Hope you enjoyed my last post. I added a video of Maebels first year of life that wouldn't post earlier so go check it out here.
I've been back to officially working with my coach Pardon Ndhlovu for the last three weeks. He is a coach under the McKirdy Trained umbrella of coaching and we are a really good match from the start. For starters, he at least pretends my jokes are funny... even though, for the most part, I'm dead serious about training and racing, I also consider myself to have a healthy sense of humor. If you can't laugh with me, then it's not going to work. He also gives really difficult workouts that are different than anything I've done before. I worked under the same coach for over 10 years (Joe Catalano, the great), but change is good and essential for progress. Additionally, he is also very understanding of injuries and makes me feel comfortable communicating when I'm not feeling right... which has essentially been all the time, so far. He has even shared some of his own experiences and frustrations with his own injuries... and he's an Olympian... so it happens to the absolute best.
I worked with him all through my Boston training and felt like I experienced a break up when he told me he wanted me to take some time to recover and start back up when I'm ready. I was ready. I was all in--- emotionally--- but my body wasn't ready and I had to come to terms with that. It was like the nail in the coffin on my postpartum running goals... but I needed to bury those goals anyway because, in hindsight, I set them based on my first experience post-baby... and since I now unequivocally know that every experience, every pregnancy is different, It was really foolish to set goals before I even had the baby.
So What have I been Up to?
Most of you follow me on Instagram, and if you don't it's probably because all my narcissistic posts about my training each and every day are a bit too much for you (it's cool, I totally get it), but I've got goals and if I need to hold myself accountable through every avenue that social media and the World Wide Web has to offer in order to be successful, SO BE IT!
I last posted my training in a post titled "Road to Nowhere" I got injured sometime in March and lost all direction. I signed up for the Vermont City Marathon. It seemed like fate. I thought it was everything coming full circle. I was wrong. Sometimes injuries are just injuries and circles are actually spirals. Depending on your perspective you can spiral upwards or downwards. Initially, I was on an upward spiral looking forward to Vermont. I spent a fortune to hire a personal trainer to get me stronger than I've ever been before and I was excited... but then after a few weeks of just strength training I attempted to run again. I rehashed the injury and I spiraled downward... I spiraled downward HARD. On this downward spiral, Pardon "broke up" with me, and I continued to go to personal training but spent the majority of the time crying because I couldn't do anything without groin/abdominal/hip/adductor pain and I was perseverating on the fact that I could not get better. I was convinced if my calf injury occurred because my hip/groin/etc weren't firing or doing their job... I'm screwed for life... because I've now scored through every postpartum hip/groin-ish injury listed on google, and have read every persons question and comment about never finding answers. It was settled, I'm one of them. For sure I'm one of them. After all, I was spiraling downwards, so I couldn't see anything but the worst possible scenario and I just tried to wake up in the morning and keep at it anyway... or at least drag myself to a place where there was a person keeping me at it. Peak Fitness. I should note that during this time Pardon did not "break up" with me, he still checked in with me at least once a week and I always felt like I was the bottom of the totem-pole don't bother checking in with me, I'm useless and he always assured me that I was still working hard and training even though I wasn't running. I believed him just enough to not quit. I continued to roll out and ice and bike, and do everything I could in addition to the personal training in order to heal. I had to be moving in the right direction, I thought.
