Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Cautionary Tale of A Chronically Injured Runner

One of the things runners fear the most is being injured. Not only is an injury physically painful, but it can mean being sidelined for weeks or even months - missing training runs, speed workouts, and long anticipated races. An injury can make a runner feel cut off from a life they love, a part of their soul. A runner who can't run feels let down, like a part of themself is missing, like they're letting themself down, and possibly others as well. It can be a bit embarassing, even knowing that the majority of runners deal with an injury at one point or another.

I have experience with all of these emotions. If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that I suffered from stressed joints in both of my feet while I was training for the marathon last fall and I crossed the finish line with a stress fracture in my right foot. These problems kept me from running for about 3 months, with my right foot in a walking cast for a little over a month and then my left foot for another month after that. It's been a struggle that has really frustrated me. I used to run with no problems. Maybe a heavy feeling in my tired legs, but that was it. I love to run but when it causes me pain and I can hardly walk, I get quite frustrated. How can this thing that makes me so happy and is supposed to keep me healthy make me hurt so much?

I knew I could recover strongly from my foot problems if I did it smartly, so I recruited some great girlfriends to run the MORE/Fitness Half Marathon with me at the end of April. That was a legitimate goal. I want to run it with my friends and enjoy the experience together, so I wasn't setting a time goal. Just for fun. I finally started running again, had a few great weeks, and then it struck again! Pain in my foot! This time though, it's in my right heel. Some steps are excruciating. What is up with this? Since it started last week I've been icing quite a bit, using the foot massage ball that Woody gave me at Christmas and trying to stay off it as much as possible. I stopped in at the Super Runner's Shop near my building yesterday and spoke with a guy who seemed pretty knowledgable. I thought it was Plantar Faciitis, but he didn't think it was that when I explained the symptoms. Instead he thinks it's a heel spur. I'm not sure which one is worse, but instead of the $45 sock to sleep in that supposedly helps aleviate pain from PF, he suggested a pair of $8 heel cushions to use in my shoes.

I'll tell you one thing, I am determined to get rid of this! I'm registered for the Scotland Run 10K next weekend and I want to run it! I went to the gym this morning and had to stay on the elliptical and bike. The elliptical actually hurt a bit, which was really annoying since I could do that easily with the stress fracture. These guys will be my best friends for the next few days, or however long it takes:
I can't really say why I've been having so many problems, but I have a feeling it has something to do with the fact that I have Osteopenia (bone mineral density lower than normal but not at the point of Osteoporosis). I take daily calcium and Vitamin D supplements. We can't be certain, but it is most likely linked to Cushing Disease and not because I was deficient in calcium growing up. I definitely drank milk and consumed other sources of calcium. But, I must say, that I strongly encourage everyone, especially women (who are more prone to stress fractures and other running injuries) to make sure that you are getting enough calcium in your diet. This includes dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk, but also salmon, sardines, kale, collard greens, spinach, broccoli, almonds, black beans, and tofu.

In addition to making sure I get the calcium I need to strengthen my bones (like the DD skim latte and Chobani yogurt I'm enjoying now!), I am also going to concentrate more on stretching and strengthening my leg muscles in order to try and stave off further injuries.

I am so done with injuries and ready to get back to doing what I love: running!

Have you had to deal with a running injury? If you have, have you done anything differently in your training since then to prevent another one?

Check back later today. I'm going to do a post on food.
Workout Stats-
6mi elliptical
5.5mi bike
125 crunches
3x10 side arm raise


Running Through Phoenix said...

I share these feelings. I'm relatively new to running and have had myriad of injuries, some are now starting to cycle back around. How the heck can a person hope to complete a goal when beset by injuries? itbs is my most hated injury so far. Heal, sister, heal!

Jen Cole said...

Oh no Lisa! Praying for your injuries to heal so you can get back to what you love. :) Can't wait to see you!

Robyn said...

Aww I hope you get better, being injured stinks.

Julie said...

oh no!!!! I really hope you get back on your feet (literally) soon! You know how to listen to your body, so I'm sure you'll have a speedy recovery and be all ready for the 25th! Can't wait!

NY Wolve said...

I haven't been seriously injured for awhile. And never something that required a boot or like a heel spur.

I don't run three straight days anymore. I work on my core. I avoid rubber soled shoes (They hurt my toes.) I ice. take supplements. I pray.

See out at the Scotland run! I don't know if you did it last year, but it rained!

Matt said...

Don't know if this helps, but for me running three days in a row brought on some nagging injuries after a few weeks. Taking a day off from running after back-to-backs has made a huge difference.

Good luck with your recovery.

Jocelyn said...

I am finally back from my injury! WOOO. It sucks! totally sucks. I try to do everything I can NOT to get injured!

Unknown said...

oh wow i hope it heals fast!! a few weeks before my 1/2 this last weekend I hurt one ankle and am now sporting a brace, then the week before I hurt the other one also so now i a sporting 2 braces. all of which i can handle and still run, on the day of the race however, I hurt my hip and now i havn't been able to run for two days. I am signed up to run my first full marathon on May 2nd and i'm praying everything will be healed by then! Good luck!

bkmonet said...

Stopping by from SITS! Ouch! I hope you can get back to doing what you love too! Running is good, very very good.

RunToTheFinish said...

I did go through a period of constant injury and a lot of folks still think I'm crazy, but I swear after reading Dr John Sarno which describes how stress can influence pains I have been better

The Laminator said...

Yes, all runners have to deal with injuries at one time or another. It's how we deal with them though that is important.

I try to examine all aspects of my running when I'm injured to figure out how I got to that point. Sometimes it's running too fast. Other times it's running too much too soon. Other times it's that my technique is off, or the result of shoes that are too old or that I've outgrown.

I hope you recover well and get to run the Scotland 10K. Take care!

(Oh, and I'm curious about your Cushing's diease...since that's my area of expertise. Has it been treated or is it still a problem for you?)