Since I told you all that I’d keep you updated on how my whole mystery leg pain situation is going (note: not using the i-word), here’s some current info:
Things have been progressively getting better since my 2-mile limp home disaster 1.5 weeks ago. I’m 95% sure right now it’s not a stress fracture, given the healing status and since I didn’t really think it was one to begin with. While I haven’t gone back to the doctor (I don’t really see a need at this point), I’ve kind of been going with a self-diagnosis of really bad IT Band Syndrome. And before I get harped on for trusting WebMD, let me just say that this is based on the fact that I’ve had this ailment before, and the knee pain I experienced then compared to now is nearly identical.
However, I’m still a little unsure. I definitely think this is in part a very knotty and naughty IT band, however I’m experiencing weakness and little jolts of pain in my upper hip/thigh area too, which isn’t necessarily a symptom of ITBS. I guess it could be a residual thing, but at this point my higher levels of pain are localized more up in that region rather than in my knee. It’s odd. I can definitely find a few pressure points which are super tender, so that’s something.
Either way, I’m going to a PT/ART guy on Friday, and hopefully I’ll be able to get some more clarity there. I’m excited and nervous—I’ve never had PT or ART before, so it will be an experience nonetheless. I’m guessing my pain tolerance will be tested a bit, but if the end game is running sooner rather than later, I say bring it on.
So, while the healing process is definitely progressive, I’m still wary. I try to knock myself off my cloud of hopefulness when I get too dreamy about a super quick recovery, but at the same time—it’s hard not to. Walking is becoming much more normal, and despite some pain whenever I stand up from sitting—I’m able to get around somewhat comfortably.
Here’s some things I’ve been doing to facilitate healing and keep in shape (both physically and mentally):
-I haven’t run a step. Nor have I really wanted too. I’ve been in this position enough times before to know that full rest from the onset is imperative. At first, I couldn’t try running again even if I’d wanted to, and now that it’s getting to a point where I think a test run could be do-able—I’m still holding off. I want to complete a full two weeks of no running before I try my leg out again. Like I said in my last post, the end goal is not to run again now, but to run again when it’s time to train for Boston. I’m trying with all my might to keep that in mind, despite how much I want to look forward to running sooner.
-Roll/Stretch/Massage. Nothing groundbreaking here, but I’m been rolling and stretching my IT band and hip like it’s my job. It provides pretty immediate relief, and I follow a golden rule that if it hurts to foam roll, it means you should keep doing it. I’ve been trying to find those aforementioned “hot spots” that are super tight/tender and roll the crap out of them. It’s not entirely pleasant, but I like feel like I’m actively trying to help my leg out a bit.
-Cross training. Per doctor’s orders, I’ve kept blood circulating a la all the typical (and torturous) gym cardio-facilitators. I can do pretty much everything, and while my leg is stiff when I start off, once I get moving I can hardly feel it. The elliptical, frankly, blows, but it’s been sufficing for getting a sweat in. Per usual, swimming has been my default cross-training bff. I tried simulating my usual long run Saturday with a long swim last week. While it was definitely a good workout, it is 100% more boring to long swim than long run (fact). I’ve also been trying to hit the weights more often than normal since, you know, I have a little more time. I really don’t like the gym anymore, unfortunately, and this little timeout is reminding me how much I’d been avoiding regularly going and just running instead.
-Meds. I still have prescription anti-inflammatories from when I hurt my ankle before Chicago, and I’ve started a pill-popping regimen. They were a lifesaver before, so hopefully they’ll help move the process along.
-Ice. Who knows it it really helps or not, but I find it very theraputic to take a frozen Dixie cup of water and rub the crap out of my entire upper leg while drinking a hot cup of tea. I feel like I can really dig into the tough spots this way, and ice has always been a good recovery tool for me. So, while it might not be making long-term effects, it helps me feel a little more in control of my uncontrollable circumstance.
-Sleep. While I’m noticeably not as tired as when I’m running as much as usual (shock!), I’m definitely still trying to log as many zzzs as possible. I read somewhere that your body does the most healing while it’s asleep, so maybe that’s part of it. But more so, I kind of feel like I haven’t really “slept in” since…um…before Eugene. There is something so deliciously wonderful about taking your sweet time waking up and getting out of bed in the morning on the weekend, and I’m trying to savor this opportunity to indulge. I think we all know that I prefer to be out running while others are sleeping, but somehow I’m kind of basking in the mental reprieve rather than loathing it.
On that note, I feel like I’m handling this situation far better than I would have pictured, or than I would have a year ago. It could just be growing up more or becoming a more seasoned runner, but I’m finally starting to admit to myself that maybe it’s because I needed the break. I’ve been promising myself “a week” off for months, and because of habit and/or disinterest, I never ended up doing it. Sure, I would have preferred for my off time to be a little less forced, but I have to admit that I actually haven’t missed running that much.
I never thought I would type those words, and I’m guessing you didn’t either 🙂 I’m certain this feeling will pass quite soon, but I think both my body and mind are at peace with taking the down time. I’ve been running 40-50 miles per week for the past 5 months or so, and while I never actively felt burnt out—I’m starting to think I really was. I get sad thinking about not running in the near future (Seattle Half-Marathon, Christmas fun runs, etc.) but I actually haven’t felt the urge to run now. My only explanation for this is that my body and mind have wanted a break for a long time, and now that they’re finally getting one, they’re trying to savor it. I suppose I should thank my subconscious for that. Also, I think I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that running goes hand-in-hand with hiccups. There’s not a runner I know who hasn’t had to take a step back, and I’m realizing that doing so doesn’t make you less of a runner, it’s part of being one.
I’m fully prepared for this zen-state to be broken at any time now, but that’s my update as of late. In a nutshell: I’m getting better, I’m going to have my leg brutally physical-therapied tomorrow, and I’m trying to be patient.