Down but not out...

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Right around June 24th my worst runner nightmare became reality - I suffered an injury.  There was no herolike story to accompany my limp, just that I had walked 6.5 miles at work in shoes that were far too worn out. I had completed a round of P90X plyometrics attempting to get ready to start training for the Chicago Marathon. I stood up from the couch one evening while watching tv and felt a sharp pain in my foot. I thought I needed to stretch but as the next few days unfolded I came to find that my pain was increasing the more time I spent on my foot.

I wanted to list some words of wisdom in hindsight for anyone who wants to continue being injury free, or for those who are going through a first time injury experience (like I was) to give some guidance on what worked and didn't work for me.

 

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1. Always wear supportive shoes, for whatever you may be doing on your feet.

These were the shoes I continued to wear for far too long. I kept waiting to make a little bit more money at work before investing in a new pair. Instead of just paying up for a good pair of new shoes, I had to buy new shoes AND pay a $75 copay at the doctors visit I eventually had to go to (not to mention the days of work I missed from not being able to be on my feet). Also, heels are not a friend of feet. Be wary of too much time in them, and find ones that put as little pressure on your feet as possible.

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I swear by Altras for running, so I committed to them for my new work shoes as well. The support they give is incredible.  I'm waiting for the day they design a high heel that is runner approved. And yes, I will absolutely buy them when they do.

 

2. Go to the doctor as soon as possible. 

I kept telling myself that my injury probably wasn't that serious, I figured I had just strained a muscle or had a case of tendinitis. It got to the point when I couldn't walk or stand without excruciating pain. I made an appointment to see a physical therapist through my local running store. That visit ended with a false diagnosis of tendon strain and being told a second metatarsal stress fracture is extremely rare. PSA: second metatarsal stress fractures cover about half of all diagnosed stress fractures in runners. I wasn't able to get to a doctors office for another two weeks because of plans to visit family in New Jersey the following week.

 

3. Listen to your body. 

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I finally made it to the walk in clinic on August 28th, more than a month after the occurrence. I waited to hear back from the radiologist who said there was nothing on the x-ray and I was clear. Sadly, this was also a false diagnosis. Because a stress fracture is not a full fracture, noticing one on an X-ray is nearly impossible within the first few weeks. However, I was on week five at this point. On the point of pain which was felt on the top of my foot, you can see a periosteal reaction on the X-ray, which often means a place where bone has healed from some type of injury. I find it too coincidental to say that this was not the exact pain I was feeling. I think doctors are fantastic resources for helping us runners get back on our feet, but if you are unable to afford an orthopedic surgeon visit or podiatrist visit like me, I think it's best to use your head and notice the pain you feel and what those symptoms may suggest.

 

4. Do not try to "run through it." There's no such thing. 

Running through a stress fracture just means aiming to have a full on fracture. Give your body the time to heal and miss a few weeks or try to run on it and miss a few months. I'm not really sure how anyone could run through the pain my foot was causing me, but just don't do it. Let your body heal and come back stronger than ever. After all, bone repairs thicker than it originally was so giving it time to heal just means you'll be a stronger person. I know it's sad to have to defer a race you really wanted to run or forfeit the money you spent on training, but it's even sadder to have to be out of the game for much longer because you decided that you just couldn't refrain from that race. 

 

5. Find what exercise works for you in injured condition. 

I was fortunate for a few weeks and had access to my apartment pool. Sadly, I moved from my apartment a few weeks into my recovery and I didn't continue to carry out swim workouts, but I swear they were making me stronger. Swimming is very different from running and it's challenging in its own way. Maybe your injury allows you to do yoga, or cycling. Find what works for you but don't put too much stress on yourself or your injury.  

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6. Don't be hard on yourself.

You didn't want this, you didn't purposefully cause this, and beating yourself up will only make recovery worse. Be wary of your mood and note that you may lose those endorphins without proper exercise. It's sad enough to not be able to exercise the way you want, but it's a whole other level to then have to deal with the mental downfall. Take time to do the things that do make you happy. Talk to a friend, bake cookies, listen to good music, drink a good cup of coffee. Take the time to treat yourself and give yourself the self love you need. It matters now more than ever.

 

7. Come back slowly and again, don't be hard on yourself. 

I ran 7 miles in my first week back starting last week following nine weeks of rest aside from the swimming and some cycling. I was slow. I am still slow a week later. I am running on the grass to help alleviate too much stress right off the bat. But I am pain free. To me, I know that I should be running a 20 miler this Saturday. But instead of dwelling on what I can't do I am choosing to find the victory in the things I can do. I have created a new game plan of trying the Galloway Method for the Chicago marathon in less than a month and I will earn my medal being proud of whatever I can accomplish with such a crapshoot of a training season. 

 

 

Life is hrd, and running injuries make it harder.  Be nice to yourself, get angry, then get over it and come up with a game plan for your comeback. Taylor has surely been helping pump me up for my comeback. What do you think about her new music?? Newly added to the playlist, ...ready for it? And Look What You Made Me Do. Boom.

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¡Sí, se puede!

Day one of training. February 6th.  

This week I set out to accomplish what I've done five other times in my life - train for a half marathon. After struggling all of 2016 to find my love and agility as a runner I decided on taking the first part of 2017 to dedicate to a 13.1 mile race. I have ran the Nashville RnR Marathon the past two years and this year I'm very excited to be getting back to running the half instead. For anyone with thoughts on running Nashville as a race - it is a tough course. Nashville hills are no joke and April weather in this city will either provide you with extreme rain conditions (with threats of tornadoes) or blazing sun guaranteed to give you your first sunburn of the year. There seems to be no in between for this spring race. So after two years of just trying to get through the full, I am welcoming the half with open arms.

