Tag Archives: running injury

Runner’s Knee Injury Update

9 Dec

Please, please, please, please fix my knee. Note: not my knees. A little hairy to be mine.

 

Well, I finally did it.  I went to the doctor again for my runner’s knee.  I was really afraid of what he might say…would I ever be able to run again??  Here’s where my runner’s knee was at prior to the visit:

  • It started a little over a year ago predominantly in my left knee, though both ached.
  • I experience pain under the knee cap and the pain increases the more active I am.
  • I went through physical therapy to improve the pain for about 2 months.
  • My runner’s knee is caused from poor “tracking” meaning my hips are too wide and my knee isn’t lining up as it should.

After going through a few months of physical therapy and months of “trying” to run, the pain has persisted.  Though the interesting thing is now the pain is focused much more on the RIGHT knee.  Odd that it has switched.  I have almost no pain in my left knee – which before was the main issue.  So after months of NOT running and continued pain (likely through all my dancing), I decided to head back to the doctor to see if it’s possible something more was the problem.

Upon arriving at my doctor’s office, I was first examined by a resident who did the usual “does this hurt?” examination.  After evaluating my knees in various positions, he said it seems like the pain is identical as I had before (just as suspected).  He left the room and shortly reentered with my doc.  After a series of physical examinations the conclusion was the same: runner’s knee.  My incorrect knee tracking (due to my big womanly hips) is causing my knees to rub continually and cause pain.

Le sigh.  Good that it’s nothing worse… but bad because, well… I already tried to solve this problem unsuccessfully!!!

So what’s the game plan? Here are some suggestions to help improve my knee:

  • Recommit to my PT exercises.  I did them religiously for awhile, but once I started ChaLean I noticed many of my PT exercises were in the videos – so I didn’t do them daily.  Looks like I have more outer hip strengthening to do.
  • Look into orthopedics.  My doc recommended Smart Feet to help improve my alignment.
  • Rest and Ice… yeah the usual.

So the big take away is that I NEED to get this resolved… because clearly running isn’t the only trigger.  I haven’t gone on a run in literally months, yet my knee is still swollen.  Dancing, bending, jumping… it seems like anything agitates it.  Once the wedding is over, I’m going to come up with a plan of attack and really see what I can do…because clearly it’s going to take a much more aggressive approach to get over this injury.

Project February: FIX MY KNEES!

Good news: My knee doesn’t appear to be broken forever.  It can be resolved.

Bad news: It still hasn’t been resolved and I’m kind of a at a loss for what more can be done.

I guess I should be pleased it isn’t anything worse!! :)  Happy Monday!

-Kelly

 

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Running After Runner’s Knee

20 Aug

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Well folks, the good news – I’m running again!  I just finished my second full week of running and I’m feeling pretty okay.  I can’t say great, but I also can’t say bad.  I’ll take it!  My knees still feel somewhat achy, but are not full on painful.  Additionally I’m taking it slow and being very patient with myself.  I feel like until my alignment is really 100% straightened out I will probably continue to have achy knees.

To recap, what I have done since my Runner’s Knee diagnosis.

  • Took roughly 2 months off from running
  • Worked to improve my hip strength and flexibility through targeted exercises and yoga.
  • Stayed away from high impact exercises like Zumba, Insanity, or Plyometrics.
  • Focused on strength training (for my whole body).
  • Slowly working back into running following a running program from my doctor.

So far, it seems to be working, albeit far too slowly for my liking.  I know it takes time to develop the strength to improve my alignment, and it requires diligence.  From my doctor, research, and personal experience – these are the things to keep in mind when returning to running after Runner’s Knee.

1. Take it slowly!  You will not be able to BOOM run exactly how you were running.  And that’s okay.  Be patient and let your body get back into the swing of thing.

2. Continue to work on the root cause.  In my case, my runner’s knee is caused by week outer thigh muscles.  This is causing my knee alignment to be a bit off.   I have continued to work on these muscles even after starting up running again.  The exercises that help most: balance exercises, squats, or leg raises to the side.  Essentially anything that gets a little burn going in the outer thigh.  This is the number one thing to actually fix and lead to a successful recovery.  If you don’t attack the root cause – it will likely not “just fix itself”.

3. Maintain (or gain) a strong core.  Strength training can be a huge tool for runners to build endurance and speed.  I’ve continued to lift weights to remain strong and durable for my runs.

