Category Archives: Health, Injuries, & Prevention

Injury Fake Out

Coming down from Ironman has been a humbling experience. I feel eager and excited and full of energy…until I’m 3 miles into a 6 mile run and want to just take a nap. My muscles aren’t burning, my joints aren’t creaky, but I’ve been insanely sleepy. In fact, I could pretty much – 3+ weeks later – fall asleep at any moment. The sleepiness is starting to lift though and with each workout my body is waking up more quickly and engaging more efficiently. I finally feel like the fog is lifting.

Which is why it was especially infuriating after Track Tuesday one week ago that my right foot started hurting. My right foot being the one that’s been fine since Portland Marathon 2009. During the 2 mile time trial my foot felt fine – the rest of my body including my lungs is a whole other story – but when I got in the car and started driving home my big toe felt cramped in a claw-like position, and the cramp extended into my arch. Having battled PF before I knew what to do and iced, rolled it out, and stretched my toes.

So when it hurt 100x more the next day I was really angry. And concerned. Wednesday morning my big toe joint was immensely swollen, and the pain was radiating from the center of the joint upward. I could hardly walk on the poor toe, because I really couldn’t move it. As the day progressed it hurt more and more, and then I got worried. I called my doctor in a panic and though he was leaving on vacation the next day he let me come in after hours to take a look.

When I arrived and described the pain he looked grim. And when he came back with x-rays I knew that he had not good news to share. He showed me a few x-rays that looked fine, and then we got to looking as my sesamoids. The words ” stress fracture” and “boot” were said. According to the x-ray my 2 sesamoid bones were in 3 pieces.

What 2 sesamoid bones should look like. (But not actually my x-ray)

I left the office feeling like my heart had been ripped out and thrown on the floor. 4-6 weeks in a boot. No NWM Half. No NYC Marathon. But it wasn’t even the boot-time and missed races that got to me the most. What got to me is that this time, this training cycle, I listened to my body. Since my last bout with stress fractures at the slightest sign of something amiss I’ve taken action, be it rest or physical therapy this time around. On the list of top 200 body parts that hurt during training or racing IMC this spot on my body wasn’t ever on the radar, truly. I drove home wondering how I’d ever be able to trust my own instinct again, and arrived on the assumption that I wouldn’t.

In the following hours I became more and more doubtful – 50% in myself and ability to read pain, but 50% in my doctor. Sure I’d wear a boot, but only until I could get a 2nd opinion on the injury. Generally stress fractures can’t be seen in x-rays, and if I was going to be in a boot for 6 weeks I wanted concrete proof that I needed to be there. My doctor was gone so I couldn’t show up on his office doorstep anymore, so I pulled together a list of new doctors to call first thing in the morning. At 8am I called and pled my case with each office. Thank you sports medicine community for listening to my woes – I was granted appointments with every doctor that I called and had my pick. I picked Dr. Blahous at The Sports Medicine Clinic.

I arrived, explained the onset and pain, and the doctor was great. He didn’t discount my previous diagnosis too much, but at the same time said that it didn’t sound like a fracture of any kind to him. Music to my ears!! He poked and prodded and asked thoughtful questions, then more x-rays. This time around they took images of both feet and I thought nothing of it.

Dr. Blahaus came back and shared new images with me. This time the image was more clear; the blurry line that had looked like a fracture the day before was much more pronounced, and my sesamoid bones were much more separated.

Again, not my x-ray. But this is what my x-ray looked like. I have a Bipartate Sesmoid.

Then my new favorite person in the world then shared the news that earned them that title: No fracture, I’m just a freak!

“Sesamoid fractures need to be differentiated from bipartite, or two part sesamoids.  Bipartite sesamoids are found in less than 10% of the general population.  Bipartite sesamoids are usually found bilaterally.  Therefore, one way to differentiate a bipartite sesamoid from a fractured sesamoid is to take a comparison x-ray of the non-symptomatic foot.  Bipartite sesamoids usually have a rounded appearance at the separation of the two fragments while fractures are typically sharp edged, without rounded edges.”

