The Bummer Summer of Feet

Before I get to the running update, I am going to share what has been going on with Alli. 10 days ago, I took Alli and a couple of friends to a trampoline park.  There were 2 other kids there (LITERALLY) and she managed to collide with one of them during the first 5 minutes.  She was doing a back handspring when this kid darted across her path, apparently, and she kicked him in the head.  My gut instinct at the time was that she fractured it, however, there was minimal swelling and no bruising even though she couldn’t put any weight on it for a good 30 minutes.  She ended up walking it off and back on the trampolines.  I told her we needed to keep an eye on it and she HAD to tell me if she felt any pain in the coming days.  She played softball in the All-Star tournament all weekend and would complain about it hurting after the games (but she ALWAYS complains about her feet after running around in those cleats!).  I knew that something had to be done when she told me how much it hurt during tumbling last Monday.  I made an appointment in the office that handled Taylor’s broken foot a couple of years ago and we went down Thursday afternoon for the consult. Turns out, Alli fractured her growth plate.  Waiting for the appointment actually turned out to be a good thing, because the ortho told me that it was more evident with a week’s worth of healing (and would have likely been missed had we gone immediately).  As a result, Alli has to wear a boot 24/7 for the next 2 weeks.  She had a little melt-down in the car because she doesn’t want to miss a minute of volleyball (luckily we still have a 2 week break!).  Sadly, swimming is off-limits as well.  the boot I had promised a trip to Bahama Bucks and was SO glad that we waited until after the appointment, because she needed some snowy goodness to melt her sorrows away!  Even so, she barely ate.  sno cone love By the time we got home, the initial shock of the situation had worn off and her mood had started to improve.  Our strategy is to follow the doctor’s orders to the letter in hopes that healing will happen quickly!  She will go back in 2 weeks for a follow-up X-ray and based on the findings will find out if we get out of the boot or wear it a bit longer.  Alli has been such a trooper and refuses to let it dampen her spirits.  She even asked me if she could run (?!?) on it.  You can all stop holding your breath – I said NO!!

Most of you know running has been going very well for me over the past months.  I’ve been able to make a complete recovery, thanks to the guidance my partner/coach has been able to give me.  However, running wouldn’t be running if there weren’t bumps in the road, and I recently  hit a speed bump. True to my normal self, I really didn’t notice it at first.  Some familiar stiffness has been creeping back in, specifically in my ankles and feet.  Yes, my calves are tight.  Yes, I know my calves have been tight.  Yes, I have still slacked at foam rolling my calves.  Why?  Because it hurts like hell and it is a pain in the arse!! LOL

I discussed the issue with my partner and he encouraged me to scale back my running while in Orlando and step up the foam rolling.  Honestly, I foam rolled once while I was down there.  I know….stupid.

When we returned from vacation, I eased back into the swing of things and running was feeling pretty good….until last Friday.  Even when I have been hurt, I rarely have TERRIBLE runs.  Friday was a TERRIBLE run.  Everything hurt from the get-go and I never found my rhythm.  I was only running 3 miles, but by the last .5, I knew something was wrong.  I started limping and my right ankle was in pain.  Of course, I KNEW the cause.

I shared all this with my partner and, naturally he told me no running until we get a handle on this.  I’m happy to say that I AM getting a handle on it!  I have foam rolled, stretched, taken Epsom salt baths, worn compressions, iced, slathered essential oils and taken anti-inflammatory drugs.  I can say that waking up this morning I feel better than I have in several weeks!  I’m still in awe of the maturity that I have gained as a runner over the past year.  Even though I am still the Queen of Stupid Sh*t (#QOSS), I have been able to take this set-back in stride and welcomed the rest.  Mind.  Boggling.

I am hoping to be out again my mid-week, although I will be taking it easy because I don’t want to miss the 15k that is planned for this weekend.

Until then – Happy Foam Rolling!

OH!!!  How ’bout that US Women’s National Team!!!  GO USA!!!


Rolling on the Diagonal

If this doesn't make your stomach do flips, then you clearly aren't Texan.
If this doesn’t make your stomach do flips, then you clearly aren’t Texan.

I’m always thinking (stop snickering….the Apocalypse hasn’t happened…yet).  Driving Alli back and forth to volleyball practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays gives me even more time to think!  What I was thinking about Thursday night was how I tend to put a positive spin on everything.  Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t see the challenges in situations – it’s just my personality to try to find the #silverlining (or #goldlining, if it is especially amazing!).  And I’ve been doing that with running.

