Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stress Fracture Update. How this was supposed to be a triumphant return to running.

I've sat down at least 20 times to try and write but no matter what I wrote, I would just end up erasing it and getting off the computer. I have things to say, I just don't feel like saying them. And while my attitude during this time off of from running has been overall pretty positive, I have finally admitted last week that I have been slightly depressed.

Running is my anti depressant medication. Depression runs in my family. It's just a fact of life. I have 6 siblings. 4 of them are on anti depression medication. My grandma is and so are 2 of my aunts. I need running. Biking is not the same, yoga is not the same, lifting weights is not the same, hiking comes close but still just doesn't do it. And the thought, though crazy as it is, that I won't run again, has caused me to withdraw myself. From friends, from this blog, from all of you kind people. From the things that would really have helped me and encouraged me.

It's over today. So here's the update. 3 weeks ago I had a follow up x-ray and was given the go ahead to start running again. (Which I thought was stupid because it didn't show up on the x-ray to begin with.) I felt deep inside that I wasn't quite ready yet because of a few little test jogs during a couple hikes that I had done on my own the previous week. But when my husband said that he was going for a short run that night, and I had been cleared to run, I couldn't pass it up and went along. After a mile I could feel something by my ankle. Truthfully, it had been so long since I had felt any pain I wasn't sure if it was pain or just muscles that hadn't been worked in a while. I walked and there was no pain so we turned around and headed for home just to be safe. We ran up a big hill on the way back and it felt so good to be out running again that I sprinted up to the top. Talk about a serious runner's high. The ankle ached the rest of the night and the next day. I sat there worrying and wondering if it was all in my head so I gave it 3 days and then ran again just 2 miles. But by the time I got home I knew it wasn't totally healed yet and pretty much cried my eyes out to my husband.

I texted with my doctor, who was as frustrated as I was, and he stuck me in a boot for 4 weeks. It felt like I was at two extremes. First, I could do anything but run and now he wanted me to do nothing. After more tears to a good friend, I picked myself up and decided to take matters into my own hands. Doctor Google and I became good friends and I researched everything I could about stress fractures. I learned a lot. I stopped taking my anti inflammatories. I bought a portable ultrasound machine. I continued to ride my bike.

These little ankle wings make for good resistance while deep water pool running.

And through a chance conversation (you know I don't believe in chance), I found an underwater treadmill in my little town. I feel like that was a tender mercy sent from heaven to help me cope. And it's been great. I now have a plan to return to running safely and am excited. My real workouts will continue in the pool and on the bike for a couple of months and I'll be using speed walking and a run/walk program to get me back into running. I compromised with my doctor yesterday and will be in the boot 3 weeks and will use the 4th week to start walking. So, in 2 short days this boot will be gone. It finally seems like there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I have no shame by putting this picture on here. This pool has the best toys. And it's $30 a month for a pool pass. The physical therapist has been great working with me on balance and strengthening exercises in the pool. I have even gotten to do jump lunges and jump squats as well as just running back and forth, forward and backward on the pool floor. I really look forward to the workouts.

I wanted to share with you a couple of sites that have really inspired me and I feel like have given me good concise information.
First is The Pete Pfitzinger Lab Report. It not only had a 9 week pool running training plan, but also gives a return to running schedule after stress fractures. If only I had known this prior to my return, I may have not even had to wear this stupid boot at all. The phrase in that article that stuck out to me was "There is a danger during the first few weeks back of releasing your pent-up physical and emotional energy and overdoing it." Perfect words to describe exactly what I did sprinting up that hill.
Next was Camille Herron's blog post on overcoming stress fractures. This was chock full of good information including tests to see if you're ready to run again as well as reasons behind why stress fractures occur in the first place. She is also the one who convinced me to ditch the anti inflammatories. I have osteoarthritis in my wrists, elbows, and my right foot. (I just found out about the foot in my bone scan. It doesn't hurt me at all.) But I have been taking Celebrex for about 4 years now. I am a chronic user. I have been off for almost 3 weeks now and though I notice my elbows when I ride my bike, it is o.k. I would urge everyone to read this even if you've never had a stress fracture before. I have never had a broken bone in my life until now. You just never know. And I wish I had found this at the very beginning.

I am back and can't wait to catch up with all of you and I have lots more things to share including some good learning lessons from all of this, my new training goal (since my May marathon is as good as gone), as well as an awesome chia seed recipe. So good to be back. And it will be even better when I am running again.