Though the physical pain and swelling didn’t immediately disappear with this news, I felt like a boulder had been lifted off my emotional and psychological state. The doctor guessed that the pain was some sort of soft tissue issue, prescribed lots of ice and Advil, and guessed I’d be good as new in a couple of days. His thought that track work on a tired body was the culprit.

The moral of this story: Trust yourself. 4 days later I’m back to running with no swelling, minimal tenderness, and no real pain. I can’t stop thinking about if I had agreed to hang in a boot for 6 weeks…for no reason!

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Always Wear Your Helmet

Written July 1, 2012.

Yesterday morning I set out on what should have been my first century ride; 100 miles in the overcast drizzle. I was not looking forward to the drizzle, but I was looking forward to getting this ride under my belt, exploring a new route, and most of all not being in a hurry to get it all done. 100 miles in the saddle – and my previous longest ride being 85ish – and I planned to pace myself to enjoy it. For once I didn’t have a slammed schedule in the afternoon so there was no rush to fit it all in.

I made it less than 1 mile before I found myself splattered on the pavement.

Leaving my neighborhood there’s a hill to descend about 1 mile long, and at the bottom the road curves right. You can’t see around it until you start turning, it’s pretty blind for cars and cyclists alike. I’m familiar with how scary it can be and have nearly gotten hit there by careless parkers before. Though I see people fly down the hill at times I don’t. EVER. I ride my brakes all the way down like a weenie.

Yesterday I hit that turn and had about 30 feet to stop on wet pavement. A truck was blocking the bike lane, plus the entire vehicle lane, while backed into a driveway unloading. I braked, fishtailed, released to straighten out, tried to brake again gently, and went down. Hard.

My right side was first, and went straight into the raised (sidewalk height strip) median, and I bounced. Everything seemed in slow motion and while still being catapulted with the crash’s momentum I actively thought about 2 things: 1. How close my face was to the edge of the sidewalk as my head bounced along it 3 or 4 times. My eyes were literally centimeters from the corner but my helmet kept hitting first and created a buffer. And 2. WHEN.WILL.THIS.END. I could feel myself rolling, flying, bouncing, and tumbling forward but knowing that I couldn’t stop the momentum I stayed loose and tried to keep my awareness of which way was up and where to land. Thank you very much 16 years of gymnastics.

When I finally stopped moving I checked my face (no blood), my extremities (nothing catastrophic), and my bike (TBD) and dragged myself to the side of the road. I’m certain, the witnesses were much more afraid for me than I was for myself in those moments. They approached – one man running – to see if I was okay. The looks on their faces while I stood there trying to assess the damage and figure out what to do next were more paralyzing than the moment I realized I’d either be flying straight into the truck or straight into the pavement.

I’m beat up, hurting, partially broken, frustrated, and tired. I’m damaged, my things are damaged, and I’m quite sure that Garth is damaged from receiving that phone call while half awake and half dozed off enjoying a Saturday morning. Hi, it’s me. I need you to come scrape me off the pavement and take me to the ER. I had a crash. 

But I’m also incredibly grateful and lucky. And LUCKY. It could have been so much worse. Garth could have been out for a long run. That truck could have been moving. My helmet, now misshapen and cracked, stayed on my head and did its job. It most certainly saved me.

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Filed under Bike, Health, Injuries, & Prevention, Training

Return to the Run

Taking time away from the sport weakens your mind and body no matter how you spin it, and no matter how fit you remain – or get during cross training (DUH! Cuz we all love cross training!)– resuming running is hard work.

It’s hard physically for obvious reasons. Even if your injury is healed your muscles aren’t as tough as they were. Neither are your joints, so though they’re fine they scream about the impact while conforming to the fact that YOU.WILL.RUN. Your heart rate will soar to new heights even if the work doesn’t feel that hard. Every muscle, right up to your teeth, will feel tired post run.

