Road to Running Injury Recovery

The road to running injury recovery is fraught with obstacles, both physical and mental – both of which have to be overcome if you want to firstly, make a proper and full recovery and secondly because you stand the chance of getting fat and living a slovenly life on the couch recounting your ‘golden years’ back in the day when you could run more than 10 steps and not have to stop to recover your breath.

My recovery was painfully slow.  After coming out of my moon boot (which does NOTHING for the self-confidence levels) I had a pretty rigid ankle brace which I had to wear whenever I was going to do a large amount of walking.  At this point my ankle was still swelling badly every afternoon and I had to spend half the day icing and elevating the offending limb in order to make sure I didn’t slow the healing process down.

I also had some exercises to do from the physio which at least felt like I was doing something constructive but was barely enough to get my heart-rate up.  When my physio told me it was time to start running again I could have kissed him, but before I could conjure up images of me spending an hour on the road really working up a good sweat, he told me I was allowed running 2km, 3 times a week and NO MORE.   Have you ever tried running 2km when you are used to running 10km every day?  It’s like giving someone an ice-cream but taking it away just as they have unwrapped it.

In my second week of running I could increase it by 500m, but still resting for a day between every run – that’s 500 metres, can you feel my frustration??  Unfortunately my ankle didn’t like the increase in mileage so I had to stick to 3.5km for a while to wait for my ankle to acclimatize again to being run on.

Now, in the very beginning my physio who has obviously worked with ultra distance runners before, asked me if there was a specific race which I had my eye on doing, and wanted to be fit and healthy for – of course the first thing I could think of was the African X which my mom had signed us up for, like 12 months before, which I was working towards – the thought of having to tell my mom to find another partner didn’t appeal to me, so I chose that above the Two Oceans and above all the other races in between.  The physio said it would be hit-and-miss and he wouldn’t guarantee that I’d be ready, I left thinking “I don’t think he knows how stubborn I am, and he’s never seen my mom angry”.

And so, I with the African X in mind, I hobbled down the road to running injury recovery…

 

Does your running define you?

I’ve been asking myself this question for the past couple of weeks leading up to this years Comrades Marathon – which incidentally I decided not to run based on the fact that I have just not done enough training because of my injury, to have an enjoyable day – which would make the 11 or so hours it usually takes me, rather long and tiresome.

But, having made that decision I have been plagued with feelings of being left out and thoughts of ‘just trying’ although my reasons are purely valid.  My mom said it is my heart saying one thing and my brain (logic) another, which has led me to this question – Does running define me?

I don’t think I’ve been a runner for long enough to have it feel like my life however it does feel like a large part of it, and sitting on the sidelines this year I have no doubt, is going to be a battle for me.  Why do I feel like this?  I had said to myself at the end of last years run that I was done for a while with the Comrades, and wanted to focus on other things – which I have (I did the African X a few weeks ago, but that deserves a post all of its own), but then why the angst about not taking part this year.

I certainly am happy that I don’t have the nerves which seem to take over at this point, and the various aches and pains which plague runners leading up to the race.  I’m also happy that I get to spend the whole day with my dad supporting other runners from our club, including my mom!  I’m not going to miss the battle with my brain to shut out the noise from my body when  nearing the 70km mark and you really start feeling the distance on your feet and legs.

I guess if I look at what I am going to miss, it may not sound like much but I guess they all have their role to play:

  • I’ll miss running with friends and making new ones on the way (Yes Julie, I’m going to miss running with you my friend)
  • I’m going to miss the excitement and anticipation at the start, standing in a crowd of over 10 000 people, listening to Chariots of Fire with the whole day ahead of you.
  • I’m going to miss the camaraderie at 75km when you have less than 18km left and although your body is saying “I’ve had enough I’m sooo tired”, your brain and everyone around you is saying “Almost there, come on now not too much longer”.
  • I’m going to miss running into the stadium to thousands of screaming people and crossing the line with friends (That’s you Craig)
  • But I think most of all, I’m going to miss that sense of achievement and the absolute certainty in knowing, as you get that medal around your neck, that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to.

I guess this leaves me asking – Does running define YOU?

