Sunday, February 24, 2008

Down but never out for long..

2 weeks since my last posting - and so much has happened!
Our friend Greg over at Philly to LA on Foot ran his first marathon in New Orleans last week and he came in at 4:53:57 which is fantastic! (And faster than my first marathon Greg!) Well done Greg! What an achievement! And do head on over to his blog to read his fabulous race report.

Then our great online friend and inspiration, Shirley Perley a.k.a the humble triathlete put together a YouTube video as part of her first attempt to get onto Team EvoTri. Sadly she has not got through to the final round - the biggest sadness here is for the team because what an asset this girl would be to any team! However, we can still see Shirley's submission on YouTube and I highly recommend you go and have a look.

As for me - well I am down, out for the count, but not out. In the 2 weeks since I saw my physio and decided to pull out of London I've been trying to work out a way to deal with being sidelined from running. The biggie for me has been denial.. It has basically taken me some time to really accept that I will not be running for a while AND that if I do want to go back to it, I have to work hard at recovery. Once I'd actually put all that on my plate, I decided to go for my recovery with the same dedication I train for races.

When I went back to see my physio this week I discussed the various cross training options I had considered and tried out in the 2 weeks since I last saw him. Cycling? It's out for the minute - the movement is too aggravating on my knees. Elliptical? Hrmmm - okay if it doesn't hurt. I'm being gentle with it - 25 minutes at a low resistance. Running? Because yes my friends, last Sunday I thought I would just go out and try for 2 miles... 1 mile was fine, 2 was painful. And I duly got my wrists slapped by the physio - if I want to get better I have to lay off, for now.. Swimming? I have been out to the pool 3 times in the past week. The problem is that I am not good at front crawl, and breast stroke is (again) too aggravating on the knee.

What I have agree with him is that for the next 2 weeks I will take it very very easy. No running, no cycling. A little bit of elliptical training. And I am joining the Thursday night swimming class at my gym where I will be properly taught how to do front crawl..

This is really really hard guys. Running is my number 1 love, especially on the beautiful crisp mornings we've been having here recently. Other options like cycling and swimming do not yet attract me as much, but they do provide me with the physical release I have come to crave each day. Doing nothing is very very hard. However, my physio told me that every time I do something to aggravate my knee I set my recovery back another week. OK. My aim is to get to my next appointment with him with no pain or swelling. If I have to refrain from exercising for a short while, then so be it.

As I see it, there are 4 elements that I need to focus on in the next 4 weeks:
- strengthening my adductors. I am doing a variety of exercises for this and after some messing around (I am very uncoordinated) I am now doing them right..
- loosening my ITB. I am stretching it as much as is possible and am also getting massage to aid this;
- trying out some orthotics. One of the things my physio has noted is just how much I pronate when I move. This could be one of the reasons my knees are so painful. So he has given me some orthotics to try out. I've been wearing them in my shoes during the day and we will see if this improves things.
- working on my hip. Because yes - a few testing moves from the physio proved how weak the muscles around my hip are. Which is not helping my knees. So I am doing some fairly undignified moves to help this area...

Finally, my physio noted that my kneecap is tilted upwards. This may also be a reason for some pain and so he says that when I can start running again, he will tape across my knee to even up the balance..

And as far as beginning again - somewhere in the next 2 to 4 weeks I really hope that I can begin again - very very slowly. The physio wants to me to start on run-walk program - 4:30 mins walk, 30 sec. run. Again - that will teach me humility don't you think?

But it will all be worth it if I can get back to running again without pain. I am not taking running for granted again - I hope.

I am still hoping to run Chicago and my physio has not discouraged me. If I do an 18 week training program I will need to start the week commencing June 9th. That gives me another 13 weeks to recover from this injury and I am hoping that will work. I can also accept that I may need to train on a beginner schedule rather than an intermediate one, as I will have lost fitness and endurance during this down time. I can (I think) accept it all. Right now, I have every reason to look forward to being on the starting line with Maddy, Melisa and whoever else is brave enough to join us!