Your mind will think that everything is unreasonable. However fast you were 2 months ago? Yeah, impossibly ridiculously fast. When you do eventually try to run at that pace you once were your mind will tell your legs GO-OMFG-BALLS-TO-THE-WALL-FAST-GO-DYING-HURRY-HURRY-FASTER.  You’ll test it by riding a more comfortable (pace) line, which will be discouraging because you probably won’t hold on long enough to build back the confidence you need to do it right.

Every time I get injured I learn something new about the sport of running. This time it’s that fitness is vital, but your mind is what will make or break your return to running. In the running moment the challenge feels 100% physical while you sweat, pant, and burn. But it’s only a physical challenge for a short time. Your body adjusts to that pain once your mind forces it to (gradually, within reason).

Every single time you can just hold on that next run is an improvement. Re-proving and reminding yourself that you have it in you is just as important as keeping your legs strong and heart healthy.  In reality a large amount of focus, some pushing through it, and forcing yourself to ride that line of barely holding on will do it. And you’ll be well on your way back to where you were.

Self, please remember this. That’s all.

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Sick of the Disclaimer

I’m in a bit of a psychological funk right now. Again. Still. Whatever. And so training goes.

When I’m out there is absolutely nothing I’d rather be doing. I LOOOVE CYCLING! I LOOOOVE SWIMMING! Heck, I loooove jog/walking! (<– Note not an all caps kind of love, but love nonetheless) However it’s getting increasingly difficult to feel inspired to get out of bed and put my kit or swimsuit on. I’m still hardly running which makes it hard to feel like I’m big-picture-prepared to do my best at Boise, or beyond. I mean come on here, the ticker to the left says THREE MONTHS. Le sigh.

I’m doing everything I can to be prepared, but I just don’t feel like there’s anything I can do to catch up. I’ll do just fine given the circumstances I’m sure, but I’m sort of over having everything undermined with that statement. How about a standalone “awesome” rather than “awesome given injury”? I’m sick of the disclaimer. I realize that I allow myself to feel like it’s disclaimer, but  I’m certain I’d be better if I could be pushing myself on the run rather than just hitting the 40 minute mark on a slow jog. So the disclaimer is at least sort of real.

In the meantime I’m doing my best to celebrate the small accomplishments and total them up to equal something meaningful so that I don’t A) Feel overwhelmed by how much/little of this training cycle is left, and B) Cry myself to sleep in a bottle of wine every night out of frustration. Kidding about B, sort of. Maybe. Or not. You’ll never know!

Swimming and cycling are coming along nicely, truly. I feel stronger on the bike than ever and when I’m riding I am happy, grateful, fulfilled and am starting to understand what true cyclists do. My swimming isn’t fast but it’s at least 1,000,000x more efficient than I was last summer.  Yes, 1 million times, and if I can’t get invest enough to get FAST fast, then efficient is nearly as good on the shortest (by far) leg of the race. And my foot is coming along, it really is. X-rays yesterday showed improved healing and bone density in the fractured spot, meaning it’s physically on the mend. I’m well into the land of slow jogs and adding 5 minutes increments, and I can even get on board to celebrate 40 versus 35 minute jogs. But the pain that still radiates from the fracture at random times can be scary and at this point I don’t trust myself to differentiate healing sore pain from injury pain (and with good reason) .

Hmm. And perhaps therein lies the problem: That I don’t trust myself to do this right.

Any suggestions? What CAN I do to be prepared? Or at least to make my mind feel as such?

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Swimming Lesson 3

Today the Nuun Swim Team, as we I fondly call ourselves us, bailed. Early work duties, a race next weekend, and other miscellaneous excuses prevented everyone from attending, except for me and our fearless leader. And she is truly fearless if she is willing to take me on, trust.

Though I missed my teammates it was nice to have the lane to myself and to really get more swimming as opposed to some of the waiting that can happen when you’re sharing a lane with others who are trying just as hard as you to learn the drills. My normal pool has been getting more and more crowded in the morning with the onset of triathlon season I’d guess, and though I usually dodge the circle swim bullet it was nice to have a wide open lane to myself in a pool with bright lights and high ceilings.

