First Run Back!

Last Saturday I ran for the first time since February! And obviously I didn’t ease back into things…

I spent last week on a La Vida wilderness excursion in the Adirondacks in NY with a group of my students. I chaperoned the trip and had two knowledgable and fun Sherpas to work with. We rock climbed, hiked, canoed, portaged and did other camp things.


On the final morning back at base camp, there is a tradition where participants are driven off site and run 9 miles back to base camp. I figured I would give it a shot and walk a while, then jog for a few minutes, then walk again.

Well obviously I’m horrible at pacing myself when it comes to these things. (Re: stress fracture).

One of my students who ran cross country for the first time this year paired up with me and we did fabulous together! We ran the entire 9 miles with only short walking and stretching breaks here and there! We finished in 1 hour and 50 minutes. I’m so shocked that I was able to:

  • Run
  • Run 9 miles
  • Run 9 miles without my knee swelling up
  • Run 9 miles at a ~10 minute pace

It’s definitely not where I was before, or where I want to be, but that is darn good for a first run back. I’m so happy! I enjoyed the post run muscle soreness and am pleased to say my lungs didn’t mind the exercise one bit. 

I wouldn’t say I’m free of the exercise bike completely, but I’m definitely getting back to running!

My La Vida crew!

Advertisements

Love/Hate Relationship: the Indoor Cycling Bike

It’s officially been 3 months since my knee surgery and I’ve just complete my physical therapy. Thankfully, my knee didn’t need huge repairs. I had a plica removed that was causing cartilage to tear on my patella – so it’s a good thing I had it done because that damage would have only progressed! I still can’t bend my knee completely and certainly can’t do squats or run yet.

So, since PT ended and I needed to continue strengthening, I indulged myself and bought an indoor cycling bike on Amazon. The bike is great! For $199 I got a solid, very adjustable, handsome bike! 

The only problem is I hate it as much as I love it. Does that even make sense?

I hate it when I first get on because:

A) I’m still weak-ish, so my knee can be achey (what did I expect?)

B) I slacked off a lot after surgery so I’m out of shape-ish, so it’s hard (lol duh)

C) I would just rather be running.


But then once I’m about 15-20 minutes in, I love it! I’m sweating, I’m breathing heavier, my leg muscles are working hard and I remember how much I just love the feeling of exerting my body. So by the time I get off, I love the bike again.

A weird phenomenon, but one I’ll have to get used to as it will be a while until I can really run for a workout again.

Knee Surgery

I’m waiting to be taken into the OR as I write this. It might sound weird but I’m actually excited to have this procedure done because that means my knee will actually be able to heal and I’ll actually be able to run again.

I’ve tried PT, stretches and strengthening exercises, knee braces, and more but any time I jog at all my knee swells up like a balloon. At just 24, I don’t want to abstain from running altogether. I’d rather have this minor, minimally invasive surgery done to fix it 100%!

The MRI I had done showed a few potential issues causing my problems, but the doctor said he’ll have a better idea once he’s inside my knee. There is a symptomatic plica and some scar tissue around my meniscus for sure, but there’s a chance I need my meniscus repaired or who knows what it’ll look like in there.

All I know is I’ll feel great in 6 weeks when I’m done PT and can start jogging! YAY!

  So ready! 

The Magic of Kinesio Tape

Trends in fitness come and go, and often come back around. So by now, I’m sure you’ve at least heard of Kinesio Tape, if you haven’t already used it yet. It was designed back in the 1970’s by Dr. Kenzo Kase from Japan.

1970’s … That’s over forty years old! But before you knock this seemingly archaic taping method, you should know: Kinesio Tape isn’t just regular tape. It’s pretty magical, in my opinion. Of course, I’ll admit here that I’m biased. I’ve used this product before on various occasions, for various injuries. The first time I used this tape, I was in high school and had severe tendonitis in my knee as well as Iliotibial Band Syndrome so bad, I was limping when I walked around. I was running long distances on the track team at the time, and had a meet coming up. One of my fellow distance running teammates gave me some Kinesio Tape and showed me how to apply it. I couldn’t believe what I was feeling. I could not only walk without limping, but I was able to continue running, and my chronic injuries actually began healing.

