Thursday, February 7, 2013

To the Dark Side and Back

Last time I posted, I was worrying about my IT Band and the upcoming Pensacola Marathon. Well, I am happy to say that I was able to run the full 26.2 and set a new PR of 4:21 with relatively little pain during the race itself. I tackled some brutal hills and fought headwinds the last three miles, so that finish line was a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, in the days following the race, I was in constant pain. I rested, I took ibuprofen, I stretched, I foam-rolled, I hid the high-heeled shoes in the back of my closet. And nothing helped. On Thanksgiving morning, I set out to run a local 10k, and I didn't even make it from my car to the starting line before the shooting pains began. Head hung low, I walked back to my car before they even started the race. Over Thanksgiving dinner, my sports physician brother said it was time to suck it up and get checked out. My doctor prescribed some very helpful anti-inflammatories and a round of physical therapy.

Physical therapy wasn't what I expected. For one, my insurance wouldn't kick in until I met my ridiculously high deductible, so the therapist had one office visit with me and gave me a home treatment plan, with instructions to come back if I needed more help. My therapy consisted of a lot of stretching and old-school Jane Fonda style calisthenics. The hardest part was my running schedule. I went from running a long run of 15-20 miles every weekend to taking 30 minute walks in which I'd alternate between walking fast for one minute and slow for one minute. I gradually built up to 40 minute runs over a period of nine weeks.

I said I'd do my physical therapy religiously, and I said I'd cross train to keep up my fitness. Life had other plans. I started physical therapy on November 30, and I was doing okay for a while. I came down with an extra-nasty case of strep throat around December 10, and it took two rounds of antibiotics to make it go away. Then Christmas. Then New Years. Then the flu. Then a cold that wouldn't go away. I was lucky to get in 3 of my prescribed run/walks per week, and I did an okay job of stretching. The Jane Fonda stuff and the cross-training never happened after I got sick the first time. Not exercising led to guilt led to depression led to less motivation to exercise. It really is a classic vicious cycle. Some weeks were better than others, but a lot of the time, it just plain sucked.

Then one day I realized it was almost the end of January. I had just finished my PT schedule, and it had been awhile since my leg had bothered me on a run. I decided to set my New Years resolutions a month late. I've made some dietary changes & I set myself up on a new training schedule to gradually build up my mileage while incorporating yoga and strength training. Hopefully these changes will prevent future flare-ups. I am feeling optimistic most of the time now. Maybe I've learned some things about humility and perspective. It was a hard couple of months. All I know is, I don't want to go there again.