My New Plan

I blogged on Saturday about the fact that for now I am going to be working on speed with my running, rather than going for distance. That means, I won’t be running a lot of miles, but when I do run, I am going to make it count. Most of my cardio work is going to be in other forms that keep the wear and tear off my legs, such as spin classes, elliptical or the adaptive motion trainer.

So here is my new and improved running exercise plan.

Monday – 2.5 mile run (400m warm up, 4×800 at 8:30 – 9 m/m pace, 400m cool down), PT exercises, upper body
Tuesday – 60 minute spin class and core, plus PT stretches
Wednesday – 60 minute spin class, PT
Thursday – 2.5 mile run (800m warm up, 6×400 at 7:45 – 8:45 pace, 800m cool down) , PT exercises
Friday – 30 minutes elliptical/AMT, PT exercises, core/upper body or TRX class
Saturday – 30 minute easy run optional if no pain, PT exercises
Sunday – rest or race

Eventually I should be able to run more but for now, I need to heal more than I need to run.

I am in sort of a dangerous place with my recovery in fact, because things are starting to hurt less and then I get overconfident, overdo something, and then I am hurting again. I just found out the hard way that little things I think won’t hurt can be very painful if I twist or strain the ankle, such as taking my kid to the batting cage after a treadmill run in the morning. Did that on Thursday, and I’m still kinda feeling it.

So anyway, I just need to let things heal before I get all crazy with miles.

PT Gave Me A Badonkadonk

After all the deep thoughts in my last post, now for something completely different…

Is it possible that my PT exercises are giving me a badonkadonk? We are doing a bunch of exercises to strengthen my gluteal and hip muscles. I looked in the mirror after I got home from the gym today and I think it looks…bigger, somehow.

It’s definitely sore, and somehow I think I tweaked something because now my lower back is hurting. I’m all seized up like a 90 year old lady. So maybe it just looks like a badonkadonk because I can’t stand up straight.

It’s definitely sticking out.

I could swear it’s bigger…

So, just a word of caution – apparently PT for ankle problems can result in a bigger butt. Anecdotal evidence – my posterior.

But hey – the ankle feels better, at least!

I’m sitting on a hot pad, in hopes that will make it hurt less. Maybe it’s just swollen? I took an ibuprofen, maybe that will bring down the swelling.

All kidding aside, I really don’t care about the size that much. It needs to not hurt, though. I have a race I want to do tomorrow! Fortunately, I didn’t sign up yet, so if I can’t run I’m not out a fee or anything. But I hope I will be able to do it.

I’ll just register in the morning, if I can manage to get out of bed and roll this badonkadonk down to the start line.

Calming Down

Happy to report that staying off my ankle (or at least, not running on it) seems to be working and the pain is starting to subside. And that is good because I was super frustrated about my situation when I went I to PT yesterday. I whined that I was tired of having every workout make my ankle hurt, wondering when I will ever get back to running the way I want to, and just generally feeling sorry for myself.

Fortunately (and unsurprisingly) this is probably something PT’s hear a lot, so she said the right things calmed me down. We worked out a good plan and today I am feeling a lot better. Mentally, I feel better. And so does my ankle.

One piece of advice she gave me is that we need to make sure the arch and ankle are supported while I’m still healing. I was having a lot of problems with some of the balancing exercises, because when I try to stabilize the foot, it really pulls on that tendon to the point where it hurts.

Apparently this stuff is not supposed to hurt.

Of course, I’m old school and that’s not what I heard…

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That picture scares me. He looks like a hernia waiting to happen.

Pain – actual pain, not to be mistaken for “effort” – is bad, in spite of what you may find printed on muscle shirts. Everything I was doing was bothering my ankle because it was getting over stretched and inflamed. That’s not good, so we need to get the stress off it while we reteach the muscles to to the work my tendon is currently attempting to do.

The upshot is that she wants me to wear arch supports while I’m healing up. I went and bought some to put in my ballet flats and let me tell you – it made a world of difference in just a few minutes. Just a little support under the arch and the heel bone and the shoes, which were almost unbearably painful (but also so unbearably cute, I couldn’t bear to part with them), are now comfortable to wear again. Yay!

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Oh, and she also got after me a little about not rolling out the calf enough, so I guess I need to start doing that again. I stopped for a while because I decided that carrying my rolling pin to the gym around looks a little goofy. I mean, one does tire of fielding inquiries as to why they are carting around a rolling pin everywhere they go. So I finally broke down and bought a Stick.

7 Week Recovery Report

Whew. Today was rough. We all have those days where things just don’t go our way. For us it started with a late wake up, and an early baseball game in the rain and wind. The kids were at each other all day, in and out of trouble, not listening. I decided they were tired so sent them to bed early. Oleg fell asleep in minutes, Max is right behind.

Ahhhhh. Sweet silence.

Small children’s efforts to derail my inner zen notwithstanding, I got in a good workout today. Did about a half hour on the elliptical – going as hard as I could. I dripped all over the machine, so that means I was working hard right? I guess when you go 180 rpm on there with reasonable resistance, “sweat happens.”

Normally, I am not a big fan of the elliptical. So boring. You can get your heart rate up on it though and that is all I needed. I had to skip running – my ankle has been bothering me more this week so I decided to get off it. It seems that the 9 or so miles of run/walking I did this week, combined with the Physical Therapy I’ve been doing for my ankle, was a lot.