4. Increase mileage slowly.  I’m taking this one to heart and very carefully (and slowly) increasing my distance.  The most I’ve gone so far is 3.5 miles, with this week getting up to 4.5.  I really want to allow my body the chance to acclimate to distances.  No knee freak-outs please.  :)

5. Stay positive.  For me this translates to continuing to do other activities like ChaLean Extreme or Yoga.  If my knees hit another road block, I don’t want to fall into a dark pit of despair.  My positivity is also allowing me to focus on carefully and mindfully train.  I don’t want to get too excited and do some damage!

 

Until I’m back at it 100%, I’ll just keep plugging away at my recovery plan.  My doctor assured me that Runner’s Knee is relatively minor and it is totally possible to fully recover.  But I want to know…do any of you have success stories recovering from Runner’s Knee?

Have a great Tuesday!

-Kelly

Maintaining Fitness with Runner’s Knee

23 Jul

Okay folks.  It’s happening.  I feel like I’m finally having my “ohmygoshican’trun!??!” breakdown.  I have worked hard to maintain a positive attitude and a cheery disposition on my ‘vacation’ from running over the past 2 months – see I’m even using positive words like ‘vacation’ to fool myself into thinking this is a happy time.  Well this week I have really hit rock bottom.  I stare longingly at runners at times.  Other times I glare angrily at them as they joyfully jog along, smirking at me as I either a) walk slowly in my fitness gear or b) look out my car window.  Okay so maybe they aren’t smirking at me – but seriously, they might as well be…

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Is that dust collecting on my shoes? Gasp!

Signs you may not be dealing with a lack of running well (aka Runner’s Knee Negative Attitude, RKNA):

  1. Angry or jealous thoughts regarding anything running related.  Runners included.
  2. Turning to food to deal with the frustration.  Nope I didn’t have half a box of girl scout cookies this morning.  Or several scoops of peanut butter straight up instead of a breakfast.  Not at all.
  3. Angry thoughts targeted toward the injury.  Frankly I’m just really mad at my knees right now.
  4. Sense of hopelessness.  No, but seriously, sometimes I feel a little lost without running.
  5. Feeling depressed (not the clinical kind – just the meh this sucks kind).  Running helps me to stay cheery.  Not running isn’t good for my attitude.
  6. Feeling like you “aren’t a runner.”  Yeah I used to be one of those…
  7. Not eating well or hydrating enough because after all “I’m not training and it doesn’t matter”
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Step away from the peanut butter!

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I don’t even remember what this is… a pull-up bar? a push-up bar? Was there even a time when I could do pull-ups? (okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic)

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Absolutely I’ve used my new yoga block. I just prefer to use it with the packaging still on. Helps me feel more yogi.

As of this week I am officially displaying all signs of Runner’s Knee Negative Attitude.  A non-life threatening issue that can wreak havoc on your attitude, outlook, and disposition.  It can have ramifications on your social life, loved ones, and anyone in your path.  Proceed with caution.  Now that I have been (self) diagnosed, I feel more prepared in coming to terms with my condition.  Over the past couple weeks I have done some things well in dealing with the condition, but I’ve also bombed majorly in other aspects.  Now that I’m in this sad, pathetic position I’m realizing there were some crucial steps I could’ve taken to avoid this unpleasant condition.

Bottom line: It all comes down to maintaining fitness and staying active.

For me, the double whammy is not being able to run, but also slowly moving backward fitness-wise.  Major bummer.  These are the steps I wish I would’ve taken when I first got diagnosed.

1. Stop. Okay, so you’re freshly diagnosed with an injury.  Hooray, right?  The most important thing to do: stop using it.  I cut way back on my running, but I should’ve stopped entirely and switched to another form of fitness.

2. Find another outlet.  This is my number one mistake.  Instead of researching a pool for swimming or taking my bike into a shop to get fixed, I just stewed and swirled.  For the first few weeks I did well with my workout DVDs.  But I know myself, and replacing running with a cardio activity like swimming or biking would help simulate the theurapuetic benefits that running accomplishes.  The repetition is calming and I should’ve stinking made the effort and committed to a new activity for a couple months.  This would’ve helped tremendously.

3. DO YOUR EXERCISES!  A big one.  Again – for the first few months I was diligent.  But as time passed and I didn’t “see” improvement I got discouraged.  Well here’s the thing folks – normally recovery isn’t instant and it will take some time for those exercises to provide benefit.  Stay diligent and eventually there will be a payoff.

4. Maintain a healthy diet.  I have been doing about a B on this one, but eating balanced meals more regularly would’ve significantly helped.  Now I feel a little out of sorts without running and not eating as cleanly as I could be.  You are what you eat.  Now that I’ve been eating more processed/sweet things I can feel it.  And I don’t like it.