Finally - life has been crazy. Work has been crazy. I think that had I not been working at this time, my injury would have become an obsession. Now, with everything else going on, I can only devote so much worry to my injury before moving onto the next concern. Which may well be a good thing. The bad thing is I'm behind on my blogreading and commenting, not to mention podcast listening. I will get to all of your recent posts in the course of the next week, I hope, and I thank everyone for their very kind words and often extremely useful advice.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Over and out..

Last week's 12 miler - while mentally essential - made it very apparent that my knee pain hadn't gone. While it was not too painful while I was out running, I woke up the next morning with a warm feeling behind both of my kneecaps.. Aarggh. Ibuprofen, ice etc. did nothing to take away my nagging realisation that I was indeed injured. Properly. A feeble 4 miles on Sunday firmed it all up - there was something here that was not going away.

You've all been able to follow my avoidance of seeing anyone knowledgeable on the matter. But on Wednesday I finally saw a physiotherapist at our local sports injury clinic. He really took his time checking out my knees, my legs, my feet, my stance and finally, when I was flexing and relaxing my upper leg and he had his fingers underneath my kneecaps you could just see my kneecap moving from left to right. It's not meant to do that folks - it's meant to go just up and down, not across. Why is this happening? Various reasons - tight ITB and underdeveloped muscles on the inside of my knee / leg (adductors?). Fairly typical for a runner, apparently, but also problematic. Apparently the problem has probably been growing for years and now it is really beginning to raise its ugly head. My "hot" knees obviously means there is some inflammation and more than 8/9 mile runs cause pain during and after the run. Of course my first question to the man was what to do about this. The answer is - work on loosening the ITB and strengthening the adductors. How long will this take? 3 months at least, he thinks. My second question to him was, of course, what about running London? Now the guys deals only with sports injuries. He's quite used to people who are training for an event and who want to do these things at any cost. So he said I could run it - if I could stand the pain of training and the race - but it would exacerbate the problem and make for at least a 6 month recovery. And, in his view, if I didn't take the problem seriously soon I was heading for a situation where I a) couldn't run at all and / or b) needed knee surgery. Well - I made my decision there and then to drop out of London. Not an easy one and not lightly made. But, finally, inevitable. Running is for life - I want to carry on doing it for a long time. I have no desire to be in enormous pain doing it, nor do I want to find myself in a situation where I am physically unable to do it. I have to do my thrice daily exercises, my hourly stretches and work on these. He thinks that within a week or two the swelling will have gone down enough for me to be able to slowly add short runs, and to build it up slowly alongside the stretching and strengthening. I will hopefully have other opportunities to run London and am now firmly aiming to be ready to start training, fit and strong, for Chicago this summer.

However. However. I am letting some people down here. Save the Rhino gave me a gold bond place to run the race for them. I vowed to raise money for them and many of you have already made a donation. The money raised has already gone directly to the charity. I do appreciate however, that some of you may feel that if I'm not running the race you would like to divert your sponsorship to someone who is, or to another worthy cause. If you feel that way please e-mail me and I will personally refund your donation.

What a few weeks these have been! I feel battered around by events. And I'm not able to take it all out on the road for the time being. However, I've seen my admirable friend Susan cope with injury and setback and I'm taking her as an example. I WILL do everything my physio says to do, I WILL crosstrain in the meantime and I WILL be back out there on the road. So go out there, enjoy your runs and stay tuned - I think I will need to blog more without the distraction of the exercise I love more than any other..

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Why I run..