Running has been going REALLY, REALLY well.  But it hasn’t been all roses.  I don’t like sharing the less than great stuff because I don’t want to seem like a complainer.  And I guess part of the reason I don’t like to talk about the thorns is because every runner is ALWAYS dealing with one issue or another.  It’s just the nature of our sport.  Hamstrings tight?  You focus on the hamstrings with extra foam rolling and stretching maintenance and are so proud of yourself for working through the issue.  You consider throwing a party to celebrate your happy hammies, but realize that sometime during the hammy episode your calves became as tight as guitar strings.

It’s no secret that my ITBs are tight.  ALWAYS tight.  I wonder sometimes if that is my cross to bear as a runner.  I’m doing all the right things: strength exercises, self-massage, stretching, and workouts that aren’t too advanced for this stage in my base building.  (OK….now that I have a partner who isn’t afraid to tell Crazy Jen ‘NO’, my workouts are appropriate.)  So I’ve been focusing A LOT on my ITBs.  I haven’t been satisfied with the results of the foam rolling and have known that something had to change.  I have known that I was making ZERO progress.  All this focus on my ITBs caused a slip in my attention to the rest of my legs, mainly my quads.  I began to realize about 10 days ago that my quads were stuck.  (And when your quads are stuck, your ITB will be as well.)  Like fused together.  Not good.  And foam rolling hurt.  I don’t remember foam rolling my quads ever hurting before.  So I’ve been rolling on the meat grinder until I get over the urge to scream.

Trust me.  It HURTS.
Trust me. It HURTS.

Luckily, Wednesday I had to take off to be home while we had a new AC unit installed.  And even luckier (#goldlining), my myofascia guy had an appointment open late in the afternoon and I was able to go see him as well.  He worked my tight left glutes (did I mention my glutes are always tight as well?  It isn’t always a good thing to have a tight ass.).  He released my ITBs.  Then he got to my quads.  He didn’t say a word.  NOT ONE WORD.  And since I’m uncomfortable with awkward silences,  I said, “Ummm, my quads are stuck, aren’t they? ”  And his reply? He just nodded his head.  They were THAT bad!!  But he was able to tear all those fibers loose in no time flat and within the hour, I felt like a new runner!

Something interesting that we discussed was the proper technique for foam rolling your ITB.  I have been rolling the “seam” of my ITB where it meets the quads in the front and hamstrings on the back.  However, I had the foam roller perpendicular to my leg.  Steve said that the only way to break the fibers loose, like he does during a release, is to have the foam roller on a diagonal to the leg.  It sounds easy in theory, but practice is an entirely different matter.  If you aren’t careful and apply plenty of counter resistance, your leg won’t stay straight and will go with the foam roller.  I used the foot on my free leg to leverage and pull my body so that the leg being foam rolled would stay in the proper position.  I could feel the difference right away!  It takes a lot more energy and focus than I generally expend during foam rolling, but I am hoping to keep those cross fibers from forming with this new maneuver.  He also mentioned that if your adductors are tight, it can cause a chain reaction that ends up in your ITB being angry.  So stretch those adductors, people!

I genuinely believe that there will NEVER be a time that I am not giving some TLC to one body part or another.  I would go as far to say that it is a mathematical impossibility.  Too many factors are at play and the top two are: over 40 and distance running.  And I am OK with that.  Because since my injury some amazing things have happened.  I have learned somewhere along the way that I don’t need to panic over every ache and pain.  I simply need to manage it wisely: scale back training when necessary and proper maintenance.  Any of my runner friends that know me realize what a huge accomplishment this really is.

And now, because I am FOREVER the optimist, I will leave you with a list of positives – things that I have been able to successfully work through in order to get to this stage in training today:

  • Tight hips:  OK, YES, I said my hips/glutes are still tight, but I’m talking left hip wouldn’t move because it was fused to my SI joint.  I did have a little help from my myofascia guy, but I have been able to keep them fairly loose since.
  • Stirrup muscle weakness:  I was beginning to have some major issues with my stirrup muscles (the muscles on the outside of calf that wrap under the foot), and their insertion at the ball of my foot.  A shoe switch is the biggest game changer, but I gave this area A LOT of extra care and attention and all of it paid off.
  • Tight calves: Ugh.  I’ve never had calf issues, but lately my calves have been so tight.  LOTS of stretching and foam rolling seems to have gotten this problem in check (for now).
  • Lats:  My lats on my left side have been sooooo tight! Tight enough that twisting my torso had been almost painful.  The entire muscle was tight from my lower back all the way to my shoulder blades.    That is terrible, people!!  I started yoga about a month ago and almost all that back tension is gone!  To further prove my point, my massage therapist was so surprised last week when she found no knots in my neck or back….she commented on how unusual that was!  I am still fighting some tightness down by my pelvis, but farther up the muscle is finally feeling OK.
  • Glutes:  My glutes are always tight, but they do not feel like bricks.  So I’m #winning

Happy Friday, All!!