Recovery is possible.

I truly believe that my RKNA is a direct result of not doing the above.  Instead I have let myself get a little bit soft, a little bit lazy, and allowed myself to pout just a little too much.

The biggest secret?  Stay active.  Do whatever you can to maintain fitness and stay active… you won’t be sorry if you do!  Here are some ideas on how to maintain fitness when you can’t run regularly.  I wish that I had done a better job overall.

  • Walk.  Lace up those shoes, listen to music and go on nice walks.  They are relaxing and get you outside, moving, and active.
  • Swim.  See above – but seriously I should’ve made this happen.
  • Bike.  Again, see above.  Biking is a nice lower impact way to be active and outdoors.
  • Join a gym.  If you can use the elliptical and don’t own one, consider joining a gym or Y.  Generally these facilities have equipment that can be used with Runner’s Knee or other injuries.
  • Complete an at-home DVD program like P90X or ChaLean Extreme – one that is more focused on lifting.  I’m starting ChaLean next week and I CANT WAIT.  I think getting back into the swing of a program will really help.  Be careful not to choose something high impact that could cause more injury (in my case, Insanity).

Now that I know what I should’ve done, I’m trying to work on my attitude to try and turn this ship around!  I start ChaLean Extreme next week, which should be a big help.  I’m also going to research both joining a gym with a pool, and getting my bike fixed.  They may be out of my price range, but it’s at least worth taking a look!  August 5th is my start date with my first foray back to running.  It’s just 2 weeks away and will be an indicator of whether or not a fall race is happening this year.  Let the countdown begin!

-Kelly

What activities have you done when you couldn’t run?  How have you dealt with injuries?  Have you ever experienced Runner’s Knee Negative Attitude?

Workout Program Showdown: ChaLean Extreme vs. T25

16 Jul

The showdown begins!  What showdown?  The big decision: now that I can’t do Insanity, which program will I do?  The opponents?  ChaLean Extreme and T25.  Both of these programs are by Beachbody (the makers of P90X and Insanity), which is a company I really like, and have found success with lately.  Why do I like their programs so much?  Well, frankly, I am kind of lazy.  I enjoy the pre-packaged style of these programs.  They normally are for a set length of time (2 or 3 months) and include a diet plan as well.  Essentially all I have to do is follow the recipe to success!  I don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  For me, this system works great as I really enjoy structure.  I like making and meeting milestones, and seeing progress.  Both of these programs will allow for structure, direction, and motivation.  Personally, without a set plan I tend not have quite as much success with fitness.  I will definitely remain active on my own, but having the structure is the little oomph I need (especially with all the weddings coming up – no pressure or anything :)).

Thanks to Beachbody’s satisfaction guarantee,  I actually was able to return Insanity and will now buy a lower impact program due to my knees.  What a win!  I’m so excited to select my next program and get going.  I have not done either ChaLean Extreme or T25 before, so they will be a completely new experience to me.

Wedding Fitness Goals

With 90 days until my brother’s wedding and 186 until my own, let’s just say my desire for fitness might be taking on a slightly more vain approach than usual.  Well, to be perfectly honest, I just don’t want to have to pay to get either dress altered (haha just call me el cheapo).  My bridesmaid dress for my brother’s wedding barely zips.  I’m talking barely.

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It zipped…thank goodness!

My own wedding dress fits snugly, but I don’t want any anxiety about either fitting.  I’m looking for a program that will help me tone and lose just a few pounds.  I also don’t want to lose too much weight – that means alterations as well!  Thanks to P90X I’m pretty close to where I’d like to be, so I’m also not looking for anything crazy extreme.

Detailed Personal Fitness Goals:
  • Trim and tone – looking for a lean look (think of all the pictures!!)
  • Working out up to 1 hour per day.  Ideally 5 days a week. (I like making fitness a priority, but want to also have a life :))
  • Low impact.  I can’t do anything that would mess up my knees.  My doctor said any exercises with heavy squats or angles on my knees are a no-go.
  • Enjoyable.  I tend to work out in the morning and I hate the morning (it’s a problem).  I want something I can look forward to.
  • Variety!  I love programs that have different workouts every day and give a lot of variety in the type of workout.
  • Easy to follow – make it simple for me.  I don’t want to think (remember, I’m lazy).
  • Lifting component.  I feel like I’m losing my strength from P90X – okay I’m definitely losing my strength.  I miss weight training.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these programs.  First up… ChaLean Extreme.

