Sunday, March 30, 2014

Evolution of an Injury

First, start with one truly exhausted mama.
     It's gotten better in the last week, but for nearly three months I had not been getting more than 6 hours of sleep a night, and that, interrupted.

Next, add in overly ambitious training plans.
     After my challenge went so well I continued with my plans to run an ultra in May, suddenly bumping up my overall weekly mileage as well as continuing my regular long runs.

Don't forget to underestimate the effects of running a marathon distance.
     With my previous marathons I had "hit the wall" by running out of fuel. This, oddly enough, had the effect of protecting my legs as I was forced to stop and slow down significantly. In last month's challenge I had locked in my nutrition which meant I was able to keep pushing - and even speed up - in the last miles. I truly had not expected, or previously experienced, the fatigue and wear that I had after this run.

And then don't make any accommodations for those effects in the days and weeks following.
     All good marathon training plans would have you rest for a least a week and take another two weeks to slowly return to your regular mileage. 

Then, right before you have a long run, eat poorly.
     I wrestled with Girl Scout cookies and sadly, they won. Not only won, but smacked me down and dragged me all around. And then sat on me.

Oh, and get woken up by a youngster for several hours in the middle of night.

But don't change your plans based on how you're feeling.
     No, I was regretting those cookies and made the equally poor decision to "run them off".

And don't change your plans mid-run, no matter how you feel.

Even if you start experiencing shin pain two-thirds of the way through.



The verdict is out on what this is. Shin splints? Stress fracture? Inflammation? I've seen my doctor and had an x-ray done, which neither of us expect will tell us anything useful, but has to be done so that insurance will agree to the more useful MRI. We're waiting on the results (or rather, non-results) of that. In the meantime, how to treat it? Rest to the extent that I can. Icing seems to be helping. Waiting on ibuprofen (which would help with inflammation) until we can rule out a stress fracture, since ibuprofen impedes bone healing.

I haven't been taking anything for pain (at least, not since those first two awful days) since I have a pretty high pain tolerance and often just don't think to take anything. And honestly, the pain I do have is useful. Does it hurt when I do this? That? It gives me guidance on what I can do since the other option - not doing anything - goes against every last bit of my being. I mean, I will if I really have to, but if I don't really have to...

I am grateful that both of the races I have already registered for are meaningful to me beyond an opportunity to race. I'll be able to take each of them as they come and enjoy them at whatever state of fitness I'm at. And I want to keep that in mind with all future races.

My mother asked if it bothered me to have to reduce my training. I'm feeling really grateful right now to be able to say no. This is just what is going on right now. I'll swim more than I have been and have switched to more strength training, especially leg exercises so that I don't lose too much there. (Hello, squats!) I see this as an opportunity to start over again, correctly, for the long-term goals I have in mind. And as an opportunity to assess more realistically what some of those goals might be. (No worries, Ali, I still want to run an ultra someday.)

And maybe in the meantime I'll work through my stack of mending and actually get started on my next quilt.

Ever optimistically.


  1. Ok. You didn't ask for advice... but... Here's the thing with shin splints from a massage point of view:

    The muscles in the lower leg and foot attach to the shin via a thin sheath of tissue (fascia) covering the bone. Pounding exercises can tear that facia all to crap. Ice helps reduce swelling, as does ibuprofin. BUT massage can work amazing wonders to increase the blood flow to this thin tissue (that doesn't usually get a lot of circulation).

    There are also a group of muscles that can get super tight and be mistaken for bone/shin pain: the peroneals. Check out some internet pages and youtube videos for stretching.

    (Insert another shameless plug for massage therapy here)

    1. Thank you! I had been wondering how to improve circulation there since I know more circulation = better healing. I will check these references out!

  2. Eesh, I'm sorry to hear you've having mystery pain that's bad enough to send you to the doc. Have you tried ART? I hear that's really helpful. Interesting insight into fueling/pushing your legs. I hadn't even made that connection with my faster races.

    I'm glad you're handling your downtime well!

  3. I wish I could give you a hug, make you some pasta Bolognese, pour you some wine, and give you a freebie MRI. Although, it would probably be better if it weren't done in that particular order (the MRI should come after the hug but before the wine).