Ready to really run

My coworker flailed her arms in my direction, trying to get my attention. Well, she got it. We work in an open office. I thought it was something urgent related to one of our current projects, or maybe something to do with one of our meetings for the day.

“Will you sign up for Seattle Rock ‘n Roll with me?” she asked me from across the room.

She probably thought I was quick to answer “no” but for a split second I did want to say “yes” (and pay the consequences later).

But I’m not playing that game again, and again … and then again.

The game where I think “I’ll definitely be running XX months from now” and I sign up for a race. That got me into a wasted Seattle Half Marathon race entry in 2016 followed by a wasted 10K race registration this past spring. And, we all know what happened with Ragnar Rainier — at least I could still participate through mostly walking/hiking!

Not only is the money I waste on a race I end up not being able to run frustrating, it’s exhausting to get your hopes up time and time again — only to still not be able to run.

I really do want to register for the Rock ‘n Roll half marathon with her. It’s in June so that’s six months away. And, there’s a “special deal” today so race entry is only $59 or something pretty cheap (for a big name half marathon) like that!

It’s not like I would do it to PR. I would do it to finish, to just run.

But, I can’t set myself up for failure again. After all, six months will come quickly and right now I am still on “Phase 6” of my Return to Running Program.

I’m ready to really run again.

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Injured runner: What I’m proud of

It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go the way you want them to, the way you think they should go. It’s easy to get annoyed when someone says or acts in a manner that is the complete opposite to what you view as correct or right.

It’s easy for those negative emotions to “turn on.”

I’d always run them off.

In my current state though — slowly returning to running  — I’m doing my very best to not get annoyed or frustrated or mad or sad.

Every run, even if it’s at three-minute intervals, is a victory. If my knee is not in pain, it’s a victory.

I’m currently at stage 5 (of 7) for my Return to Running program from my PT and I’m proud to say that every single run/walk I’ve done, I’ve done outside. I have not done a single one on the dreadmill. This has meant run-walking in complete darkness after work. This has meant run-walking in the cold and rain on the weekends.

I would never run on a treadmill when I was fully healthy so why would I run-walk on one?

Injured runner: Return to “running”

At the end of my last physical therapy appointment, my PT asked me if I had any questions.

“Sooooo … can I start running a little bit?” I asked.

His response was yes followed by him away from me — to get me a Return to Running Program handout.

It’s happening! Er, well, it has happened!

I went on my first “run” last Friday. It was a warm, crisp, sunny day so of course I wasn’t going to have my first “run” be on the treadmill.

I considered it a “run” because this is the current regimen:

5 minute walk
1 min. run, 1 min. walk (5 x)
5 minute walk

So, really only five minutes of running was involved. And, really, it was a slow jog.

I broke out my fancy Suunto that I received as a Christmas gift last year. My pace ranged from 9:30 to upwards 11+. For someone who typically runs comfortably around 8 to 9-min/mile range, it was painful.

My body felt so heavy. (I guess justified since I have gained weight in the more-than-one-year-long hiatus from running). I was also just being overly cautious because while my knee did not outright hurt, it didn’t feel completely strong either.

The workout was exciting and sad all at the same time.

It’s exciting because this is progress.

It’s sad because I can only “run” at 60-second intervals.

My schedule has been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to go out on another test run, but I’m hoping to get a few more in before my next PT appointment next week so I can report back that all is well.

I’d cringe to call myself a runner now, but maybe soon I don’t have to call myself an injured runner?

Injured runner: Checking back in (again!)

I ghosted again without meaning to. Apologies.

I feel like I blinked and the month of August — and summer in general — has passed!

A lot has been going on, so let me try to recap as quickly and succinctly as possible so I can get to writing more detailed posts about some of these recent happenings.

  • Still continuing with PT — No significant improvement with the knee but my physical therapist isn’t concerned. I am trying to stay calm and not get worked up about the fact that I’m not out running and the dull pain still comes and goes on my knee.
  • Participated in Ragnar Rainier the other week!
  • Haven’t swam in like a month but have been very diligent about doing my PT exercises nearly every day and going to the gym after work each day.
  • Trying to go on as many hikes as possible as I hold on to summer.

OK, no more ignoring the blog. I promise.

Injured runner: Learning how to swim yet again

I have had to learn how to swim now four times in my life.

  1. As a child when I was maybe three or four and my parents had me take “little tadpools” swim lessons — or whatever the classes were called at the time.
  2. As an adult when I decided to participate in my first triathlon the summer of 2012 and had never done any “serious swimming” before.
  3. As an adult when I found out I was injured from running last summer and needed to learn how to swim on a consistent basis and for a longer period of time.
  4. Most recently, as of a week ago, when my physical therapist told me to continue swimming without kicking my legs!

This post is going to be devoted to the fourth point because I have conveniently linked out to past posts about points #2 and #3 and I didn’t have a blog when I was four.

Ever since re-learning how to swim as an adult for my triathlon five years ago, I have had mad respect for swimmers. They are tough. They are relentless. They are strong. They can freakin’ hold their breath for so much longer than the average person!

And, now that I have attempted to swim without kicking my legs — so, yes, only using my arms — my respect for swimmers has increased twofold.

