Water Running 101
Today (Tuesday) was my last Shockwave appointment and although I'm still waiting for my orthotics, I got the green light to start running 1 minute at a time one mile at a time (one minute run one minute walk for a mile) starting next week! Woo Hoo! I need to start rebuilding tissue tolerance and adapting to the impact after all this time off. My foot is feeling great after all the treatments! I wish I got some done to my calf though, because now that my foot feels good the pain is back in my calf... but it sounds like the orthotics could solve it all. I'm so hopeful! I've spent A LOT of money on this! Thank GOD I had three pay periods (as opposed to the usual 2) in the month of May. We have no extra money, but if there was ever a time for us to indulge, it's a month with three pay periods. In addition to the 5 shockwave treatments and the big bills for the orthotics, I also got a gym membership. I typically don't need a gym since I'm very much happy with outdoor activity, but these last four weeks having various bikes and classes, and weights, and available babysitters has made me feel less depressed and less like I'm missing out on something. The reason I got the membership in the first place is because my favorite form of cross training is the pool. When I first joined it was closed for 2 weeks for annual cleaning (of course) and then with Matts travel there was a class going on during the babysitting hours so I didn't have the freedom to do whatever I wanted, but today I finally got to use it! This is my go-to cross training method of choice, and here's why it should be yours too (plus a few workouts to try!)
1. Little to No Impact
Generally speaking, when people talk about water running (or aqua jogging, or pool running) they are referring to running in the deep end of the pool with a buoyancy belt (essential!) where your feet can not touch the ground. You can also run in the shallow end with less impact depending on how shallow you run. I spent many of my high school summers running circles in my parents above ground pool. I also did this when I broke my foot and began to reintroduce impact. It was before the alter-G was a thing where you could remove "X" percentage of your weight... It just was something I did on my own intuition. For most injuries you want to stay primarily on the deep end, but there is some benefit to gradually reintroducing your body to some impact and force with the use of a pool before you hit the pavement. This is why people might walk after a surgery in the shallow end of the pool. Standing without full weight but still standing. The majority of running related injuries are lower extremities. Achilles, calves, shins, and feet (sound familiar). All these things can benefit from pool running. No take off to hurt the Achilles and calves, and no landing to hurt the shins and feet. If you have a hamstring or hip injury, pool running may not be the best for you, especially if you are new to it and may make some mistakes while getting comfortable. Over extending in the pool could hurt the hamstring and the resistance of your knee drive could bother your hip... but I still recommend you read ahead just in case it is a good fit or worth trialing!
2. Sport Specificity
The best way to get better at running is to run. Cross training, and strength training are all supplemental training to running. If you want to get better at running, YOU MUST RUN! Unfortunately, running related injuries are common due to the high impact nature of the sport, so you may find yourself needing cross training either as a way to reduce impact and avoid injury or just during a time of injury in general. Not all of us were built with durability to withstand 80-100+ mile weeks so although running more in theory produces better running results, it only works if you don’t get hurt. Biking, lifting, swimming, rowing.. these are all great ways to maintain your cardiovasular fitness, but water running is running... just in the water... so in that sense it is the most specific to the sport itself with little to no impact. Unlike other forms of cross training where you may be using or building muscle groups in a different way than necessary for running, workouts in the pool mimic your real running form and mechanics (and can actually improve it, too!!) so it is the ideal choice for cross training. Specificity to sport is also why when I do strength training, you will see a lot of single leg exercises. This is specific to running. There is no point in your running stride that you are on two legs, so my lifting routine primarily involves working the muscles on one leg.
The pool offers resistance that only a really windy day can achieve! I’ve seen a lot of crazy things people are willing to do to add resistance to their running. Parachutes, bungee cords, sleds, even weighted vests! (Ouch! I think my leg just broke thinking about that!). I’ve mostly seen this for sprinters and track athletes trying to shave off tenths of a second, but mostly because with distance running there is no easy way to add resistance for the duration of a workout. You can do hills, you can train at elevation.... OR you can run in the pool! The pool has a great benefit of offering the resistance for both when the belly of the muscle contracts AND when it expands. Every direction you move in you are met with resistance to give you a little extra something when that resistance is taken away! You will notice your arms will get a really good workout in the pool, too! You may find yourself hungrier than ever after a pool workout because you're working everything (and are even burning calories just to stay warm)
Piggy backing on the above, the resistance also can help improve running form. Your body is going to look for the path of least resistance, which is the most efficient way of moving. For example, if you have any side to side arm swinging while running outside, you will notice immediately when you are in the deep water! With the resistance of the water you will actually move side to side instead of forward so you will quickly learn to monitor and change that arm swing! You are also able to slow down your stride due to the buoyancy (note: you should always wear a boyancy belt. Don't be a hero, we are not treading water, we are water running!), Make sure you’ve got your spine lined up nice and tall, your pelvis tilted and tucked, and a nice forward lean (but not too much. We're not swimming!). drive those knees up and elbows back, but don't overreach with your arms and pull yourself forward. It will feel a little like running in place but you will still have some forward motion. Overstriding isn’t going to happen in the water. Try it (unless you've got a hamstring issue!)! You’ll see how hard it is to pull your body forward through the water and then transition to a push. You should keep your cadence similar to running (around 180 is a good goal for me... or higher if I'm doing a "sprint") but remember, with resistance it will be harder work to achieve that. Overstriding most certainly is not going to allow you to do that, and it will be even more noticeable than it is on land. Keep in mind that proper form in the water is very important. If you are sacrificing form for speed, slow down and get it right so you can reap the full benefits of this method of cross training.
5. Go Hard More Often
Since you do not need your body to recover from impact you can really incorporate more workouts more often (but should always still have "easy" days). Additionally, your perceived effort might be harder than your heart rate suggests. Since you are buoyant, not taking any force, and in water that is not warm (although you might sweat, your core temperature is probably still lower than usual), your heart rate is generally lower even when you may feel like you are really cranking. As a result, you are able to do hard efforts more often without much difficulty, and also can do it with less recovery between intervals.... which is a good thing, because the pool can be BORING without having a constant change of pace! Below are some workouts you can try!
You can also just do your prescribed running workouts and convert it to Minutes. That might get boring (especially if you have a 2 hour long run....) so you may need to invest in some waterproof headphones etc. to keep it entertaining... but again, since there's no impact and your heart rate stays low, you can mix up the type of effort you do quite a bit without having to worry about overreaching.
Some Final Considerations:
Since we've talked about all the good with water running, one might think that when they can return to running on the land they don't need to go as gradually. This is not correct! Remember, your body is not taking any force with pool running. When you return to the land you still need to follow a return to run program that will gradually increase your load. You should wait 4-6 weeks from a long term injury before you add in workouts on land. Continue to do your workouts in the pool while you increase the duration of your runs on land.
Week 3: The Last Comeback
Week 3, my hardest week of this comeback yet, but not because of workouts or anything fitness related.... rather, because I was solo parenting Monday to about 1 hour from now when my husband comes home. I'm tired. Pardon gave me a super flexible schedule and basically was like "just do what you can" ... 4 weeks ago I would have done next to nothing, but once the train is rolling, I don't want to stop. Last week Matt was gone for a few days and we tried out the Kids Korner, so this week was more of the same... a lot less lifting than previous weeks but time was not on my side.
Monday: 5 Miles on the bike and band exercises plus single leg deadlift and bulgarian split squats.
I was able to get up in the morning to do this workout because Matt was leaving mid day. To be honest, I wanted nothing to do with it because I felt like I had zero recovery from our weekend getaway and then from the previous solo parenting in Philly. The family time last week was nice and needed but sandwiched between two big trips for Matt left very little time to recover and prep for the big Switzerland trip which is a bigger Pain in the A$$ because of the timezone difference. I forced myself to get going in the morning. Just when I adjusted to mornings I had to do afternoons for the Kids Korner, and then back to mornings, and then afternoons. I'm really tired. Last week I became a monster of a mother to Raea one of the solo parenting days when she wouldn't go to bed. After some thought I realized how hard it is for her since she does not understand when Daddy is not coming home. So Monday night we made a schedule together and based on the experience with Kids Korner last week I knew I needed to build in a lot of really fun stuff for them to allow me to get to do the stuff I wanted with less trouble. This schedule definitely was the key to my success this week, but also felt like my demise some days. Pretty much every day I was like "whyyyyyy didn't I put more relax icons on there?"
