Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Keep Going!

I move between acceptance and ambition, even on my runs lately. I'll be trucking along, steady pace going when some random flash of pain will hit my knee or leg. If it stops I keep going, telling myself to try and push through the pain, to keep going, unless it is unbearable. If the pain continues after that initial flash I'll modify how I'm running, usually shortening my stride. So far it's been working. It's a slow process. So this week I've been trying to get back on track after my work trip and week of recovery from said trip. So far I've run a couple of 4 milers/6kms which has not been easy. It's like I pressed reset on my running button to two months ago. My leg swells, the brace can't seem to fit right and running on a swollen ankle (while the opposite leg is just fine) is borderline ridiculous. But I continue on. Because my choice is either continue the fight to regain what I can or just give up. And I certainly didn't give up when I started running, 50+lbs heavier, running in yoga pants in the pre-dawn darkness to avoid onlookers, I didn't give up during my first half marathon, marathon or ultra, although there were points during each that I really, really wanted to and questioned why I was even out there to begin with. Nope. I kept going, kept pushing through all of that and I'll do the same with this too. It's not that I'm a particularly good runner. Actually I'm really slow (even at the best of times) but I enjoy being out there. Moving through the woods, along a trail on a sunny day, there's nothing better. It doesn't matter how slowly I move, just that I still can and I will. All that said I have a new goal! My work is actually paying for employees to run the Navy 10km race in August. Free race you say? Sign me up! It'll be my first race of the year and I'm excited and hopeful to try and run it in under 1:30. This time last year I would have been aiming for less than an hour but things change and this year I'll get to appreciate the course more ;-)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

First run back

There's nothing like coming home. Settling into a routine with the ones you love, enjoying simple life pleasures and the comfort in predictability... and the first run back in the neighborhood. Yesterday I geared up and headed for home after my first day back in the office. It was a gorgeous sunny day with a slight breeze. I started off slow (and didn't really get much faster) but relished every familiar step along the way. In the end I stood with my hands on my hips, feeling confident and happy to be back where I belong. On my run I thought about my trip and the things I would miss about Paris (the baguettes, the friendly people, the chocolate!) and the things I wouldn't (the heat, the crowds, the nicotine filled air, the shower curtain-less rooms-wth?!). Then I remembered a conversation I had during the trip that gave me an extra push during my run. I was asked if I had "lost confidence in my body" after my accident. While I'm not sure if the person meant to be hurtful, it certainly came across that way, as if they doubted my ability to overcome adversity. As an ultra runner there are SO many times you momentarily "lose confidence" in what you are doing, but part of my journey with running has taught me that the body is an amazing, adaptable thing and with patience I can persevere through these difficulties. Will I be the same runner? No, but I haven't been the same runner after each injury or lay off. A runner adapts, learns from their mistakes and if that adaptation means running less, with a knee brace or on different surfaces for a while (or forever) then so be it. The point is that I can still get out there and enjoy nature and all the beautiful things running can give me. So what was my response? "No, of course not."

Monday, June 15, 2015

Au Revoir Paris!

