Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Last Sunday I did my first race 15 weeks after breaking my ankle - a 5K. I wanted to finish in less than 33:00 minutes, but finished around 33:08. The race didn't have a starting mat, and since I was towards the back of the starting pack, that attributed to a few extra seconds (that's what I'm telling myself).
The break site had been sore for a couple of days previous after I over lifted at the gym earlier in the week, and even as of Saturday night I was afraid I might have to walk some of the course. It felt much better Sunday morning, and although I experienced some twinges in my right calf, there was no pain at the break site. I jogged and stretched the calf, and once the race started, the twinges quickly worked themselves out. I held a pretty steady pace throughout, but I was unable to hold a sprint to the finish. I obviously still have some endurance to build back, and in fact, my right leg is still smaller than the left.
I am signed up for a half marathon on December 7. I was supposed to run 5 for my long run this weekend, but the race kind of screwed up that schedule. I have 6 scheduled for this weekend, and I plan to run that to get me back on track. I'm not sure about my other runs this week, as the forecast is calling for storms through Saturday, but I will do what I can do. I'm okay running in the rain, but much of this rain has lightning, and it's never fun wondering if you are going to be BBQed. I will either have to time it when it's not storming or use the dreadmill at the gym.
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
I started running again about 1.5 weeks ago. Since I don’t want to undo 12 weeks of healing, I heeded the doctor’s advice and started my comeback slowly. I listened to my body and pushed it when I felt I could, and scaled back when necessary. After three sessions of 2 to 3 miles of running/walking, with the longest distance of 1 mile of straight running and no ill after effects, I decided it was time push it and run 3 miles without stopping.
Part of the reason I decided to do that was because the ankle was feeling normal while swimming. Early on, before I was able to run, I swam laps to PT the ankle and build up muscle. When I first started swimming I could feel stuff “flopping” around, meaning the bone was probably moving as well as tendons. It felt loose. Last week during my swim session, everything felt like it was back in place, and even with fins, the ankle felt pretty good. I did several lengths of just kicking without additional pain.
Although I was determined to do the distance, I decided there would be a few things that would cause me to walk or stop (turns out there was one more thing, but more on that later):
1. There was an unusual or sudden, sharp pain in the healing ankle
2. I feel a muscle or tendon strain (I am still building those back up, too)
3. I get overheated (it’s still hot and humid here)
4. I become exhausted. I am still building endurance back up, and from time to time I will be going along just fine and then I have a sudden energy drop, but this is getting less and less and I actually haven’t experienced this in a while.
I have a few routes in my neighborhood. One is in on my side of the main road, where I have 8/10s of asphalt sidewalk, there is up to 1.5 miles of a combination of sand road/asphalt sidewalk, or I can do loops (kind of around the block but in ½ mile increments). I can also run up and down the ¼ mile side streets and get in 10 miles without straying more than ½ mile from home. I use this last route if the weather looks like it's going to get nasty so I can get home quickly. I can't tell you how many times I have been a mile or more away from home and a thunderstorm with big, close lightning has popped up.
There is also a long out and back route that starts a few blocks away on the other side of the main road, and I like to use it because there is very little traffic (no fumes) and it’s quiet with opportunities to see nature. I decided to use that route partly because my neighborhood route was getting boring, but mostly because I use this route for my really long marathon training runs. I drive along this route fairly often, and I always think about all of the long runs I have done, and how I felt when I was running under that bank of trees or that time I did the 22 mile run on that freezing, windy day. I have been longing to get back to that training (okay not the one with the freezing wind), and I thought getting back on this route would be a big mental boost, and it was.
I walked the .3 mile to the start, and began at a slow pace. I decided I would make myself do this slow since this was the first time I have not done this distance in several months. I came to ½ mile before I knew it. While everything was feeling good, the calf on my “good” leg started to twinge, so I slowed a bit and it worked itself out. I was coming up on a mile and just settling into my normal running haze when I saw something on the sidewalk in my path . . . snake! Now, I’m not afraid of snakes, but I also respect them. I will approach a black snake since they are harmless, but this one was near water and I wasn’t sure what it was. I could be a water moccasin or a harmless water snake. So I paused my Garmin and stopped. I was surprised that it didn’t seem to register I was there. No tongue flicking, no tail movement, nothing. I tossed some pebbles at it, and it still didn’t move, and I realized it was harmless because it was dead (later online research determined it was a water snake - also harmless). So I restarted the Garmin and continued, and did a little mental celebration after passing the one mile mark.
