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Posts Tagged ‘running injuries’

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Less is more. I find myself saying this often. About many things. It’s one of those pieces of very “zen” advice that you wish you could follow all the time. It can be applied to many things. Like:

– Stressing about housework: it never ends anyway, right?

– Over-scheduling your kids: this backfires, right?

– American Idol: three seasons was enough, right?

– Running: less is more. What?

I know.  It’s hard to think that you get MORE with LESS running. But sometimes, this is true. Just like over-thinking leads to over-thinking, running too much leads to Running. Too. Much. Don’t get me wrong. There is no distance that sounds crazy to me. Everything is relative. One woman’s 5K is another’s 100 miler. It’s all good.

But.

A very exhausted, overworked, overstressed friend who just ran a 50K asked me yesterday if she should go ahead and run that other 50K she was signed up for next weekend. “You know me”, I said. “I error on the side of over-conservatism. (With running, not politics) I can’t help it. I fantasize about being the person who can run a 50K then go run another in a week, or hop in a marathon after a marathon. I’ve tried. I get injured every time. I have finally learned that my body needs more recovery time. I can do those races! Just not too close together. This is me. You have to listen to YOUR body. And sometimes less is more. Most importantly, if you decide it’s less. THAT’S OK.”

Fresh legs work. And listening to your body works. After 15 years of running, which isn’t long by some, I am finally getting the hang of that. The challenge becomes NOT in the long slogging distance (I know I can do that and I have). The challenge is in the waiting. Waiting till you’re healed. Waiting till you’re healthy. Waiting till you’re rested.

If you love running. I mean really love it. And I really love it. Then the waiting is the hardest part. Waiting for the energy. Waiting for the strength. Waiting for the body’s green light. It might mean waiting a day, waiting a week. Or longer.

When it comes,  it’s all systems go. And so worth the wait.

I used to look up to people who could run and run and run and never stop. Now I look up to people who know when to rest. AND, who aren’t afraid to say so. It’s hard to cut a run short and not beat yourself up about it all day. It’s hard to DNS. It’s hard to DNF. And sometimes that’s the right answer.

Another friend of mine said to me this week. “I wonder what it would be like if, you know,  we actually acknowledged our injuries. How long would it take to get back to running then?”

Our bodies get stronger when we rest. Our torn and tired muscles heal when we sleep, eat, sit on the couch. This is a runner’s major thinking error; that recovery is separate from training. It’s not repeated cycles. It’s all one journey. Our current recovery is essential to the success of our next event.

As much as you seek to find the limits of speed, distance, endurance or altitude, seek the balance of rest. It’s the key to your success just as much as the next PR, or that extra mile.

Don’t worry. Your body will know what to do when it’s time to run. Your legs won’t forget. Your heart will not forget what it loves to do.

Sometimes less is more.

 

 

 

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I had 17 needles in me during my 1st appointment. Call it brave, crazy, fascinating...whatever it is, it's thousands of years old and it's working!

It’s been a while since I blogged, so let’s just skip the long list of excuses as to why (they are good, solid excuses though, I assure you!), and get down to it. As most of you know, I’ve been sidelined for almost 4 months. I stopped keeping track because that was bumming me out. In the meantime, I’ve become a swimming fool. I say fool because I do silly stuff and think silly stuff when I swim. While it’s great exercise and I really do love it (no really), I keep it at arms length in a way because I still feel like a runner at heart and that swimming is a ‘meanwhile’ thing. In other words, I still want that swimsuit that reads “I’d rather be running” across the butt. In a flattering way, of course.

Along with swimming, I’ve been doing acupuncture for my plantar fasciitis and tendonitis in my right foot. PF started creeping in after long runs this past March/April, but, along with other injuries that popped up, I ignored it. Fast forward to June and I was practically out of commission. I finally had to quit running. In milder cases (which I’ve had before), it hurts after running or when getting up in the morning, but not so much during a run. Every step walking or other-wise hurt. PF, the ankle, the ball of the foot and even my middle toe were screaming. By evening, I couldn’t walk and had to plant myself somewhere with piles of ice. It still hurts with every step, but not as much, I’m not as stiff and I have bouts of almost pain-free time…that time is after acupuncture!

