Tag Archives: injury

Taking steps forward

IMG_4150I’m sitting in bed, watching TV and preparing for a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. It’s been about a month and a half since I first saw the doctor about my hip/adductor and today is, hopefully, my final follow up.

I’m not 100 percent yet, and I’m still slowly working my way back to running the type of miles and the type of workouts I need to to prepare for Chicago. I definitely feel better and I’m running more, but my hip still barks at me and my adductor/hammy still gets sore.

I’m not expecting anything too much from today’s appointment. It’s just a follow-up, a check-in, to make sure everything is heading in the right direction. I’m confident that things are heading in the right direction, even if I’m not getting better as quickly as I would like.

IMG_4158Last night was a step in the right direction. In the heat and humidity, I ran 5 miles, getting progressively faster for the first 30 minutes. I slowly worked my way down to a 7:38 per mile pace for the last five minutes. My hip took a bit of time to not feel stiff, but once it did, I didn’t really feel restricted. My adductor and hamstring felt pretty good, only feeling a little bit tired as the intensity picked up.

I made sure to cut the workout short while I still felt good. One of the mistakes I made earlier this year that led to this injury getting a little worse than I would have liked is running my workouts too hard. Steady state runs on Wednesday were all a little too fast and a little too long. Interval workouts were a little too hard and I always ran the extra rep. Recovery runs weren’t really recovery runs. Easy miles were a little faster than easy.

Basically, I got into my own head. When I feel good and I feel like I have to push as hard as I can. Well, it caught up to me. I wore down and a little tweak, a little niggle turned into something that hurt all the time because I pushed too hard.

In other words, I wasn’t smart enough to stay completely healthy.

That is the biggest thing I’ve learned from this setback: Don’t go over that edge. Push hard, train hard, yes, but I need to learn my limits. All the great workouts don’t mean shit if I get hurt and can’t run. It especially doesn’t mean shit if I get hurt and can’t race.

I’m making steps to get back to where I want to be. It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of smarts. I can’t slack off on physical therapy or stretching or rolling. I have to listen to my body. I have to recover on recovery days and run easy on easy days. I have to push, but not push myself to a place of getting injured.

Today is another step forward. And that is where my focus needs to be, just keep taking steps forward.

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Take it slow

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5 miles on Sunday in the blistering heat isn’t the 14-16 I thought I’d be running right now, but it is where I’m at. I’m trying to play it smart, so I can get to Chicago in one piece.

When I’m not running as much as I would like with my goal marathon quickly approaching, I have a lot of time to think about that marathon. Lately, I’ve spent some time thinking about my goals for the Chicago Marathon and what this down time means for them.

Sunday, my brain went into hyperdrive when the training plan for the FleetFeet marathon class popped into my email. I browsed through the 12 weeks of training, set up for the Maine Marathon which is a week before Chicago, and the wheels started turning.

For months, before I tweak my hip flexor/adductor/hamstring, my goal for Chicago has been to finish in 3 hours, 40 minutes. When that schedule popped into my email on Sunday night, I thought about that goal, wondering if I had time to get myself back together and fit enough to chase it.

I did the math in my head:

• 11 weeks (turns out I was wrong and I’m 12 weeks out) to get myself 100 percent healthy.

• I need to run 8:23 per mile to finish in 3:40.

• How many miles can I run right now, and how long will it be before I’m running those 2 1/2-3 hour long runs?

Monday and Tuesday, a few more emails reminded me to pump the brakes and slow down. 

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Saturday was super hot, too, and 4 miles was more than enough.

I had three physical therapy sessions after seeing the doctor about my hip, which focused on stretching and rolling to get my hip/adductor/hamstring to calm down a bit. The last session was two weeks ago, after which I was told to start running, but to take it easy. I was told I didn’t necessarily need to come back for more PT, but to keep them updated.

Monday morning I sent an email to the two people I worked with at PT with an update. I told them I ran 22 miles last week, that I was feeling better, but things were still a little sore. The response from both of them was: You are on the right track, but TAKE IT SLOW.

