Tag Archives: injury

Almost Time

So everything is moving pretty quickly. All the sudden things snuck up on me and I realized that it’s almost time to move! Because it’s my life and all, nothing has gone according to plan and some pretty sharp curveballs were sent out way the past couple of weeks. But I’m ready to do whatever it takes to make this move work. Including…going on vacation next week! Hopefully we’ll do some more packing this weekend (we’re actually doing a pretty good job so far) and then I’m off to my family home in Newport. I’ll get some relaxing time to myself, see some family, and pay tribute to my Uncle Phil who will finally the East Coast remembrance he deserves.

My exercise routine has been all over the place recently. Seeing that we live in a swamp, the weather has been tortuous (hot and humid to the 100th degree). Because of the stress in my life, I’ve been itching to run a lot. But even my nighttime runs outside at 9pm are still dreadfully hot (we’re talking in the 90’s). I’m getting ridiculously bored in the gym, to the point where I’m alternating between the bike and elliptical in the same hour because I can’t stand being on either (I do enjoy the bike but with my frame – well there’s not a whole lot of cushioning and after 30 min my butt gets real sore). But I’m trying to remind myself that in a few weeks I will no longer have a full gym, downstairs. I’ll have to take a bus to get to a gym. So I might as well make good use of it now.

On one of my recent night runs I decided to stop off at a middle school I pass and see if there was a track. I don’t know why I haven’t done this sooner. There is in fact a track, a nice one too, and man, my feet were so happy to be off that hard concrete and on a rubber track. So the next night I got the “brilliant” idea to stop off there once more, run a mile, and then go barefoot. Which was pretty interesting. My feet turned black. And my toenail finally came off. But I really enjoyed myself. I’m only doing half a mile at time. I don’t want to push myself too much. But it’s interesting how much my form transforms. Mid-strike is perfect. Knees are better. Stride is shorter and much easier to contain. But most of all it was fun. And it makes me look forward to trying many more new things, fun things like exploring a new city on foot.

Below is a video Pete took of me running barefoot on the treadmill in our gym. I’m actually on the balls of my foot more than I usually am, but I think that’s because there’s a slight incline on the TM. Pete tried to coach me. I tried to resist his coaching, even though he *usually* knows what he’s talking about. So don’t mind the convo.

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A Summer’s Day in VA Wine Country

It’s been very busy lately, but I’m hoping that the next two weeks will be slightly calmer. After that, well then it’s crunch time because we’re moving really really soon.

I’ve been running *a lot* lately. A lot for me at least. Considering I haven’t been able to run consistently in the past year, it’s been wonderful to get out there and run 3-4 miles a couple times a week. There’s no pressure on these runs, which makes it nice. And I love how it’s been so light out lately, because it means I can do my 9pm runs outside. I learned this past winter that for some reason I really enjoy running at night. Not just the time – I already know my body is better in the evenings – but in the dark. Of course where I live it is never exactly dark and that’s cool with me. I live on a very well lit street, run on the sidewalk, and there are always people out biking or walking their dogs at that hour. Still, it’s the allusion of night running that I really enjoy.

This weekend I picked up “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougal. I don’t know why I haven’t read this sooner. I’m almost done (I hate reading a good book so quickly) and have a lot to muse about. I know many people see the book as an ode to barefoot/minimalist running. And I do too. But I think it’s so much more than that. Not only is it an anthropological study, but above all it’s a testament to the virtuousness of running. More to come later.

For Pete’s birthday yesterday (summer solstice) we had a rare day together. I’m lucky if I see him for 15 minutes right before I fall asleep at night. We live and work on completely different schedules, and we have for a couple of years now. It’s been hard, but I think/hope we’re tougher for it. But yesterday we both took off from work and headed into western Loudon County, Purcellville to be exact, to visit some wineries. A few weeks ago we were talking about things we want to do in DC before we leave. The funny thing was that we couldn’t really think of much. Except for golf. Pete wanted to play on more courses. But after a few days it came to me: we’ve never been to Virginia wine country. Part of Pete’s job is to learn about wine. I know he’s taken a couple of courses and really enjoyed it. He loves that stuff. And considering I only drink wine, but am embarrassed my lack of knowledge in the area, this seemed like a perfect idea. Pete agreed.

Me and the Birthday Boy


It took about an hour to get there. Which really wasn’t that bad, especially since it was the same route I used to take to go ride Charlie. Not only is it wine country out there, it’s horse country. I of course have to point out every horse I see along the way, as if I’ve never seen a horse before. The first place we went to was called Breaux Vineyards. It got great reviews, but I’ll be honest: the New England girl in me was drawn to their logo of a lobster. Except that it wasn’t a lobster, I learned, but a crayfish. The winemaker was originally from Baton Rouge, so that made more sense. Because it was a Monday we were the only ones there, which was great because I could ask a million questions. This was by far my favorite winery, and I even bought a bottle for myself. Pete’s favorite was the 2008 Nebbiolo Ice …After the tasting we walked around and took in the gorgeous views.