ChaLean Extreme

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From Beachbody’s website:

Get ready to burn fat, boost your metabolism, and get lean with ChaLEAN Extreme®. Trainer Chalene Johnson will help you build toned muscles so you can lose up to 60 percent of your body fat in just 3 months. ChaLEAN Extreme is designed to give you visible results in only 30 days.

Chalene’s Lean Phasing® technique shifts your body’s fat-burning focus from cardio to resistance training. By using weights or resistance bands, you’ll build lean muscle and ramp up your metabolism. When you have more muscle, you’ll burn fat long after your workout.

The details:

  • 90 day program
  • All days are under an hour, with the shortest around 35 minutes.
  • 6 days a week.
  • Nutrition guide included (Recipes though, which I stink at)
  • 15 workouts included
  • Variety of strength-training, cardio, and abs
  • Focus on lifting – similar to P90X in this sense.
  • Very positive reviews on Team Beachbody
  • Low impact and modifications shown in the DVDs

And on the other side of the ring, Focus T25, the brand new program from Beachbody.

 Focus T25

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From Beachbody’s website:

25 MINUTES. 5 DAYS A WEEK. 100% RESULTS.

The only thing standing between you and the results you want is TIME.

Shaun T experimented for the last year to design a program that delivers the same kind of results you’d expect from an hour-long program, in under 30 minutes. He’s pulled out the rest to give you everything you need, nothing you don’t.

The result is FOCUS T25—and the name implies the intent: If you focus your intensity for 25 minutes, and you do it 5 days a week, you WILL get results.

The details:

  • 25 minutes a day
  • 5 days a week
  • Nutrition plan included
  • No reviews yet on Team Beachbody – it’s too new!
  • A little concerned it could be too high impact, though I’ve been told it’s not. Also seems that there are low impact modifications.
  • 10 week program
  • No equipment needed
  • 11 workouts
  • Variety of workouts
  • Simple movements and straight-forward instruction.

The Decision

Such a tough choice!  It seems like I’ll be in great shape (no pun intended, though it is a clever one ;)) with either option.  I may eventually do both of them, it’s just a matter of which one first!  I’m leaning toward ChaLean Extreme first to give my knees more time to recover…but I like the idea of T25 first because it might be more cardio focused and requires less time…remember the tiny Bridesmaid dress, yeah I need that to fit.  Will all the lifting in ChaLean Extreme cause me and my ginormous muscles to be busting out of the dress?  I’ve been thinking over the decision a lot lately and still can’t quite make up my mind.  Any ideas from those of you that have done either of these programs?

Until the decision is made… Happy Tuesday!

-Kelly

Have you done ChaLean Extreme or T-25?  What do you think is better? 

(Note: I do not work for Beachbody, coach, or have family/close friends that do, additionally I will be purchasing either program using my own money).

The Benefits of Not Running

12 Jul

Well I haven’t been running, which you may know if you’ve been around here before.  You can check out my experiences with Runner’s Knee here: The Dreaded Runner’s Knee, Dealing with Runner’s Knee, and When Running Hurts, okay…so maybe I talk a lot about my inability to really run.  But what I wanted to do today is take a look at the positive side of this situation.  The benefits of not running!  Okay, I tease, there really aren’t that many true benefits.  But… this morning I was able to find TWO clean athletic socks (that matched) easily and swiftly and it got me thinking, “there have to be more positives out there!”  So for all you injured runners out there – this one is for you!

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The Benefits of Not Running

  • An abundance of clean running/workout clothes.  Now when I do my morning workout I no longer have to search and sniff test endlessly.  It’s super easy to find all parts of my workout ensemble that are clean.  Win!
  • Extra time to try new fitness trends!   Without all those hours spent running you could explore Zumba or Crossfit or any Beachbody at home DVD program.  Think of the possibilities!  Usually with all that time running I don’t feel motivated to check other things out – a non-serious injury allows you that excuse!  Or you can be like me and watch hours of old Grey’s Anatomy episodes on Netflix.  Endlessly.  Either activity is a big win!
  • Decreased hunger.  When I’m not running a ton every week, my hunger seems to go down to a tolerable level.  Though, the lack of running means I should probably keep track of what I eat a little better.  The excuse “I ran 10 miles today” no longer is valid…darn!
  • No paces to stress you out!  If you like to see improvements with running and get frustrated with slow times… one way to avoid all this?  No running at all!  No running = no pace = no stress.  Sounds brilliant to me.
  • No farmer tan.  I don’t have to worry this summer about my usual running shorts line on my thighs.  Now I can look better in my underwear.  Such a win.  Priorities people.
  • Money savings.  Race entries are expensive.  Like really expensive.  A break from running means a break on my wallet for awhile.  Though I have made up for it in Physical Therapy bills… womp womp.
  • Free Saturday mornings!  Without a long run to plan around I’m totally and blissfully available!  Saturday brunch?  No problem.  A late night on Friday?  No problem.  Want to drink wine at 9 am?  No problem.
  • No need to track the weather!  What a relief!  I no longer have to care about the humidity or chance or rain.  Is it a nice day?  Great.  Is it the most horrendously humid day every experienced?  Cool.
  • Nothing to compare.  If you have an issue comparing yourself to other runners…taking yourself out of the game removes all comparisons!  Now you can sit on a high pedestal and say “Oh if I could run, I totally would be faster and could run longer” and it doesn’t matter because you don’t have to prove it.  Sweet.

