Saturday, November 26, 2011

And For My Next Trick...

...I will pull a rabbit out of my arse.  That's pretty much what I need to be able to do to get back on track with my training for the Big Race.  After I found my marathon legs in early November, the right one promptly broke.  As you can imagine, the emotional Zipper ride has been pretty extreme these past few weeks.  I haven't felt much like talking or writing about it--hoping I would magically heal and be able to say I dodged the pepper spray.  Then, I read fellow Olympic Trials Qualifier, Nichole's, report about an achilles injury she's dealing with and was able to point her to my blog posts from 2010 where I dealt with a similar issue.  It reminded me that we often learn more from our triumphs over adversity than from the easy wins.

So, here we go...

This particular problem started with what I was calling twinging in my gluteal area, tightness in my hamstrings and some very sore calf muscles.  When I look back at my training log, I was regularly reporting one or more of these issues after most of my longer runs.  I was treating these problems with lots of rolling on my lacrosse ball and was trying to make sure that my hips were remaining flexible.  As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, October was a month from hell in terms of traveling for work.  My thought was that I just needed to get through that month, and then I could take time to train hard and recover.

I finally took my last trip at the beginning of November, but it became clear that my body wasn't going along with my plan.   I took a couple of days off from running and did a little cross training.  I had a race scheduled that week and thought it was a good time to "taper".  I also scheduled an appointment to see Dr. Lau.  When I first made the appointment, I told him that it was really not a big deal, and I was sure that a quick treatment would be all I needed.  A week later, I had started to feel some real pain in my glute and my right shin was unbelievably crabby every time I ran. 

Dr. Lau treated me on a Friday and I ran a half marathon on Sunday.  My right leg was not in pain during the race, but neither leg was on board with my plan to run fast.  It was the strangest feeling: my hamstrings were done with me after the first few miles, and I just couldn't move my legs.  I knew I was doomed by mile 3, but I made the decision to ride it out and get in a workout.  I was so worried about feeling pain in my right leg, that I sort of ignored the pain developing inside my shoes.  I knew I was getting some blisters because my feet were on fire, but my brain didn't register how bad it had become.
Yeah.  That's pretty bad.
I got lots of suggestions on how to deal with the blisters and the best advice was to drain them.  I did this with a sterilized safety pin, and the pain was relieved instantly.  Another friend suggested I cross train a couple of days to allow the blisters to heal up a bit, and so I did.  When I ran again on Wednesday, my right leg was jacked up--shin hurt and hamstring/glute were twinging.  It actually felt better the longer I ran, but I stopped at 9 miles and rode the elliptical in the gym that evening.

The next two days, I started getting symptoms that felt like sciatica, and I started to panic.  I saw Dr. Lau again on Friday and ran 7 miles both Saturday and Sunday.  These two runs sucked.  My leg was getting worse, not better and now the pain was there when I walked too.  We were holding out for Monday to see if maybe the pain over the weekend was caused by the treatment, but another painful run on Monday made it clear that something else was going on.  

So, now we're caught up to this week--Thanksgiving week.  I pool ran my workout on Tuesday and went to see another chiropractor who took a different approach to the problem.  I tried to run on Wednesday.  The pain in my shin and hamstring/glute was immediate and run stopping.  I indulged in a full-on tantrum. 

~A joyful interlude~

A couple of weeks ago, before I knew any of this was coming, I made an impulse purchase through a pro program I get through my affiliation with the military (  They recently added ElliptiGo to the list of pro deals I could get, and I thought I'd check one out locally to see whether I would like it.  I rode one and realized this was the best possible cross training device for a runner, injured or not.  It really feels like running in the air though without any upper body movement.  Forget the fact that you look absolutely redunkulous riding it.  I returned home and decided to take the plunge.  I got the 8C model so I could have lots of gearing options.  With my pro deal, I was able to get that more expensive model for a lot less than even the basic model.  
Big Green
My green machine came in the mail about a week later, but the front fork was bent.  The people at ElliptiGo were very helpful and shipped out a new fork quickly.  It finally came on Monday, and The Genius swapped it out for me so I could take my first ride on Wednesday.  It is really pretty fun.  I was mostly surprised by how hard a workout it is.  Standing upright, your body is like a big sail, so the air/wind adds a lot of resistance.  I see this as a good thing since my job is to get my heart rate up during cross training.  

I had a tempo run planned for Thursday, so I decided to see if I could do the workout on Big Green.  Getting my HR up on this thing is not a problem.  My problem was actually slowing down to rest a bit.  I wanted to keep pushing.  Here's a graphic of the 57 minute ride I did with about a 30 minute tempo effort in the middle (with a short water break at the turn around point).
Big Green does her job.
The red line shows my heart rate.  The faded green line is my speed and the colored slices in the background represent my heart rate zones.  The yellow is my aerobic zone, the light pink is 88-92% of max heart rate (roughly my lactate threshold zone) and the red slice is red-line territory.  So, if nothing else, I have stumbled upon a cross training device that I enjoy, can do outside (or inside if I buy the wind trainer add on) and will give me a superb workout that should directly translate to my running fitness.  I'm excited about keeping Big Green as part of my training in my uninjured future.

~Back to reality~

That face hurts me too.
So, where do I go from here?  I don't quite know.  I suspect I'll have a few more days spent with my face smashed on Dr. Lau's table.  He has been an amazing help through this and believes we've narrowed the issue down to high hamstring tendonopathy.  I have a lot of inflammation in the area and am working to reduce that with ice and both oral as well as topical NSAIDs.   He continues to work on ridding the area of bad tissue and getting my muscles to slide like they're supposed to.  I'm doing daily test runs and have yet to see the big breakthrough run where I keep running and don't look back.  