Tuesday: 45 minute circuit training. Heavy on the squats and the glutes. I just foam rolled after. On paper Tuesday seemed like the easiest day. The girls were at my moms with my sister and my mom all day, and my mom is two seconds from my work and 2 minutes from the gym. Kids Korner opened at 5 so I put pool on the schedule before. Well, the pool is only family swim at 3 on Fridays, on Mondays it's at 7pm. W.T.F. So... this schedule that is designed to help me not get in an argument with my 3 year old over dinner (which is strategically all her favorites chosen in advance by her) and over where she has to go each day is now fucked. She's way too smart. If I miss one thing on the schedule, she'll know we can miss other things like... kids korner (I printed a copy that said babysitting, but then realized I had to type Kids Korner because Raea will argue who the babysitter is if I don't be specific and although she can't read the schedule followed her to school and to my moms house and with Grammy... so I needed them to use the same language... she's a smart cookie) So what do I do? I take my kids to the pool at 7pm even though I usually have them in bed by that time and I live 30 minutes from the gym and they haven't eaten yet. We're off to a great start! Fortunately the pool tired them out and it was really easy to get them to bed.
Wednesday: 10 minute warm up, 5 minutes hard, 1 minute recovery, (then 4, then 3, then 2, then 1) and 5 x :30 on :30 off. cool down... 10.9 total.
I left work, drove 30 minutes home to get the girls from Grammy who brought my nephew so she didn't have room in her car to take them to me (which is not a big deal because Kids Korner wasn't open yet anyway) then drove 30 minutes back to the gym just to get a workout in. I set a goal to increase wattage as each rep decreased. My watts were somewhere in the mid 200's for the 2 and 1 minute and RPM was around 90. Then for the :30 seconds I wanted the RPM in the 110s with lower resistance to be like "strides". Maebel saw me through the window when I got off the bike to walk on the treadmill next to my cousin-in-law who is also dealing with Plantar Fasciitis, so my gym session ended early. No lifting, and no shower until home (I really liked being showered before I had the bedtime shuffle). but I'd rather that than my kid crying because I walked right by her.
Thursday: Spin Class and some light lifting... more of the same
30 minute Drive home to get the girls, 30 minute drive back and then just in time for spin class. I brought my bike shoes but they won't clip into the new spin pedals. My shoes are a little stripped ... they clip into my bike fine, but I couldn't get them to clip in. I guess it's a common problem with the bikes... I think I'll just stick to using the cages, whatever. My quads are now absolutely shredded between all the biking and the squatting and the lifting....This was the most smooth day at the gym so far. I didn't need much strength after, this was a really hard class of climbing. I still did glutes and rolled and stretched but I was tired. Pizza was on the schedule for dinner and my sisters were both home from college, so I invited them to come. They were psyched because my mom "left them to fend for themselves" for dinner so it worked out because sometimes it is the worst waiting for food, but my sisters always keep the girls happy and entertained. Actually another easy night. But... soo happy that the work week is almost over at least!
Pardon wanted me to take at least one day completely off this week and so far I hadn't. After updating my Vdot to say "my quads are shredded" I got a little "remember- lets do a day off this week" reminder. I already knew I needed Friday and possibly Sunday so NO PROBLEM COACH! We still had some things to check off the schedule. Raea said she was too tired to go to Panera (phew! Me too!) so we could just have mac and cheese at home. and then when I asked her if she still wanted to play at the playground (please say no) she called me a cheater. "Cheater, Cheater, CHEATER! Home is not on our schedule now!".... Yikes. Victim of my own success. We went to the playground.
Saturday: One easy hour after Dance, glute band work, then pool drills
Raea's dance studio is just a few minutes from the gym so after dance I dropped them off at Kids Korner and did an easy hour on the bike. I was feeling down because I weigh 147lbs, but then I got over it. Whatever. Read more about that here... could be baby weight, could be because I'm lifting... could be because I'm no longer vegetarian and my body is figuring out what is going on... Who cares, my results will speak for themselves. The girls are getting really good at swimming with their puddle jumpers that I really can get some hip loosening drills done while watching them swim around. It's kinda nice! Today felt like a really well rounded day because we went home and finally got to relax after.
Sunday: Day of Rest... or cleaning like a mad woman because my husband is going to come home to a disaster. I kept up with as much as I could throughout the week but so much stuff accumulates as the week goes on and I prioritize cleaning things that make the house dirty... like food and dishes and trash... and the clutter takes a back seat. papers piled up on the table, backpacks on the floor, and stuffed animals everywhere. And laundry. Mountains of laundry. The house is pretty close to spotless now. Phew, I feel better. After I finished cleaning I got the kids out of the house to finish up our schedule before daddy comes home. Some biking and playground and ICE CREAM!
Overall a good week, but not my best with sleep... Raea asked if she could sleep in my bed when daddy is not sleeping in my bed... and I said yes. That's a lot of days to co-sleep. It sounded a lot cuter in my head, and even looks cuter... but not much sleep to be had. The main thing is I didn't absolutely lose my shit as a parent which I had the previous week.... so... victory! ... and the main reason I think I didn't flip out was because the girls were really very good, and actually... Maebel is always pretty good... she's starting to show resistance, but I'm going to soak up the sweetness while it's all she's got. Raea is a constant challenge (really good kid, but way too smart and quite the negotiator) but the schedule helped keep her in check. She enjoyed it and there wasn't much up for discussion which was... a tiny slice of heaven.
Baby weight.... I still have it.... or do I?
I don’t typically weigh myself.... especially when I’m feeling insecure. If I do weigh myself it’s usually when I’m feeling good and want to have some metrics to associate with that good feeling. Today that backfired on me a little bit, and I’m using this post to sort of process the information I received from my scale this morning.
I’ve had two babies; at this point I think you all know that. Both pregnancy experiences and postpartum experiences were extremely different; also something you probably know but just in case you don’t here’s the quick info. With my first, Raea, not only was I unable to run pregnant, I was unable to run for the year leading up to the pregnancy! I had a knee injury that eventually needed surgery, which I had while 22-23ish weeks pregnant. I went on to quickly get back into shape mostly without any glitches (one calf injury... horrible timing since it was 10 days out from the marathon, but as a whole things went smoothly!) Due to that smooth postpartum experience, when I got pregnant with Maebel, I was arguably in the best shape of my life coming off of 6k and marathon PRs (range!). I was able to run all through pregnancy, although difficult and painful and questionably stupid, I was still able to do it... postpartum with Maebel seemed like it would go even better than with Raea since I never really stopped running... but... obviously that didn’t happen! Below are two photos. The one on the left is right after my 6k XC PR, about 2 weeks pre-pregnancy (6 weeks before I’d find out). I was only 14 months postpartum and at, what I usually consider my prime “walk the line” race weight. 127lbs. On the right? Me this morning, nearly 21 months postpartum, and 147lbs!!! (Don’t cry, Caitlyn)
20lbs between these two photos!!! WHAT!?
The only reason I even stepped on the scale to begin with was because I was looking for a way to measure my fitness. I don’t have running times or races or training paces to give me feedback. I’m working out a lot and feeling good! I thought the scale might give me that positive reinforcement to continue even though I’ve been really tired with my schedule shifting from mornings to nights depending on where In the world matts job takes him during this selling season. I’ve tried to remove all metics in my life that might discourage me, but I thought for sure this number was going down (especially since the Cadbury eggs are behind us...). Last time I weighed myself I was coming in at 141 pretty consistently... which was frustrating, but not unexpected. My typical weight is around 132-135, and since I had not been training much that variation is not unusual or concerning... BUT I’ve been crushing it at the gym lately and getting my heart rate super high with exercises I’m not really efficient at, sweating up a storm and definitely burning a lot... I feel good, and in my opinion I look good... so I innocently assumed I’d be slightly under 140 which I really only saw once or twice since I’ve had Maebel...and that would motivate me to keep doing the gym stuff that I don’t necessarily love, especially as it gets nicer outdoors! THAT IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED (obviously).
I saw that number and immediately started thinking “what am I doing wrong?” Or “why can’t I lose this baby weight” or “am I ever going to be as fit as I was before I had Maebel”.... and then I stopped.
Why am I letting my weight define my fitness? Yes, it has in the past. Anytime I dip under 130 I know I’m fit and am ready to crank a few good races. I never restrict beyond just normal “That second piece of cake isn’t necessary” or “hmm that food didn’t make me feel right”... and I have never struggled with an eating disorder.... so the weight drop I experience is a natural byproduct of hard training and I know I’m peaking at the low-for-me weight. I’ve also learned that that sub 130lbs is only good for a few weeks before it becomes unsustainable (just like peak training). Then I race the goal race, hopefully crush it, and take a week or two off either way and everything regulates back to mid 130s.... so it’s never a concern.... but natural weight loss (not weight loss by restriction or control) has always been a metric for prime fitness for me thus far.
But that doesn’t mean it always will be or should be.
I don’t know what my weight was here, but it was not under 140. I was 7 months postpartum and pretty damn fit based on runs I was completing (but not aware I was pretty injured from pregnancy... I thought it was my new baseline.)