I had heard of the success my dear running partner had with acupuncture while she was being treated for a torn PF last summer. I guess this is my summer for treatments. And Debbie Nash-Galpern, our Chinese Medicine guru, acupuncturist and herbalist is AMAZING! With or without needles, I feel so loved and cared for in her office. Anyway, moving away from Western Medicine after months of icing and taking WAY too much Aleve, felt like the right thing to do. Am I scared of the needles? Nope.  I’m way more scared of a big hill at mile 20. I figured if I could run through popping blisters and the feeling of my toes turning black during a marathon, I could hack an hour of sharp objects.

My appointments have also had other benefits… Like I’m learning to relax. I remember taking a meditation class while in college and wanting to cry every time because I was so amazed by my lack of being able to relax. When I did, it was like a river poured out of me. I had a horrific case of shingles a few years ago (stress-induced) and the only thing that helped with the pain other than massive doses of vicodin was pretending the gravitational pull of the earth was 10 times stronger than it really was and all of my body was forced to relax into the bed. That’s how bad I am at relaxing. I tried this approach on the acupuncture table, but my thoughts kept getting in the way…..what should I make for dinner? How long should the dog go without a bath and oh, let’s not forget…wow, I have needles stuck in my head! I’m trying though, really I am.

Tonight was my 4th treatment. I walked out slightly stiff, but quickly my foot turned creamy warm and it feels like it’s been massaged. It’s magical. I still have sore days, but overall, I’m on an upswing, have been Aleve-free for several weeks and the mobility and strength it feels is remarkable.

Have you tried acupuncture? For what ailment and how did it go?

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Nope, didn’t run that beautiful 50K through the Wildwood trail in Portland last Sunday, but I had a fantastic weekend with family and friends. Bad calf, bad foot, bad hammy has kept my weekly mileage low and kept me from my race, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying the other loves of my life. Driving up to Portland on Friday morning, it felt weird not stressing out about race details…did I bring enough Gu? when was packet pick up? did I pack the race map to go over for the 100th time, should I have a glass of wine with dinner or skip it? Nope, didn’t have to worry about all that. I was sad not to be, but also oddly relieved. Hey, no stress. “Ok, go with it” I told myself. And steer clear of the suffering-funk I can get myself into. Here’s the weekend highlights….

I LOVE how running buddies anywhere will meet you at 6:00am for a run in the rain. It was short, but so sweet! Plus we had the Embassy Suites hotel lobby to ourselves for coffee. Thanks, Deb!

Kids plus OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science & Industry) equals a fun-packed day. Even the sign was entertaining.

A looong day of walking Portland deserves a cold pint. Good thing we live in the land of McMenamins. Here's my awesome hubby at Ringlers (Careful babe, there's a mean dog statue behind you)

More runner momma buddies & their babies to play with on Sunday. Loved catching up, Katie!

My May holding above mentioned cute baby, Chloe.

The daddies help my Jackie Woo with his jump rope skeeels.

I miss my kitchen when I'm gone for any length of time, so I had a romantic date with my stove on Sunday night. White wine & rosemary-crusted salmon risotto. Damn, I'm good.

I'm an Air Force veteran and it was Memorial Day after all, so I helped out by being a course marshal at the Run for the Memorial on Monday. Go runners!

Where there are runners and racing, there are antics. Here's my friends Danuta and Kristi demonstrating course marshal dedication. Notice Kristi's full-body back-up stance. Nice.

The weekend ended with a BBQ (complete with Eugene-style thunder showers) and my friend Tasha's "creamy" margaritas. Over-the-top chilly goodness.

Thank you friends and family for a sweet and love-filled weekend.

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I seriously thought about buying stock in Flav R Pac with all the peas & corn I was strapping to my body!

I decided that for fun and because the approaching summer season (read swimsuit weather) to start counting calories while I am injured. What? Injured? Oh yeah, there’s that. Let’s back up….

