Next Up: Space Coast Half Marathon

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As I continue to make my triumphant return to running, I have my next big goal coming up next weekend – the Space Coast Half Marathon.

This will be my sixth year running this race, and I always look forward to a weekend of spending time with friends, running a great race, and getting into the Christmas spirit.

This year’s race is big for a couple of reasons.  It’s my first half marathon of the year.  I haven’t raced a half marathon since last year’s Space Coast (and technically, I had to walk the last chunk of it because I pulled my soleus).  So this is sort of the last big hurdle in my recovery.

Am I ready?  You bet.  I’ve been doing a ton of PT, and my coach made me run a 13 mile training run, so I know I can cover the distance.  Will it be fast?  Nope.  Though it probably won’t be my slowest Space Coast either – that honor goes to the first year I ran it, when I woke up with a crushing headache but refused to not at least try.  But I’m not letting myself look back at my previous race times.  I don’t want to know how much slower I’ve gotten because it doesn’t matter.  I don’t want that to be on my mind while I run – I just want to have fun.

Do I have a race plan?  Basically, don’t get hurt and have fun.  I think my sister may run with me, and I may also end up with some friends.  I’m certainly not planning to push myself.  The course has a time limit such that I could get lost, have a picnic, get back on the course, and still finish with time to spare, so it’s nice to not have that worry.

I am really hoping to end the year on a high note, since this time last year, I was struggling with hip pain and it was a frustrating way to end the season.  But really, finishing at all will be a win in my book.  And I’m confident I can accomplish that.  It’s been a long road to get here, but it’s been worth all the work.

 

 

Why you shouldn’t run streak

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You see people posting all the time about their run streaks – they make it a goal to run at least a mile every single day.  They tally their running streaks – aiming for 100 days or 1000 days or simply aiming to never break their streak.  Now, in a perfect world, this would be fine.

I hate to break it to you, but we don’t live in a perfect world.  Life happens.  We get sick.  We get injured.  And you know what you should do when you’re sick or injured? Rest.

And yet people proudly proclaim how even though their knee really hurt or they had a fever of 102 degrees, they still managed to keep up their run streak.  This is not something to be proud of.  I’ve seen people talking about running through major injury, against doctor’s orders.  Just because they want to keep up their streak.

For some, the argument is “If I break my streak, it’s over and I won’t go back out for a run.”  And on some level I understand that.  But maybe it’s time to find something different to motivate you.  Maybe instead of a run streak, you make it a goal to do something active every day. If you have a sick day or an injured day, maybe you do some easy stretching or some very gentle yoga.  You’re moving your body but not putting yourself at risk.

On Twitter, you will see the hashtag #restdaybrags.  I love this hashtag.  It was created to counter the run streak and to emphasize that rest days are good.  Resting is good for your body. Recovery is a huge element in training, one I think too many people ignore.

I admit, I don’t love when I miss a workout either because I’m sick or injured or plain exhausted.  But listening to my body is a hugely important part of my racing plan.

I’m sure a number of my friends will disagree with this post.  I’m sure that there are plenty of people who have seen quality results from run streaking.  But there are plenty of people who have run through illness and injury as well.

While I think everyone should take rest days, if you’re absolutely stuck on the run streak, maybe you shorten the interval.  Instead of just going for the maximum number of days, how about a 10 day run streak?  You aim to accumulate 10 day run streaks.  So the 11th day starts a new streak.  Or maybe you take a rest day and start over.  This way, if on day 4, you’re sick in bed, no big deal, just take a rest day and start the ten day streak over.  You can still count the streaks.  “I’ve done 50 10 day run streaks!”  But you are also allowing yourself to listen to your body.

I think most runners have heard from non-runners “Why do you do that? You’re going to destroy your body.”  And we all deny that and talk about how running has made us healthier.  But if we don’t listen to our bodies, those non-runners are going to be right.

Lessons from the Boston Marathon

Photo credit: Charles Krupa/Associated Press

This week was the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon.  And though the weather was miserable, the race was awesome to witness.

I will likely never run the Boston Marathon.  I’m a retired marathoner, and would have to be in my 80’s to even be able to consider making the qualification times (I actually didn’t look up the 80-year-old female qualifying times, so they might still be out of reach, but let me pretend, okay?)  None of that means that I don’t still find it amazing.

This race was cold, wet, and apparently even involved some snow.  And still, so many runners went out and made the most of the day.  They worked so hard to get there, and most of them weren’t going to let a little weather get them down.  I’ve seen so many awesome pictures from before and after the race.  Everyone looks so cold, but so happy to be there.

The stories of the winners of the race are also pretty incredible.  Desi Linden finally, finally won Boston.  She is the example of someone who just keeps going, dealing with injury, less than ideal finishes, and she certainly wasn’t expected to win Boston.  In fact, she said that she considered dropping out, so she decided to just help the other US women hold their spots.  And then found herself in the lead.  Even though she felt miserable, she pushed through.

Sarah Sellers, the second place female, was also not expected to finish as well as she did.  She isn’t a pro – she’s a full time nurse.  She trained while also working 10 hour shifts.  (She’s not a nobody, of course. She has won a marathon and is working towards qualifying for the Olympics, though I saw one report that said this was only her second marathon ever.)  But she too battled the weather, didn’t give up, and found herself on the podium.

The men’s winner, Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi, also isn’t a full-time runner.  He’s a high school administrator.  He’s having a great year, having run and won four marathons so far this year.  He was also not expected to win, but benefited from his cold weather experience and won his first running of the Boston Marathon.