I was also really fit here, and not under 140. I was probably pretty heavy here but never weighed myself... I don’t know why today I let this number make me feel less than. I think it’s because the only time I’ve ever seen a number that high I was within one month postpartum. I instantly was thinking it’s baby weight still. I ran my entire pregnancy and I’m dealing with baby weight! How will I ever lose the baby weight? WTF is baby weight anyway? Since having Maebel I’ve been injured so often I’ve taken up new types of exercise... maybe it’s not leftover from pregnancy, but weight from different kind of fitness. I’m lifting, I’m spinning, my quads are getting bigger and I’m hitting the glutes hard every day (and it shows!)... Did I expect to grow these muscles without that number on the scale growing? I also have been intuitively eating more protein. It’s what my body craves to feed my muscles. I don’t know, Temporary lapse of judgement and reason, I guess. My body hasn’t responded well to most things I did pre-pregnancy, and I’ve been in a constant phase of metamorphosis, evolving and adapting to a lot of new things... almost everything I knew to be true about my body pre-pregnancy(2) has been thrown out postpartum, so why am I trying to hold it to some meaningless other pre-pregnancy standard seen on the scale. The truth is, you are never the same after a baby.... your whole lifestyle will change, so it’s likely that your fitness habits and routine and expectations will in some capacity, too. That doesn’t mean your goals have to, but the way to get to those goals might.
Im not sure if more weight will help or hurt my performance, but probably better if I just don’t look. Just like turning off the Garmin, if you feel good... that’s more than enough validation. I can’t WAIT to get my orthotics. I e had lower leg injuries my entire running career that I’ve been able to manage by being young, resilient, and stubborn.... that’s not working for me anymore. These orthotics are going to change a lot about how I distribute force and stress... so there’s a lot of adjusting ahead, but hopefully this puts an end to my DNS streak for good.
THROWBACK: I'm a Headcase
Here is an blogpost that demonstrates me being a headcase circa 2011.... I'm still a headcase 8 years later, but it's all centered around my injuries and the confusion of being "semi-injured" all the time. Right now, I haven't run in over a month... not because I can't, but because "been there, done that" I already know based on the first step out of bed that my foot is going to eventually be a problem when I hit peak mileage.... so right now I'm in a happy place because I have a concrete plan (wait until orthotics and then proceed with hope and caution). There isn't really much part of me lacking motivation, but my body continues to say no. If I knew then what I know now conversations like below would never occur. My children have been the cure to the below problem of procrastination. I used to think I was busy and tired.... but man, I was wrong! Enjoy the struggle of a privledged mid 20 something girl who’s biggest stressor was her daily run.
February 3, 2011
I'm a headcase...
Here are my text message exchanges after work today... Sure I could have spent that time a bit more wisely... but at the end of the day, I did what I needed to do... I RAN.
3:50 John- Not sure if I want to run roads today what are you thinking?
3:52 RE John- I'm interviewing at the gym. Hill reps after
4:46 RE John- Got a new job. ZERO motivation to run!
4:47 John- Congrats but run anyway!
5:02 RE John- I'm lazy and cold... I'll think about it
5:07 TO Matthew- I can't run
5:07 Matthew- Neither can I... What is up with you?
5:08 RE Matthew: Lazy
5:10 RE Matthew: I'm supposed to do hill repeats and I don't want to. Roads are terrible. I'm depressed over this
5:11 Matthew- Just run up and down your street. Who even cares if you go fast
5:11 RE Matthew- I am too cold
5:12 Matthew- Put on my f state sweatshirt. That thing is warm
5:13 RE Matthew: It's at home. I'm at my parents... Maybe I'll go home
5:14 Matthew: It might be better to run around the college there. Safer, and more light
5:15 RE Matthew: I don't want to run :( I got a job though...
5:15 Matthew- That is cool. You will have more money
5:16 RE Matthew: More Friends.
5:18 RE Matthew: I'm lazy. I need a kick in the rear. I just don't want to run.
5:19 TO Caitlin F: At my parents whining about a run I need to do. Wanna run?
5:20 Matthew: You do... Just go do it and you can complain about it all you want while you are running
5:22 RE Matthew: I just want to run without guilt and complaining :( I feel burdened.
5:22 Matthew- Running helps with that
5:24 RE Matthew: ........ I seriously have issues......
5:25 Caitlin F- Sorry, Class
5:25 RE Caitlin F: Darn
5:26 Matthew- You can run for me. I want to run so badly
5:27 RE Matthew: NOT FAIR! Makes the guilt worse!!
5:29 TO Matthew: YES! JANE NEEDS TO RUN!
5:34 Neel- Run at 6:30ish?
5:35 RE Neel: Running with my sister at the college
5:59 John- 10 Minutes. Now! I just did 8 miles in 61:30. You can surely go 10 minutes
It's not that I don't want to run at all... I just want running to be fun and free. When I run with company, it keeps my mind off of the "training." I didn't do my workout, but I don't care. At least I ran! I got in 45 minutes with Jane, and it went by really fast. I just have to focus on one step at a time.
Glad I'll get to work at Central Rock! This will give me an opportunity to meet new friends who AREN'T runners, but are still fit and healthy. I'm excited :)
This was the type of conversation I'd have everyday inside my head... "I don't wanna, I can't, I'm too cold, this sucks, why am I doing this?" Since I entered this sport as a High School athlete, then went on to run collegiately at the National level, I never really made my own choice to run, I always had to. I graduated college in 2006 and finished my eligibility in 2007 as a grad student, and it took a very long time to find my new why. Some people take a break after college and rediscover their love for the sport later. They find their why in the down time... I found my why while still training and competing which was really conflicting at times. Some days (most days) I just wasn't motivated to go on my own. I always thought that this meant I wasn't dedicated, but I was. Every day I still got it done regardless of my flip-flopping emotions. After having my children my motivation never waivers this strongly. I just hope that I can find my way to healthy running again... but if not, I will retire in the climbing gym. That was a cool side job and a cool new hobby I'd love to pick up again.
Week 2: The Last Comeback
In one of my recent posts I wrote to stop paying such close attention to your data as a way to ward off "treatment fatigue" and man have I taken my own advice. I started this post Sunday and have attempted to write it several other times but it's now Tuesday night and I still haven't completed it. WHY? Primarily because I don't even know what I did 5 minutes ago let alone 5-7 days ago. I have literally just been doing what feels right and moving on... I have recorded my workouts in my Vdot, and there have been some weird auto-uploads to my strava... but the accuracy of all of it is questionable because I've done it so long after the workout I can't even remember what I did. So here is "Week 2: The Last Comeback"... A flexible training approach.
I got off to a late start Monday. My daughter woke up before I left and I just didn't have the heart to take off on her in a hurry. I stayed for breakfast and was able to get to the gym still. I've been prioritizing whatever is going to make me feel the least.... tired.... or... fatigued. So I skipped the brainless cardio and just did some lifting. I did the lifting with the intention to get a quick cardio workout in as well... low weight, high reps, little to no rest. I stuck mostly with the glute burning band exercises and box drills, but honestly can't remember specifics. All the days blur together.
My coach prescribed a workout on the bike so I did it but shortened the warm up and cool down to give myself enough time to lift and do all the drills and foam rolling. 5 minute warm up, 10min on, 3 min off, 10 min on, 3 min off, then 5 x 2:00 hard 1 min easy, 5 min cool down. I kept my Heart Rate between 1:50-1:65 for hard portions, and tried to keep the RPMs above 90. Not too bad. I followed up with lifting. Hex Bar, Squat, over head press (single arm), Single leg DL, bear row, and I think band drills in all three planes. No rest. Suffer fest before the real suffer fest. WORK. After work I had Shockwave and I also got to meet my new nephew! So cute! (baby fever is strong! But, pregnancy fever is at an all time low... Still recovering from the last one!)
I totally intended to go in the morning since my husband was leaving for Philly in the afternoon.... But I honestly felt like I should actually say goodbye to him instead of just giving him a call to tell him to have a good trip. So I spent the morning with him and the girls and decided I'd just skip today... but then when I got home I felt a wave of motivation come over me. I grabbed the girls and put them in the Kids Korner while I worked out. This is the first day I attempted to do that after a day of not seeing them. The guilt poured in. I selected a bike where I could see them thinking that that would relieve the guilt a bit... and it did because they were so happy. Work was tough, I had the statewide assessment for some of my students, and it makes me probably more nervous than it makes them. Knowing I had another day of testing and a few days of solo parenting made me feel like I should get some me time even though my kids barely got time with me. They were so good. I was able to do an hour on the bike and then I lifted and foam rolled and did all the drills I need to do. Amazing how quick it happens when kids aren't crawling on you. I tried to make the rest of the night very focused on them and not on any of my own stuff to ensure we got some good quality time. The guilt is inevitable some days... but I know I am a very impatient and mean person when I haven't had that time for myself so I think it's better they have the best version of me less often than the monster version of me more often... I can be a monster sometimes. It's so hard in my line of work to have any patience left for my own kids, and they deserve my patience.... so the workout is essential.