Since the ankle is kind of sore, I’m going to try to stay off it until Wednesday and see if it calms down. If it does I will try to do the Inspiring Hope run next weekend. It may end up being an Inspiring Hope walk. I will run on Wednesday just to see how it is doing, then if it seems okay, I’ll sign up.

After elliptical I did my PT exercises. While I was doing the Arm and Leg swings in the Sagittal Plane (the hardest one I have to do) some wiseacre next to me goes, “I guess that exercise must be harder than it looks.”

I thought to myself, “What was your first clue, genius? The fact that I keep practically falling over, or that my face is beet red and I look like someone is poking me in the leg with a red hot poker?”

I was nice, though. I just said “yup,” and kept at it.

I sure will be glad to have running not cause me pain anymore, because I miss being able to do long runs on the weekend. As a friend of mine said to me this week, running is my sanity. It (and this blog) are my “me” things that I do. I like getting in a good workout at the gym, but it is not the same as running outside for an hour for my general outlook. I like getting sweaty out in nature I guess.

I said this was a 7 week recovery report. Guess I better report.

As far as the surgery aspect, things are good. No abdominal pain at all, everything feels pretty normal now. In fact, I’m not sure how much longer I will keep doing these reports because I am not sure how much longer the surgery itself will be a factor with regards to the things I am interested in talking about on this blog. I feel pretty good, can do pretty much everything I want to, and I still feel like long term there shouldn’t be much in the way of negative impact.

The only thing I am still struggling with is the ankle. I had really hoped the bed rest in March and time I’ve spent not running over the last 3 months (pretty much since the Rain Run) would have fixed me up. I certainly didn’t expect to still be having pain 3 months later. I think the PT is helping, and will help more and more as I get stronger, I just feel frustrated that this is the thing holding me back.

On the other hand, maybe it’s good this ankle thing is happening. Since the surgery recovery seems so easy, I’d probably have hurt myself already if there wasn’t something slowing me down, so maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.

Hurts So Good

I got my full Physical Therapy routine started at yesterday’s PT appointment. I’m going to Experience Momentum, which was recommended to me by a running friend who had used them.

They designed an exercise program to help with flexibility and hip strength, and to strengthen and stretch the muscles of the calf so that my posterior tibial tendon isn’t forced to work so hard. Most of the exercises aren’t too difficult except for two that directly target the area of my right hip that is the weakest. So although I can barely do them, I know I have to keep at it since whatever they do must be what I need to work on.

I also think it’s interesting how easy these exercises are on my other leg – major muscle imbalance between left and right side going on. Which I guess is not totally surprising given that I never have been able to walk or run in a straight line – on the treadmill I am always slowly meandering between the guard rails.

So far I’ve been impressed because the exercises they’ve given me and techniques they’ve used have already made a big difference. Last week, my ankle flexibility was so severely limited that I literally could not get my knee forward past my toe without a lot of pain – now I can get within a couple of centimeters of what the other ankle to do. That’s a lot of difference in a week. Now we just need to strengthen that hip so it can do its job a bit better.

Also might be nice to be able to walk straight – call that an added bonus.

In addition to exercises and stretches, yesterday’s appointment also included something called ASTYM. You can click to visit the website if you want to read the scientific mumbo jumbo, but what I was told is it’s basically a deep tissue massage of sorts that utilizes a hard plastic thingie that the therapist scrapes along the muscles and tendons that are causing your pain. The hard plastic thing supposedly helps move inflammation and scar tissue and also stimulates blood flow to promote healing.

It is rather uncomfortable but not excruciating – I yelped a little but mostly I laughed. I just tend to laugh at a certain level of pain. I know that makes me sound like a badass. But I am just talking about the level of pain where it also comes across as somewhat pleasurable because your body isn’t quite sure what the heck is going on. Like being sore after an extremely tough workout.

Of course, much past that level of pain comes yelping, then shouting, then tears. And kicking or punching if it doesn’t stop. We were at the laughing and yelping level, though, so the pain was of the hurts so good variety. The therapist told me she had only ever made a person cry a couple of times – laughter and the “hurts so good” sentiment being more common.

I was sad when she stopped.

Anyway, I woke up with my ankle feeling pretty good this morning, so either the technique actually works, or the placebo effect makes me think it does. Whatever the case, I’ll take it!

My New Best Friend

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My new best friend is a rolling pin, and I’m not even making a pie. In fact, I’m not doing any baking at all. I had my first PT appointment for the posterior tibial tendinitis this afternoon, and it was suggested that I repurpose a rolling pin to loosen up the muscles and fascia in my calves so that the posterior tibial tendon isn’t being constantly pulled on by the muscles above it.

I cannot believe that a) this actually works and b) it’s actually a thing. You can google “rolling pin massage” and find a bunch of videos of people doing this exact thing.

It works so well that after I rolled out my legs, I was able to stand on one foot, walk up and down stairs and all around my house, and squat down to the floor while keeping my heels on the floor with no pain. It’s been months since I could do any of those things. I am amazed at the difference this simple technique could make in just one day.

I had actually tried rolling out the calves before using my foam roller but it just couldn’t get in and release the right areas. But the rolling pin seems to be able to do the trick. Who knew they were good for more than just making pastry?