If you’re an athlete of any kind, you know that typically an injury needs rest and rehab to heal – not continued use and performance. But that’s what I was able to do with this tape! I didn’t stop running or competing, yet my injuries were improving.

How? Magic!

Well, no… It’s the science of Kinesio Tape and we’re about to dive into it.

What is Kinesio Tape?

Kinesio Tape is a thin, porous, stretchy tape. The porous material allows sweat and moisture through the tape for a comfortable, breathy feeling. This also allows the tape to be worn for days at a time, through your sweating, swimming, and showering.

How is it Different from Other Tapes?

Traditional taping of injuries involve stabilizing the muscle or joint that is injured with athletic tape. Often, the tape would be applied tightly around a joint to restrict the motion of that joint, therefore, preventing further strain and injury. The tape would be removed immediately after athletic performance or exercise is completed. This taping technique inhibits the natural healing process by restricting the circulation of blood and fluids to the injured area.

Kinesio Tape, on the other hand, allows full range of motion movements and opens up the area surrounding the muscle. It accomplishes both of these seemingly contradictory tasks because the tape stretches only longitudinally, not across its width, which allows for certain applications of the tape to stretch and pull skin, while other taped directions remain stabilized. Note that the tape is not wrapped around injured sites. The tape is applied along muscles, tendons, ligaments to slightly lift the skin covering an injured muscle to promote circulation and healing, while providing stabilization to prevent further strain and injury. By lifting the skin slightly, space is created for the muscle that allows more blood and fluid to circulate through it.

What Does it Do (Scientifically Speaking)?

Kinesio Tape works with your body’s natural feedback system between the brain and the muscles. By adjusting the placement of the tape, you can manipulate the way your skin and muscles interact. This manipulation can help relax or excite your muscles to send less or more signals to the brain about various things, like feeling pain.

HUH?? Here’s a List to Break it Down:

  • Kinesio Tape supports your muscles and aligns your joints. The taping allows your muscles to continue to work and contract, even when they are weak and injured. The way you tape them helps lessen the pain you may feel by providing excess space between your muscles and skin and disrupting the neuro-muscular feedback system. It helps align your joints by increasing the range of motion to certain joints, depending on how you tape them. Since it also helps relieve your tight muscles, it reduces the extra strain and pressure those muscles put on joints that cause unnecessary pain.
  • Kinesio Tape improves circulation. By creating extra space between the muscle and skin, more blood and body fluids can reach the injured site. This is how we heal! So, inflammation will be reduced, and thus pain will lessen, and more fluids circulate through the area and cleanse the chemicals out.
  • Kinesio Tape facilitates your natural healing process. The tape isn’t magical, but the way your body heals is. The way the tape works is to help promote healing and reduce the pain signals your brain receives. Double whammy of relief.

How Do I Apply it?

First, you want to make sure the area is clean. If you use moisturizer, clean it off the site you are about to tape. This allows the adhesive to stick better and last longer. Use hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes to rid the skin of excess oils or lotions. Let it dry completely before applying the tape.

There are two directions the tape moves in, as said before. It only stretches longitudinally, not across its width, so tension in the tape should be stretched accordingly. For injured, tight muscles that require relief and healing, the tape should be applied with no tension (i.e.: don’t stretch the tape when applying). This application should start from the tendon and muscle and extend toward the origin of the muscle (i.e.: where the muscle originally attaches from).

For chronic injuries that need support or increased range of motion, the tape should have some tension in it. This application should start from the origin of the muscle and extend toward the tendon or bone the muscle inserts on.

After the tape is on, rub it to active the adhesive. This ensures the tape won’t peel off prematurely. Then, enjoy the relief you feel for the next few days!

Conclusion

Anyone can use Kinesio Tape. Many physicians, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and athletes use Kinesio Tape to provide relief of injury and maintain athletic performance despite injury. This tape can be used for almost any common injury from shin splints, tendonitis in the knee and elbow, to carpal tunnel syndrome. It comes in all sorts of fun colors and can be easily applied to last for days at a time, allowing you to remain pain free and heal faster without disrupting your daily routine. To know more on how to tape your specific injury, head over to the Kinesio Tape website for instructions and tutorials.

