Without Change there is no Change.

Currently I am in my third week post fracture recovery.  It hasn’t been a steady forward progression like I optimistically hoped but there has been enough progress where I feel confident.  Week one was easy-breezy, wonderful.  Running with friends in my favorite places felt like a dream. The paces at first felt awkward but then I surprised myself and the paces dropped right back where they were pre-fracture.  There is no sharp speed left but my “easy” pace felt easy and some endurance was still there.  Unlike my last injury, where I cross trained like a mad woman, this time I was a bit bitter about the injury so basically any formal cross training program was met with heavy eye-rolling.  Biking and swimming was completed almost daily but nothing specific.  Walking the dog, who was also nursing an injury, was my favorite activity.

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Since paces were feeling good again I started to think my no-plan plan worked.  Then week two my calf where my fracture was started to feel heavy. I had been warned that this would happen.  I had been told not to worry.  I worried.  Running continued and while there was never pain, there was a heavy/off feeling in the calf that I was always aware of.    Residual pain is normal post stress fracture but that doesn’t mean I have to feel comfortable about it. I know many people run through it so I kept at it but kept it real easy and added more off days.

That next weekend was my Sisters Birthday weekend so I traveled to Pennsylvania and we had an amazing time. Lots of non-running fun until the Sunday morning.  My sister and brother-in-law are both runners so we signed up for the Reading Hospital Road Run. Going into it, I knew that Coach Hadley only wanted me to run it as a steady state run and I was 100% down for that considering all the cake, wine, and late nights we were having on my mini-vacation.  In case any readers do not know, Pennsylvania is GORGEOUS in the Fall.  Full of rolling hills under fall colored trees.  Since I didn’t bring my phone to the race here is a picture I took off google images (wanted to give credit but there was none listed) of the area the race was in.  Pretty.

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The race itself went perfectly.  I did not wear a watch and I really let myself love the running and enjoy the scenery.  Seeing three speedy women in front of me brought a twinge of sadness though.  It is difficult to turn off that mental go-get-em attitude, especially when prize money was at stake, but I also knew they were taking off at a speed that would have been dangerous (and most likely improbable) for me to try to hold my second week back.  My calf felt heavy here and there but I barely noticed it. The first mile seemed almost all up hill! Luckily I had a group of guys to settle in with but at the 1.5 mile mark they all turned left as the 5K and 10K runners split.  Doh!

I was alone for the next two miles until a 14 year old boy started running with me. I felt so old running with him, ha! Still it was great to have someone to work with.  I would power up in front on the up part of the hills then he would fly by me on the down hills.  So fun.  I have no idea what my split times were but since I felt better and better as the race went on, I’m certain my last mile was the fastest and the teenager and I finished within seconds of each other. My gun time was 41 minutes on the dot, which is a 6:35 min/mile pace (4th place female).  A good effort and starting point.

Pre-race, it was COLD.

Pre-race, it was COLD.

The next morning I woke up without any pain.  That was a great sign.  Whenever I am injured I can tell because I wake up with swelling and a general awkward walking feeling.  The next few runs though the residual pains (some people call them phantom pains) started to come back.  It wasn’t anything I couldn’t run through but it also gave me such a huge uneasy feeling that I made a follow up appointment with my Sports Medicine doctor. I see him tomorrow and I’m hoping he will tell me not to be concerned.   Until then it’s rest and easy running.  So yes everyone, I am back running, but it’s been a cautious start.

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This past week Nuun (pronounced noon) sent me a little “Welcome back to running” gift to review.  I was given three bottles of their product to try, pictured below.  In case you have never heard, Nuun is a no-calorie, electrolyte tab that you dissolve in 16 ounces of water.  The tablets are stored in the plastic tubes below so they are easy to take anywhere (hello race travelers!)

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One of my post race and workout weaknesses is soda. I LOVE bubbly drinks.  Something about the fizz calms my stomach.  Nuun is a perfect healthy replacement for that. It’s a very light bubble, not heavy at all. Instead of a sugary, syruped caffeine, instead I get a hydrating source of sugarless pick-me-up.  The Lemon-lime and Strawberry Lemonade flavors are my favorite.

They also sent me their newest Nuun product, Nuun Energy.  Instead of my normal mid-afternoon coffee I have been having a serving of Nuun energy in the Cherry Limeade flavor.  The combination of hydration and no sugar means no crash later in the day. These would be perfect for runners with stomach issues to have race morning instead of coffee (which can sometimes cause stomach distress mid-race).   Don’t tell Mr.Lawrence, but I’m packing these in his deployment gift box.  He hates coffee but the caffeine will help him stay hydrated and awake during the long work hours.  It makes a great gift for runners and non runners.  Nuun is sold at over 5000 retailers nation-wide and also available on their website HERE.  Check out their site for more information or feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section.

