Friday, September 30, 2011

Injuries and Doubt

The past two weeks has been an emotional ride and I know that it’s affected my blogging.
It began more than two Saturday’s ago after I ran a long run on 9/11. I knew by the end of the day that the next day, when I was supposed to run another 4 hours, was going to be a struggle. The outside of my knees were sore and my Achilles hurt. The knee soreness was not related to the knees. It was my iliotibial bands (ITB), the tissue that runs from the hips to the knees on the outside of the legs. I knew what the problem was since I had a history of similar episodes. Both the ITB and Achilles issues were from overuse; too much too soon. It’s always a delicate balance between under and over training and it appeared that my body was revolting.
I got out at 4:00 am on Sunday, my usual time, and I...

couldn’t even get a mile in. I needed to walk home, worried and disappointed. Was this the end of my pursuit to run 50 miles? Should I throw in the towel? It was still early in the morning so I crawled into bed when I got home. Uh! That’s all I can do is heal and stretch. I try to remind myself as I go through these tough moments, that I can come back stronger than I was.
This situation is partly my fault. Well, yes, it’s all my fault because no one has forced me to run. What I mean is that I’ve neglected the other important part of running during the last 20+ weeks: Stretching dynamically. I’ve been doing my regular back stretching, crunches and legs raises, but I was doing so much more before. When I was training for the Boston Marathon I was doing one-legged squats and one-legged toe touches and other activities like the stationary bike. I’m sure the stability exercises strengthened the ITB and Achilles.

One-legged toe touches
I decided that I should try something new. When my son got new cross country and soccer shoes at Dick’s Sporting Goods, I picked up a foam roller. I have never used one on my upper legs before, but what have I got to lose? It will work like my trusty rolling pin that I use on my calves (see “Fartleking and My Trusty Kitchen Utensil – June) - the one that’s not allowed back in the kitchen to roll pastry.

Work those ITBs with leg raises
The new foam roller. It's working wonders.

So other than taking Motrin, I needed to continue moving. I knew that I could not sit around and get stiff. Since I purchased it more than a week ago, I’ve been using the rollers twice a day with success.
As for the running, during the last two weeks I cut out one of the mid-week runs and I avoided hills. The Achilles is strained too much running up hills. I began using the roller twice a day.
As of today, I am strong again! I completed my two mid-week runs.
I really felt pressure to get the 7 hour, 38 mile run in last Saturday, which I did without a hitch, other than almost running into a skunk.  Whew! I completed a fast 6 miler on Tuesday and a hard track workout yesterday. This weekend I’m supposed to run back-to-back two hour runs, hoping that I can get them in between the rainy times.

Thankfully the weekend long runs are shorter from now until October 22nd. I’m tired of keeping my brain occupied for many hours and questioning myself about whether or not I can run 50 miles.
Let’s do this thing!
38 mile run route in 7 hours
38 mile elevation profile

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