When I got to the halfway point I turned around and headed back. My legs felt good, there were no issues with the ankle, but the first half of the run was against a light breeze which helped to keep me cool, and I was now running with the breeze, and it got hot fast. I managed to run to 2.3 miles and had to walk to cool down a bit, but picked it back up at 2.5 miles and finished the 3 miles in 36:00. I was happy with the time, considering I walked .2 of it. There was no remarkable ankle swelling afterward, and while the area is slightly sore today (as well as a few running muscles), I know that I didn’t overdo it, and that next week I will be able to go longer.
I have a 5K race in 2 weeks and I am confident that I will have a respectable time – not a PR, but not 36:00, either. In the meantime, I will continue to look forward to my half marathon on December 7. My goal was initially to “just finish”, but after yesterday I see no reason why I won’t be able to run the entire 13.1.
Wednesday, October 01, 2014
I finally hit my 12 week mark last Monday since I broke my ankle in a slip and fall. This was the magic number, because the doctor said that at 12 weeks you are considered healed and there are no restrictions, other than not overdoing certain physical activity, one of them being running.
For the past few weeks I have been using the stationary bike at the gym and swimming laps, and sometimes pool running. However most of the pools to which I have access are too deep so I have kind of given up on trying. I also started using the weight machines, which has helped with muscle building, although my right leg is still smaller than my left.
At around 10 weeks, I started tossing around when to start running again, and I decided I would do a very short and easy run the Saturday before the 12 week mark. Although the doctor wanted me on the elliptical for a couple of weeks before starting to run, I figured the other work I had been doing probably helped, and I would give it a go. I bought a pair of Hoka One Ones, and while I don’t care much for the style of the shoe, they are extremely cushy and not as heavy and klunky as they look. Also, this is my recovery shoe and I will do anything for a safe return to running!
I happened to be in Michigan for my first run, which is good, because I have been sitting indoors all Florida summer long, and have lost much of my tolerance for the heat. Saturday morning I went out in sunny mid-60s with a light breeze, and did a total of 2.5 miles, with 1.25 running and the rest walking. Most of the running intervals were .25 mile, with one at about .5. Afterward I had some minimal swelling, but nothing that told me I overdid it.
I did my second run yesterday in the heat of the late Florida morning, and while I wanted to do a total distance of 3 miles, I only managed 2.8, with about 1.3 miles of running. This time I did .5 mile intervals of running with .25 miles of walking, and I could have run farther. My next run will be either tomorrow or Saturday, and I plan to run a mile or for as long as I can, whichever comes first, and then a series of walk/runs. I am not planning on a total distance – just whatever I can do. Although my endurance is diminished, I was pleasantly surprised that my speed isn’t as far off the mark as I thought, and I have managed to stay around 11:20-11:30, with a max pace of 9:57 according to the Garmin.
Today I registered for a 5K on October 19, and I am pretty confident that I will be able to run the entire distance by then. I am also signed up for a half marathon on December 7, and while I am confident that I will be able to finish it, I may have to run/walk it.
I feel so much better now and look forward to a strong recovery and the winter racing season.
Friday, August 29, 2014
First let me say that I am healing up, and am now weaning myself off of the boot. Next week I will start with some additional exercises per the doctor as well as get on a stationary bike at the gym. I don't have a date to start running yet, but will play that by ear (and pain level). So that’s all good.
Don’t get all excited and think that I had some great epiphany while staring at the walls for the past few weeks. The truth was that I was bored out of my mind. For the first few weeks I slept a lot, probably because my body was using its resources to fix the broken bone and damaged soft tissue. I had the luxury of naps because I am currently unemployed. Of course being unemployed with a broken ankle added additional stressors onto my already stressed out situation, but I decided not to let it get to me because there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it. During this time, I was at least proactive by sending out a ton of resumes and contacting people in my network, and I have had a couple of interviews. But I digress.
The thing that I discovered while laid up is all of the awesome resources available online through my public library. Yep. The library. I love libraries and always have. I have always been a big reader, and when in grade school would check out a stack of books that were so high I could hardly carry them. Once the librarian asked me if I was going to read all those books and my Mom told her, “Yes she will.”
So during one of my more bored moments I got online at my library to see what was available at my local branch. My thought was to put books that I wanted to read on hold and then have my BF drive me there to pick them up. I never really noticed the online resources before, since I always GO to the library, but I decided to check out what was available. This is what I found:
• Books and Audio Books – you can download books to your Kindle or your computer’s browser. However, there are only a few available at a time, so if other readers have checked them out, you have to wait for them just like a “real” book. Once you download them, you have 2-3 weeks to read them, and then the online system takes the book back. No fines!