The last thing I wanted to write about was change.  This had been the most difficult year for me since I started running 5 years ago.  I had some great races in the summer but my mind has over shadowed them with the low points of the year. I went through a few weeks of self-doubt and wondered if I needed a huge over hauling in training programs. I did tons of research and asked tons of people. In the end I followed my heart and absolutely do believe I’m in the right place, right program, and listening to the right people. I regret every letting that doubt creep in. I would have left it out of the blog except I believe I would be amiss to leave out that the feelings were there. Self-doubt can be a goal killer. You gotta face that stuff head on so that you can look forward with all positive ambition.

So where does that leave me?  Coach Hadley and I have discussed what needs to happen so that these injuries  no longer pop up. How do we balance a program that left me with big jumps in success but a broken body? What worked in 2013 hasn’t been working well in 2014 and to keep doing the same thing would be naive, stubborn, and foolish.  I hinted at it before, but there will be a revamping of my program.   Instead of a 7 day training schedule I will be moving to a 9 day training cycle. Mentally this will be very difficult for me but the goal is to physically make it easier for my body to hold a high work load.  This means less hard workouts in a two week period, as there will be more easy run days.  I am very nervous about this change but I’ve seen it work well is many other athletes so I have faith that it’ll work for me too.   Hopefully the combination of this change and my new strength & stretch routine will lead to a speedier 2015.

Next week, if all goes continued as planned, I will run the Wicked 10K race here in Virginia Beach as a workout, then if I’ve eased past some of this heavy calf feeling, I’ll start working hard days back into the training.  If the heavy calf is still around then maybe I’ll back off more.   Luckily I’m in a point where there is no rush to get back and I can play it day by day.

Thank you so much for reading everyone! I had no intention of writing a novel this morning when I sat down but I guess I had much to say.  Have a great week all!!

Injured Running Buddies.

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About a week after my last post, our dog, Buster Douglas aka Buddy, had his second case of vestibular disease. It was a scary few days but now he is back to almost 100%. There have been lots of jokes in our household over he and I being the injured running buddies. No running for either of us so we’ve been a tiny bit grouchy. On the bright side though, we’ve had more time for naps and eating, two of our other favorite hobbies. We are in full recovery mode together :)

To his dismay Buddy could not attend physical therapy with me when I started this past week. There I learned more about my form, muscle imbalances, and range of motion then I knew was possible. I always had this idea that my hips were weak from childbirth and basically from carrying a kid (or two) on my hip for years. It turns out my hips are not weak at all. My hips and core are incredibly strong, I just haven’t been engaging them at all. So I left the office on my first day with a set of exercises to do and- almost as important- a huge sense of optimism.

One of the main things I have learned about injuries this past year is that the injury spot is most likely not the source of the problem. The problem is almost always another weak area that has put too much pressure, by way of over-compensation, on that injured area. The human body is an amazing machine. It will adjust it’s workload from weak areas onto stronger ones almost without notice, but there is only so much those areas can take before they warn you and/or quit. Without going into boring detail, I have an idea of why the injuries on my right side have happened and I’m making progress towards addressing those weaknesses.

Cross-training has been happening almost daily. I type almost because unlike in the spring where I was pressuring myself to keep as much fitness as possible, I’ve been very lax this go round. There have been lots of long walks with the sweetheart pictured running on the trails below. Without any suggestion by me (though I was REALLY hoping) she decided to join Girls on the Run. In case you haven’t heard about this organization, its an amazing group for girls grades 3-6 to train for a 5K while learning about themselves, self-confidence, standing up to bullies, and other life skills. I was elated to hear she wanted to join. Look at her training:
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I’ve also been biking and swimming as cross training, along with core, stretching, and some yoga. While I’ve been enjoying it all, I honestly cannot wait to run again. I feel like a tiger with a broken paw. It’s just not natural for runners not to run! It’s hard to be patient and I have a few more weeks of no running, so to keep myself off the edge I signed up as a pacer for a half marathon. The running store that I run for, Running, Etc., is arranging the pace teams for the inaugural Harbor Lights Half Marathon in Norfolk, Virginia on November 23rd.

I have paced friends in races before but never anything official so I very excited. J & A Racing always puts on fun events so if you are in the area, be sure to run it. I will be pacing the 1:45 group along with two other pacers. Let me know if you have any questions about the pacing or race. I’ll be working at the expo too and hope to see many of you there. Click on the picture to go to the race website.
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That’s all I have for now. Hopefully next time I update this site, I’ll have running news to share. Also, Go Shalane Flanagan!! I can’t wait to see her go for that American Record in Berlin next weekend. Take care all!