Comrades Runners

This is that point where your friends keep you going

Running Injuries

It’s been ages!!  I know, but I have a good excuse…

So the last time I wrote it was just before a marathon I’d been training for to use as my qualifier for the Comrades and Two Oceans.  The afternoon before the marathon I went to buy some Gu’s for the race and fell, ending up in this:

Running Injuries

Some seriously wrenched ligaments and tendons later I was in a moon boot with crutches, visiting my Physio every week.  Now the thing with running injuries (although I in no way got this from running) is that there is usually a catch-22 situation where all you want to do is get back onto the road, but that action alone will take you back to square 1 which in simple terms means REST.  All you runners out there know that term REST – it’s like swear-word which would result in your mouth being washed out with soap if your mother heard you utter it.

My physio was adamant that if I didn’t REST and do the rehab needed for this type of injury, it would be a recurring thing, so I decided to take his advice and embody that word in every way possible.  Turns out RESTing is hard to get into but once there it’s double as hard to get out, or that was my experience anyway.

So that’s the long and the short of it, I haven’t been writing because I’ve had nothing much to write about with all this RESTing I’ve been doing, but things have started up again, which is why I’m back on the wagon :)

Peninsula Marathon

On Sunday I’ll be running the marathon which kicked off my marathon running career – the Peninsula Marathon.  When I first ran it in 2008 the route was from Green Point in Cape Town, to Simonstown along Main Road.  Said to be one of the fastest marathons in Africa it was quite surprising when the following year they changed the route to start and end in Simonstown which was also very challenging taking you up major hills with the ever-present South Easter keeping us at bay.

This year however, they have decided to change the route back to the old one.    The wind still plays a major role on this route, coming head-on if the South Easter is blowing, as it has been over the past few days – although thrashing would be a more descriptive way of trying to explain just how hectic the wind has been…

I’ll fill you all in on how it goes next week, I’m interested to see how things have changed since 2008 in terms of my running although, as always, I don’t think I’ve put enough effort into training but I guess this is just my default setting when it comes to long runs.

Peninsula 2011

Iron Man vs Ultra Runner

I have a few friends who do Iron Man – given what I went through on the one and only triathlon I did, I can safely say that I will never do it but I have seen that there is some rivalry between the people who do Iron Man and the people who do Ultra distance marathons.  Modern Athlete had this video they found on YouTube in their magazine this week depicting a conversation between the two disciplines – I couldn’t stop laughing!!

This video is a bit crass but very, very funny…

Marathon Checklist

I have quite a few friends running their first marathon this year which is really motivating and exciting for me to be part of.  A couple of questions have come up in terms of what to remember to take, especially if the marathon is not in your home town, so I decided to make a list for beginner marathon runners.  Feel free to add to it if you feel I’ve forgotten anything…

Pre-Race

Shoes

Make sure your laces are tied properly and that if it is a Champion Chip or timed race, that your timing chip is on – you will be surprised to know how many people forget these little things.

Running Shirt and pants/skirt/shorts

Secure your number onto your shirt the night before to make sure you don’t forget.  You should have done some long runs in your gear before marathon day to check for any chafe spots and comfy fits.

Hat and/sunglasses

I always run in a hat, it helps when there is wind and will stop it from raining right in your face if the weather decides to be miserable.

Vaseline

Make sure you smear a thick layer of Vaseline wherever your clothes might chafe you and on your feet in places you usually get blisters.

During the Race

GU or Energy Pack

I usually take one GU every 10km on a long run.  You will need to figure out what works for you.  I almost never take all of them because by the end they start making me feel a little ill but I do know some people who take them every 45 minutes.

Lip-ice (Lip balm)

I get very dry lips while I run so I like having lip-ice on hand.  This also doubles up as  lube if I start feeling my clothes snacking on my skin.

iPod

I usually take my iPod incase I can’t find anyone to run with or if I’m having a bad day, it just helps to motivate me and drowns out all the unhelpful noises in my head.

Painkillers

Ok this is something which some people frown upon (all non-runners) but if something comes up which doesn’t feel serious then a painkiller usually just dulls it until the end, like ITB or sore shoulders.  You have to drink lots of water if you take any, so keep that in mind.  I haven’t taken a painkiller in ages but I do take them with me just in case.

Post-Race

Recovery Drink

I have written about recovery drinks before.  At the moment I’m using Hammer’s Recoverite but if I don’t have that then it’s a strawberry/chocolate milkshake.  I have also been known to have a beer but I’d recommend having a proper recovery drink or Rehydrate within an hour of finishing.

