Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Warning : Long But Possibly Useful Post

...sprinkled with random, gratuitous cuteness. Non-running family members get forced to read this blog. The least I can do is reward them with some photos.

I've tried to not bore everyone (if you're family or very close friend, you're out of luck) with the daily details of recovering from my injury. I realized, however, that this may make it appear that I was one day sporting this snazzy foot enhancement :

you know you love it
and the next day out resuming marathon training. This was definitely not the case. In between the boot-hobbling', non-running, whining-filled weeks and the running shoe-wearing, slow, ugly, running, (still) whining-filled days, there was a time of transition.
Pretty sad when your foot looks better covered by a hideous medical apparatus, huh?

I read every piece of information I could on how to safely return to running, following an injury. There was advice and resources a'plenty. With my newfound knowledge, I compiled my own, loose plan. Maybe, someday, it will make another runner's return just that much easier.
Weaning : When I was able to tolerate putting a little bit of weight on my injured foot, I began to slowly (that word is key during rehab) spend less time wearing the boot. I found my muscles and tendons to be completely useless, in that leg, after being confined to said boot. This is totally normal. The whole point of it is to keep your foot immobile. The first few days, I would walk around 3-4x, during the day or evening, just to try to help my feet remember how to work normally, again. It felt "funny", but not painful. Eventually, I left it off most of the time I was at home. This way I could still elevate it, when necessary, but walking from room to room gave me a chance to (slowly) work my way out of Boot Life.
Walking : I was lucky enough to have pool running to help try to maintain my fitness and sanity. Also, with it being Summertime, it was something my family and I could enjoy, together.
he was never this excited about running with me
Everything I'd read, though, touted the benefits of walking to (slowly) work my way back up to running. Thanks to some random hooligans aka sandals I was forced to overcome my fear of putting one, bootless foot in front of the other, and try walking. It was gloriously successful and pain-free. I continued to walk, every other day, and ,eventually every day, slowly building mileage. Even after I passed some key tests I continued to stick to walking. This exercise mimics running, but without the serious impact. It's a great way to work on your form, meet your (non-running) neighbors and whine about how bored you are!
Wrunning: I don't remember how I found this link, but it's the schedule I loosely used to work some (slow) running in with my walks. The first day I walked for about 15 minutes and then (oh-so-nervously) tried a slow, steady run. It lasted approximately 10, painful seconds. I immediately stopped, in a panic. However, upon evaluation, I realized that everything hurt. My injured ankle was no more painful than any other part of my body. So I tried again. This time the running portion lasted 3, awful minutes. I knocked out a couple more intervals and headed home, doubtful and discouraged.
The following two days, I stuck to walking.  There was no residual pain, but the running had definitely felt disgusting. However, I kept waiting for the "you overdid it, again dummy!" pain to surface, but it never did.
I then spent a week concentrating on different walk/run intervals. My plan was to not get stuck on finishing a certain amount of running minutes, though. I needed to listen to AND obey my body. The walking felt perfect. The first sets of running always aggravated my ankle. The pain wasn't stabbish, though, only a dull ache. It also never worsened. Had either of those symptoms been present, I'd really like to think I would've stopped. At some point, during my workouts, though, the ankle pain would disappear.
On the off days, I continued to do the pool running. It's zero impact, incredibly boring but cool and splashy.

also, notice how lonely the pool looks without me flailing around in it
The running was awkward, painful and slow. I think all of the pool workouts helped maintain my cardio, but my muscles (glutes, hamstrings, quads...you name it) protested every time I ran. Turns out running is freaking hard! Neither my brain, nor my body decided to remember that, apparently.
Also hard, but such an integral part of recovering : don't follow a plan. don't set goals. don't have expectations. There is no way to know how your body will react to each phase of healing, transition and running, again. You can't set expectations for the unknown. It must be taken one step at a time.
This is not only my unsolicited advice, it's also a reminder for myself.
This week I'm back to full-on, but oh-so-modified, runner mode. I'm still processing the progress but can't wait to bore you to tears with all the details.
If you've made it this far, you deserve an award. In lieu of prizes, though, you get to see some darling children eating ice cream. You're welcome.
How about you? Any injury recovery advice to share?