New Year, New City, Same Injury-Prone Me

Yep, I’m still here! While I didn’t blog often in the first place (let’s be real, I just spend my time pestering Matt to write blog posts since he runs about 20 times as much as me) but unlike Matt, I actually have an excuse 😉 I’ve been dealing with an injured ankle/foot for a few months now. During my 50 miler, I ended up twisting my ankle at some point, and due to the adrenaline and runners high, didn’t think much of it. It hurt for a hot second but was nothing in comparison to what my quads felt like, so I barely noticed it. I had mentioned it to my doctor post-50 miler when I went in for my rib/upper respiratory issue, and she said just to let me know if it persisted.

After my last blog post (embarrassingly in late August) I noticed growing pain in my ankle when I was running. It had always been there post-50 miler, but not super prevalent. I mostly ignored it and assumed it was just a passing issue. After a few more weeks of the pain not really getting any better, it eventually transferred to my foot. At this point, I knew there must be something wrong, and I was likely making it worse. I went for a run on October 9th and decided to call it quits until I saw my doctor.

At this point, the pain was mostly in my foot and I was no longer running, so my doctor really only focused on my foot pain. She did an x-ray which didn’t show any signs of a fracture. She told me to wait 10 days and if it still hurt, we would get an MRI. Cut to 10 days later, pain is still there, she says we can do another x-ray. I put up a big fuss, and it was thankfully changed to an MRI. Unfortunately, the MRI didn’t show any signs of a fracture, and my doctor’s exact words to me were “Your MRI is normal so you do not have a stress fracture. Your pain is probably due to ligament or tendon strain. I hope it feels better soon.” Like actually my doctor just said it was PROBABLY a strain, and that she hopes it feels better soon. I almost lost my mind. I temporarily gave up, felt defeated, and just thought “well if it were a bigger issue, I guess my doctor would be more concerned.”

After a few days of wallowing in self-pity and wishing I could run, Matt convinced me to just make an appointment with my sports medicine doctor. I didn’t realize I didn’t need a referral with my health insurance, so I asked my doctor for a referral, and another whole issue ensued. I called and asked for a referral on a Thursday and they said I would hear back from someone within 1-2 business days confirming that the referral was processed. I called back on Monday since I hadn’t heard from them, and they said that it hadn’t processed and that they had no record of the referral, so I had to go through my doctor’s office again. They also let me know it wouldn’t be approved for 4-6 weeks. At this point, I was furious with my doctor’s office. I called my insurance directly, and they told me I didn’t even need a referral, so I immediately called and made an appointment with my sports medicine doctor as soon as he could see me, which ended up being about 2 weeks later.

Within 5 minutes of the appointment, he diagnosed me with a sprained ankle, sprained mid-foot (due to changing my running form to avoid ankle pain), and my cuboid bone was misaligned. He popped my bone back into place and gave me a referral to physical therapy. I’ve been in therapy for about 4 weeks and should be back up and running within hopefully the next 2 weeks.

These past 3 months have been incredibly hard for me. We’ve been planning as much for our wedding as possible since we are leaving for Austin soon, working on figuring out where we are going to live in Austin, going through our belongings to figure out what we are and aren’t taking to Austin, raising a new puppy, maintaining balance between our work lives and social lives, and of course the holidays.

I have had an incredibly hard time finding the emotional and mental strength to do any sort of workouts. My goal was to focus on strength training, but I’ve just been so drained and depressed about not being able to run. I honestly hate going to the gym – I miss the ease of just being able to lace up, step outside, and go run for as long as I want. While I know working out is a good stress relief, I’ve found going up to the gym for a workout ends up being more stressful than no workout at all. I just get inside my head and think about how much I miss running, and how much I hate staring out a window at the outdoors while working out on an elliptical or bike.

That being said, while I want to turn this awful feeling around and find something I’m more interested in, we are moving in less than a month, so it’s hard to commit to something now that I’m not sure will be as easily available or close to home as something like the yoga studio down the road from our apartment. My goal once we’ve moved is to find an activity or gym that feels less like a torture chamber and spend as much time per week doing that as I do building up my running base again. While I should be back to running soon, I want to be able to consistently work on my core while also not working out at home – I’m about to work from home permanently and will need to get out of the house to exercise or I might actually go insane.

I’m hoping I can get out of this funk as soon as possible by getting out of my comfort zone in Austin, and find a source of stress relief that isn’t running in case (okay let’s be real, when) I get injured again. While I’m excited to get back to running, I am going to take it slow, and not get ahead of myself by signing up for races before I’m ready. Hopefully, by springtime, I’ll be back in at least marathon shape, and maybe I can squeeze in another ultramarathon before our #GrandElamUltraMarriagethon in September of 2018!

 

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Oh also, this is Felix, our 4-month-old Labradoodle Puppy!

 

Much Needed R&R

Post-50 miler life has been interesting, to say the least. Personally, we’ve solidified a date for our wedding, booked a venue for the wedding and reception, locked down a place to stay for the wedding, bought a wedding dress, and booked a photographer. Heath-wise, that cold I got the week before the race took 6+ weeks to go away – during those 6 weeks, I tore a ligament in my ribs from coughing so much. Running-wise, this all led to a less than ideal ramp-up back into training, and I’ve only gotten 129 miles in 11 weeks – that’s only about 12 miles per week. Not ideal, since my goal for the year was 1,200 miles, and I’m currently only just over 700.

My next race is the Ghost Train 75 miler, but after going through a lot of health issues this past winter/spring, only to have an injured rib for 6 weeks, I have decided to not put any added stress on myself. In an ideal world, I’d be back up to 45-50 miles per week right now, but in reality I was pushing my body too far trying to make up for lost time. I had three pretty good training weeks (30 miles, 24 miles, then 28 miles) with some decent long runs (13 and then 15) but when I went to do my long run last weekend, I just couldn’t do it. I went out for an 18 miler, and ended up calling it at 9.5 miles. My body was tired, I haven’t adapted to the summer heat yet since I took so much time off for my rib, and my shins have been starting to get sore. My Garmin Connect data was showing me I was pushing myself to my limits in those three weeks, and I’ve been stressing myself about counting up mileage, switching my runs last minute, and pushing myself to run when I don’t feel up for it.

I’ve decided enough is enough. My new plan is to train based on how I’m feeling. Obviously, nobody wakes up and thinks “Man, I just feel like running 18 miles!” so long runs will be planned a bit more, but overall my focus is going to be on my health. I want to get at least 15-20 miles in a week, but I also want to focus on strengthening. My core and upper body leave a lot to be desired in the strength department, and every runner could use better strength training for their lower body. This way, when I’m ready to start training for the Gorge Waterfalls 100k in 2018, I will be fit and have a solid base of both running and strength training under my belt.

It’s tough to make the decision to cut back on running, but we in the GrandElam household has some stressful times ahead of us, and I personally feel that following a training plan diligently for an ultra certainly won’t lower my stress levels. Running will still be my release, but not running won’t stress me out as much as it currently does. I love ultra running, and I’m still hoping to get a solid 30 – 45 miles in at least at Ghost Train. I’m excited to take a step back and focus on my overall fitness for a change! Plus, Goose will like having his mom home more ❤️