I Just to quickly fill you in on how I found Peak Fitness, my Physical Therapist now has two offices and one of them is in Peak. So you can work with a Physical Therapist who works directly with the Personal Trainers on staff. Mike and Paul worked together to come up with programs for me to increase the load on my calf in small amounts. I had done a lot of work and we thought I was strong enough to try jumping rope to build tolerance 5-10 seconds at a time. I literally jumped twice and that was it... unable to walk again after I believe 4 more weeks off.... (I can't remember now, I "reinjured" the calf so many times it's all melded together.) I lost it. LOST IT. I didn't cry, I literally just walked out of the room for a minute. The trainer suggested a punching bag but I wanted nothing. If it's not running, it's nothing. It's never going to heal, I'm wasting my money, wasting my time, nothing is possible. I reached rock bottom and my trainer, Paul, who at this point remained remarkably positive (despite the fact that I was constantly saying "I've spent a lot of money and I still can't lift anything pain free") challenged me and bargained with me to start coming in with only the intention of moving pain free and seeing that as a success rather than a failure. I never blamed him, I just was feeling dumb for ever believing I could get strong or that I was worth the investment... I felt guilt that I used the money my husband got for his bonus when there are a million and one more important things than my selfish pursuits....but they believed in me... and So I committed to changing my mind if not for me, for Paul, who had gone above and beyond anything I had paid for... (He's a trainer, not a counselor).... and for my husband and family who had made a lot of sacrifices for me to even get to the gym... and for Pardon, who kept reaching out even though he had no obligation to me, at least for now. I'm one of those people that is better at doing things for others than I am for myself, so in an instant, instead of being frustrated that lifting my leg up to my chest without pain was all I could (barely) do .. I worked hard to find pride in it... (and needed all the headpats on instagram for it, they really helped). I could not give up on doing the little things simply because it wasn't as much as I hoped or wished for. It was so so SO far from my goal that I couldn't see where I was going anymore but I had to keep trying because people were investing in me. On instagram people were investing in me, and at home, and at the gym, at work. Every direction I turned people were not allowing me to settle and so I kept going even though I, personally, wanted to eat cake and get fat (which, some days I did.... okay, many days...). I get a lot of messages on instagram telling me I'm inspiring for not giving up, but it's not me who doesn't give up, it's everyone around me. As my college coach would say "Surround yourself with good people and great things will happen"...
Before I knew it heel slides and assisted movements were a thing of the past. I started lifting. really lifting and it felt good! I attempted another run... another fail... but, honestly, I didn't think much about it. I accepted it right away because I was enjoying lifting so much that I felt like I had another outlet. I accepted that maybe it had to do with breastfeeding... maybe I had extra relaxin, or maybe there was something in my diet missing (I got blood tested and my ferritin was really low, even without training), for some reason my body couldn't heal my calf yet... but you know what was healing? The hip/groin/adductor/ab area. I felt more stable and confident as the days and weeks passed by. My posture improved and because of that so did my mood. Suddenly I'm spiraling upward again and I wasn't even running yet. I knew there was an end to this phase of injury because I was getting better in the places I thought I never would (hip/groin area)... and although the calf for some reason still SUCKED BALLS... I knew that would heal, too. (fingers crossed, As I write this I'm not out of the woods yet, just at the edge hoping I don't go back in).
I started running again after another 8 weeks and it was touch and go from the start with the calf. Typically the calf was such an aggressive and sudden pull, that I took my chances since it was presenting as more of a "burn" or "ache" than anything else. This was a hard stage. I was being pulled in a downward direction, but I fought it hard. I wasn't going to let this happen. I wasn't spiraling upward, but I was maintaining my position. I took another week off. I did the ice bucket, I walk ran for nearly a month, I started noticing what treatments worked better than others. I bought KT tape, compression socks, new inserts for my shoes. Placebo or not, I did not care... "the placebo effect is still an effect" and I needed all the reasons to believe I still had a shot at 2020 or 2024, or even just running casually but pain free for life.
I really turned a corner when I woke up with heel pain and felt it in my calf as well. I could have felt defeat and retreated, but instead I tried to figure out what my body was telling me. I read a lot about the plantaris tendon. Is that what I hurt? My initial injury occurred on a run where I jumped over several mounds of snow... The injury was sudden and stopped me in my tracks, If the plantaris tendon takes 6-8 weeks to heal and that's what I hurt, no wonder I keep re-injuring it! A lot of what I was doing to strengthen the calf was probably bothering the plantaris. I will never know for sure, but as soon as I started treating my "calf injury" like a plantar injury (working on the foot rather than the calf, never walking barefoot, icing with the ice bucket, rolling with tennis ball) I've been primarily free of any signs of injury (other than the heel pain when I wake up which is subsiding)
I'm running every other day and walking on most of my off days. My first week I ran 9 miles, then I did 17, now I'm up to 21 with my longest run being 8 miles. I'm fearful of writing this post and putting it out to the world. I feel like my "training for training" is over and my "training" can finally begin... but I know progress isn't linear, it's a spiral and sometimes you go down, and other times you go up. The thought of going back down is terrifying after how low I got, but I've been mostly up lately, and that's all I can ever hope for.
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.