Of course, they are right, I just have to convince myself that it is OK to take it slow. Every time I start to think about my goals for Chicago, and how little I’m running right now, and how I’m not doing the work I think I need to to get ready to run my goal, I stop and read those emails. I’m remind that, yes, I need to run to get ready to run Chicago, but if I am not healthy, I won’t be able to run the race at all, so … TAKE IT SLOW.

It’s frustrating, after three great months of training, that I can’t just keep going, keep hammering miles and workouts. That’s not where I am right now, though. Things are starting to feel better, but if I’m not smart about it, the shit is really going to hit the fan and I won’t even be lining up in Grant Park on Oct. 13.

The solution to all of this is to try not to think about those lofty goals I set for myself. Yes, I still want to run 3:40 but is that realistic? I don’t know. Will I finally be able to erase that 3:47 off the chalkboard in my bedroom, which has been written on that chalkboard as my marathon goal for more than five years? I don’t know.

What I do know, is I can’t worry about that right now. I can’t let those numbers cloud my judgment and make me rush into stuff I’m not ready for. I remind myself of those three awesome months of training before I broke myself. I tell msyelf I haven’t lost all of that fitness. I remind myself that if I make this injury worse, instead of letting it heal, I can forget chasing any goals, I won’t be racing at all on Oct. 13.

I’m trying to convince myself that in order to have the opportunity to chase my big dreams in Chicago, I need to be smart and make it to Chicago. That training plan will be my guide, but I won’t be married to it. I’ll listen to my body, the aches and the pains, and try not to push myself to the point of break down.

I’ll remind myself to TAKE IT SLOW.

A moment of doubt

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4th of July, training to slay the beast, but rolling and stretching and doing PT and NOT RUNNING.

Last week I said I wasn’t freaking out about being injured or how it is going to impact my training for the Chicago Marathon. I’ve reminded myself not to freak out because of all the reasons I stated last week.

On Wednesday, I had a bit of a meltdown.

I had my second physical therapy session Wednesday morning. I went in thinking I would get the OK to do a little running over the next few days, so I could start working my way back to training. After an hour of soft tissue massage, stretching, core work, rolling, all that jazz, I was told to not rush into running. I could try this weekend, once, but I need to take it easy and let this thing calm down a bit. In other words, don’t be a dumbass and make this worse by running.

I spent the rest of the day spiraling into a well of doubt and despair. Driving around Portland running errands, walking the Eastern Prom while everyone else in my running class was crushing a workout, I was telling myself a story I didn’t want to hear, asking questions I didn’t want to answer.

• When am I going to feel better again?

• When will I get to run again?

• Am I going to have enough time to get fit enough to reach my goal at Chicago.

• Am I even going to be able to run Chicago?

The answer to those questions, that’s the story I was telling myself.

• Probably never.

• Not pain free, buddy.

• No.

• Doubtful.

I know, I know. This is not the right frame of mind to be in. This is an obstacle and I have to find a way to deal with it and be better because of it, but that is not where my head was at Wednesday.

I have talked myself down a bit in the hours since that meltdown. I’ve talked with some friends and my coaches, and I realize that all is not lost. There is no reason to donate all my running shoes or cancel my flight and hotel for Chicago.

It’s just frustrating, after such a good build in February, March, April and May, to be on the shelf. I was well on the road to running that 3:47 I’ve been chasing for so long and that 3:40 I really think I’m capable of. Are those goals still realistic now that I haven’t run for nine days? Well, I don’t know.

What I do know is I can’t get those nine days back. I can’t travel back in time and not be injured. This is where I am right now, so I need to deal with it and do whatever I can to try to get ready for Chicago. If it works out and I run a killer race, awesome, but I can’t control that either. What I can control is stretch and roll every day, do my physical therapy every day, and listen to the medical professionals who are trying to get me right and keep me right.

And I can control not letting this send me slinking off to a dark room to hide out and drown my sorrows in green tea (sober life is the best life) and potato chips.

Friendly reminder, this is hard

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 12.21.35 PMFifteen minutes into my run I was ready to call it a day. My legs were dead. My left foot hurt. My head wasn’t into it.

