Battle plan

I had my podiatrist appointment last week, and it went way better than I expected it to. I had a bunch of x-rays, and nothing is broken or out of place, which is a big relief.

I had to give this guy my life story of the past 8 months: how it happened, what I’ve tried, which doctors I’ve been to, how it used to feel, how it feels now, what I’ve been doing exercise-wise, where I got my orthotics, the whole nine yards. When I described how the piano came flying toward me and crushed my ankle against a concrete step, he was horrified. When I told him I ran a marathon on it, he was incredulous, but pleased in the sense of “well, if you could do that, it can’t be that bad.”

There’s no name for what’s going on with my foot and ankle, with is annoying because it makes it cumbersome to describe. It’s not like “runner’s knee” or “IT band syndrome” or anything like that. Basically, that piano bashed the ever-loving hell out of some ligaments that tried to heal themselves and became knotted up with scar tissue and adhesions, which are stiff and inflamed, which prevents my foot from having a proper range of motion, which my foot adapted to because it’s lazy, which causes more swelling, which irritates some nerve in my foot, which makes it tingly and achy.

Solution: deep tissue “massage” and intense “stretching,” AKA torture. Basically, they are going to squeeze and smash the scar tissue out of me with assorted torture devices. I’m set to go to therapy twice a week for three weeks, then then see where I’m at.

While I was there, I also had him look at the custom shoe inserts I had made over the summer, and he was somewhat baffled. They cast the molds correctly and they fit my feet fine, but apparently they used a much stiffer material for the bottom half than what is common. Typically, they use a softer cork so there’s a bit more give when your foot hits the ground, but mine is really dense and stiff. He made a few adjustments and they’re fitting much better, but he said he’d like to replace the cork on the bottom with something more appropriate, so I’ll probably look into that after I see how therapy is going.

I ran 1 mile on the treadmill after going to the doctor Thursday, then Dan and I walked about 7 miles on Sunday. I don’t think my ankle is quite ready to pound the pavement just yet, and I’m definitely not comfortable dropping any money on race registrations, but I’m feeling much more positive about the situation and closer to running “for real” again.


Unfinished business

I’ve only run a handful of miles since my marathon all the way back in mid-October. It total. It doesn’t feel good. My foot and ankle actually feel worse somehow, like my arch has fallen and I have no support through it.

Ever since I got back into running after a hiatus in college, I’ve noticed a trend: I pick a race, train for it like crazy, have some minor issue that I don’t take time off for, race and am disappointed with the results, then get sidelined because the minor issue becomes major. It sucks. I have wasted so much time the past three or four years recovering from stupid injuries when I could be building on my fitness levels to get faster and stronger. As a runner, it’s in my nature to be a hard-headed idiot, but it’s time for me to learn some lessons and get it together so I’m not constantly saying “if only.” “If only I hadn’t hurt myself. If only PT weren’t so expensive. If only I had a few more weeks to train.”

I’m ready for 2014 to be a PR year. As proud as I was after running my first marathon, hindsight and perspective have left me wanting more. I still haven’t attained my sub-2 half marathon goal, the one I set back in 2011. Why? I was so burnt out and sour after my first attempt that I stomped off in the other direction and did nothing for a while. Then Dan broke his leg, and I didn’t have the time, let alone the finances or energy, to sign up for something else and try again. Then inertia took hold, and I wimped out of really pushing myself toward that goal and settled for running races in distances I’d never done before. Automatic PR, right?

I’m Twitter friends with a lot of runners, and it’s driving me bonkers seeing all of the “I signed up for _____ as my spring marathon!” and “Just registered for ___!” posts. I’m freaking jealous! I want to feel like I’m achieving something quantifiable, something I can chart and compare and say to myself “this is better than last time.”