Foam Rolling is Fun Again!

I was so excited about my upcoming run on Friday that in my last post I completely forgot to talk about all my Thursday night purchases (the ones I made killing time while Alli was at volleyball practice.  I know….dangerous LOL)!!!

First, I bought heavier hand weights.  I don’t think it is a secret that I have tried (successfully, I might add) to avoid strength training like the plague.  But, I realize that it is so important to keeping me out on the pavement.  And when I consistently strength train, I feel so much better and so much stronger!  I have been doing the strength exercises that were listed in the book I bought.  They have given me a great place to start and each week, I add a bit more weight.  I am beginning to notice a real difference!  Now that I have a base, I am going to start experimenting with some different exercies.  I never imagined I would look forward to it, but oddly, I am!!

Then, I bought a heavier resistance band.  I haven’t used my resistance band much because I bought a lightweight one and it just doesn’t seem to be a challenge.  I’m pretty excited to try out the new one!

Finally, I found this.Therapy ball

The muscles between my shoulders are so knotty and tight.  ALL. THE. TIME.  This is quite a bit larger than a therapy ball, and to get your back, you roll with the ball in between you and a wall.  I must say it works very well!  And it is easier than the foam roller for getting into the glutes, plus it is easier (for me) to find those spots in my glutes than with a therapy ball (OK, maybe not easier, just less painful).

Foam rolling has been almost a breeze lately.  I have to work very hard to find spots that need attention and that is a REALLY good sign!  Of course, there are still spots, but not many and they aren’t too painful!  #progress

Did I mention that I ran on Friday?? IT.  WAS.  AMAZING!!!  I actually felt like myself.  I stuck with the 5 min run/5 min walk intervals, and was terribly sad when the run was over.  I would gladly have gone a couple more intervals.  I think this is a great sign that my body is healing nicely.  The heart rate training is going to be good for me, as I have said before.  I had to hold myself back to keep that little devil from beeping at me (it went off 6 times within the first 3 min of my first interval).  Had I not had my heart rate set, I am SURE that I would have over-exerted myself.  I believe this will be one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle to keeping me injury-free going forward.

Now, I have to admit that Crazy Jen tried to make an appearance.  During my run, I began having that internal debate regarding what heart rate zone I had set for my run and how (at the time) Crazy Jen thought it was too low.  After the run, Smart Jen realized that my heart rate is set in the right place for this point in my recovery.  Thank goodness I don’t know how to change all that mid-run!


Since I can’t really blow the top off my pace (or the bottom, as it may be), I am trying to concentrate on correcting issues with mechanics.  I have been able to keep my left arm from crossing my body (which, if you remember DRIVES ME INSANE, and is not good form).  Cadence is always on my mind, but I have been doing a decent job there, considering the turtle’s pace to which my heart rate is keeping me constrained.  (Another plus to heart rate training……I can’t see my pace!)  Something else I noticed was that I could feel my glutes, which means they are actually awake and firing…..always a plus!

Even with the walk breaks and my phone in my FlipBelt (as opposed to an armband), I am still having logistical issues when attempting to take pictures.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to overcome this, so don’t expect many spectacular “seen on my run” photos.

I love the winter sun!
I literally had to stop to get out phone, as I am not coordinated enough to do it while moving.  #notaphotographer

Saturday morning, I got up early so that I could do my strength training and get all my stretching and foam rolling in before I left to referee a volleyball tournament.  I felt great!!  No soreness whatsoever from the Friday run!!  Another plus is that after standing for 8ish hours on Saturday and about the same on Sunday, I didn’t have any soreness or aches (like I did with my last tournament).  Overall I am VERY encouraged by my progress!

Many people have been asking about my peanut butter consumption and the absence of peanut butter jar pics.  Let’s just say that Alli, my almost 10 year-old, “scolded” me regarding the number of peanut butter jar pics I had posted! LOL.  So, for now, rest assured I am still consuming peanut butter like a wild person, even though the consumption is undocumented.

Happy Monday!!