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I arrived at the pool Friday a little nervous. I was hoping that the lap lanes were not crowded because I didn’t want to be bumping into other swimmers. Luckily, I only had to share the lane with one other woman so we split the lane. She’s someone I regularly see at the pool and for some reason this time we started chatting and actually introduced ourselves to each other. I mentioned to this 60-something-year-old woman that I probably wouldn’t be in the pool for very long today since I was going to be swimming without kicking for the first time. She replied that she thinks that swimming without kicking is easier.

I placed the little floatie-thing — is there a name for it? — between my legs, just above my knees, and was on my way. As soon as I swam my first stroke, I felt uneasy. My stroke felt “uncontrollable.” I don’t know how to explain it other than saying that my lower half of my body felt like it was floating so much that my top half felt like it was being submerged under water with a greater force than normal. I felt like I couldn’t easily turn my head to take my breaths of air. Whenever my hands and arms would swing back into the water, I felt like I was pounding into the water and creating huge splashes. Sometimes, my arm would even waver and cross over my body as it re-entered the water.

I basically felt like I was not in complete control of my body. A few times I even swam too close to the lines that divide the lanes and ended up hitting the plastic markers!

Oh, and I was moving way slower than I normally do when I swim while kicking.

This was all so hard that after one lap I wanted to quit. I took off my googles, because for some reason they were fogging up, and looked over to my new friend and said, “Wow, that was tough! I don’t know how many more of these I can do.”

I don’t know what I was expecting her to say to me but what she did say kept me going.

“I’m rooting for you, Kristin!” she replied and dunked her body back into the water and continued with her laps.

OK, if this woman thinks I can do it, I can do  a few more, right?

With each lap I completed, the easier it became and the more comfortable I felt about my new swimming routine. I kept telling myself, get to 5 laps, then get to 10 laps, until I reached 15 laps and decided to call it a day.

For reference, I normally swim 30 to 36 laps on an average good day, with upwards of 40 to 45 laps on a really good day.

The good news was that after this workout, I didn’t experience any knee pain. The main reason my physical therapist does not want me kicking while swimming is because I told him that sometimes I have knee pain while swimming.

I’m doing all of this — including my PT exercises — to build strength and eliminate my knee pain.

And, so that I can get back to running once again.

So I’m OK with learning how to swim yet again.

Injured runner: The start of PT

I had my first physical therapy appointment on Monday and I’m excited and super motivated (right now!)

To note, I did self refer myself to PT last summer when I thought my knee injury was “just an IT band injury” but it actually was a stress fracture so the PT wasn’t doing anything.

Once I was diagnosed with a stress fracture, the orthopedic doctor I had first been seeing told me to stop going to PT because I just needed to let the stress fracture heal. I needed to rest and give it time.

So, I did.

But, during that time I also apparently developed “runner’s knee” so when I got a second opinion last week with a sports medicine doctor, he referred me straight to PT.

My focus this week is on single leg bridges (with one ankle crossed across the other knee), side plank clamshells and supine active straight leg raises. I’m doing three sets of 15-30 reps daily. (Well, the suggested number of times is five days a week so I am aiming for daily).

My PT can really tell I “have serious work to do” — my words, not his — because I can’t even do a single legged squat without wavering and wobbling around. I clearly need to work on stability and strengthening my muscles again.

For now, they have me scheduled out for one PT appointment weekly for six weeks. I’m hopeful that during those six weeks I’ll be able to incorporate some walk-jogging into the mix. But, we’ll see.

My PT also told me to stop kicking my legs when I am swimming laps and to lower the resistance when I am on the stationary bike or elliptical. (This is because I told him that sometimes I experience pain while doing these workouts). He told me that my cardio exercise isn’t meant to get me sweating or raising my heart rate. It’s to get my knee functioning properly again. So, if spinning on the bike for 30 minutes at zero resistance is what I need to do, I need to do it.

It’ll be hard.

So, maybe I will just focus on my PT exercises for now.

Good luck to me.

Injured runner: On really being hopeful

My second opinion went just about as good as I could have hoped it to have gone.

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The “TLDR” version is that this doctor has no concerns that my stress fracture hasn’t healed. That issue is basically no longer an issue we need to be worried about.

So, what’s with my off-and-on knee pain then?

He suspects I have “runner’s knee” — the clinical term being patellar femoral pain — which may be due to mechanics of leg strength and improper muscle activity. AKA, my body has not been running for nearly a year and now my muscles are all out of wack leading me to have this knee cap area pain.

“You’ll be running again. I’m not here to tell you, you will never run,” The doctor said, adding that my cartilage and meniscus look great.

 

Hearing this was such a relief. It sounds cliche, but it felt like a big weight was lifted off my shoulders. The unknowing-ness of what was going on with my knee for the past several months was making me annoyed and anxious and angry.

Now I do not need to get a third MRI (that the first doctor recommended).

I kind of wish I had gone for a second opinion sooner but c’est la vie. It is what it is.

I was lucky to snag a cancellation PT appointment tomorrow so at least my comeback journey can begin soon. And, this doctor I saw is a sports med doc so I got a referral to one of the “good physical therapists” who works with a lot of runners.

There’s no concrete timeline on when I can actually lace up the running shoes again. It all sort of depend on how PT goes.

But, that’s OK.

I’m so, so ready and really, really hopeful.