Back to Basics

photo: edwin.bautista
Hmm. I think I have a problem. You see, I’ve enjoyed not being in school for about two months now. To me, that has meant going out to eat (a lot), skipping workouts, and enjoying hot beer on cold days (like my visit to Heavy Seas for a tour and tasting last weekend as DC recovered from the derecho). These indulgences have translated into a higher weight than I like to be at and last week, my GP confirmed that my weight is nine pounds higher than it was in April 2011. At the time, I was trying out the Four Hour Body diet. I liked the results from the diet, but I didn’t like how much time I had to spend thinking about food. I don’t want to go back on it, but I do need to cut out the fast food and re-up on the veggies, legumes, and exercise.

On a related note, I’m headed back to the orthopedist tomorrow and am not feeling any pain in my left shin/tibia. Cross your fingers on being cleared to run. I’ll have to start slowly to build up some heat tolerance and endurance, but I’m eagerly looking forward to feeling that endorphin high that I only get from running. I’m holding myself back from signing up for fall races as I know I need to getting back into running R E A L L Y   S L O W L Y. I ended up with a stress reaction because I approached running at full tilt speed. Every run was a run for time–none of the slow run stuff to build endurance. My legs truly could not handle pounding the sidewalks…hence, the stress reaction. This whole thing continues to be such a lesson to me in how not to treat my body.

photo: Northwest Rafting Company
In trying to find more balance and not beat myself into the ground, I decided to hit the water (again). A couple of summers ago, I dabbled in whitewater kayaking, but ended the summer very frustrated. I couldn’t get a consistent roll down and never really connected with anyone else out on the water such that I could have a kayaking buddy if my friend didn’t want to go out. I discovered stand-up paddleboarding last month and am enjoying being back on the water without the stress of having to bomb-proof a kayak roll. I’ve already hit it off with a few people and we’re planning on renting boards so we can go out to practice.

We’ll see how the next few weeks go with re-upping on the basics–healthy eating and exercise. I have a goal weight in mind (certainly not the weight from April 2011 – that was just unsustainable), but won’t treat my body poorly just to get there.

(Temporarily) Closing the Door on Running

About halfway through physical therapy, I started to experience increasing soreness and tenderness in my left calf and along my lower left tibia. Needling wasn’t helping and the additional exercises the physical therapists prescribed for my calf weren’t exactly working, but my left hamstring, piriformis, and adductor muscles felt great at this point. At my next appointment with my orthopedist (timeline check–this appointment was about six weeks after the 8k and at the end of my PT, so right in line with when stress fractures show up), he suspected a stress reaction or a stress fracture and ordered a MRI.

photo: digital cat 
The MRI results, thank goodness, showed a stress reaction. I was thankful that it was a stress reaction and not a stress fracture. (Yay–no boot or cast!!) Even so, the treatment is essentially the same as a stress fracture: no running and no high impact activities while waiting for time to pass (read: three to four months).

At this point, I only had a week or so left in school and husband was home for a bit between trips. I had stopped working out and was feeling like a slob. It was time to graduate, enjoy time with husband, and figure out my summer work out plan since running was out of the question.

I have a follow-up appointment next week with the orthopedist. I’m currently experiencing minimal calf and tibia pain. That being said, I’ll probably not run again until 2013 since I think I need to reformulate my gait.

Running is awesome. Injuries are bad. Next time, I’ll pay more attention to my body to reduce the chances of any future injuries.

The Intervening Weeks

In the previous two installments, I covered how I think my injury happened and what was going on in life at that time.

After an exam and x-rays to rule out a stress fracture or knee damage, the orthopedist determined that I hadn’t done any major damage to my leg. He counseled me to stop running for two weeks (until my next appointment) and prescribed physical therapy twice a week for six weeks to try to rehab my bum leg. Needless to say, the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Run was out. I started PT, stayed off the leg (running-wise), and waited until next appointment. At my first PT session, the therapist pointed out my bio-mechanical issues and strength/flexibility imbalances, which were the sources of my injury. As I had suspected, my body reached its breaking point and couldn’t compensate for those issues without treatment any longer. My optimism about the half-marathon was rapidly turning into pessimism.

photo: timtak
At that next appointment, the doc and I discussed my (SLOW) improvement. He stated that it probably wasn’t a good idea for me to run the half, even though he could patch me up so that I could. Doing so though would further delay my complete recovery for several months since my body would have to recover from the race before I could really start working on my strength/flexibility imbalance. I agreed to not run until my next appointment (scheduled for four weeks later), to continue my PT, and to do my home exercises. The doc did caution me that stress fractures can take four to six weeks to show up and that I should be attentive to any new pain or discomfort since I wasn’t completely out of the woods. I also started going to my chiropractor once a week for dry needling. As such, my leg constantly looked like it had gotten attacked by a swarm of mosquitos.

I alternately enjoyed and hated PT. I enjoyed it because I actually saw improvements and was getting to experience PT and do home exercises like we had described in my grad school project all year. I disliked the time it took. During this period, I didn’t work a full week of work between school and PT.

It was also during this time that I stopped exercising all together. For the first few weeks of PT, I tried to swing kettlebells a few days a week. After my second appointment with the orthopedist, I stopped exercising all together. Instead, I focused on school, work, and PT.

Stay tuned for the next installment.