To me the lessons here are clear.  Put in the work and don’t give up.  Every day won’t be your day, but that doesn’t mean you should quit.  Sometimes you will meet your goals, and sometimes you won’t, but there’s always a next time.  Every race might not feel amazing, and you might be miserable, but sometimes pushing through and focusing on the effort will make all the difference.  And never stop dreaming.

Labral Tear Update

So I’m still dealing with this labral tear, and it’s definitely slow going.  Though let’s be honest, when is the last time that healing anything wasn’t slow going?  (Not that the tear itself can be healed, but there are things I can do to reduce pain and prevent issues.)

Let’s look back at where I’ve been –

Mid-November – I go on a six mile taper run and have a bunch of weird pain in my left quad and end up walking most of it.  I shrug it off.

Late November – Space Coast!  I run with Kim and we have a blast until I tweak my right soleus (likely due to a tight piriformis combined with some wicked camber on the course) at mile 12.

Mid-December – I do a 3 mile run, no real issues til the end when my soleus starts to hurt.  Guess that’s not quite healed.

Late December – For the rest of the month, when I try to run, my quad almost immediately starts to hurt.  It is not awesome.  It is super inflamed and painful.  The pain is along the top of my quad and down the outer side. So I stop running.  Only biking and swimming

Early January – Cheer at WDW Marathon.  No running, but tons and tons of walking, and zero issues.

January 16 – Appointment with regenerative orthopedist.  He talks very fast, and while very nice, does not leave me feeling great about the appointment.  He orders an x-ray and an MRI, says it’s probably a labral tear or maybe a stress fracture, but that I can still run (not the best plan, if it’s a stress fracture).  Throws a whole lot of information at me about regenerative therapies and injections, and tells me to come back in a month.

January 17 – I decide to try to get in with another orthopedist, one who does more traditional therapies.  Get an appointment for the following week.

January 19 – X-Ray and MRI.  MRIs remain un-fun for someone who is claustrophobic, but I survive.

January 23 – Appointment with the new orthopedist.  I immediately like him better.  He looks at my scans and the reports, and there is very clearly a labral tear (and no stress fracture) in my left hip.  He gives me a ten day course of prednisone, tells me to wear supportive shoes, prescribes PT, and tells me to come back in three weeks, and that I can try running in two weeks.  So off I go with my happy new plan.

February 6 – I run one mile.  It hurts.

February 8 – I attempt to run another mile, realize that it hurts right away and that this is stupid.  My PT was surprised that the doctor wanted me to try running so soon, and she was right.  I wasn’t ready.

February 13 – I return to the orthopedist for my followup.  He seems surprised I’m not 100% better.  He asks if I want to talk to a surgeon.  I tell him that I’m not ready for that option.  He recommends I consider a cortisone injection, and I take the information.  He basically says that none of these are requirements and I’m not causing harm by continuing to just do PT and waiting to see how things go.

Surgery is definitely not in my plans.  The recovery time is a full 6 months, and it’s not a guaranteed fix.  Additionally, were I to consider surgery, it wouldn’t be until the fall.  We’re doing a Northern European cruise in August, and it’s been planned for years.  I refuse to be hobbling around and dealing with recovery while sight-seeing.

I’m reluctant to try the cortisone right now as well.  I’ve done quite a bit of research and it can have a catabolic effect.  Now, if I were in pain during my normal day-to-day activities, I would absolutely be considering it.  But it also isn’t a permanent fix, and if the biggest issue is that I can’t run, I’m not sure it’s worth it right now.

For now, my plan is to continue with PT.  While my exercises are getting easier, they are far from easy.  I have a lot of strengthening work to do.  I’m certainly hoping to be able to get back to running, but I’m definitely taking the conservative approach right now.  It’s incredibly frustrating, but I’d rather be cautious than jump into bigger treatments that don’t work.

If, after some time has passed, I’m still finding that things aren’t improving (I think they are, it’s just hard to tell), I may consider going back to the regenerative ortho.  Patience is going to be the name of the game here.  Slow and steady.

There is no magical cure

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So Tuesday was my glorious return to running.

It was not glorious.  At all.

I ran one whole mile.  Well, ran/walked.

It was very slow.

And it hurt.

I think I got a little cocky after my required rest.  Also the prednisone I was on.  It significantly reduced all the inflammation in my leg muscles and suddenly nothing hurt.  It was awesome.

Well, I tapered off of that a few days back, so now some of the inflammation is rearing its ugly head.  And obviously, two weeks of physical therapy isn’t enough to completely rebuild the muscles needed to support the tear in my hip.

The good thing that the pain wasn’t at the point of the tear itself.  It was in the muscles opposite it.  When I run, my leg also seems to naturally want to move at an angle instead of straight.  I can keep it straight, but have to consciously work to keep it there.  I talked to my PT about it, and she agreed that’s an easy fix.  And by easy, I mean a lot of quality PT work, both in the office and at home.  But nothing complicated or particularly hard to do.

This weekend is the first race that I’ve had to officially DNS due to this injury.  I’m definitely disappointed to not be running Donna this year, as it’s always a great race.  This may not be the only race I DNS this year, and that’s definitely a bummer, but I’m much more committed to racing healthy and pain free than I am to actually completing a race.  Right now, biking and swimming are painless (well, free from the bad pain anyway), so worst case, I can do some aquabike races this year.  However, it’s only February, so we’ll see what the next few weeks hold.  Not committing to anything just yet.