Me: This is never going away. I’m never going to get back to where I was. I can’t even go on a 30-minute test run right now without being in pain afterwards.

PT: Not with that attitude you won’t. Look. It took a long time to get to this stage of your injury; why would you think you’d get better in 4 weeks?

Then he gave me tough love about having perspective and asked me if I’d like to meet one of his patients who’s going through therapy for a broken neck.

I know. I KNOW. I’m not being rational. But we grasp to what’s familiar. Familiar to me is was running.

It has been 12 weeks since Philly.
I have been on my PT program for 5 of those 12 weeks.

I had a moment of hope last week, where I went a stretch of 3-4 days feeling REALLY good, with pain almost completely gone on one side and back pain virtually nonexistent. But I seemed to have taken a step back this past week.

PT: It’s a bummer because you felt you were making some good progress before [this week].
200w.gif.

This shit is taking forever to heal. The progress is slow and the light at the end of the tunnel is dim, at least this week.

So I’m learning a new normal. I’ve had to make some tremendous lifestyle adjustments because I’m no longer running 50 and 60 mile weeks, and won’t be for the foreseeable future. And, unlike my femur injury, when I was unemployed and had all the time in the world to work out all day every day…I’m now juggling 2 jobs, and I don’t have a plethora of time anymore.

I’m no longer grasping to my 2016 fitness for dear life. I’m not spending hours upon hours on cardio machines, dreaming of my next marathon. I’m not plotting my return to run schedule, and counting down the weeks until I can run again.

Instead, I’m trying to chill out and learn to live differently.

Training
I lift 2-3x/week (a program prescribed and closely monitored by my PT), and I supplement it 3-4x/week with circuits of cardiac output exercises, where I aim to keep my HR in a certain zone for 45-65 minutes. Sometimes, if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll do cardiac output for 90 minutes.

Exercises include:
jumprope, rope slams, heavy kettlebell carries, agility ladder movements, skips, marches, jumping jacks, bear crawls, medball slams, plank holds, etc.

On days when I’m craving mindless activity, I’ll either head to the elliptical OR I’ll walk on the TrueForm with a 30-lb. weighted vest on. Sometimes you just gotta not think about anything and listen to music, you know? I’d like to incorporate aqua jogging, but the pool schedule hasn’t been congruent with mine. And, sadly, yoga bothers it, otherwise, I’d be doing that a lot.

I have been approved to go for short runs on the TrueForm. I’ve gotten to 20-25 minutes without pain. The 25-minute barrier has been difficult for me to break without taking a step backwards. Discouraging.

The good news? Despite being injured, I’m still able to notice changes in my cardiovascular health. When I started doing cardio again after taking a majority of December off, my HR an easy day looked like this:

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 3.52.45 PM.png

Yellow = too high. We’re looking for green and blue here.

 

Nowadays, my HR graphs are looking a little more like this (with the same effort output):

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 3.51.15 PM.png

Mitochondria, get at me.

 

Nutrition
Aside from training differences, nutrition has obviously been the biggest change during this injury. Quite simply: I can’t eat everything in sight anymore.

I’m a picker and I really enjoy food: I love just grabbing what’s in front of me and eating it without a thought. But now, I’ve got to be smarter than that.

To be honest, I’ve always eaten pretty well; so avoiding snacks and sticking with wholesome foods has kept my weight pretty much the same as it was while running, with the obvious slight 2-3 lb. change on a day to day basis.

Tracking my food has helped keep things in line. It’s also reminded me that I do a terrible job of eating vegetables and eat a little too much fat. 🙂

Recent changes in my nutrition:
Eating much more protein for breakfast, like greek yogurt with fruit, or a shake with both whey and collagen protein mixed in…less wine…less desserts…roasting trays of vegetables Sunday nights and immediately going to those when I come home ravenous from work…less cheese.

Yeah. None of those things is really mind-blowing, I know. But the little things make a difference. I hope to go on the InBody machine this week to get a handle on my current muscle mass and body fat percentage. I’m actually excited to see how much muscle mass I’ve gained since beginning this strength program.

Blood Levels
My Inside Tracker results have always been pretty decent, but I was curious about what things would look like after an extended period of time off from training. I also was curious about my Vitamin D levels since I’ve now been supplementing with VitD for the better half of a year.

Well guess who’s no longer deficient in Vitamin D, suckas?!

Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 10.24.08 AM.png

For all those wondering: the red was right when I hurt my femur. Blood don’t lie, eh?

