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...

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Taper Week that Wasn't

Back in January I figured I could recover in time. I had no idea how slow my recovery would take or even the true extent of the damage. So here I am. Four months later and a few days away from what was supposed to be my longest race to date, a 60km trail run. I was so pumped back in January. I was running a solid amount each week and was just going to start injecting long runs back into my training when this accident happened. I felt like I HAD this race...except the universe, or my stupidity didn't. So, instead of tapering this week, and watching how much water and salt I take in, I'm working on eating clean and trying to get past the 6km mark. I am having a hard time finding the motivation to run when it feels like a small child is hanging, dragging, onto the side of my knee while punching my outer quad. Awesome. My choice is this; do I go to the race and attempt to do the 20km race? My logical side says NO-you haven't even figured out how to get up to 10km never mind a trail 20km! My runner side says why not, giv'r and see how it goes. Yeah I might be laid up in pain afterwards but at least I'll know where I stand. Except, I already know where I stand, at the bottom. Add to that the fact I would need to rouse everyone for a 7am drive out to the trail head for 2 hours of bug bites and I think I'll skip it. How do I feel about that? Angry, really. Mad that I couldn't get it together fast enough for even the 20km. Mad that I'm not doing the 60km, mad that I'm not even attending the race I've grown to see as the highlight of my racing season. Except, there won't be a racing season, not for me anyhow. Maybe I can pull something out for the fall, but right now I'm going to take it one run at a time and work on getting to that 10km mark.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

An Arthritis "Flare up"...what the heck is that?

These past few months have been such an education in arthritis. I had no appreciation for those that cope well with arthritis and how severely it can affect a person. I also learned I've had arthritis in my little finger for years and just didn't know that's what it was! So, in case you don't already know, people with arthritis can have no pain, a little pain, chronic pain or what they call "flare ups." A flare up is when you're having low to no pain for a while, a few days, or weeks, and then BAM! You feel like crap. It might be caused by stress, diet, lack of sleep, pushing yourself too hard or just the freakin' weather, but it happens. For me, my knee will feel like it's filled with broken glass. I can see why people with more active jobs than mine, have 1 in 5 odds of stopping work completely within 5 years after an OA diagnosis. It truly is a struggle to get out of bed and go to work when your knee hurts that badly. At the moment, running, even a short distance, feels like I'm half pulling my "bad" leg with me. It doesn't cause me stabbing pain per se, that feeling usually shows up at the end of a day or if I sit too long, its like the muscles just don't want to fire and my leg gets tired faster than the other. My "good" leg is sore because mechanically it does more of the work to compensate for the other leg now. My right calf muscle is notoriously sore after every run now, something I haven't experienced since I started running regularly 7+ years ago. So I'm starting to strengthen my right calf muscle more now (Lots of calf raises! lol)and really focusing on rolling out with my foot so I don't land with my weight on the inside of my knee. It's a process, and I'm working through it one run at a time. So what do you do? I see two choices, a fork in the road of life, so to speak. I can forget running, take up easier exercise and try to find happiness in that...OR I can continue to struggle and see what kind of gains I can make. I can see now that my running won't last forever, that pain might very well eventually cause me to reduce what I run or stop me altogether, but today is not that day and I am not a quitter. I will continue the struggle, cope however I can and move forward. Standing still is not an option.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A (sort of) long run

Distance is both finite and relative. A mile is, indeed, a mile, but the feeling of accomplishment a person gets from running that mile will be different for those who have run a mile a thousand times and those who have run one once. And, as I'm finding, that feeling of accomplishment gets a bit muddy when you've run a mile a thousand times, but haven't done it in a long time. Last week 3.5 km felt awesome, and I was on a total runner's high. Then I ran commuted on Friday a solid 6km, although not strictly running, I covered more distance than I had in 4 months. Then I did it again yesterday with Peanut as a "long run." It certainly felt long, it took a little over an hour for goodness sake and it was mostly on sidewalk! Later yesterday my brother offered his congrats for my 3.5km which I had bragged about on FB, and I told him that I had actually ran a total of 15km for the week. He was so excited for me, but all I could feel about it was, meh. I mean really, 15km?! I could do that in a single run four months ago without batting an eye. Now, to do it over the course of a week is now admirable. Look, I know I'm making good, solid progress. I am happy about it. I just can't shake that part of me that's disgusted with myself for putting myself in this position to begin with. Yeah, after 4 months I'm still beating myself up. I'm trying hard to reign in my desire to push it, to just go, to jump back on that schedule I was on before all this happened. But the pain tells me to back off. Even now, at the 5km mark I get twinges of shooting pain through my kneecap which is followed by that feeling someone is being dragged by holding onto the right side of the left knee. So, I go another kilometer or so and wrap it up for the day. I just hope I can continue to push the bar further so I can eventually do 10km before feeling pain. This week's goal is to match or better that 15km. I will make sure, that unless I'm suddenly pain-free, I'll put a cap on 20km for the week.