We did more rotation and reach/glide drills (versus how I usually swim which is muscling through it) and though I felt some minor progress on Friday I really felt a leap today. Like, a L – E – A – P. The drills that I’ve been struggling with and sinking on came fairly naturally after a brief warm-up, and I was able to really focus on form and consciously make changes and uphold them.

It’s as though everything I’ve been thinking about swimming is completely backwards, and it’s taken a lot of fighting with myself and the water to reverse that. Rather than pull I should reach! Rather than speed up my cadence should be slower! And don’t get me wrong – it isn’t actually reversed yet. But I feel like I’m at a point where I can at least get myself back to here when I go (which is sure to happen) astray. Next time I’m in the pool having the worst swim ever I’ll be able to stop, realize that I’m doing something wrong, figure out which drills to do to center myself, and continue on without hating things too much.

I really want to like swimming more, and I’m getting there. Good thing, because there’s still not too much running happening on this foot which is a combination of nerve-wracking, disappointing, and depressing with Boise looming.

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SUAR’s 10 Ways To Survive Your Injury Without Being a B*tch

While trying to convince myself it was a good idea to get out of my warm bed at 4:30 this morning for weights and swimming lessons I stalled by catching up on blogs. Lots of Boston rah-rah-ing in my RSS. Yay runners! And also this:

10 Ways To Survive Your Injury Without Being a B*tch – By SUAR (Shut Up And Run)

As a currently injured athlete I think the advice is stellar. Much of it is obvious, but it’s much more effective to have someone remind you THE WORLD IS NOT ENDING rather than to have to muster that feeling yourself. Be careful who you tell. I always forget this one. No longer.

I spent the better half of last week feeling just about how SUAR does in her photo. I was negative, burnt out, feeling like my hard work was pointless. I don’t think I ever actually thought the world was ending, but I was certainly sort of questioning my part in it. I felt like my world was ending. I mean, really, MORE AQUA JOGGING? That might kill me.

I took two days to wallow then forced myself out on a long ride on Saturday. Post-ride I decided aqua jogging didn’t sound like death, so I obliged. Then something magical happened: I felt BETTER. And then I felt even better when I woke up early on Sunday morning to lift weights and then ride with my training group. In fact, I felt so much better psychologically that I didn’t even get upset when I locked my keys in my car in the parking lot 10+ miles from home. I simply dealt with it, ran later in the afternoon, and made the best of my day. (This is a big deal, folks.)

Reading SUAR’s blog post was just what I needed this morning. While I’d like to think I wasn’t a b*tch the whole last month, I probably was at some point. I can’t promise I never will be again – injuries suck – but I’m feeling back on track.

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Swim Bike No Run Recap

Yes, I’m still alive and well (all things considered) over here, and am still on my way to Ironman. I just figured that I wouldn’t bore you all with how the bottom of the pool is looking or how I’ve definitely figured out the best way to carry  my bike and trainer to my apartment gym in one!single!trip!

I’m still not happy to not be running. In theory I can try it next Tuesday, but my gut says don’t do it – and Coach agrees – so I’m going to stay strong in my pursuit against the sfx. Instead to celebrate my minor victory on the road to recovery I’ll bring normal shoes to work next Tuesday and will wear them to walk around the office (rather than my boot). If that goes well for an entire week then I’ll try a run-walk-run-walk for 20 min the following Tuesday prior to my follow-up appointment. Fingers are majorly crossed.

But in the mean time, some highlights from the last week or so:

Saturday March 17

It snowed. Big, fatty, huge, snowflakes. For about 2 hours. Needless to say I was pretty pleased that I had chosen the trainer over an outdoor ride when the snow started about 45 minutes into my 3 hours. I sweat like nothing you can imagine (seriously, really) so despite the snow I cracked open two windows for a cross-breeze. 30 minutes later steady steam was coming off my back, and I kept thinking my eyes were foggy but nope, just more steam. Here’s a photo Garth took to document my first 3 hour trainer ride. Of course he had to take the photo during one of the quick sit ups I took, making me look like a total loser.

