met up with my team Saturday morning and explained that I couldn’t run. I hung out and drank coffee with Swiss Miss, who was going to run later in the day because of child care issues.

I spent all day Saturday laid up on the couch reading. All Day! I’m antsy. I’m bored. I take the dogs for a walk since walking doesn’t hurt. By Saturday afternoon, doesn’t hurt to bend anymore, but it’s still a little swollen and hurts at that top inner corner when I squat.

I spent all day Sunday laid up on the couch reading and writing. Swelling is gone. I continue to ice, compress, elevate, and rest. The swelling is gone. I’m antsy. I’m bored. I go get coffee at Starbucks just to get out of the house. I take the dogs for a walk.

At three in the afternoon, I text J$, “What in the Hell do people do on the weekend if they can’t run and cycle?”

“They watch T.V., eat food, and sit on the couch.”

“No wonder Prozac is doing so well.”


Hurt vs. Injured

injured runner

Distance running hurts. I’m not going to lie, sugarcoat it, or decorate it with balloons. It is just part of running a half marathon or farther. Of course, some people are more conditioned and it takes longer for them to hurt, but if they run far enough they all begin to hurt too.

Feet start to ache, you can feel every grove in the road, and every tiny pebble is like a two-inch nail piercing the bottom of your foot.

Ankles protest at the angle of the trail or the road as they lean from side to side.

Hamstrings and glutes scream as you push up another hill, flashing with heat and squeezing with vengeance.

Aches and pains come and stay with you for a mile and then they melt away, sometimes they come back sometimes they don’t.

Hurting is a part of the experience and as a distance runner you have to be able to work through it to keep going. Injury is a completely different ball game. I’m not referring to delayed onset muscle soreness, which we all experience when we push our muscles to new levels.

Wait, what?

Hurting and injury are different. You push through the hurt. You rest and recover for an injury.

I wish I could say that telling the difference between being hurt and being injured was always cut and dry, but it’s not.

Injury is marked by sharp pain in a centralized location, which may radiate, but has a definite starting point. Injury pain does not go away as you run either, in fact, many times it gets worse as you run. Injury pain also continues into the next day and longer. Many times it is worse in the morning and then decreases through the day. You can tie an injury to a specific moment in a run or a twist of an ankle, fall, or whatever.

Injury will alter your gait and potentially cause additional problems. Continuing to run on an injury will make things worse and lead to a chronic problem such as tendonitis. If you run while injured, it hurts as soon as you start.

Injury requires RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Hurting is more of an ache or bruised feeling. You can’t point to a particular spot that hurts because it’s the whole muscle or area. It lasts a day or two, but diminishes and then goes away. If you take one day between runs, it is very minimal on your next run or gone entirely. Sometimes, it will linger as a heavy or tired feeling.

Know your body and listen to it. Push through the hurt, but always rest an injury. This will keeping running for many more happy miles.


Recovery takes too long!

The knee is healing slower than I would like, which would be instantly. Removing my ability to run long distance last weekend has impacted other area’s of my world. Most significantly, my sleep. I can’t sleep a lick when I don’t run distance. I’m just not tired. My body is used to putting out enough energy to keep me going for 70 miles a week, six hours on the bike, and two hours in the pool.

I’ve had to reduce that to almost zero other than the swimming. And now, the pool is closed this week so they can put the top back on!

I’m going to have to swim at the pool near my office over lunch just to keep the energy levels down so I can get some type of sleep.

I took four days off running. The swelling was nearly gone by Wednesday and I checked with a orthopedic doctor about running. He told me as long as there is no pain while running, I should be fine. So, on Wednesday evening, I ran just a little to see how it would feel. I walked three miles and ran another 1.5 miles. No pain. Excellent.

On Thursday morning, I ran with Spongebunny and J$, we did nine miles easy. There was no additional swelling later that day or on Friday.

I decided that I would take it easy over the weekend. Saturday I went out for 23 miles. My knee didn’t hurt during the run. I did notice that when going down even a mild incline there was pressure on the outside bottom of my knee. I tried to avoid downhill not wanting to aggravate anything that was still inflamed.

