Sometimes “keep moving forward” requires standing still

Many of you know about my tattoo, “Keep Moving Forward“, which I had placed on my left wrist.  It has ties to my marathon and running, my best friend, Allison, and the way I want to live my life, in general.  It’s taken on a new meaning of late, as I have been sidelined with *sigh* another injury.  In the days since the injury, I’ve been thinking about my tattoo – a lot.  My tattoo is speaking to me again, but in a slightly different way.IMG_4398

The Backstory

On Friday, July 3rd, I went out for a short 3-miler.  In hindsight, I wish I had stayed home.  The weather was crappy and I felt crappy.  I DID NOT want to go run.  I felt exhausted.  I honestly believe my body was screaming at me to stay put.  Smart Jen has been more present lately than not, but Crazy Jen took the wheel that day, and, well…..I ended up hurt. That run was tough from the beginning.  My calves were screaming at me the entire time.  I figured they would shake out as normal and I was expecting to get in a rhythm that would never come.  At the 2.5 mile mark, something drastically changed and I could not run through my stride on my right side.  I was running with a very pronounced limp.  I considered stopping to walk, but knew that would be just as painful (but walking takes longer) so I opted to finish it out.

The Further-Back Story

I had been suffering from tight calves for about 4 weeks.  I avoided foam rolling my calves because – it hurt!  I stretched some, but not enough.  I knew the slacking was going to come back and bite me in the arse.  While I was on vacation, I only ran twice toward the end of the week, so I considered it a rest week.  However, the calves were still not-so-happy.

The In-between Story

In the 10 days since “the injury”, I have stretched, foam rolled, iced, used essential oils, compression socks, Ibuprofen (which I later discontinued bc it made me feel TOO good!), Epsom salt baths and two visits to my myofascia guy.  My calves were better, but the “ankle” wasn’t getting any better.  I finally decided on Sunday that I needed to go to an orthopedic to see if I could get some answers.  I knew in my gut that this was more than a simple strain.  I went in thinking that the bursa behind my Achilles might be irritated, but the words “stress fracture” had started creeping into my thoughts….A LOT.

The Current Story

On Monday, I was lucky enough to get in to see Alli’s orthopedic.  I.  LOVE.  HIM.  (I did not expect to feel this way when I walked into the exam room.  I was very apprehensive.)  (Side note: yes I liked him for Alli, but I want a doctor that understands runners and running, which, for me has been hard to find.)  The first thing he said to me was, “My job is to get you the most out of your athletic life.”  He followed that up with a very intelligent discussion about foot strike and how incredibly high my arches are and lots of running stuff in general.  When we were discussing the cons of running on concrete versus cross training, he told me he couldn’t give me a magic number of days to run on pavement and a magic number of days for cross training – because each runner has to work out that balance for themselves. I totally agree!!  Every runner is different.  The balance is so hard – I’m still working on finding the right balance for me.  And I think I just found my medical soulmate.

He thoroughly examined from my calves down to my toes, discussing my symptoms and how they were presenting.  Along the way, he used the phrase “as we age” more times than I would like to count, but always tempered it with “but I’m not saying that is you.” LOL!!! He shared that while it is too soon for a stress fracture to show on X-Ray, he felt very strongly that it is indeed a stress fracture and all the reasons he felt pulled in the direction of that diagnosis.  However, my calves are still tight, and he feels that contributed to the injury and, at the very least, is now hindering my recovery.  As a result, I am in a boot 24/7 for a week and after that will continue the boot at night (yay…not really).  Plus, I have the green light to swim and bike, as long as the activity doesn’t cause pain during or discomfort in the hours following.  How awesome is that??

How does this relate to my tattoo?

Since I’ve gotten used to having my tattoo on my wrist, I don’t always notice it.  But I’ve been noticing it a lot this past week.  I’ve let some negative thoughts creep in like, “It’s hard to keep moving forward if you are sitting still because you are injured.”  It dawned on me today that sitting still is a part of moving forward.  In this case, trying to move forward with training will only cause me to backtrack.  Today I realized that giving my body the time it needs to heal will propel me forward in ways that I cannot yet know.  I’m committed to doing what I need to do right now in order to get back out there as fast as is possible – as healthy as possible!