Oh mon dieu it is good to be back home! I just spent two weeks taking training in Paris, and yes, it was beautiful and fun but it was also time away from my family that I missed so dearly. Leading up to the trip I was very worried about my swollen knee and how it would react to being at 30+ thousand feet. Needless to say, it throbbed and hurt a lot but I managed to refrain from calling a mid-air emergency both ways. I hobbled off the plane after 11 hours and walked for another 2 trying desperately to find my hotel (it seemed so straight forward on Google back at home!). Once at my hotel I got settled and tried to recover from my first bout of jet lag. All I'll say about that is that jet lag sucks and it took 3 days for me to feel normal again. Somehow I managed to get to work the next day though and stay semi-conscious, with the aide of 3 double espressos. My leg eventually felt better, but then the constant (and I mean constant) walking of over 6km a day (sometimes 16!) left me hobbling back to the hotel day after day looking for an ice pack. I tried my brace, but it chaffed my leg and was insanely hot in the 35 degree weather that is June in Paris. I think if my mother hadn't joined me for the second week I probably would have spent the weekend in my air conditioned room instead of walking for 10 hours each day, but hey, I saw the sights right? Jury's still out on how I feel about that. So no, I didn't join the throngs of runners endlessly running in the beautiful streets of Paris at all hours of the day, but I felt my endless walking was making up for the shorter runs I'd normally be doing. After a day I figured out why Parisians are not overweight (or even seem concerned about their weight). It isn't their diet, although more fatty and heavily laden with carbs, is mostly free of fast food and pre-packaged everything. Their secret is the insane amount of walking they do every day. These people have functional fitness down to an art. Seriously. I saw two people in two weeks who would be considered overweight, and not once did I see an obese person in a wheelchair or huffing and puffing up stairs. The runners I saw ran with such a relaxed pace it could almost be called "jogging" (gasp!). They often stopped for walk breaks and I didn't see one doing anything close to speed work or checking their watch for their splits. And I saw hundreds of runners. I just wished that I could have been one of them, even for a short run.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Stairs!

I can finally walk up stairs again! yay! (Sometimes it's the little things ;-)) I've been taking them slowly, but I don't have to take a "pain-break" between floors and it doesn't sting for minutes afterward any longer! Holy crow this recovery is taking a long time, but at least I'm improving, even if it is by baby steps. I had a good weekend of running while I was away at another dance competition for my daughter and on the way home my husband asked about my plans for the summer, meaning, was I planning to race, and if so where and when so he can plan camping trips around it. It was time to decide. Enough wobbling, hoping and wishful thinking, it was time to chose what exactly (if anything) I'd be doing this summer. I thought back to a conversation I had with a coworker recently, who had told me about her own extensive knee issues and her applauding me for saying I was going to take the year to recoup and get back into racing form for the next year. Did I really mean that? I decided that, yes, I did. So, no formal races for me this summer. Instead I'll be running and training my knee to learn how to endure longer than a 10k run again. I did hold off on cancelling the entire year though. I think I do want to do a half marathon in the fall, something with small hills, no major climbers or big fanfare, just a simple half marathon to prove I can still do it. That, if it goes well, should catapult me into a solid winter season of training for next year's Waskally Wrabbit trail race and the Brookfield trail race in PEI next summer. Yesterday I enjoyed the beautiful weather (+17 and sunny) to take in a short 4.5km run from work. My knee protested for the first half kilometer, so I walked for a few meters, but then was totally pain free for the remainder of the run (^?^). My leg was a bit swollen but doesn't (knocking on wood as I type) to be as much of an issue as it has been on every. single. run. My brace has been giving me some chaffing burns on the back of my knee, where it is open for comfort (ha!), so I've been wearing capris as much as I can to avoid the burns. So far it's working. Today it's raining so I may just work on strength training, something that's become a big part of my recovery. In a week's time I get to go to Paris for work. Anyone who knows me well knows I don't like to fly (although I love planes and know way too much about them) and that I hate to be away from my family. So I'm not exactly looking forward to the trip, although I know it will be amazing (I don't expect any sympathy, I know many people would love to go). I am hoping to get in some running, although with the cobblestone streets I don't think I'll take my VFFs with me. At the moment my biggest issue is figuring out how I can take everything I'll need in a backpack since Paris is known for its endless stairs. Thank goodness I can finally go up them again!
(I may follow this little girl if the stairs get too much! ;-))

