Sunday, July 7, 2013

Can I please go running, already?!

Stating the obvious: over the past few months, I've had to cut back on running miles almost entirely, which is not fun and pretty frustrating. But not to worry, I would still describe myself as clinically sane, thanks to a few races here and there.
Nerd moment. Yess. -Credit-
A little while ago, I realized I had 2 options: 1) continue in my general state of misery and frustration or 2) try to find the fun in staying active without killing my knee, at least until it recovers.

I chose 3) stay a little frustrated but have a lot of fun building new strength to run safer and better in the future.

My diagnosis: It has been called an IT band issue, a popliteal strain and I was given plenty to be confused about. My MRI finally showed the beginnings of a stress fracture (likely the result of impact from a lacrosse ball back in January and my failure to stop running earlier to let that heal) as well as some cartilage damage and swelling in multiple places. I've gone to a great ortho/sports medicine doctor, physical therapy and got multiple types of shots (with scary needles). It still hurts when I try to run. I was told to ice, then I was told that since it is not muscle, but joint/structure related, icing is counterproductive and I should use heat therapy. Marvelously simple, right?

Discovery (or "duh moment"): running long distances does not, in itself, make you strong or provide you with core stability. However, without balanced strength and a stable core, running long distances safely, injury-free and efficiently becomes very difficult. Marathon running (and training for them) places great demand on the body, breaking down muscles and straining joints and bones too. So, while it would be intuitive to think that training to run 26.2 (or more) miles requires a lot of running, in reality it requires much more than just running.

Work in Progress

As per my original post in April, but more specifically.

Naturally, food has been my first focus. I have added more omega-3s and shifted to a diet with more anti-inflammatory/antioxidant components, also incorporating supplements like Glucosamine and Wobenzym N. Can't expect healing to happen without using quality fuel (nutrition).

Studio MDR -Credit-
To try and re-build strength and core stability, I discovered The Studio (MDR) -> SPX fitness, which is a pilates-based workout on a Megaformer. I'm not going to lie, I cried a little and was sore for a week and beyond. I embarked on a 1 weeks challenge and went to 6 classes. Even in such little time, I got stronger and appreciated the amazing workout that did not impact my knees! Will definitely be back.

For some months leading up to my issues, I traded my yoga time for more running. Apparently, not so smart. Training for the ultras sort of forced me to, given there are only 24 hours in a day. I've now committed to re-focus my practice. Heated yoga  (hot power yoga more specifically) is the most amazing form of active heat therapy. Strength + Flexibility + Meditation = sunshine in my mind and body. Needless to say, it has helped a lot and I've also signed up for a hot power yoga teacher training starting September! I love you, Hot8Yoga.

Oddly, swimming has been  tough on my knees. Strange, right? Regardless of the lack of impact, the cold water and types of movement seem to make it a little worse. It took my a while to conclude this since swimming is *supposed* to be the best cross training, especially when you're injured...
(More on cross training from an earlier post here).

Why am I posted all of this? Other than my love for talking/writing about running-related issues, I hope you can learn from (or smile at) my silly mistakes. Of course, if you have discovered the miracle cure for running injuries, feel free to share ;)

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