Another workout at the gym. This time I took my first ever spin class. Cranked it in there. No clue about any analytics but I know I was sweating bullets and had a good time doing it. I didn't bring my bike shoes so felt a tad like a tool since everyone has them, but whatever. Followed up with glutes and box drills. Raea said "mommy, you weren't there when I needed you"... ouch. But I try not to act on my feelings of guilt. I can never be everything they want all the time. I just have to teach her why I'm taking time at the gym and hope someday she understands. I told her that the gym helps me not yell so much, and, well... it sunk in because yesterday (Monday) when I yelled she said "mommy, I think you need the gym". She's not wrong.
No husband until way late at night and no babysitting room on Fridays, but I wanted them to know we can spend time together at the gym too (aka: it's not just where mommy drops them off), so I took them to family swim. Then we went for Panera. You'd be surprised how good just walking and kicking around in the water can be for your joints. Even though it was not a formal workout, my range of motion in my hips felt better. They stayed in for an hour! We went home and had full bellies and full hearts.
Disaster ride to Race Point Beach. Back in February I was supposed to run a half marathon but got a sinus infection and didn't do it. I've had more DNS's in the last year than I have in my entire running career. I've just never been this plagued with an injury before. Any other injury I've had was bad enough to just know with certainty that running wasn't an option. This injury is somewhere in between so I've had this bi-polar-ish ebbing and flowing. I've committed now to the time off until I get the Orthotics.... anyway, I had a hotel booked, and didn't cancel with enough warning, so instead of paying and not staying we were able to postpone it to a time of year that Matt would probably need a hotel out on the Cape anyway. So we used the hotel. He had some stores to visit and we were able to tag along. The girls had fun walking around in P-town... but we timed everything all wrong and by the time we got to the bike part they were hungry and tired and we were poorly prepared. Still got in 8ish miles on the bike path (hilly AF and hard AF while towing 70+ lbs!), but it wasn't fun for anyone. We made up for it with pizza for dinner, ice cream and more swimming at the hotel pool. Since Matt stays at so many hotels we often get free upgrades. The suite was SWEET! and perfect for the girls. Raea had a little trouble settling down to sleep, but overall we were well rested for the next adventure.
After Saturday's biking disaster, one might think we are gluttons for punishment since we took the girls out for 12 miles on Sunday... but we came much better prepared in every sense. The girls rocked out to their favorite Disney tunes while Matt and I could barely hear it with the strong winds. We were able to have an (almost) uninterrupted conversation during the ride/run with happy kids in tow. Not too Shabby!
So that's Week 2 of the Last Comeback. My orthotics should be in within the next two weeks (hopefully only 1!) so then the real work begins. I guess it takes a long time to break them in and since my big toe will be mobilized in a way it never has been before... it could cause some new issues if I don't proceed cautiously... The only running goal on the Horizon is a BQ. Feels like it should be easy compared to my original OTQ goal, but one thing I have learned is that there is no such thing as an easy marathon.
I don't think I'm quite clever enough to come up with the term "treatment fatigue" but somewhere in the midst of this journey, I may have heard it or said it or stumbled on it and have been referring to it as part of my experience ever since. Before I get into what it means to me, and maybe to other runners out there, let me preface that in the grand scheme of treatments, and the grand scheme of "chronic" things, a running injury is hardly serious. Annoying, yes; at times heart breaking, but nothing like cancer, or Polycystic kidney disease, or even substance abuse or eating disorders. There are many things in this world that require "treatment" and I don't want to undermine anyone else's treatment with my seemingly petty injuries. We each have our own battles and struggles... If you've stumbled on this blog due to any more serious conditions, you should know I'm writing this as an injured runner, but if by some chance I'm able to help anyone else, that's good too... but I wouldn't know enough about everything else out there to even know where to begin to broaden my perspective on this! I wish you the best! While I'm at it............ :
Disclaimer: I'm not qualified to give out any advice about any thing in life except for maybe how to help your child learn to read. I've been a competitive runner for 21 years, so this is all based on my experience!
What Is Treatment Fatigue?
Treatment: "medical care given to a patient for an illness or injury."
Fatigue: "extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness."
Put them together and you get:
Treatment Fatigue: "Extreme tiredness resulting from medical care given for an illness or injury"
Just like you get training fatigue, you can get treatment fatigue too. Especially when you are working so hard and are not seeing results (just like running!) No one knows the treatment fatigue for running more than I do (okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but I know it well), Apart from the nearly 2 years of on again off again calf and foot injures, I also struggled with Fat Pad Impingement syndrome for just shy of 2 years, I was in constant pain and had consistent swelling from every activity I did. Swim, bike, walk, I struggled to get up the stairs. It took over a year to finally check all the "to-do" boxes before we did an exploratory surgery which I had done at 21ish weeks pregnant with Raea (before you judge for having surgery pregnant, I was paranoid about falling down the stairs pregnant or with the baby because my knee couldn't support my weight as it was... read more on that and see the list of treatment I tried: here). Before the knee surgery I had a few back injuries that took 4-6 months. One a back sprain from work that I swore was a bulging disc, but it just couldn't get better because I was always restraining small tantrumming children at work. It finally got better over the summer. Then I had a fractured T12 at the end of my last college season, which I briefly mention on my most popular post since the rebirth of my blog... (the story of how I met Matt). This doesn't include the countless fractures to my 4th metatarsal (which I'm now finding out is likely a result of my super narrow feet... these orthotics better work!), the sprained ankle that never healed, and the debilitating shin splints... Probably all related! I've found out along the way that although extremely talented from a cardiovascular standpoint, my genetics are out to get me in terms of my duribility (Read: Tale of Two Thresholds). I have an abnormality in my spine, hypermobile and narrow feet, and super bowed legs. Additionally, my career choice is highly demanding. So, yeah, I know about injuries... I know about treatment for them.... and I know about fatigue from said treatments... and the feeling of hopelessness when all has failed... but I've come out of all of them. I'm still here after 21 years of at least 21 injuries, I'm still here so something I'm doing during the injury phase is right... otherwise the mental fatigue would have swallowed me whole a decade ago. Here are some tips to cope with Treatment Fatigue
How can I prevent Treatment Fatigue?
Tip 1: Don't get Injured
If you're reading this, you're probably already injured... so don't hate me and hear me out. Obviously, I'm the queen of injuries, and I own it. BUT, I can't do a blogpost on Treatment Fatigue as it relates to running injuries without first addressing the obvious: Don't do dumb shit that will get you injured! Even professionals get injured, so of course, not all injuries are preventable... but here are some general rules of thumb
-DON'T train like an A-hole. Example: Don't train at your goal pace... even if your goal is reasonable. If I were trying to teach your kid to read if they didn't even know their letters and then I wrote a note home saying "Johnny was crying and threw a fit during reading" and you were like "duh, it's too hard for my kid, he doesn't know his letters yet, you should teach him his letters first" .... Well, Obviously! Right? Why would you torment yourself the same way? You may not tantrum or cry when you are overreaching... but your body will rebel. A gradual approach is advisable. This is not to say that you will never run your goal paces... your goal marathon pace may actually be your current threshold pace, so it's not like you'll never train at that pace, just the workouts should be appropriate for the intensity of the pace. Jack Daniels has a great system based on science (not on your emotions and feelings about your goals) that is highly successful. I'll link his book below. Every runner should own it (and don't just skip to the tables! It wont help you to do that!)
-Rest is Best. You might find people on instagram glorifying training on 4 hours of sleep and "Make the Time!"... WRONG! Just don't. If you don't have enough time to sleep, you don't have enough time to run... Make the time somewhere else, but not sleep. I struggle to sleep because I get anxious about my following day so sometimes when I'm injured instead of doing PT and drills, I do everything possible to remove stress so I can sleep. I lesson planned 12 weeks of work in a few sittings so that I didn't have to worry about work so much. I'm averaging 7 a night now! Yay!... but I track my sleep every night and try to monitor my workouts according to how much rest I get. If I get 5, I'll opt for an off day and just do drills.
-Little Things Add Up. There's a million and one "Little Things" you can do... obviously prioritize sleep, but if your body says it's thirsty, it's too late, if it feels off and like you really need to foam roll? you're already behind... When your body sends you signs and you don't listen... you end up like me... Writing blogs about running instead of actually running. (do as I say, not as I do). Listen early and follow through.