Now that the holidays are over and we don’t have any travel or excitement on the agenda, it’s time to tackle the scary questions: What in the hell is wrong with my foot, and what will I have to do to fix it? Will I ever be able to run pain-free? Will I ever be able to run long again? How much is this going to cost? I have an appointment with the podiatrist next week, so hopefully I’ll have some answers soon. Until then, my current race times will be burning in my brain, and my subconscious will be whispering “you can do better.”

So…now what?

Tricky thing about training for races, especially longer ones: They happen, you feel awesome, then you have a bunch of free time and no idea what to do with it.

In classic runner fashion, I went from excited about training, to feeling overwhelmed with it, to being irritated with myself for signing up, to being proud of my improvement, to looking forward to tapering, to losing my mind during the taper, to successfully finishing my race, to being so happy it was over, to missing running all the time.

So there’s that.

The same ankle that’s been harassing me this entire training cycle did so well during the race… then that same foot started acting up. Ms. Super Genius over here wasn’t thinking when I packed footwear for Chicago and spent all day Monday walking around the city in Chuck Taylors (I know). The outside of my foot started throbbing toward the end of the day and has a weird nob/bump on it. I went to the doctor, who promptly told me to quit being an idiot, put on real shoes, and stop running for a week or two lest I give myself a stress fracture. So, that’s where I’m at right now.

I’ve been icing, elevating, and calcium-ing it. I have to admit, it is feeling better. My custom orthotics have arrived, but the office can’t get me in to “fit” me for them (aka, let me pick them up and make sure they didn’t mess up my order) until Nov. 4. Until then, no running and minimal walking (as much as I can help it).

For now, I’m going to hit the weights and the bike, hard. I bought “The New Rules of Lifting for Women” some time last year and made it through the first few cycles with pretty significant gains, so that’s what’s on the agenda for now. I’m hoping to improve my strength, which shouldn’t be hard given how little time I spent in the weight room over the summer, and correct some muscle imbalances in doing so.

After that, it’s time to tackle my half marathon and 10k PRs (PR = personal record). They are old, outdated, and not indicative of my ability. Look out, spring racing season, I’m coming for you… as soon as my foot heals.


In so many ways!

First of all, I am completely overwhelmed by and thankful for everyone’s generosity. My fundraising goal for the American Cancer Society was $1,000, and you all helped me surpass that by…a lot. Thank you so much for believing in me and this cause enough to put money toward it. It means so much to me, and has really motivated me throughout this tough training cycle.

I didn’t realize this for the longest time, but apparently there was a spot for people to write a little message to go along with their donation? The ACS website has been a little wonky, and I only just found the section of the site where I can view those messages. I couldn’t have stumbled upon them at a better time! Your words of encouragement and motivation really hit the spot as I’ve been mentally preparing for my race next week. I guess I never found them before because I didn’t need them yet. It was great to see what everyone had to say, all in one place, at the same time. It was a real shot in the arm and it made feel all of the feelings.

I’m also overwhelmed by the thought of the task at hand. I haven’t had a good run since my 20-miler…three weeks ago. So taper madness has officially settled in. I also managed to come down with a cold/the worst case of allergies ever, which isn’t doing my body any favors. I went to the doctor to figure out what’s going on, and all he could say is “you keep all of your anger in your nose,” and “I don’t like your lymph nodes.” The good news is that I don’t have a fever and there isn’t anything rattling around in my chest, so he gave me a Z pack to be on the safe side.

I’m also frustrated that the orthotics company doesn’t have my insoles ready yet. There was some kind of mix-up and they won’t be ready until, you guessed, Friday. Yeah. So, given that I won’t have time to really test them out, it looks like I’ll be running (God willing) 26.2 miles with my janky ankle and foot taped up. That’s how I did my 20-miler, and it held up OK, but the way it changes my stride can aggravate my IT band a little. I had some trouble with during my 20, but I was able to work it out with some intense stretching. I had a deep tissue PT session last week and another early next week.