The Silver Lining(s)

There are many pros to this situation, if only one looks for them:

  • Alli and I are Boot Twinkies. (OK…this may not be a pro)  IMG_4598
  • All this required rest has given me time to finally start watching Game of Thrones. (May I say that I was hooked after the first 15 minutes?!?)
  • Being on my feet too long causes my ankle to swell.  So maybe the floor shouldn’t be swept after all.
  • Extra time can be used for hair straightening.  IMG_4567
  • Alli and I can experiment with new cupcake flavors (and decorations….I stink at the decorating!).IMG_4559
  • I can still cross train on the bike and in the pool (Hip, hip, hooray!).
  • Laying out by the pool.
  • Laying out by the pool.
  • Laying out by the pool.

The Not-So-Silver Lining

It’s not all unicorns and rainbows.  Sleeping is…..a challenge.  I have some sensory issues and can’t even sleep in socks.  A boot is throwing my nervous system into overload.  I did sleep in 2 hour increments last night (the foot needed a few minutes to “breathe”) and am hopeful that will improve.  The most obvious drawback is the hit that my training is going to take.  I am really concerned about the fall races that are planned.  I didn’t mind sitting out the 15k on Sunday, but my cornerstone race was to be Plano Balloon Half Marathon in late September.  It is now 9 weeks and 5 days away and I feel that one has already slipped through my fingers.  Even if I recover fast enough to train for that distance again, I know that the PR I was chasing will be out the window.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t mourning that a bit.

I want to thank EVERYONE who has voiced their support and concern.  I love the running community (and my non-running friends 🙂 !!!

It’s Tuesday – Eat some tacos!

Jen

Things I NEVER thought I would say and Daylight Savings is coming!!

It’s been a while since I shared a training update.  It just seems so trivial to give updates on my *monumental* runs <read with sarcasm>.  There is only so much one can say about running 5 min run/1 min walking intervals x 6.  And believe me, it’s NOT interesting!

Treadmill runs aren't interesting, either.
Treadmill runs aren’t interesting, either.

The runs, while small and insignificant, have been going well.  And one thing to note: yesterday was my first run on the road since my marathon on 12/14!  I have been running a 1-mile loop at the park where I ran back when I first started.  It’s hard for me to get excited about running in a circle…whether its 1/4 mile or 1 mile!  I felt awesome to finally be back in my element on the wide open road!  (OK….maybe it isn’t WIDE open, but you get the point.)  The run was difficult, but I think it was just adjusting to the difference in terrain.  The route was flat, but not as flat as the concrete trail at the park.  Even though I felt I was fighting for much of the short 3.4 mile run, I smiled the entire time – especially when I realized that I was “attacking” the “hills”.  (OK – they weren’t “hills” by MY definition.  They were inclines, BUT I’ve been running little to no inclines on those virtually flat trails!)  The best part of that is that I didn’t even realize I was attacking the inclines at first.  That tells me that Jen still has the fire! (Yes, I have been questioning if Jen still had the fire…)

One thing that has made it hard to get overly excited about training is the lack of a training schedule.  I get up early every day to get in my stretch, foam roll and strength, but getting my runs in has been more of a challenge.  Between Alli’s volleyball, Logan’s games, and my work and reffing, finding time to run has been difficult.  Plus when I first started back, I needed more recovery time in between so I was forced to play each run by ear.  Even though I might have been ready to run, if it was on a volleyball day, chances are I just didn’t have time.

When the time changes this weekend, my entire training schedule is going to open up like a blooming flower.  (I admit that I may be a bit delusional in this aspect, but I really do believe it will make a difference in finding a more regular running schedule.)  The time change almost feels like a paradigm shift, of sorts.  I feel like I am finally transitioning from recovering runner to recovered runner;  interval runs are about to end and instead I’ll be building my base.  The mental shift is hard to manage.  It’s becoming more and more difficult to “stick to the plan” and “run smart”, but since I have managed to keep Crazy Jen locked away this long, I might as well throw away the key.

The beauty that is just around the corner
The beauty that is just around the corner

So in honor of “sticking to the plan”, I am sharing a list of things I NEVER thought I would say as a runner:

  • Strength training is fun.  (OK it is NOT as fun as running, but getting stronger really IS fun!)
  • Turns out that cross training is NOT the Devil.  (Riding the bike trainer is riveting)
  • Foam rolling is the BEST way to spend your lunch break.
  • Getting up at 4:45 to foam roll, stretch and strength train is a FANTASTIC way to start your day!
  • Intervals aren’t that bad, after all.
  • I can’t think of anything I would rather spend my money on than myofascial release.
  • Not having a regular training schedule during the Winter months has been so freeing.
  • I REALLY wanted to gain those 5 pounds–I was TOO thin!

Happy Tuesday!!

Jen