On Sunday I went out for an easy ten miles and kept it very flat. There was no pain during the run. I did notice that there was some pressure in the same spot as yesterday. I’ll will continue to take it easy until things feel normal once again.

Red Rock Relay is next Friday (September 12) and Saturday. I’m running 36 miles of the race and have significant downhill. If my knee is not totally better by then I may have to switch out some runs with my other runners. I’m sure they will be terribly upset about not running uphill! Ha, Ha, Ha.


And she’s down for the count.

down for the count

Yep, I asked for it. Fell again. I believe this week is cursed. One year ago, I stepped off an edge in the newly paved road and rolled my right ankle. It was sprained pretty badly and I didn’t take time off because I was training for Pony Express 100 and had the Red Rock Relay with my team the week after rolling it.

I’m not sure taking time off last year would have allowed me to complete Pony Express 100, because of the type of injury, high ankle sprain, which takes three months or so to heal. I made the conscious decision to continue to run on it because I was assigned to run 55 miles of the Red Rock and no one could pick up my miles one week before the race.

Admitting to being injured is difficult for me. Ask my team. I’m an over achiever and to not be able to do what I say I’m going to do is soul crushing.

I went out for my Saturday long run, 27 miles. At mile one, along the paved trail there is a road crossing and the trail does not line up well on the other side. My right foot came down just off the paved edge and I fell to the right, but during the fall I brought my left knee down and it hit the edge of the pavement. Some not so lady like words flew from my mouth.

I sat there in the dirt picking the gravel out of my knee in the dim light. I decided to finish the loop I was on and see how it felt. I knew I had hit it right on the kneecap. I didn’t think it was fractured, but that thought was definitely in the back of my mind.

I finished seven miles and decided that it was best to call it a day. I iced it at home. It’s a little swollen. If it turns awesome purples and blues I post pictures. I was able to run on the mini tramp without pain later that afternoon (it’s a sickness okay).

J$ came over to check on me at Swiss Miss’s request. See they know how I am about these injuries. I’m sure it’s not enjoyable to watch your friend run 55 miles in pain and they don’t want to repeat that experience.

J$ and I rode our bikes on the trainers, which gave me the option of stopping any time it hurt and to reduce the pressure to my knee by lowering the resistance on my tire.

Sunday was supposed to be a 20 mile run. The knee felt tons better, but was still swollen a little so I decided a rest day was in order. Monday is a swim/bike day. My next run is Tuesday, 9 miles of speed work. I may cut the speed out, but I will give the run ago.

Falling, as I said before, is a part of running and cycling. But to fall twice in one week is really irksome. Especially, because the fall has now forced me to take time off. I will listen to my body and let it heal using the RICE method, but I’m not at all happy about it.


Dance Among the Debris

The cool crisp morning air passes over my tongue and expands my belly. My arms whoosh past my waist. My feet roll gently over the earth. I want to spend as much time as I can running, but I recognize that if I want to keep running, I have to take care of other areas of my life and health, or I won’t be running long. I take every opportunity to learn more about training, injury prevention, and extra things you can do to enhance (and protect) your running.
I want to be the best runner I can be, and I’m willing to work hard, put in the miles, stretch, and strength train. Many articles and research studies come out recommending various necessary ingredients in a workout routine, including, but not limited to: stretching, nutrition, massage, ice baths, strength training, sleeping, resting, and cross training.
It is difficult to manage it all, and it is hard to know what is necessary and beneficial to YOU and your goals. There are only 24 hours in a day no matter how you cut it. Most of us have day jobs and families, which demand and deserve a lot of our attention and energy.
As a single mom, full time attorney, ultrarunner, and aspiring writer, if I stop to think about all that I want to do, and all that I currently have in motion it can be very overwhelming. I try to think about it in steps and small goals rather than as the ultimate finished masterpiece. I know that all the pieces will fall snuggly into place with patience and persistence. Sometimes I get a glimpse of all the pieces of my life swirling around in a chaotic whirlwind, and I become immobilized trapped in the eye of the storm.
The most important and helpful thing for me is to remember to be present and mindful of what is happening right now. What do I need to do right now? Of course, what I choose to do right now will influence what I can and cannot do in the future, so I must keep future goals in mind and prioritize.
For me the most important additional components in my training are injury prevention, stretching/rolling and strength training. If I can prevent an injury by adding 20 minutes to my workout each day, I will do it. An injury is going to take more time and expense than 20 minutes a day with the travel time to the physical therapist, the cost of three appointments a week for six to eight weeks. Been there, done that, no thanks.
Having a strong sense of who I am and what I want out of life keeps me from becoming too tangled. It also prevents me from taking on more projects, whether they are some fleeting interest or someone else’s request/problem. I know what I am passionate about and, which corner of the world I would like to change. I’m passionate about running and helping others conquer abuse, addiction, and domestic violence. I’ll leave the rest of the world to those who have the passion for changing it.
This does not always prevent my life from becoming a tornado-massacred trailer park. After all, I don’t live in a home populated by only me. My children’s tornados collide with mine on a regular basis and we learn to dance among the debris.