While I’m at it, I’ll also admit that I’m a little apprehensive about running a race with soooooo many people. I did the Eugene half marathon a few years ago, and that seemed big. That was about 8,000 people. Chicago will be about 45,000. I mean. Wow. That’s a lot, a lot of people! I’ve heard nothing but great things about how well everything is organized, so I’m sure it will all be fine, but it’s always a little nerve-wracking to navigate a huge sea of people when you’re not familiar with an area and you’re not entirely awake (given that it will be the crack of dawn when we show up).

Finally, the thing I’m really fretting over: HOW WILL I PAINT MY NAILS FOR RACE DAY? I always paint my nails before a race, and I try to do something unique and flashy. So far, I’m at a loss…my outfit (assuming the weather does what it’s supposed to, which, YAY, it looks like it will be ideal) is royal blue and lime green. So if you have any suggestions, fire away!

Double dose: Weeks 6 & 7 recap

Sorry for the lack of updates! The past two weeks have been really busy at work and in life, and the last thing I felt like doing every day was writing about running…or anything, really.

Week 6 was pretty uneventful; I ditched on my long run for the week (7 miles). Maybe not my finest hour, but it did feel good to get some extra rest. I’m at the the point where both my body and mind are starting to fatigue from the grind of training and figuring out how to get everything done each week. It helps to just take my plan one day at a time, but my long runs are getting long enough now where I have to plan a bit more so I can get them done, be a responsible adult, and still have a life on the weekends.

Week 6

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: 3.5 on the treadmill
  • Wednesday: 5 on the ‘mill
  • Thursday: Easy 3
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Rest (should’ve done 7 miles)
  • Sunday: Rest

Totals: 11.5 miles in 1 hour, 48 minutes. Nothing worth writing home about. It was really hot all that week, and that definitely contributed to my lack of motivation.

Week 7

  • Monday: 3.3 @ 9:05 on the treadmill + strength work
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 1.25 walk on my lunch break + 6.3 tough miles after work (outside, 10:09 pace).
    I was really excited for this 6 miles at the beginning of the day, because the weather was great! By the time it came time to do it, I was not in the mood and really struggled for motivation to put on my gear and get out the door. To make matters worse, I had steak and broccoli for lunch and it was just NOT a good meal to eat before a “longer” run. My stomach was upset from mile 4 on, and I had to take a few walking breaks, which I hate.
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 2 mile walk to dinner and back
  • Saturday 13.1 miles @ 10:27
    Woke up Saturday morning feeling tired and not terribly excited to run, given that we celebrated Dan’s birthday the night before. The one thing that got me out of bed to meet up with my group was the great weather. It was fantastic. I felt pretty good once we started running, and I locked in with a group of 5 or 6 other people to get this run done. I had banana and a piece of toast for breakfast, plus an almond milk latte on the way there, fruit bites at 5.75 miles and another pack of bites at 10 miles. In the future, I’ll probably do my nutrition at 5 and 8 miles instead. The last 3 miles of this route were super hilly, and my legs were feeling it. I ran without any break until the 10-mile point, then took a few walk breaks over the last 3.1 (I think maybe 3 walk breaks in total). This is the longest run I’ve ever done! From here on, each long run will be a distance PR for me. Exciting stuff!
  • Sunday: All of the rest.
    I thought I would be more sore after Saturday’s run, but I didn’t feel too bad! My shins are a little tender (from all of the hills), and my hips are a bit tight, but nothing major.

Totals: 25.95 miles, 5 hours, 6 minutes

It’s time to kick off Week 8. I’m already feeling a little stressed out about it, because I a lot of work to do, my monthly freelance assignment to tackle, and friend/family obligations for my birthday. It will definitely be a balancing act trying to get it all done.

Week 3 training recap

Week 3 is done! Last week was super busy; I wasn’t home nearly enough and didn’t run in the mornings like I wanted to. I also didn’t do much walking or cross training, but I did get in my mileage (and then some), so I’ll take it!

