Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Admitting Injury

For the last few weeks, I've been trying to deny the obvious... I'm injured.

As a distance runner, injuries can happen often. Over time, you become an "expert" at identifying and successfully treating the most common of injuries - start with the RICE method, add in some Advil and maybe a few slower runs on a cushy track surface. 

Just when you think you're at the top of your game, an injury can find a way to to introduce itself into your body. Your expert assessment skills decide that it's no big thing. Keep training and things will work their way out. 

Four weeks ago, that was my state of mind. As time has gone on, my prognosis has become worse instead of better, limiting the quality and time I could spend running. 

So late last week I did what just about any endurance athlete has done at some point in their lives...I went to see a physical therapist. 

Physical therapy is a humbling experience. You're broken, but you're not sure how. During the first appointment, the PT is able to tell you what's failing you - a question you've been contemplating for awhile. In time and with your cooperation, they will massage, heat, cool and exercise you back to normal operation.

In an hour's time, the PT was able to make an assessment and had me work through my first series of exercises. Conclusion? Well, to start with, I have a weak right hip. This always puzzles me - aren't hips a big bone that's strong? Regardless, there's a reason why I'm in marketing and not the medical field.

I have a short series of exercises to do at home now. None of them are difficult looking on paper. Yet somehow, it's easier for me to balance on my forearms than to perform "clamshells" on my right side.

Looks like I have a lot of progress to make. I just wonder what kind of timeline I'm on. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Are You Done Yet?

For a few years, I would open my email the day after Columbus Day to see an email from my uncle. "Congratulations," it would say. He'd read in the paper that I'd completed the Chicago Marathon. In his short-but-sweet email he would conclude with "Are you done yet?" as to ask the million dollar question - Have I decided to stop running marathons. 

My reply was usually less brief, but went on to say thank you for the email and I wasn't ready to quit just yet. After all, there was certainly something to take home from that weekend's race. Something that could make me a better/stronger/quicker runner. I wouldn't want to miss out on a chance to have next year be "my" year, would I?

I'm sure my post race thought process isn't all that different from the masses who run marathons these days. To run just one marathon is a life accomplishment. But to run another, well, now you have everything you learned from that first race at your disposal for what will probably be an even better race. Right? 

A few years ago, I thought long and hard about marathon retirement. I'd run five races. What else did I have left to prove? The question that was posed to me then was, "Are you prepared to be on the sidelines?" Well, I hadn't thought of it that way. I'll admit, it seemed quite foreign. 

Last year, Jeff and I ran two marathons two weeks apart. I finished Chicago within a few minutes of my PR and the Marine Corps Marathon was an experience I know I'll never forget. At the end of October last year I found myself wondering what, if anything, marathoning still had for me. There was one thing I did know - I needed a break. A six or eight week break turned into most of winter. Before I knew it, it was March and I'd barely ran since November. 

Eventually I did hit the road again. I gradually increased my mileage in the spring to prepare me for early June - the beginning of marathon training. 

During this time, I started experience a tightness in my hamstring and IT band. It would come and go, so I kept along with my running and yoga regimine. Until a few weeks ago when I felt a noticable difference while doing handstand kick ups in yoga. This was no longer business as usual. I've done my best to carry on as normal, hoping the injury (gasp) would mend on it's own. But this week I know that it's time for the physical therapist. 

I'm willing to bet, based on previous PT experience, that I'll be banned from running and yoga for a few weeks. This is the news I didn't want to hear and why I have gone up until this point carrying on training with an injury. I can't stand sitting around.

So what does this mean for the yoga studio and the two marathons I've signed up for this year? There's really no way to tell now. For the time being, I'll have some time to catch up on Netflix. As June turns into July or August, I'll need to make a judgement call. 

I may find myself telling my uncle that I am in fact done with marathoning after all. 

Thursday, June 05, 2014

A New Meaning for June

June is a great month. Wouldn't you agree?

When I was a kid, June was the end of school and beginning of summer. A time of shorts, softball games, tennis camps, bike riding, listening to music and going to bed late.

Ok, as an adult, some of those things haven't changed. I traded in tennis camps for marathon training and along with it, early June became week one of my life until marathon race day in October. Over the years, I've looked forward to June and feared it.

But this year is different - I've run a lot less and practiced a lot of yoga. In the winter, it was easy to say I needed a break from running. That the brutal Chicago weather just wasn't condusive to any sort of outdoor running. But now it's June and my windows are open. I could be running, like...pretty much every day. Instead I'm running a bit and still practicing yoga at a good clip. I know I need to be running more as marathon training kicks off, but I'm not ready to turn down the yoga.

As this workout battle rages on in my head, The Lab introduces their first ever yoga challenge:

Now how can I saw no to that? Granted, there are many poses on here that I simply can't do and a few others I'm going to have to talk a trusting friend into being my yoga accomplice to complete. But regardless, the challenge makes me want to try the poses that seem impossible and improve on the ones that I can do. 

Much like a marathon training schedule, this challenge graphic gives me a day to day calendar to follow. Practicing a pose a day is a big leap from the girl who used to only practice yoga when injured. 

Today is day 5 of the challenge. So far, I'm enjoying participating and posting my photos as well as looking through the trend's feed to see what others are posting.