How I Missed Running!
As you might have guessed from the long silence, it's been a non-running summer ever since Bighorn back in mid-June. I pretty much laid low, but tried to keep up some level of fitness (and sanity!) with a mix of deep water running and swimming and then some cycling added in. I got a temporary membership at another gym to be able to use a bigger and deeper pool for the water stuff, like I did a few years back when rehabbing. It was good to burn some calories and have some routines, but I really missed the running, and especially the trails. And also my normal routines of strength training and yoga. But there was in compensation a lot more quality family time, especially with the summer hiatus from teaching and our vacation upstate.
But after eight weeks off, I got the ok from my doctor this week to resume running! So this week I've been inching back into running, and also into somewhat more normal strength training. But I'm taking it slow (20-25 minute outings so far) and alternating it with cross-training days or supplementing the running with a swim or bike same day, as I can't (shouldn't) go far yet. It feels awkward and slow, but actually I'm surprised to even be able to hold a 10 minute or so pace, and with no pain!
Apparently, the stress fracture (sacrum) is mostly or fully healed. I was worried it might be a longer route with such an "exotic" injury where recovery time seemed longer and more uncertain, from what I read online. Being a "patient patient" (it didn't feel like I was, but I never cheated!) paid off, I guess. As for the osteitis pubis (inflammation of pubic bone, though I haven't felt the symptoms in the spot), doctor says that's more of a long-term issue, and probably pre-existing (it showed up on the MRI). It would explain some discomfort I sometimes get (and got in the spring periodically) in the upper quad area meeting the front hip and sometimes in the glute. Strength and stretching are apparently part of managing it. Guess my massage guy will be seeing me pretty regularly when my mileage gets back up there!
I'm still left to wonder if anything in particular aside from the back to back hundreds in five weeks (a normal feat for some ultra types out there) contributed to this. Doctor was dismissive of low bone density (though I realized from reading my calcium supplements weren't as high as recommended so I upped them as well as my vitamin D intake) or shoes or biomechanics. I still wonder. Doing all those race miles on stiff trail shoes, does that matter? And all my issues (including the segment of the sacrum where I had the SF) are on the right side, in terms of where I've had over the years or continue to have some level of soreness or occasional pain in the upper leg. Although the MRI showed the osteitis as bilateral.
He did mention that shorter strides with higher turnover are healthiest gait. Once I get back some base, I think I'll start focusing more on form. Ask my speedwork coach to watch that once I can resume his classes, and maybe toy around with the Chi running stuff, dunno. Best to experiment with this stuff at a time without big race plans in the medium term.
Change is Good!
I guess I'm really left with a certain amount of trail and error and exploration of various avenues in terms of trying to establish a healthier running approach.
A couple things have occurred to me as sensible changes. First, trying to really re-embed cross-training as a regular part of even my peak mileage 100-mile buildup phases, and to do some multisport as part of the longer hiatuses between 100s I plan to take. Second, I think I could do better in the periods of less intense training in terms of working more on (leg/core) strength. Last winter and spring I was upping the strength and the mileage at the same time, and didn't have as strong a base from last fall as I might. Part of that was introducing the Iron Strength stuff as a new element, which I only learned of in January.
What will be helpful from here on through this winter is that I've committed to a climbing trip next March to Mt. Whitney. That raises the stakes for strength training and will help make sure I don't underplay it.
I've looked at races for the coming months and have some ideal scenarios in my head. While I'm signed up for Masochist in early November (since it opened and sold out in a few days in May), I consider being ready for that tough 50 miler so soon to be a bit unlikely. I'll wait and see. In the meantime, the only race I'v signed up for is the Mountain Madness 25K end of September. I decided it was better not to go for the 50k option there. Running fifteen hard, partly technical, pretty rugged miles in six weeks will be test enough of my recovery!
There are interesting options out there as far as 50ks or close to that in October and November. But I'd also be happy doing some shorter stuff, like some cross country and maybe a shorter trail race. It's all wait and see as I gauge the progression of my recovery. Baby steps is my current motto! Like the song from the Sesame Street video Mihiret used to watch! I hear that song in my head every time I recite that mantra.
But it's great to be back out there, however modestly and slowly! You really appreciate your running when you can't do for a while. And it's also kind of nice to have the chance to recharge the batteries, and rebalance your life a little. Running can take over some times. On the other hand, my general outlook on life is always better when I am able to get in my runs! What runner can't relate to that!