July 16, 2011

What's Going On With My Legs...

Or, Injury one million and one and the big epiphanies and decisions it’s inspired.
(Side Note: Remember to enter my GIVEAWAY!)

Dear Legs,
 I love you.  I really do.  I know it might not always seem like it.  I know I ask you to do crazy things like run 10 miles in a row.  I know I subject you to lengthy foam rolling sessions.  I know I am constantly pummeling you with my fists to get the knots out of your muscles.  I know you’re tired and not so happy with me these days.  But I promise I love you.  Will you please please please get better?  It would make me really happy.
     Miss Teacher
Sooo here’s the thing.  I’m injured.  Again.  I KNOW.  You’re probably getting sick of seeing pictures of my legs with ice packs and frozen vegetables saran wrapped to them.  I’m sick of seeing that too.  Needless to say, I’m more than a little frustrated…but yesterday I wrote about choices, and how I am both choosing to think positive and choosing to do the right thing for my body.  So I will attempt to stick by that while talking about what’s new in the land of my aching body…(this is crazy long, so feel free to skip to the end if you’d rather not read a play-by-play of my life as a perpetually injured runner!)  Here’s a little background on my running history…

My Training & MISTAKES:
I ran on and off throughout college, going through phases of running more and less frequently.  I NEVER pushed myself for more than about 2 or 3 miles at a time, and I was okay with that.  Last summer (2010) I started running again with more consistency and decided I wanted to train for the Disney Princess Half-Marathon in February 2011.  I ran a few 5Ks before getting a stress fracture in my right tibia that immediately halted my running.  (I’m still not sure what caused this stress fracture since my mileage was really low, and I hadn’t been doing anything different with running than I’d done previously…)  This injury took a LONG time to heal, and I wasn’t back running again until the end of November. (Unfortunately, I did NOT keep up cross-training during this time…oops.)

After my stress fracture healed, I returned to running and IMMEDIATELY began half-marathon training.  I did not take the time to ease back into running or build up a solid running base at a low mileage before increasing my distances dramatically.  While I took adequate rest days, cross trained, and stretched religiously during training, I experienced a LOT of issues with calf cramping and muscle knots during this time, especially as I increased my distances past 7 miles.  During the Disney Princess Half-Marathon, I began experiencing CRIPPLING IT band/knee pain around mile 7.  I made it through the end of the race with a LOT of walking and quite a bit of pain. :-/  

I took a few weeks off running and took it easy when I started returning again.  I ran about 6 miles a week for my first weeks back to running in April.  After I started feeling better, guess what.  I IMMEDIATELY started training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon.  Training went really well at first, but after the first few weeks and my first 6 mile long run, both of my IT bands tightened up LIKE CRAZY and stopped me cold again.  I worked on them using the foam roller and stepped back for a couple weeks while I re-built up stamina.  After a few weeks, I started Physical Therapy for the IT bands and was feeling GREAT.  I ran my 7 mile long run, and a 15K (9.3mi) race two weekends in a row.  Guess what?  A few days later my IT bands were, you guessed it, tightening up AGAIN and causing lots of knee pain.  I had to skip my long run entirely the following week because of pain. 

After a few days off, I got back into it last week and ran my 10 mile long run this past Sunday.  It went great!  But…the next day I was in PAIN.  My inner calf muscles (right along the tibia just a few inches above the ankle) have always been a problem—they’re the reason why I rock my HOT compression sleeves all the time—and they were super tight/knotty/painful Monday.  Letting my Type A personality get me carried away, I AGGRESSIVELY dug into them with my fingers, knuckles, and foam roller to try to break up the knots along the tibia.  I also got a deep tissue massage.  The next morning (Tuesday), I tried to run and had to stop after just a mile due to hip/IT discomfort and awful tibia pain.  I convinced myself that I had another tibial stress fracture and worked myself into an all-out hysterical frenzy by the time I walked the mile back to my car.  I’m talking tears, the works. 
Note to Self: Chill Out on the Self-Massage for now...
The Breakdown:
I’m sick of being injured.  I felt like I was following everyone’s advice: running only 3 days a week, increasing mileage 10% a week, taking rest days, stretching, icing, protein recovery drinks, calcium/magnesium supplements, etc. etc. etc.  Yet here I was injured again.  It wasn’t even so much a matter of being upset about the possibility of dropping out of my upcoming half-marathon as much as it was a devestation that maybe running is just not something I can do.  I was a wreck.  Major shout out to College Friend for consoling me on the phone and not making fun of me for having a reaction to running injury similar to others’ reactions to a death.  After calming down, I took the day and evening to reflect.  I looked back through my running log and thought hard about running, training, my goals, and what’s important to me.  

The Epiphanies:
Epiphany #1:  I suck at injury recovery and building a running base.
As I illustrated above, I jumped into both of my attempts at half-marathon training immediately after injuries and without building ANY sort of running base.  Yes, I’d run before, but both times I hadn’t been running at all before beginning training and dramatically increasing mileage.  Oops.