Plan: 3 miles easy
Actual: 3.2 @ 9:22. My hamstrings were still pretty sore from last Friday’s deadlifts, but this still felt good! I also got a walk in on my lunch break.

Plan: 4 miles easy
Actual: Big River Speedwork at the track –

.5 warmup
4 sets of:
2 x 200m + 400 m @ mile pace, approx 6:44
Recovery jog/walk to match distance ran
Some kind of cooldown.

My Garmin was out of whack, but I think I ended up with around 4.5 miles for this one.

Plan:  Rest
Actual: 3.25 @ 9:13. I usually take the day after speedwork off, but I was feeling good and didn’t know how Thursday would play out. Started around 9:40 and worked down to 8:00. Felt easy after the sub-7:00 repeats the day before!

Plan: Cross train
Actual: Rest. Kind of? I had too much stuff to do around the house, including some freelance work.

Plan: 3 miles easy
Actual: Rest. Again, lots of stuff to do, and Dan and I had a date at our favorite sushi place.

Plan:  5 miles long
Actual: 8.25 hilly miles @ 10:30.

This was supposed to be my first cutback week on the plan, but I wasn’t feeling ready for that yet. I also wanted to make it to the first St. Louis Track Club group marathon run to see what it was like. The course was two 4-mile loops through Queeny Park. I hadn’t gone running in that area in years (since high school XC) and there were some really tough hills! I stuck with the group for the first loop, then kind of got left behind on the second loop when I made a pit stop. The second time through was tough; there were a couple of hills that I barely ran up, but I made it! All of the downhills did a number on my calves and shins. Definitely still feeling it today.

Plan: Rest
Actual: 30 minutes of stretching/foam rolling.

I’m going to count this in training because it requires a lot of effort and pain! It’s also super important. I felt much better after this session, but my left hip and IT band are still pretty tight.

Total: 20.45 miles, 4 hours 11 minutes.

Because of the holiday, I won’t have my track session on Tuesday. Instead, I’ll be waking up bright and early on the 4th for the Freedom 4-miler downtown. I’d like to run harder on this one. If I can break 35 minutes, I’ll be happy enough.

So remember that whole at least 3 morning runs goal for this week? Yeah.

I guess it’s “only” Thursday and I could still get in 3 runs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings, but who am I kidding?

I’m sure it’s just a result of my increased activity level, but I’ve been needing about 9 hours of sleep every night this week. I conk out and don’t stir until my alarm goes off. Related: I’ve been having really vivid dreams (mostly related to running).

Wins so far for the week:

1. Three days of running in a row, including one really hot and humid track session that left me drenched. I’ve been cross training or taking the day off after my track workouts because they’ve been leaving my legs so dead, but I actually felt pretty good on Wednesday and managed a 3.25-mile progression run, starting at 9:30 and working down to 8:00 miles with some good climbs and a little downhill running (all on the treadmill).

2. I’ve kept my nutrition in check, and with the exception of a Snickers ice cream bar (who can resist?) and my mom’s homemade ice cream (no, really, WHO CAN RESIST?), I’ve eaten really well from a nutritional standpoint this week. I will say that “the hunger” has started to creep up on me, and I’m just always…hungry. But it’s not too bad yet.

3. It’s only Thursday, and my long run is the only planned run I have left. My legs are feeling pretty good, too.

Saturday marks St. Louis Track Club Marathon Training Group’s first meeting of the season. On the docket: 8 miles. Early. Like…I’ll have to wake up some time before the 6 a.m. hour to make this happen, but I guess I deserve it after slacking off on morning runs all week.

I’m not running outdoors as much as I probably should be, but I don’t feel too bad about it because I”m doing my 2 hardest workouts of the week outdoors: track sessions and long runs. As long as I can keep that up, I think I’ll be in pretty good shape. Ideally, I’ll start doing more outside, but that’s all contingent on me getting up on time. Right now, I’m satisfied with just getting my workouts done every week, whenever I have the time to do it. No use in stressing over the when and where!