The Dangers of CrossFit – Why the Workout Is Not Worth Your Money or Your Life

This post will probably be unpopular to people, but it’s not simply my opinion in a blog. A lot of what you’ll read below is scientific and factual. Not only did I study the mechanisms of movement and physiology of exercise in college; not only do I personally train athletes and adults in achieving various fitness goals; not only am I an active and fit person, but I have also done copious amounts of research on this topic. Additionally, I have yet to meet a professional in my field – high school and collegiate athletic coaches, Kinesiology professors, exercise physiologists, certified personal trainers, gym owners, and physical therapists – who recommend CrossFit. Every educated health professional I’ve talked to and every study I’ve read on the topic agrees: CrossFit is dangerous and is NOT the way to increase cardiovascular performance or increase strength gains.

The topic of CrossFit generally just makes me angry. It is dangerous. It is not based on science. There are so many issues with it, I could go on for hours. I’m going to delve into the main issues with CrossFit, so brace yourself for some heavy reading in this post.


The ideology behind, and structure of, CrossFit is an issue. The structure includes WOD’s, or Workout of the Day’s. These workouts are the same for everyone across the board. No individualization. There is a serious difference between randomness and variation. Randomness is not productive. Variation, on the other hand, is. What’s the difference? Randomness is just that: random. Workouts are thrown together without foresight and a future plan or goal in mind, except to “be fitter”. But you cannot build and progress when your workouts are random. CrossFit doesn’t model their WOD’s on variation. WOD’s throw people into the same workout, regardless of experience, fitness level, etc. You can’t randomly start doing movements and exercises, then move to totally different ones the next day, and expect to make real progress and gains. You need variation in your workouts to keep your body adapting. You need to progress from one movement to another, moving up in advanced techniques, or weights, or intensity, or frequency, etc. Variation allows you to build and progress on prior gains.

In addition to this, during these WOD’s, CrossFit coaches push people past their safe limits. The more sore you are, the better workout you had. But that’s just not true. Soreness doesn’t correlate with a successful workout, or toughness, or fitness. Of course when working out there is going to be discomfort; burning in your muscles, shortness of breath during cardio, etc. But PAIN is a different sensation altogether and when a coach encourages you to push through the pain, you should question their professionalism, intellect, and training. It is NOT healthy to push yourself through pain. This only promotes your risk of injury and will be detrimental to your achieving your fitness goals.

This brings me to my next point: the people who run CrossFit. Coaches don’t even need education to run a CrossFit and instruct you. Trainers who REALLY know what they’re talking about and doing will have a educational degree in Kinesiology, Exercise Physiology, or another related field, or they’ll have a certification from a reputable organization, like NASM or ACSM. These professionals will attend conferences to remain certified and up to date on their degrees. Often times, a reputable gym will require practical demonstration before hiring a new trainer to ensure that they are educated properly and can provide proper training.

If the CrossFit box is even remotely responsible, the coaches will go to a weekend training seminar where they learn power lifting technique. A weekend! To learn power lifting! I’ve been doing power lifts for years, and teaching them for a couple of years, and I still check myself and compare with other educated professionals to ensure I’m doing and coaching people properly. These are advanced movements, requiring precision and skill. You cannot learn perfect form and give perfect instruction on various power lifting moves in a matter of two days. Performing power movements with improper coaching and form at high repetitions or for time, as done in CrossFit, leads to an even higher risk for injury.

In addition to this point, the idea CrossFit employs regarding power lifting is unscientific. During workouts, participants are encouraged to do as many reps as possible in a timed circuit, or repeat a move for 20, 30, repetitions. Power lifting is NOT meant to be used in this manner. Power lifting and Olympic lifting are meant to be done with precise form, low repetitions, and high weight. These movements need to be executed with the proper technique and are supposed to be explosive, powerful movements. You’re supposed to perform them with adequate rest between sets, and they’re done over very short periods of time. You can’t simply run through an explanation of these movements, throw weight on a bar, and tell someone to repeat the movement as fast as possible for as many reps as they can for two minutes. It goes against your body’s capabilities and crosses the line into the danger zone. Your body is not meant to be put under such intense stress for so many of these explosive, powerful repetitions at a time. This only increases your chances of getting injured by putting undue stress on ligaments and joints. The more you do any movement repetitively, with high weight especially, the more you increase your chances of getting hurt and doing real damage to your body. So, if you’re going to engage in power lifting exercises, do it right. Find a real coach who knows the science of proper technique, who can coach you, spot you, and help you progress gradually to prevent injury – the way power lifting is supposed to be.