I stopped a mile and a half into my scheduled 10 miler, paused my Garmin and re-tied my left shoe. When I stood up, I looked around to see what the easy way off Forest Ave. back toward Stevens Ave. and my apartment would be.

When I started running again, instead of taking a left toward home, I crossed Forest Ave. and turned down Walton Street, figuring I’d at least slog through a couple more miles and see what happened.

Stopping to re-tie my shoe helped. My foot hurt because I tied my shoe too tight. My legs never fully came back to life, but 3 miles in, I was feeling better and decided to take a lap around the Back Cove to see what I could get in.

The wind battered me as I crossed Tukey’s Bridge, where I crossed 4 miles into my run, and pushed me around the entire time I ran along the Back Cove Trail. I made it back to the parking lot with about 4 miles to go, stopped at the porta pottie, and decided to run until I got those 10 miles in.

It never felt great. My legs were heavy and felt like junk. My left calf was a little tight, maybe a result of that shoe being too tight and hurting my foot. My right knee got a little bit sore in the last couple of miles. My lower back was fatigued (hello core work, sorry I’ve neglected you) in the last 4 miles or so.

No, I never felt great, but I got my miles in. And at some point during that run this morning I remembered that sometimes it is not going to feel great. I ran 38 miles this week (not a ton, but it’s as much as I’ve run since I went on the DL for two months at about this time last year. I ran two fairly hard workouts in the middle of the week and ended with today’s 10 miler. I’m going to be tired. I’m supposed to be tired. It’s not easy to get fit and I remembered today it takes a lot of work, and I have a lot of work to do.

I was, at first, discouraged this morning. If I’m this tired and sore just two week into following a training plan, how am I ever going to make it through marathon training at some point next year. Then I reminded myself that it is going to feel like this sometimes. I know that, I choose to do this, and I’m excited to do it.

Today was just a reminder of what is to come. I think I’d better go take a nap.

Working out and feeling grateful

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Solid workouts and the Red Sox are in the World Series … yes, I’m grateful.

As I struggled for breathe, and my lungs burned, and my legs begged me to stop, I felt extremely grateful. I was grateful I could put myself through a workout and tax my body in an attempt to get fitter and faster.

This afternoon I did my second workout of the week, basically running a 5K time trial. That wasn’t the workout on the schedule, I was supposed to run 3 miles at half marathon pace, but it has been so long since I’ve done workouts and been in any sort of shape that I have no idea what half marathon or 5K pace is. Tuesday morning, I did 6×1/2 mile repeats at about 7:45 pace.

Both of those workouts felt really hard, but not as hard as I made them out to be. The night before Tuesday’s workout, I had talked myself out of even trying it. I convinced myself to do 400s, then gave myself permission to quit after four 1/2-mile reps. Wednesday night, I was coming up with a plan to run less than 3 miles at HMP, or to break up the workout, anything to make it easier.

I finished both workouts without any real issues. Yeah, they were both hard. Yeah, I was sucking wind (it’s cold, I’m out of shape and I’m still trying to figure out this asthma business). Yeah, my legs didn’t quite remember how to go fast and my form fell apart a little bit (I need to start doing my drills more often because I can’t go back to that over-striding, heal-striking stride that is hell on my knees). But all that negative talk was just talk. Neither workout was something I wasn’t capable of doing, which I only convinced myself as each was winding down.

I’m so grateful not just to make it through the workouts, but I’m grateful to even be in a position to try. Last year at this time, I was just starting physical therapy, still not sure exactly what was wrong with my knees. Surgery was a very real possibility and I was unable to run.

It has been a long year to get back to this point. For a long time I wasn’t physically able to do these type of workouts and for even longer I wasn’t ready mentally to do this kind of work.

And I still struggle in both areas. My knees are always going to give me fits and now I have to handle this asthma thing. The mental stuff … well if you know me at all you know that is always going to be something I struggle with.

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Mid Winter Classic 10 Miler 2014. I finished in 1:20. That’s the goal this year. Well, to be healthy enough to run is the No. 1 goal, but I’m chasing that 1:20, too.