Tip 2: Stop Blaming Yourself
To counteract Tip 1, you need to know that even if your injury was preventable, every part of this sport is a learning experience. Instead of falling victim to your training choices, use it to improve next time... because there will be a next time. I can't think of a scenario where you can not participate in this sport again. If she can do it, you all can. It is almost always just a matter of will and mental fortitude and willingness to withstand the storm. I've spent a lot of time thinking about how I should have stopped running while I was pregnant when I started feeling unbalanced.... (because, when you run pregnant, you feel balanced all the time, HAH!... sarcasm, guys) but I didn't have a Magic Crystal Ball telling me that the risks I was taking weren't going to pay off. As far as I was concerned, the baby was healthy, and the pain I felt running was going to go away when I was no longer pregnant. I had a goal of breaking 3 in the marathon at 9 months postpartum at the Boston Marathon. Taking risks is part of the sport. Our pros take risks and get injured and they have the best resources around... so how can we expect any different out of ourselves? I'm a big risk taker, always have been. I've been to two NCAA championships and have won many New England titles. I've very rarely set a goal and failed because with I'm prepared to fail and prepared to get up again. I never expect it to just go accordingly, I’m always ready to adjust perspective and the plan. It's part of it. It's not your fault, keep learning! (but, might I also suggest, if you are running and pregnant... hold off on time goals until you have had the baby!)
Tip 3: Make it FUN
Injuries suck, there's no way around it, but make the "treatment" part of it as fun as possible. It gets exhausting to keep doing all these little things and nothing is working It's been 3 or 4 or 5 weeks and nothing has improved. Think about how long it took for you to dig the hole. Probably a lot longer than a few weeks.... you just didn't notice the changes until it was too late (again, not your fault)! Healing works the same way, but in the reverse. Be as stubborn about your "treatment" as you were about your "training". Don't give up on it just because you're not putting up a result! Marathon cycles are 12-16 weeks, injury cycles can sometimes be marathons. Make it fun! Mix it up! Don't bite off more than you can chew. Sometimes I have no problem just checking the boxes of all the things I need to do (and I do it all) but other days I feel tired and blah... so I might write down six exercises and then roll a dice to determine which exercise, and then a dice to determine how many reps and one to determine how many sets. Something is better than nothing so when I'm feeling tired, if I "roll the dice" there's always a chance I might get an easy exercise and only need to do one rep one time (and never have I ever stopped at 1... but it got me started!) and then theres always a chance to get 6x6, so you can get some real work in. It feels less like treatment and more like a game or gambling... You can even add in your favorite hydration and a college drinking game to hydrate somehow. Another thing to try is to figure out how to make your "why" for running correlate to your treatment. If you run for the social aspect and you're supposed to be working on glute strength (every runner on the planet) see if you're allowed to try a Barre Class, or some strength class and ask your PT for what kind of modifications you will possibly need so you can still get that social aspect. If your'e running to get outside, try hiking or biking! If you're running for more likes and follows on instagram... reevaluate your "why".... and you might get some answers to your injury. We all need validation, but that's certainly not a sustainable approach to the sport....
Tip 4: Don't take Data
Don't count the weeks, don't count the miles missed or compare the amount of miles this month to the same month last year. Don't add up the dollars or the time spent. Don't log something on strava that will not serve you later. Don't count down days to a race you wished you'd run. Get rid of all numbers. Hell, don't count your PT repeats... Just do it until if feels right or until failure (if you're doing it right it will be a good burn, not injury pain). Get more in touch with how you feel doing something than the metrics. Too many metrics. I was at the Boston Marathon Mckirdy shakeout and I had three different people tell me I needed to charge my watch. I had only been running 30 minutes every other day MAX. I was barely even using my watch. Honestly, I wish I had the diclipline to never run with a garmin again. I don't need it. Maybe that will be my goal when I comeback...go back to my trusty timex (I'm breaking out in a sweat thinking about it even though I loved that thing)... We are addicted to our metrics, but your metrics don't know when you need to foam roll or when you need to back off. Getting rid of these external measures will help you get in touch with internal measures... and it will also just take away some of the obsession and make you forget a little bit. For me, when I"m in the thick of injury treatment... the best way to avoid fatigue is to not give it any more of my energy than it deserves. I (try to) do the work to treat it, and let it stop there. My husband would disagree, but... these are tips! Easier said than done! I will say that ever since I took a break from Instagram for Lent, I've been so much happier with my injury... I stopped feeling like I needed to come up with a post about it every day... now I just post here if I feel like it and if I don't I basically just go to the gym, do all the things, and go about the rest of my day. No checking in on anything (except Vdot with my coach... and my patient portal for "treatment protocol") but no strava, minimum feedback on instagram, and NO garmin. Nada.
Tip 5: Enjoy the Time Off!
Back to Jack Daniels... Principal 7 of Ease of Maintenance. During an injury you are going to detrain. If you are experiencing a long term injury It is OKAY to just STOP . If none of it is giving you an ounce of hope or making you happy... STOP. Don't worry about losing fitness... you're losing it anyway. Even if you bike or swim like a maniac, your muscular/skeletal system are still going to need to adapt to impact and stress... You are going to need to start back slowly regardless of how well you keep your cardio up. Cross Training does not mean that you will be able to increase training faster, it just keeps your engine strong. There are benefits to that, of course (if you're only taking a few weeks off especially...) but for much longer layoffs, if it doesn't serve you, get rid of it and don't stress about losing your "cardio". Ever blow up a balloon? That first breath is always really hard to get in... but then it gets easier. And if you deflate the balloon... it is a little bit hard to re-start, but still easier to blow that first breath for a second time and even easier a third time... because the balloon has already stretched a bit... so you're able to stretch it again with less effort (and you've also trialed and errored the best way to hold the balloon or pace to add air.... (aka: what worked and what didn't in your training). Do something, anything else that will make you happy. For me, it's been sleeping in, blogging and eating cadbury eggs (RIP Easter Candy), for you it might be going to the movies or the bar. Maybe it’s a different sport that you don’t want to try in training- like skiing. Do it-don't do it forever- and be responsible about your general health, but stop being caught up in running. It should not make you unhappy. It will be there for you when you're ready.... and unless you take many decades off, it's highly likely you can still run PRs ... and there are many of people that run PR's really late in life. Why not you? I PRed within a year of every major injury I've had (two back injuries and knee surgery) and I'm 100% positive I will PR after all this. I literally don't question if I question when. If the orthotics don't work, I'm at the point where I will take serious time away.... but mostly because I really want to try something new in the meantime (rock climbing!) and see what I can gain from totally different stuff! Live your LIFE! Running is just part of it, and there are many many ways to be involved in the sport without actually running.
I hope you found some of these helpful. If you are struggling for an injury, and need moral support, I feel like I"m really good in this area (again, no qualifications other than experience....) DM me on instagram, comment here, or hit the contact tab and it will email me directly. I try to share my experience because it brings purpose to my struggle. Again, in the grand scheme of things, it's minor... But I SEE YOU it doesn't feel minor. It feels like you've lost everything and the balance in the rest of your life is in jeopardy. I get it. I do. But I promise you will find stability again one way or another.
Week 1: The Last Comeback
I've been hashtagging #thelastcomeback for a while now, but I think it's official now. This is the first week of my last comeback from all these postpartum injuries and hopefully my last comeback ever. Lower leg injuries have plagued me my entire running career, but nothing like they have these last few years after having Maebel. There have been stretches of decent training in there, but fearful and also painful training that I just accepted as my new "normal" and wrongfully persisted through. My bad. Anyway, I've done everything under the sun to get injuries under control, and if you've followed me at all, you know that. The only thing I haven't done yet is something obvious to most runners is get orthotics. I never saw a podiatrist mostly because the first thing they usually tell you you need are orthotics and I just a. didn't think I should invest almost $600 in something I'm not guaranteed to need and b. my husband works in the footwear indurstry and has seen so many instances of peoples orthotics getting in the way because their foot just needed time to heal and once it did the orthotics actually were limiting. We decided after two visits to the podiatrist that it was necessary for me. I didn't know that feet have more than one arch. My husband knew but the forward arch is really hard to assess based on walking (whereas your other arches cause pronation or supination... anyway, long story short, because I'm sure I'll get all the science stuff wrong, my transverse arch is collapsed and somehow restricting my big toe which is definitely causing heel pain and highly likely it caused all the calf issues. I was scanned for custom carbon fiber orthotics to support my foot under the metatarsals, and hopefully everything will slowly resolve once I get them! Granted, theres still all the strength and maintenance stuff to be done, but I've been doing everything forEVER and feel like I can never even get back to zero, I'm so far in the hole. Hopefully these will get me to that clean slate space and then I know what to do from there.
The past weekor so I let myself wallow for a while and did essentially nothing except eat bad-for-my-health-but-good-for-my-soul food and this week I rallied. I see a light either way. If the Orthotics don't work I've decided to give it up for a bit and find another hobby for a while. I can't deal with the disappointment anymore so I'm relieved to know I've done everything I possibly can. Either result means that the searching for answers is over. Lets hope the answer allows me to keep running! Other wise these weeks of "the last comeback" will be really short!