rhabdo

The next point is also related to danger. The photo placed here for your viewing is a CrossFit creation. This disgusts me the most. CrossFit appears PROUD and finds HUMOR in using this photo of a clown called Rhabdo, who appears to be on a dialysis machine, with a kidney on the ground, standing in a pool of blood, with various, serious tears in his muscles, looking absolutely decimated. What?! Is this what CrossFit promotes?! Without even getting into the science of it yet – is this what you want your coaches to make you feel or look like? Is that what you call a successful workout?!

Now the science of it – what is rhabdo? Why does CrossFit seem to know so much about rhabdo that they have a logo of a clown suffering from it? Rhabdo, or rhabdomyolysis is a serious, but typically rare syndrome. It involves the breakdown of muscle fibers to such an extent that their contents filter into your bloodstream, leading to kidney complications like renal failure, where the kidneys are so overwhelmed with clearing out waste from your body that they literally fail to do the job. Rhabdo can cause death. Usually, people need hospitalization (see the clown on dialysis?) to treat the issue. It can take weeks to recover from this, if you’re lucky. Rhabdo “is uncommon and normally reserved for the elite military trainee, ultra-endurance monsters, and for victims of the occasional psychotic football coach” (Robertson). Basically, your average mom or dad who is exercising, a fit, collegiate athlete, or another regular person working out, wouldn’t experience or suffer from rhabdo.

When working out and strength training, microtears in your muscle are unavoidable. Macrotears, however, are a problem. When an untrained, unfit, or previously trained person (and by this I actually mean anyone who isn’t pretty much an elite athlete or in military shape) participates in the high intensity of CrossFit training, and pushes themselves the way the coaches direct, muscles will undoubtedly become strained and sore. This can lead to rhabdo.

So why does CrossFit know so much about it when it’s prevalence is about one in hundreds of thousands of people? Well, in exercise, eccentric contractions of muscles allow the body to lift more weight than concentric contractions. If these eccentric contractions are done with high intensity volume, or high repetitions, you get into the danger zone. Your body is not ready for it. Does this kind of training sound familiar?

Yes: CrossFit. High intensity. High repetitions. High weights. Lack of education. Bad training. Being pushed beyond your body’s safe limits. Not working up to the exercises gradually. Rhabdo.

In an article written by the founder of CrossFit, Greg Glassman, he literally discusses the risks this type of training has in promoting cases of rhabdo. He addressed the issue of rhabdo once, back in 2005. Apparently it’s such a problem, CrossFit has had to address it time and time again in their newsletters, issuing real warnings about the possibility and risk of suffering from rhabdo by participating in CrossFit. CrossFit recognizes that exertional rhabdo, or rhabdo from exercise of a high intensity, can be lethal. So the intensity and structure of CrossFit workouts can literally kill you. In the article, it states that one of the worst rhabdo cases CrossFit has seen involved a middle-aged, fit SWAT guy, who luckily recovered from CrossFit induced rhabdo, and can now “easily blast through workouts that once nearly killed him” (Glassman 2). If the workout nearly killed you, perhaps it wasn’t the safest workout to be doing.

The rhabdo associated with CrossFit so far is showing itself differently than what people typically see with rhabdo, which is associated with “exhaustion, dehydration, high humidity, high temperatures, and long practices” (Glassman 2). The author here states this is NOT the type of rhabdo CrossFit is dealing with. The people who have developed rhabdo at CrossFit sessions aren’t showing typical warning signs, like panting or discomfort. These people apparently left sessions just fine, like every other participant. Then went home and had near death experiences that led them to contact a doctor, or venture to the hospital. This is alarming! CrossFit attributes this phenomenon as a result of people not being capable of performing the CrossFit workloads as a result of inadequate prior training levels. They state that training programs including but not limited to those offered in “commercial gyms, fitness magazines, popular internet sites, the U.S military (including special operations training), and police agencies … all proved woefully inadequate at preparing [people] for sustained power output” (Glassman 3).