• Music – you are allowed 5 free downloads per week. While my library doesn’t have all the music in the world, it has a pretty good selection, and I downloaded some old tunes that I like – Lean on Me, Ain’t No Sunshine, Don’t Stop Believin’.
• Magazines and Newspapers – I like Consumer Reports, and I used to subscribe, that magazine is a bit expensive and I don’t need all of the information in every issue. Unless you have a subscription, you can’t access the rating information and other content on the Consumer Reports web page. However, if you go through the library system, you can access everything. For free!
• Streaming Video – You can watch movies and TV shows on your computer, tablet, or phone via Hoopla (you download the app to your device). It’s free and you simply check them out. Just like with books, after the lending period, the videos are automatically returned.
• Databases – the databases offered by our library covers a lot of information such as local historical records and maps, driving tests, medical information, business information, e-books, genealogy searches, online tutoring, demographics, reference books, and more.
While this resource provided me with information and entertainment during these past few weeks, I will continue to use it going forward, because once I am working again, I know I will be too busy to go to the library to check out books, and more importantly to return them on time.
If you have not already done so, look at what you library has to offer online. You may be pleasantly surprised, and you may find resources to make your life easier, and more affordable.
Friday, August 22, 2014
I met with the orthopedic doctor yesterday. He said the bones are together and there is more bone growth, although you can still see the break. I can’t take the boot off yet, but he gave me clearance to do the following:
1. Walk as much as I want in the boot. I started doing daily ½ mile walks last weekend. I didn’t have a doctor’s clearance to do so, but after I wound up walking up and down Worth Avenue on Palm Beach for about 1/2 mile (no, I was not shopping - just waiting for someone - a story for another time), and having no ill effects afterward, I thought I wasn’t doing any harm, so I continued the walking. The doctor confirmed I was fine to do that.
2. Start light driving. He said that if I had to slam on the brakes it’s really going to hurt, but it won't break anything. I am fine with pain as long as I know I’m not causing more damage. Last night I took a trial driving around my very neighborhood and found I had no problems with moving my foot from the gas to brake pedal. This is probably because I had been continually bending the foot back and forth since my last appointment 2 weeks earlier. The only issue was if I had to hold my foot on the brake for more than 15-20 seconds it started to complain. I can always use my left foot to hold the brake pedal at traffic lights.
3. Start stretching the foot any which way I want. I did the alphabet with my foot as soon as I got home, and later in the evening. I also did some circles. I will be doing this a lot of times every day.
4. Walk in the pool. This for me is huge because I think it is one of the best things I can do right now, not only for physical recovery but for the mental boost I need. I will work on a plan to start working in some water running in a week or two. Okay, maybe sooner. I'll try it out to see how it feels. Maybe I will run the shallow sections and walk the deeper ones.
5. Swim. Hurray! Real exercise! This will help me get my cardio and endurance back as well as start working my atrophied leg muscles. Which, by the way, I have noticed coming back a little just from the 1/2 mile daily walks.
I asked the doctor about PT, and was told that it probably wasn't necessary and I could do exercises myself at home. I have looked at rehab exercises on You Tube, and will do those. However I am still considering physical therapy if for nothing else, for a gauge on where I am in terms of my range of motion in a few weeks.
Today I will drive myself to the gym, get into the pool and do a few laps of walking and see how it is to swim. I will continue to walk, but will have to do it first thing in the morning when the temperatures are still in the low 80s. Right now our temperatures are going up into the mid-90s with feels-like temperatures from 100-106. I don’t really want to be out in that heat since I have spent most of the hot Florida summer days in the house, and have not built up a tolerance to the heat as I have in past summers.
I am now 10 days away from the magic 8 week mark. That is when the doctor said I can take the boot off and start walking without it for periods of time, working up to where I don’t need it at all. I can also start on the stationary bike after the 8 week mark, as well as start on some weight-bearing exercises that the doctor showed me I can do. I go back to the doctor in 30 days and look forward to a long list of things I can start doing, and I expect that light running will be on that list.
Speaking of running, a few months ago, Patty, the owner of my local running store had me try them on a pair of Hokas just for giggles. They were a little heavier than I prefer, but were SO cushy! Then shortly after I broke my ankle, I spoke to a well-known local runner who strongly recommended Hokas as the shoe to wear when getting back into running after an injury. I went to the running store last weekend and advised Patty to put a pair of Hokas aside for me. I read recently in Runner's World that Hoka came out with a lighter upper, so I will have to check out that model.
I am so excited to feel that I am finally on the road to recovery! More so, I LOVE that I have a plan, because now I feel like I am progressing and back in control of my life.
Now I just need to hear from some of the companies to which I have applied to schedule an interview. I am SO READY to get back to work.
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