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A beautiful run in Moncton

Getting ready for a run this weekend I almost forgot my brace. I laughed at myself for the oversight, knowing that I wouldn't have gotten too far without it. Strapped up and ready to go I ventured out onto the foggy streets of Moncton and headed towards Dieppe. The temperature was a chilly 2 degrees when I left but it rose steadily over the next hour. First I ran on the sidewalk, empty and wide on this holiday morning. My legs felt tired and slow, but not in pain. I got to the 1.2km mark and looked at my phone-1.2km! I thought I had (at least!) run 2kms. With a sigh I continued on, looking for a way to get onto the more scenic trail that was on the opposite side of the road. After another half kilometer I found an entrance and watched as the river appeared to my left as the fog lifted. The trail was lovely. Crushed gravel gave way to a wooden boardwalk that paralleled the main street. Then, after a fork in the road, it turned to dirt and continued on for another 2kms, rolling and curving beside tree saplings and small pavilions. After 45 minutes I had to turn around to make it back to my hotel room. I had the path mostly to myself, with the odd couple or cyclist appearing for an early stroll or bike. My knee "reminded" me it was injured a couple of times in the first few kilometers, but after 4kms it settled down and I felt like I had a solid pace going. I could only manage 6kms in total but then I managed to follow it up with another 2kms of walking with my family, so I was really pleased to actually cover a whole 5 miles in a morning again. Maybe next time I will run the whole thing! ;-)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Run and Rehab

It was rather stormy yesterday so I took my run and rehab to the gym in my office (yes, I know how sweet it is to have a gym in the workplace). I was joined by my cube-mate, Drew, who also suffered a knee injury this winter. He took to the bike while I ran. I only managed about 30 minutes but I felt good to sweat and keep a consistent pace. Now, about that treadmill. The office bought a new treadmill this past month and it was my first time trying it. It was a nice machine but it was missing one big button-PAUSE! I was about half way through and realized my leg had started to swell. I looked for the pause button so I could adjust the straps on my brace but there wasn't one. WHAT?! Did treadmill manufacturers do some ground-breaking focus group and decided this button wasn't necessary any more? My only option was to stop the workout, get off and adjust it, but no, I wanted to keep my pace so I plodded on, with increasing discomfort. Thankfully I only had less than 10 minutes left so I SIU'd and pushed through. I'll be using the other machine from now on though lol. After my run it was time for rehab. Even though both Drew and I have knee injuries our injuries are vastly different, affecting totally different structures and areas in our knees yet here we were, doing the same rehab exercises. I can understand some exercises are probably good-practice for all knees and knee injuries, but it seems odd to me that we should have the same rehab plan. It makes me wonder if there's a point to going to physio after a rehab plan is in place, since it seems the prescription is the same for all knee injuries. Hmmm. Since Training is my profession I know that one-size does not fit all in terms of education, be that the mind's muscle or another one in the body. So why treat knee injuries the same? I'm trying to "teach" my quad to pull so it doesn't use the side that is injured, while also strengthening my patella tendon, which was weakened after the crack in my kneecap (aka patella). Drew, on the other hand, is trying to strengthen his lateral knee joint and encourage/teach his knee proper tracking of the kneecap. Interesting - but probably just to a teacher ;-)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Running, nutrition and arthritis

I used to be a fair-weather kind of runner. I rarely (willingly) went out for a run in the rain and usually only in the warmest of winter conditions. At the time, that was a struggle. Now, I get to also consider how much pain I'm currently in and if the upcoming run will exacerbate it. This week I've been reading a lot about arthritis and nutrition, having resigned myself to the fact that I'm doing the worst sport possible for my pain, but yet I want to continue. There are only so many factors a person can control and nutrition is certainly one of them. So, how does a runner combine a high protein, mostly vegetarian diet with an anti-inflammatory one? Side with the nutrition plan that causes the least amount of inflammation, which equals pain. I'm still eating protein of course but now I'm watching to make sure that protein isn't fried or contains an additive like Omega 3, both of which cause a build up of inflammation. I'm eating berries, grapes and whole foods as much as possible and trying really, really hard not to eat French fries or cookies. On the up side, if there is one, the pain medication has been making me a bit nauseous lately so my night-time overeating hasn't been an issue. The frustrating thing is, when you're in a lot of pain all you want to do is eat comfort food, but with arthritis that's the worst thing a person can do. Yesterday was a bit tough, and I questioned if eating like this would have any benefit, but yet today I woke up with a few twinges of pain but not the level I expected after having run 6km the night before (typically I've been in serious pain for days afterwards). Maybe there is something to this anti-inflammatory nutrition after all...