Breaux Vineyards in Purcellville, Va

Our second stop was Hillsborough Vineyards. Another spectacular view. Only Pete partook in the wine tasting here (I was the one driving afterall), but he enjoyed it. Our pourer wasn’t as engaging as the first one we had though. So we sat outside for a little while and then decided to move on.

Our third and final stop was Sunset Hills. I felt like I was driving up to the stables going up their winding driveway. And sure enough, there were two barns! The one on the left for horses, and on the right was the winery. I of course said I’d go see the horse and meet up with Pete later, but he convinced me to come in with him. Out of the three this was the most bustling of places. There were several couples there for tastings, and the wine was delicious. I’m partial to Chardonneys, which seemed to be their specialty. The building/barn was incredible too. Totally added to the atmosphere. I expected someone to walk a horse down the aisle at any minute. As much as we enjoyed it here as well, I think what I really enjoyed about the first place was the variety of wines that they make and offer.

Oh, and I learned something about myself: Apparently I prefer wine that is from a stainless steel barrel. I don’t know if I’m phrasing that correctly though. Maybe, “I like steel barreled wine instead of oak barreled?” I guess if you know anything about wine you’ll know what I’m trying to say. All in all this was a wonderful day and I’m so glad we were able to get out and try something new.

2007 Jolie Blend Virginia Seyval Blanc

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Hiking: Healing the soul and the soles

I’ve been a little absent lately. I know.  Things have been insanely busy.  And I’ve been stuck in a bit of runner’s limbo which doesn’t help.  This shin is really a pain (pun intended).  I’m doing everything right so I keep thinking it’ll go away.  Aside from running a few miles last Tuesday I’ve been swimming, cycling, and doing pilates.  Iceing is a constant part of my daily life.  I’m ready for this to be over with.

When things become a little overwhelming in my life I like to for a hike.  So that’s exactly what I did this weekend.  I believe that trail running is the absolute best transition from injury to road – at least for me.  I used to never understand how people could run on these trails and swore if I ever did I would trip and fall within 5 min.  And I have.  But you just brush yourself off and keep going.  Usually Fox and I run the trails at Great Falls, but we mostly walked this time.  He’s a weird dog.  He hates going on walks usually, and can’t stand sidewalks.  I usually have to drag him the 50 meters down the towpath to the trail entrance.  But the second he gets on a trail he lights up.  For a dog with bad legs and hip dysplasia he never ceases to amaze me with his scrambling abilities.  He refuses to walk upstairs to the bedroom but leaps over boulders.  Needless to say, we had a great hike on Saturday.  It’s always nice to get a little fresh air.

 

The Fox

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Mind Over Injury

So I guess you could say I’m getting a little frustrated lately.  I’ve always said that a huge chunk of this sport is mental, but I guess I’m a little confused how I’m mentally supposed to approach this.  I’ve been plagued with shin splints since 8th grade, when I ran the mile in gym class in sandals (whoops, forgot my sneakers) and a month later went to the doctor and told him I had bruises on my legs but I couldn’t see them.  That’s when I learned about shin splints.  They’re really annoying more than anything.  So why am I all distressed?  The lower part of my left leg (inner) has been giving me a hard time for about a month now.  I ice, I’ve laid off the running for the most part (a few miles here and there, but nothing the past 7 days), I’ve got a compression sleeve, do all my stretches, ect. But it’s still there.  Sometimes it’s fine, other times it’s annoying.  But here’s why I’m split:

  1. I’m still shaken up by my stress fractures last summer.  As an athlete all my life, who has taken more falls from a horse than I can even count (and some of them pretty harsh), I’ve never been injured like that.  What’s more, it took about 4 months to heal, and to be honest I still haven’t fully come back from it.  I just haven’t been given a chance.  This thing popped up.  And I’m worried about something bad happening again.
  2. I’ve always thought of myself as having a high tolerance for pain.  Or at least being tough.  And I believe I’m being very careful in this particular situation.  But am I being too careful?  Am I being head shy?  Am I unnecessarily coddling my body when in all actuality I’m experiencing the exact same shin splints I’ve had for over 10 years?  Am I holding myself back when I’m fully able to buck up and deal with some slight pain (when I’m running I rarely even feel it)?