So if you’re currently injured and feeling sad – don’t worry, there are plenty of positives to the situation.  And, if these don’t make you feel like slightest bit better (or at least smile), hang in there… you’re not alone!

Happy Friday!

-Kelly

What positives would you add to the list?  How do you deal with breaks from running?

 

Run-cation, Nashville, and an Audition!

10 Jul

It has been an exciting and busy last couple of weeks around here!  I took my first trip to Nashville to visit Adam, celebrated the 4th, and managed to squeeze in an audition.  I feel like I’m running, running, running! (Okay – bad use of the word running…I’m still not physically running, le sigh).  Remarkably I’m feeling a bit better about the whole not running thing.  Or maybe I’ve just started to accept it as the best thing for right now.  I’m still hopeful a fall race is in my future – though I am also accepting the reality that a sub 1:50 half-marathon is not very likely.  And that’s okay.  At this point, I’d be happy just being able to run at all!  I’m going to pull the trigger on a race sometime in August when I need to start my training.  For the next few weeks I’m going to enjoy a real break from running and focus on fitness in other ways.  I’m thinking of it as my vacation from running.  I also have enough other hobbies to keep me verybusy!

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These guys are feeling sad and neglected.

Nashville

Last weekend I made my first voyage to Adam’s new home in Nashville!  It was a wonderful visit and awesome to check out his new place.  I wasn’t able to help him apartment search so it was my first time seeing his apartment.  He did a great job picking it out – great location and very cute.  It’s definitely small, but the location makes it worth it.  We had fantastic weather and spent time helping some friends from college apartment hunt.  You read that correctly – two of our close friends are also moving to Nashville!  How cool is that?!  The weekend was far too short, and it made me a little jealous of the three of them down there without me!  Patience Kelly.  On my drive back to Indy I was pretty sad.  Okay, really sad…but it makes me so happy knowing Adam has an awesome gig down there!

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Out with friends – the new Nashville crew unites!

Adam also officially started his residency!  Scary stuff.  He’s really a doctor now (crazy!) and has 4 years of training to continue learning.  Adam is one of the most calm people I know- just cool as a cucumber, seriously…nothing ruffles his feathers.  The day before his first day of work was a different story – he was nervous, stressed, quiet, distracted.   I was actually fascinated by it!  It was so interesting to see a totally different side to him.  He has now survived his first week and is settling into things.  The days are long (12-14 hours) and he only gets 1 day off a week for this rotation (no 4th of July celebration for him), but I know he’s really happy with his program and is learning a lot!  He’s not really getting workouts in, but at this point I’m just hoping he eats food and sleeps!  Priorities people!  It will be interesting to see how we settle into a new routine of long distance with his extreme schedule.

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Absolutely I took a picture of Adam walking into his first day at the hospital like a creepy stalker.

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Celebratory sushi! Here’s to the first year of residency! Hopefully not like Grey’s Anatomy.

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Look – I’m a doctor now… I get an iPad.

Nashville itself is an awesome city.  I can’t wait to spend more time there.  We ate a lot of great food, heard a lot of awesome music, and soaked in the fabulous warm weather.  It’s an exciting next step!

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I love brunch, lunch, dinner, and late night – how convenient!

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Our first breakfast out and about in Nashville!