The biggest lesson learned so far?  Pain = too late.  I have been in touch with Dr. John Ball these last few weeks as well, and he was the one who reminded me of this.  He has been extremely generous with his time; offering advice, gentle reminders and zinging reality checks.  He asked why I hadn't been in to see Dr. Lau for 4 months, and I told him "because nothing hurt enough to make an appointment."  In fact, I had subtle signs that my body was unhappy with me up to a month before I made my first appointment.  They were small things, but I should have gone in to get checked out.

The other lesson, which I seem to learn over and over, is that I really can't fit it all in.  I should have reduced my running workload in October to accommodate the extra stress of my job.  Woulda, coulda, shoulda.       

A very positive note in this sad song is that I have enlisted the help of a great coach.  I realized that I am quickly going to run myself into the ground over and over coaching myself (despite the help of Coach T).  The bummer is that I haven't been able to use the training plan he gave me yet because this injury cropped up around the time we started working together.  I really do look forward to working with him and seeing what I can do under his coaching.

I continue to hold out hope that I'll be able to get in a few weeks of good training for the Trials in the next 2 months, but my goals will need some adjustment.  

Then again, the big win is getting invited to the dance, right?  Well, and not getting lapped by the boys (right, JB?).  


  1. Wow, this is a bummer to hear! You think it was from all the sitting/travelling? I had that butt cheek pain for 2 years (got really bad on long runs/marathons), and the only thing that completely got rid of it was acupuncture.

    Oh yeah, is that how high your heart rate normally is??

    Keep up the hope! There's still lots of time to get back to good health and fit!

  2. Ouch. Two years? That stinks.

    I think this cropped up from running too much hard mileage without having the time to properly recovery (sleep, rolling, massage, etc.). Add to that a lot of other work-related stress and a ton of sitting and you get a recipe for injury disaster.

    I have a good acupuncturist in town and will add that to the mix of treatments for the next few weeks. Thanks for the reminder! I need to pull out all the stops at this point.

    My max HR is somewhere between 185-195. Not sure exactly. My tempo runs are typically in the low-mid 170s. I actually run between 165-170 for marathon pace. So, yes, that's how high I typically run.

    Thanks for the encouragement! See you in Houston.

  3. Oh my, high hamstring tendonpathy is my bete hits hurdlers/sprinters as well. I finally transitioned to an adjustable "sit/stand" keyboard and PC set-up at my work cube and it has helped a great deal. Hang in there!! Best of luck!

  4. Ughgg!!! Sounds like familiar pain to me. I knew I was going to see you that day on the trail...weird huh! I have no doubt that you will continue to triumph....look forward to seeing you!

  5. What's your easy run heart rate Jaymee? I'm amazed your HR was that high, even starting out. It looks like you really took off quickly and got it up quickly. Granted, this isn't running and a normal activity for your body. What's your HR on your easy runs?

    Definitely, seek out the acupuncture! It took me one treatment to get rid of it, after 2 years of my butt cheek getting sore/weak! It was miraculous.

  6. Jaymee,
    You may want to add Cryotherapy into the mix to help with recovery. Go to for more information. They are located in Granite Bay. The treatments work to help speed recovery and inflamation. Better than an ice bath. If you ever want to go let me know and I will meet you there. Localized treatments have done wonders for my recent sprained ankle. I started seeing Dr. Lau 1 year ago and I see him ever 3 weeks as part of my maintance plan. Everything will workout! Hang in there!

  7. Scheisse :( I was excited to see a new post from you in my reader but this is not what i wanted to reqd. Good luck!! Hey, the elliptigo works for lauren fleshman...

  8. Sorry to hear of your injury, but I'm delighted that you're receiving excellent counsel and treatment. I think it's great that you've found the ElliptiGo (which I've been intrigued by for over a year since first learning that Dean Karnazes uses it, and by watching their videos realized that its motion is exactly that of an eliptical.) Combined with pool running these should maintain your cardiovascular system and the majority of your running-specific fitness and neuromuscular patterning until your tendinopathy and associated inflamation is fully addressed. Be safe on your ElliptiGo, however, recognizing that a rider on the road is inherently more vulnerable and less agile in avoiding the unexpected than a runner. Good luck, and I hope you have a speedy recovery!

  9. That's a sad face! Hope you can overcome this setback before long. I like Camille's suggestion of trying acupuncture (as well as other treatments). Yes, overcoming adversity beats easy wins every time.

    The ElliptiGo looks a great move for cross-training. As well as the leg movement benefit, much easier to get the HR up than with cycling and more efficient I'd presume too (similar times in HR zones as for running). Good luck. Hope it's a while before we see more blister photos ;)

  10. I am so sad to read this post... mostly because I know what you're going through. I only wish I could help you like you've helped me!

    Only thing I might consider in your situation is to lay off test runs? That was something I did with my achilles & I honestly think I will come back to full speed faster because of it. Granted, then you never know if you're making progress (or the exact moment you're able to run... I maybe could have been back a day or two sooner), but allowing the body to rest & repair itself is so crucial...

    but also so agonizing because the Trials are so close.

    I'll be watching this closely, and praying for a QUICK recovery for you.
    *Hugs!* Nichole