Never Retreat, Never Surrender!

213About four weeks ago, banshee dog (AKA Annabelle) jumped down off the seat of the couch and landed weird. She turned and looked at me when she landed, I asked if she was all right, and she wandered off to get a drink. The next day she started having seizures. She’s actually been stable on phenobarbital for her seizures for over a year, so I thought maybe her medication just needed adjusting. Later that night, she lost the use of her hind legs. I took her to the vet the next morning and found out that she had slipped a disk in her back when she jumped from the couch. She has been on medication to reduce the inflammation since then. I wasn’t able to afford the $5,000 for the surgery.

Banshee dog is half Chihuahua and half Dachshund and weighs 6 pounds. Her legs are approximately three inches long. Annabelle’s nickname is banshee dog because she screams like a banshee when she does not get what she wants. She is a spoiled rotten little dog by my own doing. I take full responsibility for her behaviors. I have totally coddled her, so that she would not cry and wake up my boys. Anyway, banshee dog gets up 5-6 times a night to go to the bathroom because of the medication she is on (Okay and she was getting up 2-3 times a night before that). I, of course, have to get up put shoes on and a jacket to take her outside. I walk around my yard, bent over, carrying my miniature dog’s little butt around until she finds a suitable spot to do her business.

I took her to the vet again today. Dr. Ubrick said that it will be months before Annabelle will be able to walk. We (by this I actually mean just me) will need to do physical therapy with her, but she will never regain total mobility with her hind legs. She may need a wheel chair or braces for her legs, which will likely cost $100-250.

Some people have suggested putting her down. But I won’t give up on her. Just like, I won’t give up on any other endeavors I take on. I’ve struggled through injuries and had to do physical therapy too. I’ve even had to drop out of races due to injuries. Because of this, I’ve implemented many different preventative strategies such as adding strength training, stretching, running in the pool on a regular basis, reducing my miles every four weeks, and cross training. What I’ve learned from this is forgiveness, acceptance, and determination.

I have to forgive myself for not being able to do what I set out to do at that time. This is the most difficult part for me. I have high expectations of myself, failure and quitting are not options. So, how do I forgive? I accept that my body is not perfect and sometimes it gets hurt when I ask it to go farther and do more than it is ready to accomplish. This takes time because my first response is anger and frustration. Once I have accepted that I my body is not a machine, I make a plan (determination) of how I am going to come back even stronger and conquer what I set out to do in the first place.

In running, DNF is generally interpreted as “did not finish,” but I think of it as “did nothing fatal,” “lived to fight another day,” or “lost the battle, but not the war.”

We all have bad days; sometimes they stretch into bad weeks. Runners get injured, it’s part of the sport. What’s not a part of getting stronger, better, and faster is quitting. No one skates through life without some form of bruises and scars, both physical and mental. Challenges build character. When we are pushed to the limit of what we believe we can do, a transformation happens, and we come back stronger and more beautiful than ever before.