 

And in other (great) news, my ferritin has skyrocketed:

Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 10.25.59 AM.png

This is WITHOUT supplementation

 

 

And, while I know cortisol is something that varies a lot throughout the day, I think this graph speaks for itself:

Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 10.29.40 AM.png

And guess what else has improved? My GI issues…

 

But not all of my blood levels were rainbows and roses (though, nothing was really alarming). As expected, my hemoglobin has plummeted to an all-time low. Not surprising: Inside Tracker has informed me that, “there is a correlation between low hemoglobin and lower VO2 max, an indicator of endurance capacity, and of physical fitness.” Awesome.

Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 10.27.08 AM.png

RIP Fitness

 

Sleep
I’ve mentioned before that sleep is my kryptonite. Generally, when I’m training, I find I need close to 9-10 hours of sleep every night. Now that I’m not training? I can function pretty damn well with 7, and I naturally wake up after 8. Before, I would have been completely nonfunctional with 7.

The double-edged sword, however, is that my motivation to take care of myself and go to sleep earlier is lower. I no longer have the excited anticipation (read: scared shitlessness) of waking up to a massive speed workout. So when it gets to be 11..12..1 AM…I feel guilty that I’m up so late, but I also know it doesn’t really matter much in a training sense. Bad, I know. I’m working on it.

More time on my hands
This really only applies to weekends and maybe one day during the work week. I’m now sufficiently invested in my current “fitness” routine that I still find myself working out 60-90 minutes per day during the workweek.

I don’t like not following a training plan; I’m just extremely type-A, and I like being told what to do (even coaches need coaches). Because my recovery has been monitored by my PT, I have been planning my workout weeks myself…which means it’s also been easy to not adhere to them. As of February 1st, I’ve been consistent with 6x/week of workouts. It’s the little things that make me happy these days. 🙂

James and I have an open line of communication about my recovery process, and he’s helped me immensely from a holistic approach with my running/life: he’s helped me get my shit together with nutrition as well as sleep. He has begun to program in interval-type XT work, which I’m appreciative of, because I would never prescribe that for myself, merely because I tend to gravitate towards other things.

Without a marathon training plan, I’m finding that I’m doing a better job of tuning into what my body wants. And I’m not resenting a day that deviates away from what I had intended to do on a particular day.

In fact, I’m currently riding a “I’m so proud of myself” high because yesterday, my hamstrings were feeling really crappy, but I was “supposed” to do one of my strength/PT days. Do I bag it? Do I rest? Do I move?  –I chose the latter. I didn’t do the assigned PT program, but I did move around my gym for 40 minutes and actually felt better afterwards. Go figure listening to your body is important.

Feeling of empty
I suppose I could take my PT up on his offer to meet his patient with a broken neck. My trips on the merry-go-round of self-flagellation seem to increase in frequency when I experience FOMO from watching others train for Boston. Running has turned into a lifestyle for me, inclusive of social events. I’m very thankful for friends who have insisted in meeting up and doing things that AREN’T running. Who knew that the key to my heart is actually just a good glass of cabernet, a long walk, and a manicure/pedicure date?

A couple friends have offered to go on my 20 minute runs with me. That kinda just makes me sad, because it’ll end really fast, and I’ll only feel bad about myself when said friend continues on to run for another 50 minutes. I’m being realistic, not pessimistic. I’m also slightly terrified of not running on the TrueForm right now, since it’s been such a great rehab tool and running outside has only seemed to hurt me.

At my last PT appointment, I was told that if, at the end of 12 weeks, things still aren’t feeling good…he wouldn’t blame me if I just said “fuck it” and started running again. Remember: this injury hasn’t hurt me while running–only after–which is why I was able to continue to train (damage?) on it for as long as I could. I don’t know if his validation is a good or bad thing, but I’m hoping things won’t get to that point. He said I do need to make a legitimate attempt to go through a thorough 12-week therapy regimen, which I’ve honestly doing. And, it would be remiss of me not to mention that I HAVE seen a little progress.

I have contacted my doctor regarding PRP injections. Based on the research, I’m hopeful they will help, even though the recovery from the injections also seems long and daunting.

Things are just a waiting game right now. A recovery game, if you will. One of my closest friends told me that while 2016 might have been about my own PRs and breakthrough races, it’s okay that 2017 isn’t going to be that way. And she’s right. 2017 is going to be about the PRs and successful races of every single person I coach. Putting my injury in that light makes me feel happy. It’s difficult to describe the feeling of an athlete texting you after their race with good news. I don’t think it will ever get old.

So while the old normal was me uttering, “oh my god,” every time I saw a marathon finish line…the new normal is me exclaiming, “oh my god” into my phone when I hear about a successful workout or race. Running in my life isn’t gone right now, thankfully…it’s just different. Perspective is everything.