Once up on a time, in a land far far away (and by this I mean my brain, it was so far far away), I thought it would be a good idea to have a weekly mileage goal. It was modest. 40 miles a week. This would go up as I trained for the Forest Park 50K set for May 29th. I’ve never had a weekly goal, I just ran what felt good then glommed onto to a training plan when preparing for a race. If things got too hairy with my schedule or something body-wise got out of whack, I took it easy.

Then I decided to stop thinking about thinking less and start thinking more. As we all know, thinking leads to over-thinking. Before I knew it, I was thinking about my new mileage goal All. The. Time. How do I squeeze in 3 more? If I ran an extra 5 today, I only have to do 14 tomorrow. If I skip my run today, good lord, I’ll have to double-up on Saturday. Even though I was thinking about it all the time, I was becoming dumber by the day. Pretty soon I was doing weekend 15-20 milers with a few 10 milers mid-week. Sometimes I would sacrifice sleep, get up at 4:30 and do 15 before the kids got up. This isn’t that bad. Lots of folks have this kind of schedule and many folks run many more miles a week. The dumb part is that I didn’t really use the “bump up mileage by 10% per week” rule, I was doing my shorter runs faster and didn’t work in any cross-training. Voila! The poster child for “how to get injured in 30 days or less” was born.

But wait folks, she gets dumber…. Stoked about meeting the mileage goal, she ignores the tight hamstring, the achy achilles, and the sore calf. As we know, if your body speaks softly and you don’t listen, it will scream until you do.

Stepping off the curb 10 days ago leaving my favorite coffee house, I heard the scream. My calf let out a rip and I let out a holler. Oh, but wait, there’s more! I was grabbing coffee on my way to a run. Yes, I ran ANYWAY. 5 miles later I knew my calf was going to be toast for a while. I immediately decided to take a week off of running. Normally, being injured means I’m an emotional wreck.

But something saved me.

Swimming.

In the middle of the last crazy-mileage-tempo-running-up-before-dawn week, I made a 50K training plan that included swimming. I wasn’t sure how I was going to work that into the mileage goal schedule, but what the hell. My running partner has been trying for 345 years to get me in the pool, so I carved out Mondays. Little did I know that I would go 4 times that first week and LOVE swimming. I threw in a few days of pilates (thank you Netflix instant-watch) and was actually have a nice go of it despite the fact I couldn’t run.

I turned off the over-thinking. I was at peace.

Because I didn’t have the Garmin, miles, splits, pace to keep my number-brain happy, I started counting calories (something I never do) on MyFitnessPal.com (very nice, free website with sweet iPhone app, BTW).

Time feels like it’s going very slowly. Unfortunately, it’s not going slow enough. I probably don’t have enough time to continue to heal, then work up mileage, then taper to do the 50K I had planned. I’m sad about that, but I’m ok. I’ve been running and racing long enough to know there will be other days for that. In the meantime, I’m enjoying a little less thinking.

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This is my usual poolside look. Smooth, but in a different way.

I went swimming!

Finally!

I consider this a major undertaking. So much so, I think I need an award. I’ll take a extra piece of my favorite thing…stinky cheese, thank you very much.

My acceptance speech goes like this…

I’d like to thank my running partner, Leah, who has put up with my 1,293 previous excuses for NOT going swimming and for very graciously taking me to the pool yesterday and being brave enough to share her lane with the newbie.

I’d also like to thank Terry Laughlin for introducing me to the Total Immersion technique. I heard about this a few years ago, but didn’t “dive in”. (I think I was on excuse 832 that day.) Leah reminded me about this awesome swimming method, so I have started the book and watched the first video. I have a looooooong way to go, but the few tips I picked up so far really helped.

I’d also like to thank Tanya, Chelsea, Carrie and their swimming Facebook friends who make comments about all their training in the pool. Tanya recently found her inner corkscrew.  Evidently this was very exciting news. I have no clue what this means, but I was intrigued.

I’m also grateful for those early morning runs that, of late, have been monopolized by discussions of swimming technique and assorted lingo that go with it as my running buddies head into triathlon season… transitions, bricks, buoys, waves, sprints…ooh, I know sprints! No, not that kind, they say.

