Friday, February 24, 2012

Who gets injured after dropping mileage?

After putting in a really awesome month of running in December (205km - highest total for any month in which I didn't race an ultra), averaging over 50km/week for a 4-week period before dropping back mileage during the holiday season. I only ran about 37km during the two weeks of Christmas and New Years, then managed to tweak something in my right hip/groin during an easy 10k run on January 3rd. Yep, only I could injure myself while having cut mileage! In my defense, it was a bit messy out - mashed potatoes snow on the sidewalks and some ice, so I may have just had a foot slip or something.

Like a dummypants, I refused to acknowledge that rest might be a good idea. Injured on Tuesday, I ran 15k on trail Saturday (which actually felt fine), and followed that with back-to-back 10k runs Sunday and Monday (which felt a lot less than fine). All in, I continued to run another 57km in the 9 days post-injury despite pretty much constant pain, heightened to the level of being kicked in the crotch during some runs.

It finally dawned on me that it wasn't getting better while increasing mileage, so the last few runs of those 57km were little 5k trots. When even those increased the pain level, it was time to face the ugly truth; I needed to take some time off.

My stubbornness was rooted in the fact I'd registered for the Around the Bay 30k road race back in October, and was bound and determined that I'd finally be fully prepared for a road race...unlike my first half marathon in Oct/09 (the training for which was also derailed by a posterior tibial tendon injury) and the marathon I'd done on May 1st, 2011 (where I just spent too many days over the winter saying "bugger it" and going xc skiing instead of running). An injury in January was NOT going to be conducive to getting the running in that I need!

I was a good girl for a whole 10 days. I didn't run a single step from January 12th to 21st. Of course, during this time I was finalizing details for the 2012 season with my sponsors, so I felt like a total knob not doing any running. After researching my symptoms, I felt even worse: things seemed to be pointing to a femoral neck stress fracture, especially after I tried the "hop test" and nearly passed out. It would take an MRI to properly diagnose, and those are hard to come by in Ontario - the Bay race being on March 25th, I probably wouldn't be able to get one until after the race was done.

Of course, this was all accompanied by much whimpering and gnashing of teeth. I have no idea how my husband put up with me wingeing constantly about how I couldn't run, how my season might be wrecked, and how much my stupid hip hurt. I was a mess, but there was an upside - I started attacking my bike trainer (since cycling didn't hurt) like it owed me money. I'm probably the only person out there who gets injured and has their weekly training hours increase! I tried some pool running - just a couple of minutes at the end of my swim workouts - but I just couldn't handle the tedium for more than 5mins at a time. I was also doing hip mobility exercises several times daily, even laying on the floor in the bathroom at the office to do them for 5mins to try to ease the rotten tooth-type ache in my hip while sitting at my desk. It sucked.

After my forced sabbatical and almost 7hrs that week on the trainer, I finally went down to Riverside Park on Sunday, January 22nd to see if I could run for 10mins without doing myself harm. It's a flat, loop road that's mostly closed to traffic in winter, so I figured it would be the best possible set of circumstances as hills and sharp cornering were the inflammatory factors on previous runs.

It was glorious! The sun shone, the wind blew, I ran a whole 2.4km in 13mins and felt like I was going to die! Every time I have to stop running for more than a couple of days, I get winded really easily on my first few runs back - I felt slow, fat and completely out of shape...but not sore!

Discipline would be key here, so I kept the runs down to 15mins or so. Ran 17mins on Tuesday the 25th and put a little too much intensity into it, so took until Saturday to run again, when I had the ingenious idea to try the treadmill at the rec centre where I swim. No turns, no hills, and a soft surface - perfect! I'd never got along with the treadmill previously; had only done one run, during an ice storm, and hated every single second of it. This was different, though - this was in the name of rehab and trying to save my Bay race. I was able to increase my time on the mill without re-injury, and used it rather than running outdoors in iffy conditions.

2.4km the first "week" back, then 16, then 20...I'm actually poised to hit 30km this week for the first time since this whole mess started, and the hip is doing ok. I'm convinced at this point that it must be just some tendinitis in my adductor magnus, since it's responded so well to my "ignore the worst case scenario, do some exercises, and otherwise just suck it up" protocol.  Hoping to do a 10k trail run this weekend, and as of now the plan is still to race Around the Bay, though my only goal is now to finish without hurting myself.

On the bright side, my first race of 2012 has showed me that the base I built in December is still serving me well! More about that later.

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