Cardio:5 min warm up on lateral machine, 7.26 Miles biking, 30ish minutes, 5 minute cool down rowing
Since joining the gym I feel human again. I wake up early and go to the gym 1.5 minutes from work and then get to it. I started using this bike that essentially is a video game. You pick a course and pick a pace, and then you try to beat the computer which has a pacer and then a bunch of riders a tiny bit faster or slower than your current pace to keep you motivated. All the courses are Fricken Hilly and I'm riding with some pretty high wattage. I can't remember what I averaged each day, but I can tell you I essentially raced all the time and the pacer is going at 150 watts. I usually fall really far behind in the beginning warming up and then when I reach the 10 minute mark I play catch up and then I see how far ahead I can get. I'm pouring sweat every day like a pig. Not sure the old people appreciate me.
I lost a lot since my Peak Fitness days (and much prefer their weight room set up, but they are 20 minutes from work and so it's an extra 40-45 minutes to go there than this gym... plus this gym has a pool and babysitting which is better for our family needs)... I'm starting easy just to get acquainted with the set up etc. but hopefully I can get a dead lift PR or something if I'm not running for a while.
Single Leg RDL 3x6x65lbs
Single Leg over head press 3x6x20lbs
Squat 2x6x96, 1x6x105 (legs trashed from bike!)
RDL 3x6x95 (sad face, I was doing 150 at Peak!)
Single Leg hamstring pull down 3x6x15lb
Single Leg row 3x6x55lb
I'm planning to do a lot more single leg than anything else because running is all single leg, but it's easier to push myself on both feet since I still have a pretty big discrepancy with hip strength.
Cardio: 10.15 Miles 43:29, 159watts. This was a super hilly course and really hard especially since I'm adjusting to the bike... and the lifting.... and the early morning..... I'm barely sleeping. Normally I don't condone pushing hard with limited sleep but in this case I have to get my body on a different schedule so I'd like to be really tired at night so I can FALL THE FUCK TO SLEEP!
Alternating Step Ups 3x10x20lbs each
Bulgarian Split Squat 3x6x30. Really hard on right side post bike. I need to close the gap here.
Push Ups 3x6-8. I suck ballz. I tried to focus on good form and I am just laughing at myself self talk: "you call yourself an athlete?!"... boom. roasted.
Jump, pull-up hold 3x15sec no clue what some of these things are really called... self talk: "is this real life?"
Band Drills: Lateral hip flexors 3x15.
Yeah, so I have done "everything" but not at the same time. Strength training hasn't been a strength lately. I can do shin exercises and toe-ups for days, but some of this stuff probably shouldn't have ever left the rotation.
In the afternoon I had more shockwave treatment. Bleeding money that I barely have right now.... but the most hopeful I’ve been
7.8 Miles, Hilliest course ever, 34.12, fast track to bike racing burn out.
I am highly motivated by competition, and it makes the time go by way faster... but I literally am racing everyday and I am not efficient at this biking thing and my muscles are all sorts of tired from new or new in the last month type of stuff. I'm on fast track to burn-out so I need to steer this ship in another direction.
Gobblet Squat 3x6x40 (trashed quads)
Single leg RDL 3x6x75
Triple Threat Adductor 3x15 each
Push ups 3x8 half on knees- tired AF DOMS DOMS DOMS
Calf Raises on Toe Pro 4x25 with 30 seconds rest.
Tired but feeling good about it. Good kind of tired. Also starving. My body is burning way more since I'm not as efficient as I am at running. My heartrate on the bike has been in the 140's-160's and running it's basically in the 125ish on easy (flat) days
Today was the Mothers Day Breakfast so I didn't workout until much later at night over 30 hours of recovery. I didn't do straight cardio, instead I lifted with no breaks so that I could make it to yoga on time and use the weights as cardio. I set as much up as I could without being rude (not a lot of people in the gym, mostly classes at this time and there's so many things to choose from)
Single Arm off center bench press 3x8x25
Gobblet Squat 3x8x55, 1x4x65
Single leg hamstring curl (3x8x20-25lb)
Single let knee drive 3x8x20-25
Single leg RDL 3x6x75
Bulgarian Split Squat 3x8x25 each
I crammed all this into 35-40 minutes and then did an hour yoga class. Plank pose... ugh... my arms... and sooo many "runners pose" where my quads were like "go to hell"... and I'm just in my happy place like "I missed you, healthy pain"... since I've been so obsessed with all the unhealthy pain for two years. It was nice to feel a painful sensation that was a sign of adaptation not injury.
Cardio: 55:55 on the bike, 11.3 miles. NO race bike today. Just chillin.
Strength: Since I spent more time on the bike and I lifted so quick and pretty hard only 12 hours prior, I just did the glute activation resistence band drills. Still a lot of work! I always try to fit in 6 strength exercises each session even if some of them are just simply monster walks. It all adds up! When I'm short on time I try to do exercises with minimal set up so the bands were perfect! Also I did the calf toe-pro stuff.
Cardio: 35ish minutes with pick ups 5 warm up, 1, 2, 3, 3, 2, 1, minute pick ups with 1 minute in between. I turned resistance up to 10 and tried to keep RPM around 85-90. Killer. Followed up with 5x20 seconds on with RPM at about 125-130 and 20 second cool down. 5 minute backwards pedal and 10 minute walk on treadmill to cool down.
Strength: More of the same with the glute band stuff.
Today Matt came to the gym with me. We tried the girls in the Kids Korner for the first time to sort of test it out. So happy! They loved it! and I could see through the window when I walked on the treadmill. They were dancing and playing and it was really cute to see. Neither wanted to come home after so I think the gym membership was a really good idea for all!
Day of Rest.
I worked my ass off (literally) this week and don't want to burn myself out by starting off too hard. I'll take tomorrow off to prep for another week of early rising while I'm still adjusting. My Orthotics are going to take almost a month to be made and then I'll need to start training really slow. In the meantime i have three more shockwave treatments. My only running goal is really to be healthy, but I have sights on a BQ in September if all goes well.
*Disclaimer* this week for Throwback Thursday, I forgot to hit "publish" and instead just hit "Save". Rookie Mistake! Hope you guys still enjoy the post!
The throwbacks I've been sharing have intentionally been throwbacks from times where I was racing and running better. Between my instagram and this blog and my vdot and strava, I have so much content on injuries, and I don't want to be defined by my injuries. I don't even want to be defined by my running or my races. This post really speaks to how I feel about running right now. It is a huge part of who I am, but it's not all of me. It's probably my number one teacher, and the closest I get to being able to feel and hear God (maybe for you, whatever higher power you subscribe to)... but it's not all of me. It' is my passion; good and bad... and this post was a real turning point in my running career so I thought I'd share. I wrote it the night before my first half marathon. Enjoy!
Runners Set, March 20, 2010
It's time to go...
I just finished my last training run before the race. A whole 25 minutes! Tomorrow at this time, I will be just a little more than 1/3 of my way to the finish line at the New Bedford Half Marathon... I'm surprisingly really nervous... this is a good sign. When I get nervous it's because I am walking a narrow path to greatness.
My right side feels better with the new shoes. The tightness is still present, but with the increase in shock absorption, it hasn't been as painful... and each day with the foam roller, stick, stretching... whatever... I feel like there are improvements. My hope is that my legs are now a "normal" tightness, and I'm just being paranoid. I always have issues with my right side, but considering how much work I've put into this one race in addition to the fact that it's the longest race I've done, I guess I'm just a little more anxious than I would be for a 5k. If I felt this way for a 5k, I wouldn't be worried at all.
So I've made my goal clear. Sub 1:25... but let me clarify something else, something very important. Whatever the clock says tomorrow will not change how I value myself. I feel like a lot of runners put a lot of stock in one particular race, and if it doesn't go according to plan, they feel like less of a person then they would be if they had run their goal time. I used to feel this way very much (in college especially), but I've gotten better at letting go of the bad aspects of a race and taking some good learning experiences with me... I think it's one of the reasons I am never at a total loss if I race poorly. I have put a lot into this race, and I know I can run the time above (I actually think I can run sub 1:20, but I'm not ready to start at a pace necessary to do that yet... I'll take this one learning experience at a time)... but this race, despite what I may have led you to believe, was never about the time.
I ran a terrible race at Mayors Cup this past year. Possibly the worst race of my life... I had no excuses. I was not sick (anymore), I did not cramp up, I was not injured.... I simply stopped caring. I stopped trying. I needed to run poorly that day... I can go on and on about how slow some of the times were due to a really wet and slippery course, but I'd be lying if I said that was a factor. Caitlyn Clark does not run 19:48 in the 5k... but I did. I ran mile 1 slightly slower than I normally would, and then decided somewhere in the second loop that I was sick of running the 5k... so I gave up. I was mad at myself for not training harder and I felt sorry for myself for running in this competitive race without fitness. I let everyone in the world pass me as I dropped to probably 7 minute pace... or slower... but then in mile 3 I "rallied" just to get it over with. I ran my fastest mile of the race. What bothered me most is how easy it was for me to pass everyone around me. There were so many people running as hard as they could, trying their absolute best, and I just blew by them because I was bored from jogging and wanted to just finish. I was so ashamed. Each person I passed deserved to beat me that day, but they didn't because I have some natural ability and had been leaning on it the whole season... I guess I had forgotten that you can't lean on natural ability at the Mayors cup... and I shouldn't be running races that way anywhere else, either. I should be giving my best.
