A Weight Off My Shoulders

I went to the gym Sunday for the first run of my half marathon training. My goal was 4 miles but planned to stop if I felt pain in the area of my stress fracture after warming up. Well, five minutes of slow jogging came and went and I still felt pain, so I stopped.

I walked for about 20 minutes with no pain and considered my options. I could walk my half marathon training plan, since walking isn’t posing a problem for me. But then I considered how much time it would take to walk 10+ miles multiple times and knew that was out. The extra time on my feet might be even worse for me than running, and honestly, I get bored with the same activity if I do it too long. The other option was to keep trying to run and stop whenever it hurt. That didn’t sound appealing since it would mean every run would be an anxiety inducing guessing game, which is what I’ve been dealing with and do not like.

Then I had a moment of clarity. Running simply isn’t fun for me right now. I love running because of how strong I feel when I’m pushing myself to go faster than I’ve gone before. I love the feeling of my arms and legs working in harmony to propel me forward. I love how I can focus on where I want to go and use my body to get me there. But for all those things to be possible, I need to know my body is ready for whatever I want to give it. I don’t want to have to hold back, knowing even though my breathing is great, my leg can’t handle it. I don’t want to have to think about my leg at all, I just want the freedom of movement.

So I decided to email the Go! Half Marathon people to see if a refund or deferment was possible. Their website said no refunds, so I was elated to get this response:

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I immediately wrote back and said yes and felt a giant sense of relief. Now I have nothing on the racing schedule for 2014 (the season pass is two halfs and a 5k, spread out over the year). I can run when I want to, when I know I’m fully healed, when I know running will be fun again. And I’m not setting any type of timetable for that to happen.

Instead, I’m focusing on activities that are fun for me right now.

  • Swimming

  • After my failed run on Sunday, I decided to get in the pool. I’d made an impulse purchase at Costco on Saturday, a three pack of swimming goggles (because I have three heads).

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    Ok, the case of beer was an impulse purchase too. The per beer price ends up being so low when you buy in bulk! It couldn’t be helped.

    Anyway, I was excited to put the goggles to use. I got in the hot tub first and scoped out the set up.

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    On Sunday they had three lanes open and it wasn’t crowded but still, I was intimidated. While I’m great at keeping afloat and getting from point A to point B, I know no official swimming moves and I was afraid of the lifeguard judging me. I realize it’s likely her only concern is making sure I don’t drown, but I’m not great at doing things I’m not great at in front of people. So I eased into the situation by going to the main pool area and floating around. It’s only about 3 feet deep and I’m 5’11 so there’s only so much fun you can have with that. I ended up swimming underwater, with my goggles (which are awesome), from one end of the pool to the other. I felt like a kid again, not doing anything structured, just doing what I wanted. Plus, there’s a lazy river and a vortex (circle that water spins around in) and those are fun too. After about half an hour I got up my nerve and got into a swim lane. I kept telling myself no one was paying attention to me and even if they were, why does it even matter? This isn’t a swimming competition, this is the YMCA. So I swam, somewhat randomly, in my lane for about 15 minutes. The best part was I got the sensation of moving strongly from one spot to another and nothing on my body hurt to do it.

  • PiYo

  • I went to PiYo (Pilates + Yoga) some during my last half marathon training but stopped once I was diagnosed with the stress fracture, knowing a lot of the moves isolate legs and not wanting to put too much pressure on my right leg. Now that it’s been a couple months, I was ready to test it out, and I went last night. I was so happy to find 99% of the class (stress fracture) pain free. I only felt my leg pain at one point, a lunge on my right leg. The rest of the time, even a plank/burpee type maneuver (that requires jumping), no pain. And what a workout! I was so sweaty and today I’m really sore in my lower back, butt, and abs. I was thrilled to discover I didn’t have to half ass the push ups during the movements like I did a few months ago. Back then I’d do some with my legs up but did most with my knees touching the ground. Last night I did all with my legs up and felt really strong and controlled while doing them. That’s a credit to all the push ups I’ve been doing while injured–20 per day for the last few weeks. I’m so happy to see that type of measurable improvement from a source of exercise other than running.

  • Stationary Bike

  • I wouldn’t call this “fun” by itself, but it is fun when I bring reading material. I have a problem where reading often literally puts me to sleep, no matter how much I want to read. This couch I nearly impulse bought at Costco sums me up.

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    Reading while pedaling solves that problem!

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    I suppose I do like the smoothness of biking, and how I become sweaty in a sneaky way, without being out of breath. And it’s nice to mix things up and do something different. But honestly, the stationary bike’s most fun quality is that it will help me get through my backlog of books. 🙂

    There’s a small piece of me that’s sad about what I’m missing out on. There were around 500 people at my training team’s long run on Sunday. I saw a picture of it on Facebook.

    20140116-203949.jpg While running with a big group is fun I will say I’m not going to miss getting up at 5:30-6am on Sundays for those 7am long runs. Right now they’re very cold. I’m going to savor the break and look forward to the time when my body is ready to enjoy running again. In the meantime I’m going to enjoy any activity that is fun for me, especially sleeping in on Sundays.