A big thanks also goes to my hubby. He LOVES being under water, especially in beautiful crystal-clean rivers. He’s a natural fish and I love watching him swim with our kiddos.

And finally, I’d like to thank my body, specifically my legs, who have been screaming at me in the last couple of weeks to cross-train. Too many 20 milers on the roads lately have left my hammy tight, my calf sore and my hip hollering.

As you may know, I’m a bike dork. The last thing I need is to become a pool dork too. Growing up without participating in sports except a few solo ones (ice skating, skiing), I am always nervous about started something new. Ok, more than nervous. Freaked out. Ok, more than freaked out. We’re talking major anxiety. I’ve been quoted in Marathon & Beyond by Joe Henderson as being so “nervous I could throw up” when I showed up to my first run with other people. (I had been running solo for years.)

I’m happy to report that on my first day of trying a few laps, my goggles only filled up with water 4 times and I only choked on water–followed by a major coughing fit–once. Ok, twice. The coach that works at the pool gave Leah some final tips as she heads into her tri in a few weeks, telling her that she has shaved gobs of time off her laps and that others at the pool have noticed what a good swimmer she is. Wow, cool! Then he looked at me sweetly and told me I’m a very smooth swimmer and understands I’m just trying to breathe right now. He had no tips for me. Obviously, he doesn’t work with beginners, but I took the word “smooth” to heart. I’m SMOOTH! I’ll take it.

So, I’m patting myself on the back via this post because it may seem like a little thing to jump in the pool and try a workout, but for me, it’s kinda big. And did I tell you I’m excited for my next smoooooth session? Wahoo!

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Ridgeline Trail at Fox Hollow. Always beautiful, no matter the weather.

Today I ran 1.67 miles and did 20 minutes of Pilates. And I’m totally good with that. (Notice I didn’t round up mileage to 2. That’s how serious I am about my run meaning as much as it did in so little time.)

It was a hard run. I have a nasty head cold and probably a bit of a sinus infection. My head has been woozy for the last 3 days and I’ve felt like I just want to be lying down. Today I felt a tad better and thought I’d head out to Ridgeline and run the Lazy Lady Loop, as it’s been dubbed by a friend of a friend. It’s an easy, fun and muddy 1.5 mile loop.  I didn’t get to join the gals on the trail run I organized yesterday, so I thought I’d treat myself to at least a taste.

I don’t think I got under an 11:00 minute mile pace and was huffing from the beginning.  I felt like I had never run before. Ever. 10 days ago I ran a euphoric 11 miles starting at 5:15 am. I felt unstoppable, strong and hated to quit.

Now, there was a time when one of these short, chest-heaving runs would completely freak me out. I would get so down on myself. Panic would set in. I have lost all fitness in the last three slacker days. I will have to come back from zero. I won’t be able to run long next week. I will feel like crap tomorrow. I feel like crap right now. I’m glad no one saw me quit at 1.67 miles. It’s sort of sad that it’s taken me a few years to realize that’s not the case and not to beat myself up for not going longer, getting sick or both.

But I’ve grown up a bit.

And some people have inspired me.

Heck, I’VE inspired me. I’ve ran thousands of miles and I love it and I will keep going if physically able. Others who have come back from sickness or injury have inspired me too. But they don’t inspire me to run longer or faster or sign up for steeper runs (that’s my own foolishness!) They inspire me to be patient with myself when I have to chill out, even if it’s because of a head cold. Some are elite athletes, but mostly the inspiration comes from regular ol’ folks.

Like Janet Oberholtzer.

Janet and I have connected on Twitter, Facebok and our blogs. Last fall I happened upon her blog and read the entire thing. Recently she commented on my running year in review post and said it inspired her to think about her 2011 running goals. I INSPIRED HER? She’s the one that survived with barely her life and leg (among many injuries) after a vehicle accident and made a miraculous comeback to running. This entrepreneurial mom of three, runner and racer survived, defied the odds, worked her way back to running and now posts every week about what she is thankful for. Small things, big things. Things immediate.

So, I’m thankful for Janet. And my 1.67 miles today.

Who inspires you?

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