An Audition

One of my favorite Christmas classics, White Christmas, will be on stage in Indianapolis!  I adore the music and story and couldn’t wait to audition for it.  I thought the auditions would come sometime in September, right before rehearsals.  Surprise!  They were Monday of this week – yes, it’s July!  They did joint auditions for another show (which I may or may not have also auditioned for?), which is in September, hence the earlier audition.  I found out about it last week and scrambled to get myself ready in time.  The only problem: I have extreme audition anxiety.  It’s terrible!  I love performing and have been doing it since I was a kid (singing, dancing, acting)… but auditions are a nightmare for me.  I could hardly think on Monday… talk about nervous wreck.  In light of this extreme anxiety, I still did pretty well at the audition!  My definition of pretty well?  Really I just want to perform my pieces well (1 minute monologue, 16 bars of music, dance combination).  Auditions are so much more than just ‘nailing it’ and you get the part.  The director also usually is going for a specific look, age, etc. etc.  There are so many factors going into the final casting – all I hope to do is perform my personal best.  And I did!  I was thrilled.  I may not be what they are looking for – but I showed them what I can do!  I anticipate it will take up to a week to hear any word, and everyone that auditioned will get a call whether we are in the show or not.  That is such a relief to find out either way.  My fingers are crossed!

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Number 25 – my FAVORITE number. Can you tell that I’m beyond nervously sickly anxious?

Wedding Dresses!

With both my Maid of Honor and Matron of Honor in town for the 4th – we made good use of our time and went bridesmaid dress shopping!  Wohoo!  I was hoping for a dress that complements mine, but  also fun and something they love.  Essentially they could pick any dress they wanted as long as it didn’t look dumb.  :)  I’m easy to please.  Amazingly enough we all settled on the same dress!  We all love it (or they are really good liars) – really there couldn’t be a better fit!  It looks amazing on both of them, is comfortable, the same material as my dress (shh… a clue), and has pockets!  Could it get any better than that??  The only issue?  We don’t know what color… yeah slight hiccup.  Unfortunately the store didn’t have samples of the fabric in sizes larger than tiny so we couldn’t decide.  I’m leaning towards blue, gray, and ivory as my “colors” – but there were a couple of shades that fit that category.  Adam is thinking navy would look best against a winter backdrop, as it will add some contrast.  But… a beautiful light periwinkle might be gorgeous too!  Any opinions on the colors?  I keep hoping I will wake up in a moment of epiphany and know the perfect color!

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Hmmm… blue? (Not this dress…but this fabric)

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Or gray?? (Not this dress, but this fabric)

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Or one of these colors??

Happy Hump Day!

-Kelly

Any opinions on bridesmaid dress colors?  Have you ever auditioned for a musical?

When Running Hurts

27 Jun

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I have to admit – I’ve been a little bit disenchanted with running lately.  Running and I have been in a long relationship for 10-15 years and we’ve had our ups and downs, so these feelings are to be expected from time to time.  We have moments of pure joy and ecstasy, followed by hurt and frustration.  It happens with any relationship.  At this point, I don’t let these bumps ruin what we have – but I tell you what… they are a pain!  My runner’s knee has been frustrating to no end- I still am not really running “pain free.”  Honestly, I’m feeling a bit discouraged – will my knees ever allow me to run wild and fancy-free again?

My other running frustration, asthma, has been flaring it’s nasty head lately too.  What happened to my gleeful runs of just 2 months ago?  You know, the ones where I was fast, fierce, and head-over-heels for running?  Yeah, they are gone for now.  Instead they’ve been replaced by their slower, asthmatic, heavy-breathing, painful stepsister.  It’s not a pretty sight.  Like usual I’m really trying to remain positive and be patient (key word: trying).  But it’s hard!  I want to be back to where I was… can’t I be, pretty please?

Well, since I’m not a fan of pity parties… let’s get productive.  I’ve been doing some brainstorming… what can I do when running hurts?  What can I do when I’m frustrated with running?  How can I feel more at peace about running, or my lack-of?  So instead of letting this frustration eat me up – here are some ideas for moving past the hurt in running.

What to do when running hurts:

  1. Stop.  This may seem like the obvious one… but why is it so hard to do?  As soon as I “shouldn’t” be running, it is ALL I want to do.  Taking a break from running helps your injury (or whatever hurts) recover, but also has the added benefit of giving you a mental break.  Normally when I come back at running following a break, I’m mentally fresh and recharged.  I’m trusting (and hoping) that will happen this time too.
  2. Try something new.  Noooo… I like running, I don’t want to do anything else!  I know, I know.  It’s hard.  It’s even hard for me to type it.  But, it’s possible that a little break from running might allow you (and me) the time to discover a new hobby.  And that’s exciting right?  When I trained for my first marathon I was experiencing stress-fracture symptoms and dove headfirst into swimming and biking (oh yeah, pun intended).  I essentially taught myself how to swim in a lane (a whole story for another day), but it gave me something to supplement my running.  Additionally I enjoyed the challenge of trying to not drown master something new.
  3. Stay away from running.  Sometimes when I’m really down about running, I just stay away: mentally, literally, in every way etc. etc.  I will stop reading Runner’s World (save it in a pile for later) or reading intently all my favorite running blogs or doing anything that could make me feel worse about not running.  It may sound a little extreme, but for me even a slight reduction in running related activities can be mentally helpful.
  4. Get involved with running. So in contrast to the point above… sometimes getting more involved in running “stuff” can be helpful.  Volunteer at a local race, plan for races in the future, or cheer on your friends from the sideline (or blogosphere).  I think it really depends on what particular issue is causing the pain and how you cope.  I’ve used both strategies at different times in my life and they both can be helpful.
  5. Be proactive with injuries.  The best way to avoid a serious injury is to listen to your body when you have a not-so-serious injury.  Take it as a cue to slow down, stretch more, ice more, or reduce mileage.  The sad fact is that running can cause running-related injuries.  Makes sense though.  Sometimes using your head to reduce miles instead of following your heart’s desire to run, run, run, can be most helpful in the long-run (no pun intended this time).
  6. Add in strength-training.  Want to make your body more durable?  Add in some weekly strength-training!  Getting your core and legs stronger will help your body once you do return to running.  Or if you haven’t stopped running, adding strength training now can help prevent injury in the future.
  7. Up the stretching.  This one is a hard one for me to remember.  I think it is for a lot of people.  Time is such a precious thing that spending 10 minutes to stretch after a run seems unnecessary or wasteful.  A whole ten minutes?? Well earth-to-kelly: it’s not wasteful!  It’s incredibly helpful in the prevention of running related injuries.  Can we make a pact that we’ll remind each other to do it?  Everyday?
  8. Don’t play the comparison game.  Gah – another one I stink at.  Don’t compare someone else’s running story with your own.  The reality is: I’m on my own running path and nothing anyone else does will affect my injury, ability, PRs, or races.  That’s a fact.  Try to stay away from letting your mind compare, “I wish I wasn’t injured so I could run an awesome race like Courtney.”  “It’s all because of my knees that I won’t get my PR like Katherine in the fall.”  “I’m not a real runner like Jane because I haven’t been able to run over 2 miles in months.”  It’s just a waste of time and in the end doesn’t result in anything positive.  The comparisons don’t even have to be against another person…sometimes I’m my own worst enemy/critic.  Take the names out of those thoughts and it’s still a negative comparison that doesn’t end well, “I won’t PR because of my injury” or “I’m not a real runner because I’ve been living it up on the coach for weeks.”  There is no winner with the comparison game.
  9. Stay positive!  Most running-related injuries can be overcome with proper rest, care, stretching, and fixing the root cause.  I have overcome running injuries in the past, I just need to remember I’ll do it again this time.
  10. Focus on nutrition.  One thing that often happens when I go from running 40 a miles a week to 10 is I eat the same way no matter the mileage.  This can lead to even more feelings of self pity because then I feel lethargic, and eventually a bit heavy.  This makes it even harder to get back at running when your body/injury is finally ready.  Don’t throw an ice cream pity party – save that for a real break-up.  You know you and running will make-up at some point.  Patience and take good care of your body in the meantime.

Man alive, I feel better already about my little running situation.  Here’s to hoping I can listen to my own words and continue to be patient as my knees recover.  Isn’t that always the hard part though?  It’s always easier said than done.  Well, if you’re struggling with running injuries – know you aren’t alone!  Sometimes that simple fact is helpful enough.

Happy almost-Friday!

-Kelly

What do you do when running hurts?  How do you channel it?

Dealing with Runner’s Knee

9 May

runLast night, I had a very anticipated and successful trip to the Physical Therapist (PT).  Last week my visit to the Sports Med doc landed me with a prescription and diagnosis of Patellofemoral pain syndrome (aka Runner’s knee).  This is a very common overuse injury, and my appointment last night armed me with even more information and most importantly, a plan. 

What’s the problem?

Just a recap (Get it?  Knee cap? Ok – that pun was intended and bad).  Runner’s knee is a phrase used to describe a couple conditions that all cause pain around the front of the knee.  Mine is most likely Patellofemoral malalignment – essentially my knee isn’t ‘tracking’ appropriately. Tracking is referring to the bending motion and how the patella (knee cap) should slide easily in the femoral groove.  Because the knee is very sensitive and pretty complex, it is a likely joint to experience endurance pain. (How many CLs do we have? ACL, MCL?)  In my case I experience knee pain while I run, but also when I’m just relaxing at home.  My knees feel most at ease when they are extended and not in a bent position.  

