New year, new race…

It’s already begun. Just signed up for my first race of the new year, and the honor goes to…

*drumroll, please*

The Go Green St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon!

I’ll be gunning for a PR in this one, so time to step it up with my training. The good news is, I’ve started integrating spinning into my cross-training, and it seems to have done wonders for my cardio. After a brief 2 1/2 week respite from running due to a minor injury (that’s what I get for running a marathon less than 2 months after running my last one–lesson learned), I went on my first run last weekend and was able to run at a fairly good clip without the usual effort such a pace would require from me.

And just to prove that wasn’t a fluke, I tested out my cardio capacity this morning on a 3-miler and sure enough, I was able to run that at a pretty decent pace as well. This spinning thing is the real deal!

The off-season of my discontent

I had high hopes for this off-season. I was coming off my best season yet, setting PRs in my 10K, half marathon, and full marathon races, and I was excited to work with a run coach to ride the wave and build upon that momentum.

However, it appears my body had different plans.

First came the broken ankle/ligament tear. Then came the inflamed intercostal muscles (ribcage muscles, in plain English–and by the way, I don’t even know how this injury came to be). And now, four months into the off-season that was supposed to take me to the next level when the real training season started in late May, I am fighting just to get back to where I was before my injuries.

But enough with the whining. I decided I should focus on the positives that came out of this. What, you say? There are positives? Why yes, there are.

  1. I discovered new ways to cross-train: when I was banned from running and the elliptical machine (and even swimming), I learned to love the activity I tended to avoid like the plague, which was the exercise bike. Now? It’s actually my cross-training activity of choice, imagine that!
  2. I learned to eat better: I was already a pretty healthy eater, but since I had to cut back a ton on my activities, I had to really watch my calorie intake if I had any prayer of not gaining 20 pounds.
  3. I learned to listen to my body: I pulled back when I felt pain or discomfort, I modified when I needed to, and most of all, I eased back into activity once I was given the all clear. Can’t stay injury-free forever, I guess, but we can do what we can to prevent it as much as possible.
  4. I became more patient: ok, maybe this one’s a work in progress, but I did take a few baby steps towards being more zen. Kinda. Sorta. Ok, not really. But I meant to–and doesn’t that count for something?

Back in the saddle again…

It’s been 9 weeks since my memorable (and not in a good way) trail race, where I fractured my ankle. I’m happy to report that I am finally back in the swing of things! I got the officially clearance 3 weeks ago to get back to running, albeit cautiously and watching for any signs whatsoever of pain or discomfort. Technically, I’m still another few weeks away from the bone and the ligaments being 100% healed, but I’m enough of the way there that I can resume all normal activity–one stupid move, however, and I could be back to being immobile faster than you can say, “setback.”

 

So I’ve been very conservative indeed and not running for more than 30-40 minutes at a time. I’m feeling no pain (yay!), but as I learned from this whole ordeal, apparently I can’t trust my pain sensors to tell me when I’m going too far–after all, I ran on a broken ankle at one point. I always thought of myself as having a very low tolerance for pain, but I’ve been told by several people now that I in fact have a very high tolerance. Hmm, I’m not sure whether I should be happy or scared about that ;).

 

In any case, I’m so happy to be back to doing the things I love. I didn’t realize just how much I missed it until I went on my first run and found myself tearing up–yes, actually tearing up. I feel very lucky to get to do these things: be active and use my body when there are so many others who would give just about anything for that chance. I definitely don’t take this blessing for granted, and I think that’s why I’m so determined to use that ability to do something good and make a difference.

 

Summer season for Team In Training is now just a little over three months away and I can hardly wait. It feels so good to be back in the game!

Back in the saddle…

6 week check-up today, and… drum roll, please…

 

No more fracture boot! Huzzah! I’m not quite 100% healed yet (according to the doctor, the bone is 95% healed; don’t ask me how she came upon the percentage)–in fact, I’ve probably got another month or so before I am back to normal–but I won’t have to wear the boot anymore and more importantly, I’ve got the clearance to start resuming all normal activity :).

 

This means I can finally do weight training for my lower body, using the elliptical, easing back into yoga and pilates, and, my favorite of all: running. Well, it’ll be more run/walking for now, and because my cardio capacity is bound to be next to nothing right now (yes, stationary bikes work your cardio, but let’s face it–nothing really compares to the cardio capacity that running requires), I’ll be limited to shorter runs for the time being. But this entire experience was an exercise in patience, so I will stick to doctor’s orders and work with my running coach to slowly get back into the swing of things.

 

I’m hoping that I’ll be ready to run a half marathon in May; I’m eying one towards the end of that month. I’m hoping to set a PR there, too, but I’ll have to be flexible and see how my body recovers. It’s no fun not being able to have more of a say in what I’m capable of doing, but I’m in this thing for the long haul, so there’s no point in sabotaging the long-term goals to achieve short-term ones.

 

For now, I’m just happy I get to run again :).

Back in the saddle–kinda

It’s now officially the 3 week mark for my injury (well, ok, technically another day to go, but that’s rounding error, right?), and I am now allowed to incorporate cardio once again, but only in the form of a non-weight bearing exercise that won’t aggravate my ankle.

Unfortunately, there are precious few such exercises, but thankfully, the bike is one of them. I took advantage of my brand spanking new membership with 24 Hour Fitness today and hopped on the bike for 23 minutes. It felt great to finally get my heart rate up and get my legs moving again. Nowhere near the intensity I’m used to training at, but there was no pain whatsoever, so I consider that a triumph :). I was pleasantly surprised to see that this particular club had one of those hand-cycle machines (don’t know what they’re called, but you may have seen them–they look like bicycles, only the motion is done with your arms, instead of your feet). I decided to extend my cardio workout with that machine and was quickly humbled. I lasted only 4 minutes on it before I decided to call it quits.