I obviously have no answers to these questions.  When my recovery from the stress fractures went on for so long my doctor uttered the worst possible words to me: “You know, some people’s bodies just aren’t cut out for running like this.”  I am trying very hard not to believe it.  After all, a year ago at this time I had never experienced any pain whatsoever while running.

I’m faced with a dilemma today, it being Tuesday and having a group run tonight.  I could not go, stick to the stationary bike I’m so bored of or go swim laps.  Or I can show up and only do 3 miles instead of the usual 6, and just see how everything is feeling.  I probably won’t decide until right before.  I’ll do the jump test and all.  I just wish someone could tell me if I’m blowing my pain out of proportion or if it’s real.

 I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.  Until then, I’ll be at my desk tracing the alphabet in the air with my big toe…it’s all about the ankle flexibility.

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What a little tape can do….

So I’ve got a little product endorsement here: When my stress fractures hit me this summer I began to go to a physical therapist.  At the end of my first session he asked me if I’d ever used Kinesio tape.  No, but I saw it at the Olympics.  I’m really skeptical about all this stuff by the way.  I’m really not an easy sell – on anything, not just sports products.  But I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try.  I honestly can’t say what it is, or how it works, but whatever it does it works. 

BlueKTTape3

I got myself taped up at the expo for the Marine Corps Marathon (in the last hour the expo was open).  It was well worth the 45 min wait in line (which goes really quickly when you make friends).  I was taped up better than my PT ever taped me up, and I seriously credit this weird tape with helping me run pain-free that Sunday.  My only complaint is this: By mile 5 the tape was seriously falling off my legs, and I almost worried about tripping on it if it did.  Before the expo I stupidly put body lotion on my legs, but I was sure that all the alcohol I rubbed on my shins while standing in line took that off.  The tape is supposed to be waterproof (I’ve even swam in it before), so I don’t know what happened here.  Either way, I wish I trusted myself enough to learn how to tape my own legs.  But I think my sandwich theory applies here: Just like a sandwich is always better when someone makes it for you, it’s better to have someone else tape your shins.

Did I mention the KT Tape booth will be at my marathon in Pittsburgh on May 2nd?  :-)

DSCN0397_320DSCN0398_319

http://www.kttape.com/

@KTTape

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Race Report: Marine Corps Marathon 10K

RR: I spent the night before my race out late, at a horse show, and didn’t get into bed until around 1 a.m.  Big difference from my marathon in May where I was in bed by 10 p.m. And just like almost every other runner, I had quite the restless sleep.  Nevertheless when my alarm when off at 5:30 a.m. my adrenaline kicked in, I threw on my race clothes and warmed up by running uphill to the metro.  I have to say that one of my favorite parts of this day was my metro ride – a trip I usually hate because I’m prone to motion sickness.  What a sight to jump into a metro car at 6 a.m. on a Sunday that is filled with runners.  And boy did we have fun.  Sat next to a guy who had come up all the way from Orlando to run his first 26.2.  Met some women who do this race every year.  And everyone had questions about my legs.  Oh, did I mention?  I was taped up – all bondage-esque, the day before at the expo with KT Kinesio Tape.  The stress fracturkttapees in both tibias may be healing, but they cause a great deal of pain.  But somehow, and don’t ask me how because I have no idea, this Japanese chiropractic technique does wonders to my legs.  It may look a little strange, but it works so what do I care.

Arrived at the Mall to a sea of runners; stretching, huddling together (did I mention it felt 10 degrees cooler in DC than in N. Bethesda?)  The lines for the porta pottys (sp?) were ridiculous, and after wasting ten minutes just standing in line and not moving any closer I decided my time would be better spent stretching.  So I checked my bag, found a bench, and entered into a very meditative state of stretching that I always seem to go into before a race or a horse show.  And then the next thing I knew it was time to begin.

I positioned myself near the 50:00 sign.  In truth my goal was to make it in under an hour.  Before my injury I was shooting for an 8:40 or so mile.  But many things have changed in the past few months, and in all honesty I really wasn’t even sure I’d ever really run again – at least not like I had.  My body had been going through so much, and my mind had become so used to defeat from the pain, that I figured I’d just see if I could make it under 60:00 and maybe that’d be it for my running career.  Luckily, that wasn’t the case.

6.2 miles went pretty darn fast.  I spent the first two in what I like to refer to as “equitation flat class mode”.  In a show ring, in a flat class, you have to fight to be seen by the judges.  Not only are you trying to look pretty and have your horse move well, but you need to cut in and out, strategize from halfway around the ring, to figure out how to position yourself.  I was always great at this.  And I always won those classes.  I find that the first 2-3 miles in any race are quite similar.  You have to maneuver around the slower runners, cut in between two others, jump over a pothole.  I don’t know why, but I have so much fun doing this.  And it’s great too because usually these are the worse miles in my long runs.

mcm

The course was ok.  Personally, I think the 26.2 is much more beautiful.  This was kind of blah but it goes by quickly.  At about 3-4 miles I came up a hill and saw a man, military although I can’t remember which branch, running with a prosthetic…and running at about my pace.  A guy in front of me turns around and says to me, “well there’s really no complaining now, is there.”  And that was it for me.  No complaining about my shins.  There’s no room for that in this world.  If this man can run, then there’s absolutely no question about my capabilities.  I lengthened my stride and moved on.