Day two of training. February 7th. 

The weather has already been wacky here in Nashville and we've seen high 60s and 30s this week which made the first week of training extra interesting.

 

 



Day three of training. February 9th.  

By the time yesterday rolled around the weather was in the 30s with a real feel of 29° which is normal for this time of year. However, it's been an overly warm winter and the norm has been temperatures in the 50s and above. Maybe I'll be more ready for this spring half than ever before! 

 

When I got to my mailbox after my run on Monday I found the results book from the 2016 Chicago Marathon. I felt like it couldn't have timed t's arrival more perfectly. Chicago was tough for me. Knowing that I had potential to PR on the flattest course I've ever ran and then coming in over 15 minutes slower than my current PR proved that the lack of consistent training in 2016 was unacceptable. However, seeing my name in the book of finishers at 4:27:05 didn't feel awful. And it reminded me of why I need to work so much harder this year for the October race. When you run the streets of Chicago during the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, you run with people from all over the world. Being an international race, you see signs in other languages, you see flags foremother countries, and you hear cheers that you wouldn't normally hear on a smaller race course in the middle of Tennessee.

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¡Sí, se puede!

After I got through the initial shock of running a marathon among 45,000 other runners I started listening in. It wasn't long after the start that my body felt sluggish and sore and I thought that maybe this would be my slowest race yet. But ¡Sí, se suede! continued to be posted on signs from spectators and cheers from people who came from around the world to watch their loved ones run 26.2 miles through Chicago. And that became my mantra to get me through this race.

 

This week I thought I knew what song I wanted to add the the playlist but then Lady Gaga performed the Super Bowl halftime show and completely changed my course. Truly I feel that her performance helped me get excited about training again because training means time spent listening to powerful music.

She didn't perform A-YO, but her performance took me back to her release of the album Joanne this part October. Talk about a fun beat. Many times during this first week of training I felt extremely out of shape and kept running out of breath. A-YO gave me a good beat to run to, and made running feel a little more like dancing than exercise. I highly recommend adding this tune to your playlist if you're not following Mae's Miles and Music. I can see this song being a big game changer during a long run. 

The year I fell in love with running

2016 sucked.

For a lot of people. And for a lot of different reasons. December 3rd, 2016 I ran the St. Jude memphis Marathon for the third year in a row. Somewhere near mile 20 a spectator held a sign that read "F@ck 2016!" to which runners all around me agreed. I don't recall a year that was collectively thought of with a sigh the way it seems 2016 is remembered. And I feel thankful that I'm not alone in the idea that 2016 wasn't the best year ever.

I started 2016 by taking my first full-time, 9-5 day job. I started to struggle with time manage and stopped making time for the things that made me truly happy. I missed the first 10 weeks of my spring marathon training program and tried to jump back in on week 11 - an 18 mile run. I began the training run with the 4 hour group but got left behind after just 5 miles. Around mile 15 I was struggling when the 4:15 group caught up to me. And passed me. Just four months before this, November 2015, I had ran a marathon with a personal best of 4:11:53, and now a training run was causing me to feel I was no longer a runner. DEFEAT.

As a back story, 2015 was a great year for me and running. I became a Marathon Maniac (#12090) by running 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga in October, The Nashville Marathon in November, and the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in December. Sprinkle in a Ragnar Relay and a Zooma half marathon (another personal best) and you would have the happiest version of myself that has ever existed.

My spring marathon eventually rolled around and I struggled, both with the actual running of the race and with enjoying it. I ran a half marathon a few weeks later and didn't find it as exciting as it once felt. I had high hopes for the Chicago marathon, my 7th marathon, and felt that a sub 4 hour marathon was in my reach with such a flat course. But my motivation was gone and I started to tell my running friends that I was burnt out on running. Chicago, the most incredible experience marathon I've ran, came and went with improper training and a lack in personal best to accompany it. Two months later I ran the St. Jude Marathon and beat my personal worst time by only 13 seconds. I felt like 2016 was the year I gave no importance to training and in return received no reward.

2017, the year I fell in love with running.

This is what I have planned for this year. I want to find the passion I once had for running and remember why I love this crazy sport. Music is also an important aspect of my life and my running. Each week I plan to draw on the building blocks of running - training, workouts, running sessions, gear, fuel, races, and the songs that helped me get through that week of running.

Runnin' Just in Case - Miranda Lambert

I love this song for the place I'm at currently with my running. Between the rhythm of the song that makes my feet want to run, to the line that reminds me that running can help me achieve something that I may not be directly focused on.

"It ain't love that I'm chasing / but I'm runnin' just in case"

Running sucks. I know this. It can be so rewarding, but it can also be so difficult. I run in weather that is too hot, or too cold. I've ran at hours that are too early when I'm so tired, and I've ran too late when I have to speed to beat the setting sun. Sometimes I set out to run three miles and I finish wondering how I ever ran a marathon. But I've also had some great laughs while running alongside my best friends. I've raised thousands of dollars for kids at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital who are fighting cancer. I'm planning on finding my love of running again this year, and maybe my goals are out of reach, but I'm still runnin' just in case.