What is the cause?

There are myriad causes of Runner’s knee – one of the biggest reasons it’s the most common running injury.  These are the most common causes found in the paperwork from my PT:

  • Malalignment of the kneecap (due to biomechanics)
  • Complete or partial dislocation
  • Injury or trauma
  • Weakness of thigh muscles
  • Flat feet
  • Excessive training or overuse
  • Tight or weak leg muscles

During the appointment my PT did a number of tests by having me push or pull against her in various ways.  She had me walk and evaluated my gait.  At my next appointment she’s going to put me on the treadmill to watch my running gait.  Because there are many possible causes, she had to go through several little tests to rule out possibilities.

What’s the word?

The end result?  I have weakness in my hips that is causing my knees to pull slightly out of alignment.  While walking and running short distances, this isn’t noticeable, but once I get up in miles, it is essentially hours of my knee bone rubbing against my thigh bone – yikes.  That’s exactly how my knees feel! 

What’s next?

The great news is this can be fixed!  My PT was very optimistic about my situation and felt like it could be resolved.  She assigned me 4 exercises to complete at minimum once a day.  These exercises are all aimed at strengthening my outer hip muscles (yeah…never really thought about bulking up those muscles!). Additionally I have a few other appointments scheduled where she will continue to work with me to get me back up to speed.  She’s a little against my upcoming half-marathon, but said she’ll help in any way to get me to run it as safely as possible.  Next week we’ll talk about specific taping techniques to help my knees.

Long-term

After my next half-marathon I will be taking 2 weeks off of any knee stressing exercises.  This includes running, legs lifting, or Insanity.  I think both physically and mentally this might be a nice break.  I know my knees will certainly appreciate the chance to let the inflammation go down.   I’ll probably fill my time with walking, yoga, and some of the lower impact P90X videos.  Once I get the clearance from her to pick up the pace I will start introducing low-mileage runs and hopefully Insanity during the first few weeks of June. She doesn’t feel that this injury will permanently or long-term side line me from running.  This is amazing news.

How am I feeling?

Thrilled!  I have exercises, a plan, and an awesome PT to help get me to the next finish line.  My biggest priority at this point is to deliberately do my exercises every day – I know that’s incredibly important to my recovery.  Feel free to casually harass me about my knee exercise progress.  (Hey Kelly great recipe post…you better be doing your exercises!) I have appointed almost-Dr. Adam (he graduates from med school this weekend!) to be a key reminder in my exercises as well.  I’m also going to continue to ice and rest my knees as much as possible.

Prevention

If you want to stay happy and injury-free, follow these tips!

  • Warm-up and stretch appropriately.  This one is such common sense, but it’s amazing how easy it is to skip.  Find a couple stretches to do every time and get in the habit of doing those same stretches.  Warming up sufficiently is also key.
  • Increase the intensity of workouts slowly. This one always seems to get me every time.  The typical rule is don’t increase distance more than 10% in a week.  This means following a quality training program (check out Runner’s World for some good ones) and sticking to it.  Just because you have a great run one week doesn’t mean you can up the speed or distance by a crazy amount. (I’m talking to myself here!)
  • Keep yourself in good shape.  Make sure your body is strong!  Incorporate weight training and core work to make sure your whole body is strong.  Consider adding legs/hip exercises to strengthen your whole leg.

Worried about Runner’s Knee?

The first step would be to talk to a medical professional.  I saw a sports med doc and he was wonderful in guiding my diagnosis.  Just because you experience knee pain doesn’t mean it’s Runner’s Knee.  A doctor or PT can help you determine your exact cause of pain.  Until I see a professional, I always use the RICE formula: Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. 

A hopeful summer of running and fitness

The other great news is that this means I can move forward in planning.  If you’ve been around here for a couple posts you probably have gathered that I like planning and organization.  Now that the mini is over I have been looking ahead to fall races and potentially spring stuff.  I have been going back and forth on marathon vs. half-marathon and my diagnosis has affirmed that I want to continue with the half-marathon distance for at least a little while.  This summer I have deemed “The Summer of Speed!”  (don’t worry – I’m not turning to drugs ;)).  Because the pain comes from many miles, I will stick to shorter distances and work on running in the 7’s as I so desperately needed during the mini.  Perhaps in the spring or fall next year I will look at getting back at the full marathon distance.  At this point I’m thrilled to continue to train for a distance that I really enjoy.  I feel like I still have some time to shave off – bring it on fall 13.1!  I’m excited to start picking out races :)

-Kelly

Have you ever experienced Runner’s Knee?  How do you recover from injuries?