Monday, October 28, 2013

Hiking in the Hudson Highlands [The Upside of Injury]

The upside of injury, is that you get to spend the time you would've been dedicating to your weekend long runs, on things like hiking on 8 miles of trails in the Hudson Highlands during Fall.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Being A Responsible Injury Owner

Eventually, we hope to get off this depressing injury loop but for the moment…

Hello, and welcome back to two little runners injuries!! This post brought to you by

Left Ankle Sprain


So you’re injured…you’ve been through the five stages of runner’s grief…and you’ve accepted your injury fate. Now, no matter if the injury:

(a) was the result of stupid training decisions,
(b) was a freak accident,
(c) was inherited from a prior life/sport, or
(d) wasn’t your fault because your training was perfect and you shouldn’t have gotten injured (we all fall into this category, right?)

…it’s your injury now. And you have to deal with it! You are in charge of your recovery.

Here’s some advice on how to be a responsible injury owner. We want you back in your running shoes, stat!

First, get a diagnosis.

Not only will a diagnosis from a qualified medical professional give you a timetable as to when you might be recovered, it will give you an idea about what cross training, if any, you can safely do. Having a diagnosis will also help you to determine when to back off during your cross training so that you do not re-injure or further injure yourself.

For my ankle sprain, this meant learning the difference between a sharp—but mild—pain versus generalized stiffness. Sharp pain, even if minor on the pain scale (1 or 2 out of 10) meant to stop. With stiffness/achiness, it was okay to press forward on.

Second, check your priorities.

When we are training, our priority is to improve our speed and/or distance. When we are taking a break from formal training, our priority is to maintain an acceptable amount of fitness. When we are injured, our priority is to rehab our injury; we can try to maintain our fitness too, but it is secondary to rehabbing that injury. One thing that helps here is break up workouts into segments for rehab and fitness.

For me, that means doing balancing, stability, and flexibility exercises for the ankle in first part of my workout, sort of a warmup. This warmup reminds me that I am injured. And then I do my general workouts—elliptical, weights, etc.—all while keeping in mind that I am not at 100%. (And stopping if I feel any pain, see above.)

It also helps to do something new or fun as part of your cross training. In my time away from running, I’ve done spinning classes, kayaking, paddle board surfing, and tons of yoga. All things I’ve really enjoyed but probably wouldn’t have had the time for if I was running 50 miles per week.

Third, be extra conservative when you build back your running.

It seems urgent to get back to our former running form. But actually, it isn’t. Really. We have years and years and years of running ahead of us. So a couple of extra weeks building back slowly won’t matter in the scheme of our running careers. But it could set you back further.

This is what I’m working on now. I’ve run 12 miles per week for the last 3 weeks, all at very easy paces, and all on treadmill. Now I’m adding one outdoor run per week, and adding no more than 10% to my mileage on a weekly basis.

A big thank you to our sponsors…

two little runners ~Kristen

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On The Road Again

Last time I saw Penny (mid-September), I, rather dramatically, told her that I might be done running, perhaps I would go back to tennis or get into yoga more, and she should think about what she wants to do with the blog. 

That really was the path I was on. But saying those things out loud sounded funny to my own ears, even though I had been thinking them for a long time. I decided to fully open my mind to the possibility of running again and ask (the universe?) for running back.

Now (mid-October), I’ve had three weeks of solid progress. I’m making a comeback. 
  1. Week one – I ran three times on the treadmill for a total of 12 miles. Plus, workouts with weights, yoga, elliptical, and paddle board surfing.
  2. Week two – Was basically a repeat. Staying at three very easy treadmill runs for a total of 12 miles. Plus, workouts with weights, yoga, elliptical, and kayaking.
  3. Week three – Two easy treadmill runs plus my first outdoor run since May! For a total, again, of 12 miles. Plus, workouts with weights, yoga, elliptical, and kayaking. 
Re paddle board surfing and kayaking. I've been spending a lot of time this summer in the water in Mission Bay. It's something fun to do that occupies my weekend time formerly spent on long runs around Mission Bay.

On the agenda for this week is ~13 miles, that is +10% of last week's mileage. Doing it by the book! With one outdoor run again. 

I need to reintroduce road running very slowly. I may have maintained some of my cardio fitness, but my shins were on fire from my first outdoor run. The impact! There is a huge difference between impact on the treadmill (soft as a cloud) versus the road (hard as a rock)!

Any advice for building back to my former running self?

two little runners ~Kristen 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Diagnosis: Femoral Neck Stress Reaction

ETA: A lot of people have been finding this page by search and might be interested in my other FNSR posts:

Ever since I ran the Philly half marathon, and wound up injured and unable to run, I've been sort of avoiding el-Blog-land. Partly because I didn't know what my injury was (and wanted to wait to blog until I found out how long I would be out of action) and partly because, well, writing a running blog when you can't run can be downright depressing.

But don't worry! I'm much happier now!

Ok, so first, a diagnosis. I went to the doctor with pain in the front of my hip, which was exponentially worse when hopping on that leg. I heard that pain on impact tends to be related to bone-injuries, while pain on push off tends to relate to muscle-stuff (technical term). This was definitely pain on impact. Not good.

I saw my doctor  and he didn't like the sound of my symptoms at all (off topic, but funny story: apparently the good Doc has a few admirers. When I googled his name to get the office address, Google search options suggested "Dr Jordan Metzl married?"]

Dr. Metzl ordered an MRI, and the results revealed a stress reaction in the femoral neck. A stress reaction is a precursor to a stress fracture, and is an inflammation of the bone. A stress fracture in the femoral neck looks a bit like this:

Youch, looks nasty. Well actually, it could've been a lot worse. I only had the inflammation, with no cracks in the bone. A stress reaction takes about 8 weeks to heal. An actual stress fracture in the femoral neck (as opposed to, e.g., the shaft of the femur, which is more common) can take up to 5 months to heal. And usually about 6-8 weeks of those are on crutches with little to no activity. Wowza.

It seems the reaction probably started the week before my taper week for Philly when I was running my highest mileage and did my 6x1 mile repeats. The three days before my race, I felt a little pain in my groin, that felt like a minor strain. I definitely would not have run the race, if I'd known it was a stress reaction. But in retrospect, as I said to my dad, I'm actually really glad I ran the race on it. The discomfort I felt before the race was SO minor, if I had just been training, I would've run through it and probably would've ended up with a real stress fracture. The race just aggravated it enough and pushed it to the edge that I had to stop running in the days after (and would've anyway to recover from the race) but not quite over the edge.

Anyway, now I'm in recovery/rehab/cross-training land. Week 1 after the race had no running or cross training, Week 2 consisted of two days of elliptical and some random arm-weights. Week three, I did two days of swimming/pool running, after which I saw the doctor and got the MRI.

Week 4, I would've been about to start climbing the walls, but after my diagnosis was thankfully  given the go-ahead to begin consistently strength/cross-training. I'm allowed to do anything that doesn't "hurt". Its ok if its a little achey, but I have to stay away from "impact pain."

I guess the mind-numbing, wrist-slashing boredom of pool running and elliptical don't fall into that category of discomfort.

But I should be thankful. I can finally keep up my fitness, and continue to heal properly. In two weeks I will see the doctor again and hopefully will be able to very slowly begin reintroducing running to my hip. Here's how I'm hoping that will go down:

"Running? Meet Hip. Hip, meet running. Please don't spaz out. You two will be the very best of friends."

I'll keep you updated :o)