Don’t let it fool you, it’s a pretty good workout, even if all you’re using are your arms!

I followed all this up at home with an upper body and core circuit, which I’ve been doing for the last 2 weeks. All in all, I’m glad I got a workout in on the last day of 2010, but I am more anxious than ever for my 6 week evaluation so I can see if the fracture is fully healed and I can get the all clear to start running again!

Week one down–only five more to go!

Well, I survived week 1 of being injured. The official diagnosis: fractured ankle and ligament tear. Six weeks in a walking boot (thankfully, the injury isn’t so bad that it required a permanent cast), and no activities for the first three weeks. At week 4, I will be able to incorporate biking, swimming, or aqua jogging–as long as I feel no pain–and at week 6, I will get another set of x-rays done to see whether the break has healed properly.

I will find out at that point whether I’m cleared to start running again, and I am crossing my fingers that that’s the case.

In the meantime, I am being proactive by calling upon my crack team of medical personnel (hey, it takes a village to keep me healthy :)). My acupuncturist is treating the injury to speed up the healing process (he tells me he can get it to heal twice as quickly; I trust him to do so!), and my wonder chiropractor, Carley, is using kineso tape and ART massage to promote the healing process for my ligament damage.

Judging by the fact that after one week I: (1) have no pain, (2) am able to walk on it (though I am limiting this, obviously, and wearing the boot 90% of the time, per doctor’s orders), and (3) have no swelling, I think I am on my way to being back in the game in the predicted 6 weeks. Let’s hope. It’s still no guarantee that I’ll be cleared to run in 6 weeks’ time–and even if I am, I imagine it’ll be a little bit more time before I’m back in fighting shape and will need to build back up slowly. I’m hoping that it won’t take TOO long to build back up, since I am eying a half marathon in late May, and I’m still hoping to PR in my next half, so my body needs to cooperate :).

I am counting down to week 4, when I can start incorporating cardio. Right now, I feel like a total slug. I don’t want to be stupid and do anything to jeopardize the healing process, though, so I am being a good girl and following doctor’s orders. The last thing I need is to delay the healing or set myself back, so I am practicing patience (apparently the universe thinks I need to practice this particular trait :)). Next week, however, I am going to start doing some upper body strength training to at least get some exercise in. I found a few circuit routines that can be done entirely while sitting or lying down on a bench, so I won’t ever have to put pressure on the ankle. Doing SOMETHING will help me feel less like a slug, which will be a good thing.

In the meantime, I am trying not to eat my weight in food, as I normally do. Luckily, with the significant decrease in activity, I am not as famished as I usually am, so I’m able to keep the calories to the lower end of my range and not feel as though I want to gnaw my arm off. Still, it’ll be nice to get some activity going again, so I can indulge a little bit. It’s Christmas, after all, and all the good stuff is out. Hard to say no to the Christmas stollen and lebkuchen when I’m not getting any exercise right now.

Here’s to healing quickly… 🙂

What I’ve learned in the 24 hours since I’ve been injured

  • It could be worse. I could have broken my ankle (more badly, that is), lost a leg, died, etc., etc. I’ve got a bad ligament sprain and a fracture that’s expected to heal. In the grand scheme of things, I’m doing all right.
  • Walking on crutches is a workout in and of itself. I’m not sure if I should feel embarrassed about being out of breath getting from one end of the room to the other, but there, I’ve admitted it.
  • Core work WORKS. Thanks to my regular core work (thank you, Coach Kris!!), I’ve got much better balance than I used to, and I’ve been able to save myself from several near-stumbles while trying to maneuver my way around on crutches.
  • It’s hard to eat while on crutches. To save myself the trouble of having to figure out how to transport plates/bowls/glasses from my kitchen to my dining table, I’ve decided to just eat standing up at the kitchen counter. Of course, this means I’ve got a huge mess in my kitchen which, for a Type A anal-retentive person (me, anal? Nah…) is a bit of an adjustment.
  • It’s hard to wash dishes when on crutches. Dishes pile up. Again, testing my Type A tendencies.
  • Once one recovers from the injury, one is stronger/faster/better. I’m going to have to take this one on everyone’s word, because I’m not in the “recovered” stage yet. I’m hoping this one is 100% true.
  • Health insurance is a godsend. Much as I like to complain about Kaiser and much as it pains me to pay those $20 co-pay fees, I am supremely grateful to have health coverage at all, because I’d hate to think of what I would have had to pay out of pocket for the examination, the X-ray, the splint, the crutches, and the upcoming physical therapy.
  • Turns out, 24 hours really is a lot of time. Often, it seems to fly by and I am constantly wondering how in the world I’m supposed to fit everything in that I have to do into a measly 24 hours–work, working out, writing, friends, family, down time… But when you are immobile and suddenly half of those things aren’t on your to-do list, you start to wonder how you’ll fill that time. Nice to get to the things I normally relegate to the “when I have time to take a break” pile.
  • A sense of humor is a must. If I can’t laugh about it, I’m going to cry, and crying is no good. There’s no crying in baseball, so I can’t imagine there’s much crying in running, either.

And the #1 thing I’ve learned:

I am surrounded by many, many, many good people. From my parents, who took me to the hospital last night and have been incredible in helping me get around at home (as teeny as that home is), helping me do dishes, put away cookware, put away laundry, etc., to my boss who is cool enough to let me work from home while I’m on crutches and can’t drive, to my wonder chiropractor, Carley, who has promised to get me back in fighting shape as I heal, and finally, to my amazing set of friends, who have sent in a constant stream of encouraging words and pep talks, I am very touched and humbled.

They say everything happens for a reason and while I would not have chosen this particular situation, I will be able to make the best of it, thanks to all of you.