Vaseline

This is for any chafe you may have gotten and only realised you had once you got in the shower – you’ll know what I’m talking about if you have every had stealth chafe before.

Massage

There are usually massage tables with physio’s at the end of the bigger marathons so try and get in to one of those when you are done – the difference it makes is amazing.  You also want to try and get a rub-down before your legs start getting stiff otherwise it’s too sore.  I usually book a massage for a couple of days after a long race just to loosen the muscles again and to make sure all the lactic acid has drained so that my legs don’t feel heavy.

2011 Knysna Marathon Entries

On your marks…

Get set…

Ok, don’t go just yet the entries only open on the 1st of March this year so make sure you diarise that date and enter on the day if you plan on doing the half marathon.

The Knysna half marathon has become such a popular race that if you snooze you will literally not get an entry, so make sure you set a reminder for yourself.  You can find out more information off of the event website here.

If however you don’t want to rush then do the marathon with me :)   We can basically enter the day before (don’t take my word for this) because although this is said to be one of the most beautiful marathons, it is also rather hilly so as you can imagine, not many takers.  I am of course doing it because I’ve been threatening to for ages now so this is the year.

The race is only on the 9th of July so you have ample time to get into shape!!

Here is the half marathon profile for those who want to do the race:

Knysna half marathon

Power Balance Bracelet Conclusion

Last year I wrote about the Power Balance Bracelet here and here.  Since then I’ve heard people knock it and I’ve seen people (some very good friends of mine) wearing it so I’ve basically just kept my mouth shut waiting for what usually happens when something is a scam – of course the proverbial poo hitting the fan etc etc, and of course it did.

In Australia the Power Balance people had to publish on their website that:  “We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims”, and they had to offer refunds to anyone who wanted their money back.

In LA a class-action was brought against Power Balance Bracelet and in Italy they had to pay a 300 000 Euro fine for false advertising.  Of course this is all probably just a drop in the ocean when you look at the profits they must have made off of this.  In South Africa the bracelet cost R500 and a leading sports store said that it was the best selleing item they had.

So what about those who DID feel something?

This isn’t to say that they are lying or all delusional – the Placebo effect is comes into play here.  This is the theory that if you just believe something works, you will feel the effects, so really what the Power Balance Bracelet is, is a lucky charm.  What I’m saying is that if you feel like it works for you then wear it.  If however you don’t really feel anything except the effects of not wearing your lucky knickers then bring those babies back into action, at the end of the day you must do whatever you feel works, just be a little more discerning when it comes to what people have to say about products which apparently have super powers…

Running Super Powers

The Skyrun Post-Race Dissection

The Skyrun took place on the weekend and my mom was one of the crazy ones to actually take part.  I asked her to write about it for Reluctant Runner, here is what she had to say about it…

“I found it very difficult, and very long. I’ve decided that I love trail running, with the optimum words being ‘trail’ and ‘run’. I think we only ran about 1km and that was from the start to the gate where you head into the mountains (in town), otherwise it was a loooong walk with the most beautiful scenery, all along the top of the mountains.

We ended up only doing 65km of the 100km as this took us from 4am to 8.45pm. Just too long on the trail, too burnt, sore feet and just plain gatvol. It turns out that they stopped the race at CP7 anyway – only the front runners who ran through the night were able to go through to the end.

There was no way we were we going to tackle the bit from Balloch to Wartrail in the pitch dark – two massive mountains to go up and down, and not knowing where to go – no markers, no flags, no paths and not much oxygen for us low landers – just a 1:50 000 contour map and a GPS (thank goodness for this otherwise we’d still be wondering around in the mountains along with most of the other entrants).

Anyway a great experience, but not one I think I will be doing again.”

How hectic is that!!!  Well done to everyone, even if you didn’t finish, I think just doing the first day is an achievement in itself.  Well done to those who did finish and to the winners Iain don Wouchope and Tatem Prins!!!

skyrun 1

skyrun 2

skyrun 3

Everything you need is already inside…

Sometimes as a runner, motivation can become an issue – especially during the last few weeks leading up to a big race which you have been training for. It’s at times like these when I turn to other sources to help motivate me, and this is one of them…