My coach laughed at me in disgust... "What the hell were you doing out there?" ... I just shrugged, possibly had a tear or two, and said "I can't do this anymore" ... What I meant is that I couldn't keep running the same races I ran when I was in the best shape of my life. I was tired of comparing the runner I presently was to the runner I was two years prior (even though I always suck at Mayors Cup, this was over a minute slower than what I classified as "sucky" two years before)... I was always coming up short... I knew in my heart that the lack of training was just a phase I had to go through while finishing my masters, but there was no way I could continue to have a positive outlook being consistently 2 minutes slower than my 5k PR. I had set the bar really high in nearly every event... and it was tiring to keep feeling like I was less of a person when I didn't run as fast, when really I was trying to become more of a person... a person not just a runner. I decided right there that I needed a new goal... Something I've never done before... Something that would require different training, and would give my running new life because it was something out of the ordinary for me. I decided to train for the Half! My thought was that once the half was over, I would find myself in some of the best fitness I've been in for a while, so when I switch back to the shorter track races, it wouldn't be so unreasonable and so out of reach to shoot for some PR's again.
The Half-Marathon training has helped me to focus on the process... and letting go of expectations. I still wish I had run that 3k faster, and the 5k, and the 10M... None of them were PRs, but I have learned through out this whole experience, that I actually like running for the sake of running. I used to only care about times... and I can't completely detach from that... But I have been able to detach from it just enough to approach this race in a balanced way.
My goal is to run sub 1:25. If I do, AWESOME! I'll be so happy! If I don't, I'll still be happy. I'm sure I'll look back and have some regrets, but I will not let the clock determine if my Half Marathon is "good" or "bad"... The training is part of the whole experience too, and apart from neglecting to get new shoes, there is not much I can say I regret about training. I did everything I could possibly control... So I go into this race hoping for something Awesome, but knowing that I'll hold my head high either way. I have run 81 days in a row... a personal record by about 70 days... and I am so proud!
So tomorrow while I'm racing, I'll keep in mind that I trained more consistently for this race than any other race I've done ... and since my Favorite Person Ever (Matthew) just texted me, I'll include what he wrote (he's in San Fransisco so he'll miss the race) "remember that you are a strong, focused, and an accomplished runner"... I am strong, I am focused, I am accomplished...
I am all these things either way... BUT IT SURE WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE THE RESULT TO PROVE IT! :) ;)
Forgive the Throwbacks for limited or mismatched photos. It was a real process back then and selfies weren't a thing! The photo above with the sunglasses is actually from the Half Marathon. The one at the very top is from a 5k... I don't have a ton of non-track photos on the starting line, and it was appropriate for the blog title!) I ended up running 1:25:59. I am still pretty proud of that race but I got very sick during it with chills and the next day had a fever... so I still believe my training indicated more, and I believe I will go back to New Bedford and run a time much stronger than that some day (my PR is 1:25:21 in Philly)... Not to Prove my worth, but because I just love the challenge and the process of trying to do something I've never done before.
Process over product. Right now I'm just happy to go to the gym and take deep breaths and get my heart rate up in whatever way I can.
With Mother's Day just around the corner, I thought I'd mix up the topic for a bit and take a break from the woes of Injury. This post will probably go out on Wednesday but right now it's Tuesday, so "Tuesday-ish Tips" live to see another week! Side Note: I'm really enjoying blogging for myself, but it does take up time from my day, so if you're reading (I have analytics... I know exactly how many readers I have, and I'm definitely not writing just for my mom!) I'd really appreciate any feedback or if you dropped a comment. I wouldn't even know how to make money off a blog, but I heard on a podcast once that engagement is key for "sponsors"... (clueless what exactly that entails...) so... Say hi!
So this weeks "Tuesday-ish Tips" are on motherhood. I've had a rough few weeks as a mother and a mother runner.... and I've had some time to reflect on some things I've learned and maybe didn't see coming even last month. Maybe it can prepare you for what's ahead in your journey, or maybe your just going to be nodding your head along here... orrrr... you think I'm crazy. (Which, adamantly, I am) Either way, I hope this post can provide some level of entertainment for you!
Lesson 1: Things Change Quick!
You hear it all the time by mothers of children that have flown the coop; "enjoy this time, it goes by so fast!" and while that is true that is not what I'm talking about. Just a few months ago I wrote on instagram about how I never had this sense that I've lost freedom, and that motherhood and a family was all I ever wanted... well, recently that's changed! I feel a little guilty to admit it, but my threenager has been relentless lately and I've been... well... dealing with this injury and pain and reshaping or defining myself (as an individual not as something tethered to my children). That's something that isn't easy to do when you have no space or no ability to just go somewhere without having to think about others. We all go through stuff and it's really hard to do when you are trying to uphold a family unit and, ya know, keep your adorable children who have no safety awareness alive. Like, keeping people alive every day is no joke! Sometimes I look at my kids and I'm like "how the hell am I allowed to be responsible for other people! I just put my keys in the refrigerator!"... but then other days I'm like "I'm the best mom in the world and this shit is easy.” Like the weather at the Boston Marathon this year, IT CHANGES FAST and OFTEN PEOPLE! Don't get comfortable.
Lesson 2: Don't let Guilt dictate your choices
Whenever I feel like I'm in this Catch 22, I can't help think of my favorite book, The Little Prince
“Why are you drinking? demanded the little prince.
Often lately I've been feeling guilty. As mentioned above, I've been struggling with enjoying this phase in my life. But also, as part of a way to cope with that struggle, I've been leaving the house early in the morning to go to the gym to get some me time that I've missed out on since I've been injured... but it's been hard because I'm not there when the girls wake up and I don't see them until I get home from work.
Why are you at the gym?-because I feel guilty
Why do you feel guilty?- because I need the gym.
What I'm learning to do is detach the feeling of guilt from the thing I'm doing for myself. Instead of focusing on the time I'm missing with my kids (which, is actually way less time in the end since they are still asleep when I'm halfway done my workout), I'm trying to just accept that guilt is part of motherhood, so when it creeps in... I let it... but then just shrug my shoulders, admit I can't do it all, and move on. I can't let guilt attach itself to other parts of my day. What I do should not be in response to the guilt I naturally feel, my actions and decisions should not be coping mechanisms for guilt because that just keeps the cycle going! For example, I'm not going to come home and spend time with my kids because I feel guilty that I haven't all day. Instead I'm going to come home and spend time with my kids because I want nothing more than to give them all my energy... and going to the gym gives me the ability to do that. Before I was staying at home and working out with them at my feet, but I felt like I couldn't be present with either activity. I was getting frustrated with them for getting in the way or I was not completing the task I wanted to in order to improve my fitness or strength. Guilt is always going to make an appearance, but don't let it hang out and create a cycle.
Lesson 3: There are NO Experts
I must admit, my career parallels parenting more than most, and I feel like as a result I have the upper hand for most challenging situations... but I am by no means an expert. I work as a teacher for students on the spectrum with a large range of behavioral needs. This could include potty training, feeding, personal care, functional communication.... but also more challenging things like tantrums, (tantrums, and more tantrums), non-compliance, flopping (refusing to get off the floor), inappropriate screaming, aggression, biting. You name it, I've seen it! I know what to do. I know to look at what happens before a behavior occurs, find out the function and what is maintaining the behavior, find a way to reinforce it that is potent enough to motivate and shape the desired behavior.... I do this for a job... (and it really comes in handy sometimes, but not all the time)... In some ways this makes me an expert on all the stuff above, which is largely the things we struggle with as parents.... but guess what? I ACTUALLY HAVE NO CLUE WHAT I'M DOING!... It's a little different in the parent seat. As a teacher I have certain goals, but they are limited to only a few environments... and are often centered around completion of assignments and are work related (because I'm in a school)... but as a parent? Man! Totally different ball game! For example, when a student is misbehaving in class, one reason could be because he wants attention. Well, Johnny, now is not time for you to get attention, I've got a class of students trying to learn... so, I'm just going to ignore you until you have eyes on me like I asked then and only then will I give you attention. At school, I am there to teach. As parents we are their teachers, but more often than not, our kids are teaching us (yes, that happens at school too, but much more so at home). Raea had been acting up a lot... and the "expert" in me said this is an attention seeking behavior, I shouldn't give her attention because I'll reinforce her acting up".... but the mother in me thought "wow, maybe I"m not giving her enough love and attention, am I doing this right?" .... because I just want my kids to feel loved, and hopefully that love is enough for them to follow my example and love in return. Is ignoring my child because they are acting up the best way to show love? I'm so conflicted! There are no experts.