There were more moments like this.  But they’re personal and I’ll keep them to myself.  But I will say that one of the reasons I enjoy running is because I find it to be a mental battle.  I compete against myself.  I fight my mind.  It’s a very cleansing experience.  My last mile was probably the hardest.  I resisted all urges to check my Nike+ the whole race.  I know that it is never completely accurate.  Coming through the last stretch, with all the marines lined up, shouting and giving high fives – well that was pretty cool.  I knew I was close.  Just one more turn…And then I turned.  Maybe that was my fault for not reading up on the course more ahead of time.  But who knows, maybe if I knew that giant (because that’s what it seemed to me) hill was going to be there I would have been dreading it and then not have enjoyed the race.  Either way, just when I thought I had given my last burst of energy I was now going to have to double it.  A man next to me, military I presume but out of uniform, transformed into drill sergeant and began yelling at his girlfriend.  Yelling is totally not the right word here, because it was very endearing and motivating and he was only filled with good intentions.  I could tell from his tone.  But apparently his girlfriend wasn’t having any of it.  She was having a tough time getting up the hill and told him to stop.  So I turned to him and told him he could bark at me.  And he did.  And what a difference that made.  I needed that extra little boost.  I don’t think I could take that from anyone I knew, but for some reason a stranger acting like a drill sergeant made my legs start to move faster and I left the couple in the dust (or I like to think I did at least). 

I crossed the finish line and entered what I like to call runners daze.  It’s a drunk-like/amnesia type of state.  I usually just wander around as people hand me water and bananas and such.  I thought a marine offered me clam chowder, which I really wasn’t in the mood for after a run, but I accepted anyway.  Turns out he said “chow” and it was a bag full of nutritious food.  My daze usually stops shortly after I find Pete.  I don’t know why I go into this state but I do.  I always laugh about it later, but at the time I don’t really notice.  I found Pete about 20 min later, with his video camera and tripod in hand.  He gave me a hug and started asking me questions (he missed me crossing the finish line unfortunately).  A few minutes into my ramble about the race I realize the camera is on and he’s been shooting me the whole time.  Great.  I probably look like a crazy person, sweating, bright red with more and more freckles starting to come out, darting my eyes everywhere.  I have yet to see the tape. Thanks Pete.mcmsweat

My chip time was 54:13.  I ran an 8:44 mile.  I got my PR.  My previous best had been a little over 57:00, so I’m obviously thrilled.  What’s even better is when I put it all into perspective: For someone who has been battling multiple stress fractures and debilitating shin splints for months (not to mention tendonitis in both calves due to these injuries) and hasn’t really trained that hard for this (I’ve been running about 2x a week for a few weeks. 20 min here.  a few miles there. Hardly anything) and then to go and run like this, well it shows that I can do this.  I can do Pittsburgh in May.  After all, there is no complaining anymore.

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Stress Fractures – posted on 8.20.09

August 20, 2009 by aamatth

Ok, giving this another shot here…I’m still fluxuating on what this blog will focus on, but today I’m going with running.  Quick little background for all 0 of you reading this, while training for a marathon in mid-June I began experiencing intense pain in both of my lower legs.  After a few weeks of continuing to run through this mind-blowing pain I eventually was forced to seek immediate medical attention when I could no longer walk.  Turns out I’ve got multiple stress fractures in both tibias, along with tendinitis and a calf strain.  And so for the past 5 weeks I’ve abstained from running – which has been another battle in its own since running has created a discipline that keeps me “on track” and has been a constant in my life for 3 years.  So I’ve taken up pilates, swimming, and extended my cycling workouts.  And I’ve actually started to enjoy my new routines, especially (and most surprisingly) the swimming.  But needless to say, it’s been 5 weeks and I’m ready to return to my training.

I’ve run slightly here and there the past 2 weeks (3 minutes to 6 minutes at a time, no more than10 minutes total) but that even hurts tremendously a few hours later.  I saw two doctors yesterday, did more x-rays, and was informed my bones have not yet healed and I’ll be sidelined for a few more weeks.

Moral of the story: if it hurts, STOP!

The other moral: It’s also not the end of the world.  And I’ve picked up another activity that I enjoy.

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