Epiphany #2: Running is more important to me than this race.
This is the big one.  A few weeks ago, I would have been devastated about missing this half-marathon.  I would have told you that, one way or another, I’d be crawling across that finish line.  Today, I’m feeling a lot differently.  When I was crying to College Friend, I sobbed to her that I just *love* running and, more than anything at else, just want to be able to run.  That’s all.  (That’s why the possibility of another stress fracture is pretty upsetting—stress fracture = no running AT ALL for at least 6 weeks, but probably longer…)  I decided that this race is just ONE RACE.  I want to be able to run for my LIFETIME, not ruin my body over 1 race when I’m 24. 

The Decision:
Since I have no way of knowing if my tibia is freaking out right now because of a stress fracture or because I got a little too carried away with my aggressive massage (seriously, it was BRUISED the next day…I know, I’m crazy), I’m resting and cross training right now.  My physical therapist suspects I don’t have a stress fracture because I have been able to do our strength exercises including leg press with no pain, and I passed the “hop test” (hop on one foot; if you can come down on the foot without pain upon impact, you probably don’t have a sfx).  But there is no way of knowing for sure quite yet—my primary care doctor had me wait for a few weeks last time before he would order an MRI, the best way of diagnosing a sfx since they don’t typically show up on a traditional xray.  So, right now I’m biking, swimming, continuing to strengthen, and all-around taking it easy.

When I return to running, it will NOT be immediately picking up a training plan.  I plan to take some time to gradually build a solid running base of maybe 6-8 miles a week before I move up from there.  As much as I love distance and racing, I want to remember what it’s like to run pain-free.  (What a concept!)  I want my legs and body to be STRONG before I ask that they start increasing distances.  When I DO start training for another half (which I have no doubt that I will, hopefully sooner than later, but that all depends on what this injury really is), I will follow the longest half training plan in existence.  My body just needs reeeeeally slow increases in mileage, it turns out.  And I’m okay with that.

At the end of the day, running is more important to me than any one race, and my body and health are more important to me than anything.  It’s time to stop making excuses, stop wallowing, and stop being a Stupid Runner.  I’m going to make SMART decisions regarding my running and my body from now on. 

When have you been a "stupid runner"?
How do you deal with injury?


  1. I might be guilty of being a stupid runner right now. I'm still not supposed to be running more that the "run .2, walk .2" x's 15 a day, but I am. I'm impatient and hard headed. I have slowed down in the last couple days because I'm afraid I'm going to hurt my foot again. I feel your pain about the injuries. The suck. I hope you're better soon!!!

  2. I can totally relate to you and I react the exact same way in all of these situations. Pain = the worst thing I can think of or at least the same injury I have had before. Then...when I freak out that I may be injured I do dumb things like Ice for too long and just about freeze my toes off. Then I get mad and run longer and harder than I should...yeah vicious cycle. So like I said...I can RELATE! Hang in there girl. I know you will do what is best for you. I am thinking about you and pulling for you. Stay strong and I hope you heal quickly!

  3. We've all been there. I'm glad you are taking care of you. I know you're on the road to recovery and will heal properly this time! We can cross train together!

  4. Another reason for the stress fracture from last summer... I just thought of this. Because of the stuff you went through in high school, your bones might not be all that strong (despite taking good care of them), so it might not take all that much to break them. When I got a bone scan, I found out that I've got the bones of an octogenarian. I know several people who have broken bones from typing, cracking joints, or climbing out of a pool.

    (oh, this is Elmo here)

  5. The most important thing is for you to take care of yourself! I like your positive outlook! :)

  6. So so sorry girl! I am 100% guilty of being a stupid runner and I admire you for the way you are handling this situation.

    Best of luck and continue to stay positive and you will be back to running before you know it.

  7. I'm a former college soccer player with similar issues, only I pushed myself past the point of recovery. I now have PMLD - my right leg (kicking leg) will just jerk whenever it wants.
    Miss B, Busy Bee

  8. Point being, I never listened after my first injury (LCL sprain) when people told me I only had one set of legs. What's more important - being able to run now or walk later? Take it easy!

  9. Ugh i feel for you. i am always injured, knee, it band u name it? Right now i have spent a month plus trying to find shoes but my right foot hates all shoes, can't decide if it is the shoes, my foot or both :( booo

  10. I know you don't know me (I came to your website to see your review of tommie copper knees), but there is one thing that concerns me about your regimen. With all this emphasis on health and exercise (i.e. long distance running), you might want to consider eating red meats (grass raised and organic if you can find them). To find the best diet for your body type, you might want to check out Dr. Mercola's website regarding this issue (http://www.mercola.com/nutritionplan/index.htm). Of course, if this is a religious issue please disregard. :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...