Lesson 4: My mom deserves a Medal... and a big fat pay check!
My mom deserves a medal for something other than the 91 marathons she's completed in the last 20 years. Holy Fu(k that woman deserves a medal. Mom, if you're reading this, WE SUCK! All 8 of us were total assholes and I don't know how we are all alive and functioning members of society, and no one is estranged or in jail. Hats off! 8 kids people! EIGHT!!!! and I'd say 6/8 of us were stubborn little shits the other two we said were her favorite, but really they just listened (kiss ups). Whenever my mom and I got in a fight and she'd tell me that I was inconsiderate and unappreciative (plus a few well earned explitives) I used to say something to the effect of well you raised me blaming her for my asshole-child-syndrome. Now, my daughter is 3 and hasn't crossed into total terror zone that I did... but I did not raise her to be so challenging! She came out this way! I do my best to be patient with her every day but man, oh, man... how am I going to survive this? My mom did nearly 40 years turning monsters into mostly good humans!! and my 36 year old brother just moved back home the year my youngest sister went to college! NO BREAKS! No wonder she's run all these marathons! Any non-mothers reading... appreciate your mothers.... It's a hard job that they don't get paid for!
Lesson 5: Love has no Limits
I always like to end on a positive, Motherhood has been really hard for me lately (which is tough, because these first three years have actually been relatively easy and natural up until now) but it's just amazing how no matter how hard it gets you still think it is the absolute best thing in the world... and there's really no limit to how far you would go and how much suffering you would take on to make their world a little bit brighter.... and that reciprocating love? The smiles, the trust? So worth it! I love my two kids so much, I never understood love until I saw their faces.
As part of my “foot homework” I’ve been given a list of videos, blogs, and articles to review and some exercises to perform (90% of which I have already been doing... sadly... I WANT SOMETHING I HAVEN'T TRIED!). Today I read this blogpost by my Podiatrist and friend (we competed in many of the same races that allowed open athletes) and, man I wish I was a Toyota sometimes.... In case you didn't click over to the blog (if you are struggling with a lower leg injury you should probably check out their blog posts- way better information than I can give you!) I'm sure you can guess that there's some sort of car reference there. In short, Dr. Saviet uses the comparison of a broken down car to an injured athlete as well as the type of car to the type of runner who is, for whatever reason, predisposed to .... "breakdown"... He also discusses some of the "tools" used to keep you "on the road"... but the big thing that stuck with me was the topics of “injury Shame” which I hadn’t quite thought of before.
Here's a true story for you regarding the type of car owner I am (or... "was?")
I previously had a Ford Focus that I literally had a mechanic tell me I should just light on fire and drive it into the river because "those things suck!" so I just drove it until I could afford something else and really never felt the need to take care of it since it sucked anyway (according the the expert). Why would I invest resources into something that is just not going to make it anyway? I was habitually abusive to that car. It hated me, and I hated it right back. It was a constant $100 here, $200 there type thing. Annoying.
Then, I bought a Nissan Juke brand new as soon as I got my first "big girl" teaching job. You would think buying a car brand new I would have done my due diligence to find out how the hell I'm supposed to take care of the thing, but that's just not who I am. I had already developed a pattern of disinterest in taking care of my car, and so that's how I continued. I usually (always) learn things the hard way and while that is a tough way to learn, it also, in some ways, can be pretty effective. You want to know what happens when you don't change your oil? I actually know... wont make that mistake again!
At first, I was really good about getting my oil changed on time at because I got it for "free" as part of a package I bought with the car. The dealership would just call me and I would just go... but then I moved away from the dealership and so those calls were useless. At some point I opted out of the calls and thought "I'll just go on my own"... but that sticker in the top left hand corner fell off and I knew nothing about how many miles I should go before I get an oil change... nor did I know how many miles I drove a day... or how many miles my odometer read when I last got the oil changed. The only car mileage I kept track of was "how many miles until E" and even then... ever seen that episode of Seinfeild? We all know you can drive past E (not everyone finds out how far, though!).
Anyway, I've got a brand new car, I don't expect anything to go wrong ever. Somehow the Ford was still kickin' and it had screws holding the mirrors on and pretty sure the exhaust pipe was being held up by a hair elastic. What could go wrong here? The Juke drives like a dream and is turbo charged and super fast and... PERFECT.. Until one day I went to take a right hand turn the engine just stopped.... DEAD! That almost never happened with the Ford. No warning light or anything... just dead. The tow truck came to get the car and took it to the nearest Nissan since I had that package some repairs were included.
Guess what's not included? A destroyed engine due to neglect, AKA: never getting an oil change. I went something like 25,000 miles on that thing without an oil change. Time flies when you're having fun! I was quoted for a repair. $8,000. WTAF!?... I hated myself. No. Just no. That's all the money I had saved for our wedding. I never in my life felt so ashamed and embarrassed about something so easy. I had already paid for the oil changes. All I needed to do was drive a little out of my way to the damn place!
At the time I was living with teammates, and I became the tagline of every joke involving procrastination. "Matt will propose to Caitlyn as soon as she gets her oil changed" type of jokes (we were already engaged, but 100% that would have been the joke if we weren't!).. I admit it. It was funny... but I wanted to move on... and those jokes just felt so linked to the dozens of other times I had felt like a failure due to neglect or procrastination, or just not being aware of something that everyone else considered common knowledge.... like paying my bills on time... or turning in assignments... or changing your oil every 3-5000 miles. Fortunately, the story has a happy ending. There was another woman at work who owned a Juke. While I'm trying to figure out what the F(!!) I'm going to do about my car and 40 minute commute to work, (before Uber and all that, too), this woman had her car break down too. Now, this is the type of lady that hands in her lesson plans months ahead of time. How is her car breaking down? Recall. There was a recall. ON THE ENGINE! The engine was completely replaced and I paid ZERO dollars for it, I learned to get my oil changed, and the jokes stopped. Man oh Man, I would have played the lottery that day with such luck, but I felt like I had already won!
How does this relate to the blogpost and my injury?
Dr. Saviet talks about the shame that we experience as car owners who let things go on too long and as athletes, we often behave and feel the same way. Why didn't I just "get the oil changed"... The truth is that I beat myself up over that stupid engine so bad. Yes, I should have gotten the oil changed, but there was not outstanding proof that this was entirely my fault. I still spiraled into a pretty dark place feeling like a complete failure in all areas of life over this one incident that may or may not have been my fault. Sometimes you have a pain that you ignore because you think it's just a normal training fatigue... and then later find out you ran on that discomfort so long that you now have an entire chain to correct. If you knew then what you know now you would have made different decisions
But you didn't know. Now you do. Learn from it.
and stop blaming yourself.
I've been feeling a lot of shame for these past two years because once again, another specialist tells me that my calf and foot issues are from a compensation pattern I've developed. My right hip isn't doing it's job. When I was pregnant, I knew my hip was bothering me. I knew there was a chance it wasn't worth it to keep running and that the problem could get worse and still exist postpartum. I knew my body wasn't happy... but just like the oil change, the result might have been the same if I did not run. I have to let go of the blame game. This injury was not my fault. I may have made some mistakes, but mistakes happen... and just like not all cars are as reliable as the Toyota Camery; not all bodies are either. I was blessed with the engine, but not the frame. Just like I talked about in the A Tale of Two Thresholds durability is not everyones strength. (Dr Saviet gets into a bit more detail on that in his post.)
Since Having Maebel I am sure I've done everything I can. I do everything right.... I use every tool there is that I can access and reach out to every resource that might possibly help me through this...and that's all I can do. Leave no stone unturned and decide what to do when I've tried it all.
If you're injured, don't blame yourself, friends. We don't have crystal balls telling us which risks we take will pay off and which ones wont. At the end of the day, I'm grateful that I've had a body and mind strong enough and willing to give all of this a try. It's a privilege that I often overlook because I'm so frustrated with where I fail, that I over look where I succeed. I get up and give it my all every damn day. That is way harder to do when you don’t have momentum and things are not going the way you want.... but I do it, and I’m pretty damn impressed.
I see you, injured friends. “Keep showing up”
Welcome to my blog! I've been blogging for a long time on various platforms. My intention has never been to reach the masses, but rather to give myself a chance to reflect and journal. I feel it at least challenges me to be somewhat coherent, however you can expect ramblings and grammatical incorrectness here!
I've recently been diagnosed with CECS and fPAES and had it treated with BOTOX of all things... So I suspect to see more and more people looking for answers with that in the future and hope to continue blogging so there will be easy to access follow-ups as that was helpful for me.
NOTE: Apologies that some of the pictures incorrectly load sometimes. I try to keep up with the glitches, but can't always! Hope it doesn't impact the blog experience for all the PAES visitors.