Monday, April 25, 2011

The best laid plans....

I'm trying to focus on the positives and remind myself that things could be a lot worse. I'm reminded by my unlucky PDX friend who crashed his bike last week and had re-constructive hip surgery, that a calf strain is really not that bad. And while it's not the end of the world, it has me frustrated as hell. If, for instance, I'd had re-constructive hip surgery (which I'm obviously glad that I didn't have) it would be blatantly obvious to me that I shouldn't (and can't) run. But I'm having a hard time figuring out how easy I need to take it. After an early re-tweaking, I'm intensely afraid of another tweak and have been following my massage therapist's advice (who knows a thing or two about running and calf injuries from personal experience) and things seem to be feeling better in there.

The bad news is that I've done virtually no real training in 3 weeks since I initially strained my calf.  I ran 5-8 miles 5 days this past week, and have been doing a ton of bikram yoga, with some upper body weights and spinning classes thrown in, so have not been a completely lazy slack.  But, I have not been getting in the 70-90 mile high intensity weeks I would have chosen over the past few weeks. Instead of long runs, I do long workouts.  Example, on Saturday I ran 4 miles to bikram, did 90 minutes of bikram yoga, ran 4 miles to the gym, and lifted upper body. So, not the same as a 3 hour run, but I was active for 3+ hours (and sweated out my body weight in bikram). But, I can feel that my fitness is not in the same place on the runs I've attempted.  And the worst part of the runs is the fear with every step, and those slight tingling sensations that cause panic attacks that the next tweak is near.  How does one run without fear again?  Thinking about and fearing every step really sucks.

For the first two weeks following the initial injury I was going to my sports med/graston guy(s) twice a week.  I really didn't feel like they were getting to the root of the issue in the muscle.  They seemed, generally, not too concerned, and I didn't seem to be making any progress.  So, I switched to my massage therapist, who was a competitive runner back in the day and who happened also to have dealt with the same injury. The sports med guys would work on me for 10 minutes and call it a day, whereas Michael will dig in there and work on it for 45 minutes.  When I first saw him 10 days ago, he told me I was kind of screwed because the tear seems to be where the tendon and muscle meet (whereas the sports med guy told me not to worry because it was in the muscle belly), and that if I wasn't careful it would be a long and frustrating recovery.  I've been a good patient.  I've followed instructions.  Only road running, and no hills this past week.  I had my 5th appointment with him this morning, and it feels (to me) and he confirms that it feels much better, which is a good thing. The washboard feeling is getting worked out, and my running experiments don't seem to be irritating it.

So, things are looking up, but I'm still insanely frustrated.  I'd never been so excited for a series of races, and I had been doing a fair amount of speed work and was getting faster. But that feeling of speed and fitness has diminished to nearly nothing.  Miwok is less than 2 weeks away, and I haven't run over 10 miles in 3 weeks.  I'm still on the fence about Miwok, but I'll wait and see how the next 2 weeks feel.  I won't be prepared to race it if I do run it, and I'll only run it if I feel like it won't further irritate my calf, as I don't want to give up on Comrades and WS.  However, I also don't want to give up on the Montrail Cup, and need to finish Miwok to give me 4 finishes. If I do run Miwok, it'll be more of a "walk the ups and run the flats" type of day and just a quality day of training with a lot of walking thrown in to protect the calf.

Yassine getting loud.
And for someone that lacks confidence, this fear of running is not so much fun.  I'm the queen of excuses, and this fear of re-injury makes it way too easy to make excuses.

And in my newly acquired spare time, I'm feeling a bit lost. My life really does revolve around ultra running--from my friends to how I structure my day.

On a somewhat unrelated note, we had awesome seats for the Blazers game this past weekend, which I got to experience with 3 of my good PDX running buddies, Yassine, Aaron and Todd.  Talk about a lesson in never giving up!  The Blazers were down by 23 in the second half, and 18 starting the 4th quarter and came back to win by 2.  Probably the most amazing comeback I've ever witnessed, and a reminder that anything is possible.  And the comeback was led by Roy, who had double knee surgery and has exceeded any expectations in returning from injury.  The body can do amazing things!


Olga said...

Amy, hold on tight, things will get better, you gotta believe in best! Don't give up!

Casseday said...

Hang in there Amy!

Trevor said...

Stay positive Amy. Listen to your body. I took 3 months completely off from running due to my ankle injury. I'm now gradually building up mileage again. Although I lost some fitness, surprisingly not as much as I expected. You'll bounce back.

Ronda said...

Keep hanging in there. Tough I am sure. Sounds like you are keeping busy though. I am thinking about you a lot. Hoping everyday I am going to see a message saying, "Do you want to run".

Grae Van Hooser said...

Skip Miwok. Is it worth the risk? Why put in a sub par performance? The race and cup will be there next year. The Comrades/WS double will need you to be solid and recovery between the two is tough enough. Look at the big picture. What is more important to you? Not today, but tomorrow?
... just my opinion.

Neal Gorman said...

Grae's advice is worth considering, perhaps. I remember you telling me in the past about high volume and how that wasn't for you, necessarily. I wonder if less volume with more quality will still get you where you want to be while possibly help to fend off an injury like this going forward. This coming from a volume guy (of late), I know, ironic. Honestly, I think the jury is still out on high volume, truly. Volume sleep is likely better. But I digress. These past few weeks Gaby realized her volume threshold, which she should have learned last year, and it is like a 1/3 of mine. Just goes to show we're all different. I dunno... just a rambling thought. In any case, you've bounced back before, you'll bounce back again. We’ll miss you at MMT. Take care.

amy said...

Unfortunately life is a bit more complicated than just save it for Comrades and WS. Comrades is part of a 3-week trip to Africa and post-Comrades also includes 2 weeks in Sudan, which means not much training leading up to WS. So, I hope to get in a long run at Miwok and hope my calf is happy with that. The Comrades-WS double is hard to pull off without any long runs leading up to it.

Neal, my volume hasn't really increased in the last few months compared to what it was last year. High volume for me is hitting 80, which is what I hit the week this happened. I don't necessarily feel the need to get much over 80-90, which is high volume to me and which I've been building up to over the past few years, and I think sustainable. I had been doing more high quality stuff, so maybe it was too much hard stuff, and not enough recovery. Or maybe it was a freak accident related to tweaking it when I collided with that tree. Hard to say. Calf strains are impossible to predict and can be hard to tie to anything--I felt great and had no warning signs.

ultrarunnergirl said...

Coming back from an injury that struck without warning is maddening. After I broke my sesmoid, every time I'd feel a twinge I would be sure it was about to break again. It held me back for months. Eventually you just learn to live with the fear, and then the twinges go away. It's more a mental journey than physical.
As for your life, try something new or do more of something you usually neglect because of running. For me that was wineries, time with non-running friends, and cycling. It was good to fill the void with different activities.
Hope things go well at Miwok!