First of all, I just wanted to thank you all for your kind words and encouragement and support throughout all my training and news of injury. It means a lot to me and I really appreciate it :)
I went to the doctor shortly after writing my last update and was diagnosed with peroneal tendinosis (tendon swelling on outside of ankle). It’s actually a rarer runner injury and is brought on by overuse particularly among runners with high arches – not a surprise to me of course since I was training rather aggressively for my BQ goal.
The main treatment to aid in tendon recovery: REST. And patience – lots of patience. Initially, there’s not much else you can do because I had to stay away from any type of activity that would aggravate my ankle/foot – ie. no biking, no jumping, no leg strength (most exercises put pressure on the ankle). The only thing I was able to do for about 3 weeks was core work and arms. It was frustrating to say the least, but after going through some serious emotional lows, I gained some new insight and perspective on life that I’m thankful for. For instance, I have a lot of running friends now (thanks to my awesome Fueled by Doughnuts run group). When I got injured, so many of them checked in on me – they genuinely cared about how I was doing both physically and mentally and were almost as bummed about me being injured as I was! Since being sidelined, I’ve been able to participate as a volunteer for our fun evening events. We did a scavenger hunt run where I was at one of the destinations with clues and a big huge pizza/doughnut night run recently for which I helped set things up and clean up at the end. It’s been fun to be around everyone even if I’m not crushing my own runs too.
That said, my ankle is very gradually getting better and better. I’ve been doing some light biking since my last follow-up appointment and am gradually increasing resistance to try to get some strength back in my legs. I’m planning on starting to run again this weekend, but it will start as a run/walk with only 1-2 minute run intervals at a time so that I’m not putting too much pressure on my ankle all at once.
My #1 goal now is injury prevention and all other goals for the fall are shelved for the moment. I am not doing the VIA Marathon and I’m not switching to the half either. There’s no point in risking injury as I work my way back to running. I am still registered for the Rehoboth Beach Marathon in December, but I will not follow a training plan for that (I will instead work on letting my body dictate what it wants from me) and am fully prepared to back down to the half if I cannot be ready for the marathon distance by then.
Having been through three different injuries this year, I clearly need to take a step back and try to evaluate what’s not working for me. As much as I’d like to think I’m not overdoing it, I am — at least in some way (so hard to admit when I love it so much!). Last year was a really consistent year for me. I routinely ran 30-45 miles/week and did not have a 50 mile week in training for marathons (and still wound up with a PR). I did Orangetheory classes once a week and went to yoga fairly frequently. So what’s been different about this year? When not injured, I’ve been running 40-50+ miles/week (which in itself shouldn’t be a problem since I worked up to that distance over time), I increased the amount I was running outside and the consistency of outdoor speedwork, I increased my Orangetheory visits to twice a week, and I have not been doing much yoga. That’s a lot of change coming all at the same time and I didn’t realize it until looking back to re-evaluate. The problem is, I was seeing major improvements in my speed as I did this…which made me want to keep doing it. Ultimately, all of that combined activity led to this year of injuries.
That leads me to quite the decision-making process as I figure out what to change in training moving forward. Besides easing back into it (I’ll definitely run only a few times a week at very low mileage for awhile), I think that I need to incorporate yoga into my regular routine again. I always felt the least sore and tight when I was consistently doing it and my tight muscles are definitely contributing to these injuries. Yoga was a great complement to my running and while it didn’t contribute to significant differences in my speed, it helped me remain injury-free so that I could very gradually improve my running. I want to continue to run high mileage outside (when I’m fully recovered of course!!) so I need a good complement for it and I believe that will come from doing more yoga again.
The other decision I’ve had to make is that I will be giving up Orangetheory. It was a tough decision for me because I’ve truly enjoyed my time there and I believe those workouts contributed to my increased speed and strength – particularly in the shorter 5k and 10k distances. HOWEVER, these are intense workouts and while there’s always the option of ‘taking it easy’ there (the coaches all understood about my marathon training and never pushed me harder than I felt comfortable with), the atmosphere of the class makes it difficult for me to hold myself back when I need to. During my injuries – particularly for this last one when I couldn’t even bike – it’s been difficult to watch others work hard while I’m left barely sweating. Ultimately, marathon training and long distance running is something I want to keep doing…and the intensity of Orangetheory workouts doesn’t fit in with that (at least for me anyway). My body cannot take too many intense workouts in a week and I would rather have a marathon-specific focus to them than the Orangetheory focus which is a better fit for shorter distance racing.
In summary, I’m excited to start running again and see how this new approach serves me. I will still run a BQ one day (patience, Charissa, patience), but there are way more important things in life than running a specific time in a marathon — such as being able to run period :D