It was bound to happen.. Let's rewind. Ever since my daughter was 1, I've worked on and off on various studies and freelance projects. Sometimes I did no work for a while, sometimes I had a lot of work on. When I was offered a "proper" job this November - still freelance but in an office, with office hours, I was initially very reluctant to give up what I had. However, I started and found I really enjoyed what I was doing. In the course of the 2 and a half months that I have been in this job I have learned more about my remit and my abilities. In the past few weeks, however, I have begun to feel very overextended. You know when your to-do list is so long that you just can't see how you're ever going to get to the bottom of it? And so much of it needs dealing with "straight away"? So, I've been letting work creep into home life, I've been working Fridays (which was not part of my original arrangement) to just stay on top. Not great but hopefully temporary. All these years out of an office, however, and I had forgotten something. Politics. Office politics. I forgot about office politics until I stepped right in the middle of a big smelly issue. And of course, I didn't realise what was happening until it was too late. I did not have a good day in the office yesterday. I am not proud of it but I felt so awful, so hurt, so upset by it all that I closed my blind, closed my door and cried. I then rang my husband. He was wonderful. His support and love for me is 100% and, times like yesterday remind me how wonderful this best friend of mine in life is. And he told me to get my tears out and then to get tough. And I did. No-one else saw me cry - in the sad world of office politics, that would have been a strike against me - and then I took action. And then I went and picked my children up from school (and for once the tiredness and bickering was wonderful - at least it was out there) and then I went home and ran a long run. 12 miles. I was intending to do 15 but I ran the last hour or so in the dark and tripped twice at the end (it gets very dark on the farm and my headlight has a small beam) and I decided it was enough for the day.

I ran and I ran. I got all my tears out and then all my anger out. I was reminded of how powerful the feeling of being wronged is and to show more understanding to my children when they feel it. I ranted, I raved and then I settled into my run. 5M of podrunner and then I settled into podcasts - Steve Runner, Nik and Dan, the other runner, Dr Monte - and got calm. By the time I came back in I was ready for my friday night and my weekend. No work today, or tomorrow. It can all wait till Monday.

My knee... however. While it was fine on my run - I felt it but nothing bad, and all last week I distinctly felt an improvement - it's sore today. I was going to head out for 7 but I think I'm going to listen to my doctor (for once) and give it a rest today. See where I am tomorrow. Where that leaves me I'm not quite sure. I am meant to be doing 17 by the end of this week - we shall see. I think I will see if I can fit in a visit to my osteopath this week..

Run long my friends, and strong, and see you in Chicago this October?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Back on track?

It's not been a great running week, as you can imagine. After thinking about it carefully I decided not to see my osteopath before I saw my doctor about my painful knee - I just wanted to get a more independent point of view first..

So I didn't run Monday and Tuesday and then went out for a cautious 3 on Wednesday. Mildly painful.. Thursday I did 4 - again, I knew about my knee. Friday I finally saw my doctor. Now one of the doctors in our practice is a marathoner and I was hoping to see her but I was out of luck - I saw a more sedentary type. However, the news is not bad. Apparently my pain is some form of runner's knee, in a different place from where I had it before, but nonetheless it all seems quite similar, according to him. He thinks the very different movements of skiing followed by a hard workout just overloaded my tendons and something in there is swollen and irritated. His advice - don't overdo it but you don't have to stop..

And, to be honest, the pain is diminishing. It's still there but it's not stopping me from running. I did 10 yesterday with Sally and it was fine - I stopped for a few walkbreaks but still, generally, felt fine. I occasionally felt my knee but nothing to bother me seriously.

OK. Where does that leave me? I've got 10 weeks to go and was, actually, intending to just do the last 10 weeks of old Hal's intermediate I program. I think what I might try this week is to switch the weeks around and do a step back week this week, keeping the mileage conservative. After yesterday's 10 I'm moving the 7 miler to the end of the week and will do 4, 5, and 4 between now and Thursday. By then I should hopefully get a good indication of whether the pain really is diminishing and whether I'm getting past it. Cross your fingers and all else for me?

Finally - there's nothing like not being able to run to make you appreciate running or you, my running blogging friends. Thank you for your support, interest and understanding - it really did help me. I, foolishly, believed myself to be past injury because I had not been injured for so long. Contemplating not being able to run this week really made me realise how much I love it and how much I need it.. Work is enjoyable but intense and demanding and domestic demands can be overwhelming too. There's just nothing like heading outside after a day's work and getting everything out of my system and into perspective.. And then coming home, reading your blogs and writing my own. It's amazing how much it's all part of my life now!

And finally finally - I just wanted to post this picture of me and another great running buddy, my mother. Just before going to Jackson Hole we went for a run together (my parents came over to look after our children while we were away). So here we are after a fun run together.