Friday, January 24, 2014

Back to Racing

Exciting news - I signed up for a race! On Sunday, March 30th I will be running the inaugural Philadelphia Love Run, a half marathon. It will be my first big race since my horrible DNF at Lehigh Valley in September.

I know that I explicitly said in recent posts that I would not be racing or signing up for races anytime soon. However, something miraculous has happened in the past two weeks. I have had little to no pain on all of my runs! Something finally just clicked and I am feeling at about 95-98% most of the time.

That said, I am still being very cautious and as much as I want to jump right back into marathons, I don't think that would be very smart. So, this spring I will try out a few half marathons and maybe some 10-milers. I will save my marathon comeback for the fall.

I am unbelievably excited to be working toward a goal again, even if its just to make it to the finish line feeling okay. Plus, hopefully this will make the rest of winter fly right by and before I know it, it will be race day.

Happy running!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Searching for Strong Once Again

I never know how to start a post after a long hiatus. So, let's skip the pleasantries and jump right in.


Not a lot and not completely without pain, but it's something. About four miles every other day to be exact. I am hoping to try five miles later this week.

After an ineffective round of PT in September and October, my doctor suggested that I try ART (Active Release Technique). The first few sessions left me feeling unsure and I considered abandoning it completely (especially since my insurance didn't cover it and I was paying out of pocket each time). Low and behold though, by session four I was feeling some relief. The Friday before Thanksgiving I ran my first mile on the treadmill and have been ramping it up ever since then.

2013 was a bad year. I spent more months on the bench or recovering from injury than I did running carefree and happy. But every injury is a lesson. This time, I'm adamant about starting off slow and taking my time. Hence, I spent several weeks just running two miles at a time and then slowly added and third and now a fourth. Part of the reason I am doing this is also because, as I said, I'm not running completely painfree yet. My piriformis still flares up depending on whether I'm on the treadmill or running outside and if I've really done all of my stretches and exercises the night before. It's not carefree running, but its running.

The biggest challenge of running after a long-term injury was rediscovering my strength. After sitting out for three months I came back to find my endurance shot to hell and my running crops a little tighter than I remember. Ten minute miles felt too fast (still do) and three miles on the treadmill seemed to take forever. I am still struggling to find my strong in the New Year and still working to make sure I can run without causing more pain or damage.

I have zero racing plans for 2014. Quite frankly, I'm too nervous to sign up for anything. For now, though, I'm happy just to be able to run and hopefully this year I will be smarter than the last.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Last Eight Weeks

Hello! It's been a while. Last time I checked in I had just DNF'd my first race and was dealing with piriformis syndrome. Sadly, eight weeks later, I am still dealing with it. No running. No sitting. You get the idea.

2013 has been a rough year, at least on the running end of things. I've been injured or slowly recovering from injury more months than not in the past 365 days. The last truly good race I ran was the Baltimore Marathon last October. It's pretty much been downhill since then and believe me, it has left me questioning what I think my body is actually capable of vs. what my mind wants it to be capable of.

In any event, at least each injury gets easier to deal with. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely bitter everytime I see someone running and I have avoided reading other running blogs at all costs. Frankly, I don't want to hear about someone else's awesome marathon recap while I'm benched for the best running weather season of the year. Still, aside from one or two days during the last eight weeks, I've been okay with not running. Or at least, I've accepted it.

Luckily, this fall has been absolutely insane between work and school and life and while I would love to be running right now, at least I'm keeping busy. Here's what I've been up to the past eight weeks:

Physical Therapy
As soon as I DNF'd that race, I called the doctor and set up some PT appointments. PT has always worked for me in the past and I felt confident we could nip this thing in the bud right away. Unfortunately, PT has not really helped at all this time around, which has been very disappointing. They even tried a fancy treatment called Iontophoresis that involves driving anti-inflammatory into my butt with an electric field. I felt a little improvement six treatments later, but as soon as I tried sitting again the pain would come right back.

Standing (Lots and lots of standing)
The week after I DNF'd it was pretty clear that sitting only aggrevated my symptoms and caused a tremendous amount of nerve inflammation. At first, I tried sitting straighter and getting up frequently, but it was quickly apparent that any sitting, no matter how good my posture, was causing more pain. The problem here is that I work in an office at a desk that I need to be at for most of the day. But, where there's a will, there's a way. Solution - standing desk.

Unfortunately standing desks can cost $$$ and I wasn't about to ask my office to shell out for one. Luckily though, we live in the age of the internet and there are thousands of super crafty people out there. It didn't take long for me to find a quick, cheap standing desk hack. One trip to Ikea later and viola! Standing desk for $22.

My set up at work

The first week standing was hard and my feet were killing me (even though I was spending 50 miles per week on my feet running previous to this). Now, seven weeks later I am feeling just fine. My husband and I also bought a standing desk for home. All said and done, I have done little to no sitting the past two months and if I'm on the couch, I'm laying down horizontally. Even after this injury is over I will probably continue to stand since its better for you anyway. At this point though, I would just love to be able to sit in the car or go to the movies without feeling pain.

Graduate School
Coincidentally the semster started the week I had my injury. I have about 5.5 weeks left of my graduate program and have been working every weekend all semester to finish my thesis. I did this program in 2.5 years straight by taking summer classes. I'm literally counting down the days until December 10th when I will be DONE!

My work coincides with the school year, so September and October are always slammed. Even if I was able to run, I wouldn't have time for lunch runs anyway, which had made the whole not-running thing a little easier to deal with.

I have always wanted to try a cleanse, but with all of the running I was doing, it was impractical to take in so few calories while I was burning so many off. I've done four cleanses over the past two months - an intense 3-day cleanse and three 1-day cleanses every couple of weeks. I don't know that I will be doing the 3-day cleanses that often since I feel like I can't work out at all during them, but the one-day cleanses are really nice and don't throw off your entire week.

I thought I would HATE the beet juice the most, but ironically it is my favorite and I could drink it every day

For those of you who are curious, I have tried three different cleanse companies so far - BluePrint, Suja, and a local Philadelphia juicer called Sip-N-Glo. If I get my act together I might just do a little omparative review.

Finding Other Ways to Workout
The really horrible thing about this injury, aside from the whole no running/no sitting thing, is that I can't bike or swim either. The nerves in my hamstring and butt become too irritated. This has been incredibly frustrating because I haven't really been able to do any cardio. I've resorted to a lot of strength training and try to fit in about 30 minutes a day, but 30 minutes of strength just doesn't compare to the amount of cardio I was getting in.

Finally a few weeks ago my husband and I bought our own heavy bag. We've been going to boxing class on and off for about three years and I've been wanting to set up a home gym for a while. Between all of the PT equipment I've invested in during my injuries and the foam rollers and hand weights I've bought over the years, turns out we have a pretty nice set up. The heavy bag has been great for getting some cardio in and of course, to take out my frustrations about not running :)

So that's pretty much been life for the last eight weeks. I am trying out ART therapy today after work and I'm optimistic about more positive results than traditional PT. I'll keep you guys posted!