But for the first time in a long time I’m actually trying to do some training. My goal is to get into decent shape for the Mid Winter Classic 10 miler. I’m not sure I have time enough to get into PR shape, but I want to be in the neighbor of my second fastest time, 1 hour, 20 minutes, which I ran almost five years ago.

I am not going to get ahead of myself, though. I have a plan, I’m going to follow it the best I can, and I’ll see what happens. Really, I’m just happy to be back out there grinding through workouts.

It’s been a long time, and yeah, I’m grateful.

 

Deja vu all over again? No, not really. (MDI Half Marathon 1.0)

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Mission accomplished.

The deja vu started on Wednesday evening, as I jogged down the Eastern Prom trail with my pub run friends. It hit me that pretty much exactly a year ago, I jogged those same miles along the Atlantic Ocean with the moon overhead brightening the dark sky, a stabbing pain in my right knee every time I my right foot landed.

I felt that same deja vu turning onto my Seth’s street, remembering the phone call I received to set up an appointment to get that right knee checked out as I turned onto that road last fall.

Jogging down Main Street in Bar Harbor on Saturday morning, deja vu hit me all over again. I flashed back to jogging that same stretch of asphalt, between the shops and the restaurants, and stopping at the Village Green, knowing I would not run my leg of the relay the next day because my knee really wasn’t working right (though I did fight myself for a few more hours until smarter friends talked me out of trying).

And when I walked up to the start line for the MDI Half Marathon on Sunday morning, I went right back to that moment when I met Danielle at what was supposed to be the relay exchange point, but instead was just a quick hello because I was unable to take the baton (or whatever you do in a marathon relay) and run my miles.

I retraced all of those steps this weekend, and I’m happy to report the ending was a hell of a lot cooler.

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How you gonna be mad on vacation? (Or waking up to this view).

A year after bagging my leg of the MDI Marathon relay, I ran the 13.1 miles I was supposed to run last October. I didn’t run fast and I hurt like crazy, but I relished every one of those 116 minutes (my official time was 1:56:05), I cherished all of those 13.1 hilly, spectacular miles.

It has been a long year since bagging the relay last October. There were multiple doctor’s appointments, weeks of physical therapy visits, hours in the MRI machine, and 40 something days of no running. I basically started over as a runner in December, following the Couch to 5K plan for a second time, and finally started running on the regular in February.

There has also been a lot of doubt. I still feel that pain in my knee from time to time, and I haven’t always been super motivated to really start training again. I’m scared of doing too much and getting put back on the shelf. I have struggled to stay motivated. I’ve just tried to enjoy running and not take myself too seriously.

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Not my starting line Sunday. Maybe some day.

Sunday morning I didn’t run the fastest race I’ve ever run. Far from it. That 1:56 is actually the slowest half marathon I’ve run since my second in Oct. 2012. But the time on the clock Sunday did not matter. I ran my goal race about a month ago, and while that 1:48 at the Kennebec River Rail Trail Half Marathon wasn’t really fast either, that was the day I wanted to push myself. And I did.

No, Sunday wasn’t about running a fast race. My goals were simple:

• Get in a good workout.

• Finish the race in one piece.

• Enjoy the ride and be grateful I’m able to do this.

I’m thankful to say I can check all of those boxes after Sunday morning. I pushed myself a little bit harder than I planned, basically running the entire race at marathon pace, which is definitely the best workout I’ve had since I raced the half in September. My legs were a little bit beat up and that right knee was aching pretty bad in the last two miles (my fastest of the race) but I’m walking without a limp the day after and will be running again tomorrow. And I truly did enjoy the miles. I tried to take it all in, from that stretch right along the ocean on Sargent Drive with the famous tree and the boat docked in the harbor playing the really loud music, to the splashed of orange, yellow and red on the trees, to the costumed volunteers at the water stops (there was a banana and a gorilla at one, people in those blow up sumo suits at another). I didn’t love the hills, and walked up parts of a couple of them, but I didn’t worry about what it was doing to my finishing time. Instead, I reminded myself that last year I didn’t get to climb these hills so be  grateful that this year I can.