3 Hour Trainer Ride in the Snow

Sunday March 18

I purchased waterproof headphones. Conveniently they’re also sweat-proof, since I’ve broken about 493438329831718 pairs of apple ones with my “glistening.”

Wednesday March 21

I set my stuff at the head of a lane, and rinsed off in the pool deck shower. A girl asked if it was my stuff – yes – and she set hers down too to share. Despite the fact there were other free lanes. That’s cool, I hate the wall lanes too. We split it just like everyone does at 24 and went about our merry swimming. 15 minutes in to my 1:15 swim we had a collision with some hardly notable side-swiping action. I quickly stopped swimming, because I like to be polite and apologize even if it’s not my fault, and looked back toward her to see what was up. I was on my side, and she appeared to be on her side, the collision was hardly worth noting. But girl was PISSED. And started crying in anger. *sigh. The rest of our swim sharing the lane was really joyous. Thank goodness she was out of the locker room prior to me finishing up. Though my “swimming” that day felt more like “sinking” I would have glad fought the water for however long necessary to not deal with her pout any longer.

Thursday March 22

I’m getting better at spinning, for sure. Small little things that I don’t have the energy to really analyze in the grand scheme of things, but I can get my heart rate higher and hold it before my legs have no strength left to give. Aero is getting more comfortable on my new bike. My left side is still weaker and less coordinated than my right, but once I’m warmed up I can even it out until I start getting fatigued again. Coach specifically told me to expect my spinning sessions to be tough this week, and that they were. But I had them built up as impossible, and they certainly didn’t kill me. In fact, I enjoyed them.

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Everything but the Laundry

I’ve had a quiet week over here, mostly because I’ve been in denial that I’m injured. Not in a risky or dangerous sense; I’ve been following doctor’s orders, wearing my boot, have semi-permanent compression sock marks in my calves, and have been very good to my stress fracture. But I’ve been in denial in the sense that I don’t want to talk about it. And I really don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to consider the effect that it will have on my June and August races, or acknowledge how much time I’ll have (or won’t) to safely get back into running the distance and pace I need in order to be prepared for the season I want.

My denial is helping me get through days without dwelling on these things that are truly unproductive, and luckily I’ve been pretty busy so I haven’t had a lot of quiet time to let negativity creep in. But it has been hard to set up my bike up on even days and pack my pool bag on odd days, knowing that usually I’d be doing a progression run or recovery run or long run or run off the bike right now. This week has started to feel like spring, and my friends head out for sunshine runs and compare their training for spring marathons. I smile with (kind and friendly, of course) jealousy. And I force myself to be thrilled with the fact that I had a whole lane to myself and that no one interrupted my rocking sweat session to Vh1’s Jump Start Video.

Needless to say, I love so many things about running. So so so many things. Lots of them. Even all the laundry. Except the laundry.

But aside from missing running, the most difficult part of having a sidelining injury is that as each day passes I feel less and less like an athlete. Each day that I can’t run I feel farther away from what I want and less like who I am. I acknowledge that it may be slightly unhealthy that I so much define myself through my running. Especially because I’m not even that fast! But I pride myself on being dedicated to the things that I adore (yes, things other than running, too) and it’s hard to feel dedicated when you can’t even participate.

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Champagne Soup

What do you use your stockpot for?

Champagne Foot Soup

Surely nothing this awesome. Unless you are also icing your foot and love cava. If so, feel free to copy my brilliance.

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Filed under Health, Injuries, & Prevention, Photo & Video Posts

Battling Evil With Medi-Dyne Magic

Today I’m honored to be featured on Medi-Dyne’s blog, where they’re sharing my story of recovery from the evils of plantar fasciitis. *shudder. Seriously evil stuff. And I’d be remiss to not mention, just in case you don’t gather from below, that the only way and reason I recovered was because I finally pulled the trigger and bought a ProStretch Plus. And yes, I happened upon it and bought it myself (in a moment of pain induced depression and rage). Ask my Visa card if you don’t believe me, but I’m just grateful that my PF story has an ending.