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    20 responses to “A Weight Off My Shoulders

    1. Oh I love that couch!!! Would have been a nice impulse buy! LOL

    2. Great post! Your pool is awesome!!

    3. You are a very wise person for listening to your body. It will reward you. Y taking this year off. A friend, who got me into running, took a year off for an injury. He now comes in 2nd in marathons, half marathons and did his first ultra. I hope you keep posting. You are my favorite blogger and I’d be saddened not to read your posts.
      I,too, fall asleep right away when reading. And I’ve never seen a pool that amazing!

      • Thanks so much for the kind words! I do still hope to race later this year, I’m just not going to commit to anything until I’m sure I can run on a regular basis with no issues. And I’ll keep posting, it will just be more challenging to come up with topics. 🙂 But I plan to live vicariously through all of you and follow your training in the meantime!

        • Maybe change your username to the “Easy Listening Runner”? 🙂
          I say you should post as if it were a weekly or bi-weekly journal. I wanted to post more recipes in the off season but fell into the void of, well, the off season.
          In the meantime, I’ll be waking up at 5am during the week and the upcoming polar vortex to find my stride in two degree weather.

        • Haha! When’s your race? The nice thing about spring races is you train through a lot of miserable weather and are rewarded with the race then wonderful weather (and sometimes it’s wonderful weather for the race). It’s like the gateway to spring.

        • The race is March 31st, a half marathon. It’s a new race called the Philly LOVE run. There’s also a Hot Chocolate 5 & 15k the following week but I’m already registered for the half. True about training for Spring races! We get the best of both nasty weather, like training in the humid summer heat for fall races!
          How’s that Big Kahuna beer? Enjoy it!

        • I’ve only tried one so far, the golden ale, and liked it. I’ll try more this weekend!

    4. Lucky you! Glad you were able to get it deferred!

    5. I think it’s fantastic that you listen to your body – serious kudos from me. I also love your moment of clarity, that this isn’t fun. Your body still needs rest and your mind seems to agree. I admire your attitude of using this as an oportunity to try other activities which you may end up enjoying. I’m a firm believer in the notion that running (or any free time activity for that matter) needs to primarily be fun. Sure, running fast and training hard can be fun, but it’s not the only thing that’s fun about it – far from it. The joy will come back, and hopefully by then your body will be ready. It really sounds like both your mind and body are telling you in unison that they need a break – I’m glad that you are listening!

    6. Hi again! Commenting on your blog this time!

      My husband is dealing with a stress fracture right now. He hasn’t been able to run since late October and he was hoping to do a half in March. Anything that’s helped/hurt with your stress fracture? He’s been doing PT and lots of icing, but other than that, there’s not a whole lot to do.

      That pool is amazing!

      • Hi! Staying off the leg as much as possible helps–my doctor reminded me any time on my feet could affect the injury. So when I did an hour and a half of snow shoveling a few weeks ago I’m thinking that affected how I felt trying to run later that week even though it had nothing to do with running. Or situations where I walked more than normal during the day. Early on in my injury I only biked for cardio; using the elliptical hurt my injury and walking too. Recently I’ve found swimming feels great and now fast walking feels pretty good too, but for like 10-15 minutes at a time.
        I’m convinced rest and gradual increasing of activity is the only way to deal with this. Like you said, not a whole lot to do. I’m realizing I just have to wait until my body is ready to do more and not assume I’m ok because an arbitrary amount of time has passed. I have a hard time holding back while running which is why I decided to just delay when I do my next half rather than try to be ready by April and stress out the whole time.
        I bet PT will help your husband. So he hasn’t tried running yet? Hopefully he comes back stronger than I have because of his PT.

        • Thanks for all of the information! It’s hard for my husband to stay off his feet. He’s a teacher so he’s on his feet all day! I’m sure that has delayed healing. He’s at the stage where he can do the elliptical pretty comfortably. We just went to Mass General yesterday for orthotics and the PT pointed out we have the same exact problem, but our symptoms manifested differently. Both of our left feet pronate inward (thankfully our hips are fine/level). This gave me plantar fasciitis and glute issues, and my husband (according to the PT) more of a tibial tendonitis. Have you hard your feet checked?

        • Actually, foot problems were the first running related problems I had, in 2011 when I was training for my first half. I had a consistent pain on the top front of my left foot. I went to a podiatrist who said I have slightly flat feet and recommended having orthotics made. I’ve been wearing the orthotics since then and haven’t had a recurrence of that problem. When I saw the orthopedic doctor for my stress fracture he examined my running shoes and didn’t observe any wear problems that indicated a problem with form, so I think my stress fracture is likely just from doing too much too quickly on (my previous) worn shoes. I just read this article:
          http://www.runnersworld.com/health/big-7-body-breakdowns?page=single
          It says stress fractures can take up to 16 weeks to heal, and more if you ran through the injury, which I think I did for at least 2 weeks. So I think I’ll likely need a lot of time for a full recovery, and your husband may be the same since he’s forced to be on his feet a lot for his job. But everyone is different so I hope for a better outcome for your husband!

    7. I know deferring until next year was probably a tough decision to make but I think it was the wise thing to do. Listen to your body first! I’m glad they were able to work with you.

      p.s. you do a great job at hiding your other two heads 🙂

      • Haha, thanks. The Go race people are really easy to work with and their races are very well run so I’m looking forward to the next race of theirs I’m able to do.

    8. Pingback: Return to Running | The Rockin' Runner

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