Sunday wasn’t a PR day, it wasn’t a fast day, it wasn’t a day to race. But it still felt like a pretty big win. Instead of sitting on the side of the road, cheering on friends and other runners, I pinned on a bib, toed the starting line and ran through the finish line.

Now, instead of reliving those memories of the year I couldn’t run the race because my knee was busted, I have the memories of running a half marathon on a hilly AF, but amazing beautiful Maine course.

That’s the kind of deja vu I want.

Same old song and dance

IMG_2509I had a chat with the physical therapist at the start of my first visit after I had MRIs taken and needles full of cortisone pumped into both knees. We talked about my diagnosis and what I needed to do moving forward to continue running. I have been thinking about one part of that conversation a lot the last few days as I reach the final weeks of “training” for the Kennebec River Rail Trail Half Marathon.

Basically, I was told that I would indeed be able to run again, but I may not be able to run the type of mileage I had been running while training for marathons. I wasn’t told I couldn’t, that those 50-60 mile weeks were a thing of the past, but that they might be.

IMG_0279That has been on my mind the last few weeks as I approach 40 miles per week and feel how my body is responding to the increased mileage. I’ve been able to handle the load OK, but my knees are definitely starting to feel it, especially after five straight weeks over 35 miles (like that’s a lot). During Sunday’s 11-miler, it took a mile or two for my left knee to warm up and feel normal, then about 5 miles in, my right knee ached. There is a spot on the outside of that knee that gets sore and starts to talk to me after I’ve been on the road for a while. It’s not the searing pain I felt that finally put me on the shelf back in October, but I definitely feel something.

That’s just a fact of life for me these days. My arthritis isn’t going away. I’m probably going to deal with some discomfort as long as I run and I’m planning to keep running for a very long time, so …

“Hi discomfort, I’m Scott, nice to meet you.”

The question is, how much discomfort do I have to deal with? How much discomfort am I willing to deal with? And, most importantly, what can I do to minimize that discomfort?

I’m not sure I can answer the first two questions. I mean, I’m dealing with it OK for right now. It does get into my head a little bit sometimes. Running along the Back Cove Trail on Sunday morning, trying to take in the view of the blue skies and the reflections in the in ocean, trying to people watch, anything to keep my mind off what I was actually doing, I started to think maybe I had made a mistake. My legs were sore, my right knee had that dull ache, and I just wanted to stop. A comfortable chair and a cold beer sounded pretty glorious. Running another 4 or 5 more miles … well, I did it, but for that stretch along the Interstate on the back side of the Back Cove Trail, all I wanted to do was sit. I flipped the script and finished my run, though, so I’ll call it a win.

The answer to the third question is simple: I need to do more than just run. If I want to get back to the way I felt when I was training for and running the Maine Marathon in 2016, I need to do a hell of a lot more than just run. I need to run, a lot, but I also need to take care of my body. I need to do a whole hell of a lot more physical therapy than I am doing right now. I need to lose a few pounds. I need to stretch and roll. I need to transform my body.

rrrThis all sounds familiar, I know. I’ve been saying the same thing to myself for years. I’ve written probably 25 blog post stating the same thing. I even stole a slogan for this quest a year and a half ago (remember Redesign. Rebuild. Reclaim.?). All that slogan got me was a few cool T-shirts and a whole lot of regret. I regret not being more disciplined and following through. I regret spending two months on the shelf because my old man knees finally had enough. I don’t regret actually doing something about those old man knees and doing the work to start running again. I do regret not continuing all the hard work I did in October, November and December to get back on my feet and back on the roads.

Last week was a little bit of a wakeup call. My knees are telling me to get my ass in gear (not to mention my lungs, they were screaming at me during my hill workout on Saturday). If I want to run those 50 and 60 miles a week I feel I need to run a good marathon, I need to do more than just run. If I really want to run a marathon next October, which is the goal in the back of my mind right now, I need to dominate my physical therapy. I need to do everything I can to minimize the discomfort in my knees.

I wasn’t told for certain I would never run 50-60 miles a week, so that means I can, if I’m willing to do the work.