Seriously though, if you or anyone you know are suffering from PF get one immediately. And keep it in your kitchen. For real. It helps. And I can’t wait to try the RangeRoller, too!

—From Medi-Dyne’s Blog—

Overcoming Plantar Fasciitis, An Inspiring Story

Posted on December 14, 2011 by admin

We were sent this testimonial from Arielle; runner, triathlete, and soon-to-be Ironwoman. She recently overcame 10-months of pain and suffering, due to ‘nagging’ Plantar Fasciitis, with some truly inspiring perseverance and what she calls “Medi-Dyne magic.”

“As a highly competitive gymnast growing up I periodically had heel pain, but nothing that I couldn’t remedy within a few days. Fast-forward about a decade later, and I found myself completely in love with long distance running. Ever since I took up the sport in the spring of 2009, I had experienced intermittent heel pain on and off again. In all of my athletic history my feet and ankles have always been my weak link, and I’ve run the gamut of injuries from stress fractures to dislocation to neuromas and so on…
Fast-forward one more time to March 2011, just 6 weeks before the Boston Marathon. I had been training for over a year to qualify and prepare for the race in Boston. After my
first 20 mile training run my foot completely seized up, and nothing would remedy the intense heel pain and feeling of strain that I was feeling in my foot. I stretched 3 times every day, used traditional methods—ice and massage, but nothing would alleviate my heel pain and get my arch to loosen up. I was forced to stop training up until race day, though  even after over a month off my feet, my Plantar Fasciitis was no better than that first day it came on.

I limped my way through the Boston Marathon and afterward my injury was no better or worse than before, so I took another couple of months off from running to try to get the inflammation to cease.  In the mean time, I found triathlon, which helped due to less running, but I was dissatisfied with the solution. I was recently gearing up for the Seattle Half Marathon in November of 2011, my first race since April. I was having a particularly painful week, feeling like I would never be uninjured again.

Training was going well but I still had nagging Plantar Fasciitis and foot pain, a sign of not good things to come (given that I’m racing in the Ironman Canada next summer). During an evening of injury-related depression I was surfing Twitter and saw someone post that Medi-Dyne would be sponsoring #runchat. I went to medi-dyne.com and clicked through to learn more about you guys. I instantly remembered seeing you in either Runner’s World or Triathlon magazine, and pulled the trigger to have my ProStretch Plus rush ordered. From all of the stretching I’ve done I understood immediately what sets the ProStretch Plus apart, and hoped it would truly be the device to save me!

My ProStretch Plus arrived just a couple of days later, and after 1 day I saw a huge  improvement in my Plantar Fasciitis (both heel pain and arch tightness). After 3 days my  heel pain was gone, my arch tightness had subsided, and I was noticing less arthritis pain in the outside edge of my foot. After 7 days I was able to go off my arthritis medication and I haven’t had any heel pain since!!

The foot is so interdependent on all of its moving parts that inherently many of my injuries have stemmed from compensation for other injuries. Regular use of the ProStretch Plus has really gotten to the core for me to work through many of my foot injury issues. I  haven’t been in pain for a while (finally!!) I’m still seeing active improvement in my flexibility and stride while walking and running. And I love that the product is so easy to use; I keep mine in my kitchen so that I can use it between cooking and cleaning in an area where we all congregate. The ease of use makes it easy for me to remember and more likely to incorporate it into my routine. So happy to have found you guys am looking forward to more of your magic!” – Arielle

Thanks to Arielle for sharing that amazing story and the fun photos with us.You can follow Arrielle’s training on her blog, “On the Way to Ironman” at www.onthewaytoironman.wordpress.com.  We are looking forward to hearing about her success at the Ironman in Canada this summer.

If you have a story about your injury recovery that you would like to share with us, or if Medi-Dyne helped heal your pain please email connect@medi-dyne.com. Read what others are saying about the ProStretch Plus at medi-dyne.com or order your ProStretch Plus today.

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