So…this guy is telling us that a U.S military trainee, someone who has undergone special ops training, who needs to not only endure, but pass practicals consisting of months of the most rigorous training both physically and mentally, is not even close to being physically fit enough for CrossFit? Does this not alarm you?! Perhaps the issue is not the prior training people have or have not had, but the “sustained power output” being referenced here; the same power lifting and Olympic lifting movements discussed previously; explosive movements and power outputs that aren’t meant to be sustained.

Finally, any of the benefits I’ve read associated with CrossFit can be said of just about any exercise program a previously sedentary person might begin. People who are overweight, inactive, and generally unfit try CrossFit and it “works” because they’re actually moving. This would still be true if they joined a gym or started doing cardio on their own. Simply adding movement that burns calories would give these people the same initial results of weight loss and strength gains. In the article “Why CrossFit works…but really doesn’t. The Randomness of Adaptation and why beginners just need change”, sums it up nicely. CrossFit is “Random highly intense exercise. For the unfit or formerly fit, this works great initially…It isn’t that the exercises are super awesome targeted muscle sculpting patented exercises. Instead, it’s that the people who generally do them weren’t doing them before” (Magness).

CrossFit should not be the training program inactive and unfit people turn to when they want to lose weight or get in shape because, aside from everything else you’ve read thus far, once those initial results plateau, which they will, there’s nowhere to go. In a random workout program like CrossFit, you can’t just push harder – you’re pushing as hard as you can already! And here we can circle back to the beginning of my post where I discussed randomness and variation. Variation allows you to progress in a specific direction depending on your goal. Randomness doesn’t. Therefore, there’s really no progress to be gained in CrossFit, unless you want to progress to injury, or worse.

To sum up this lengthy post: CrossFit is led by untrained individuals, promotes improper training techniques, increases the risk of injury, focuses on random workouts, and can kill you. Is the workout even worth this kind of risk? If you’re going to be fit, healthy, and train, do it right and do it with educated professionals who know what they’re talking about, can coach you on a personal level so you continue to develop, and can keep you safe. Oh, and alive.

Please refer to the list of references used in this post for further reading on various topics that were discussed in here.

References:

  • Glassman, Greg. “CrossFit Induced Rhabdo”. The CrossFit Journal Articles. Issue 38 (2005): 1-3. CrossFit. CrossFit Inc. Web. 30 Apr 2015. Link.
  • Magness, Steve. “Why CrossFit Works…But Really Doesn’t. The Randomness of Adaptation and Why Beginners Just Need Change”. The Science of Running. Web. 30 Apr 2015. Link.
  • Robertson, Eric. “CrossFit’s Dirty Little Secret”. The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 24 Sept 2013. Web. 30 Apr 2015. Link.

And for a more personal, but still fact-based account of CrossFit, check out this great article below:

  • Simmons, Erin. “Why I Don’t Do CrossFit”. The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 29 May 2014. Web. 30 Apr 2015. Link.

Thanks for reading this far.

Agree? Disagree? Learn something new? Have a personal experience with CrossFit? Leave a comment.

Sneakers Sneakers Sneakers

As a runner, I cannot stress enough the importance of a good pair of sneakers…Especially if you’ve had a substantial injury pertaining to running! A good pair of running shoes can cost upwards of $100, but trust me, if you enjoy running and want to continue to do so injury free, you don’t want to skimp out on this.

When I ran in high school, my long distance coach told me how important it was to buy new sneakers every six months. Now, we were running for an hour or more each day, so we racked up a lot of miles very quickly. If you don’t run long distances very often, or only run for short periods of time, your sneakers will probably last longer.

But the point remains: Don’t continue to run in a worn out pair of sneakers.

Think of how great your sneakers felt when you first bought them. Like clouds on your feet? Like you never wanted to take them off? Like these pillows gently holding your feet securely in place? That’s how a good pair of sneakers should feel – comfortable and supportive.

asics sneaksWhen you realize your sneakers are tired and worn, fraying at the seams, with a wrinkled outer base from the constant pounding you put them through, I suggest going to a running specific sport store. At a store like this, compared to a large shoe franchise, the employees actually know what they’re talking about. Usually, if the store is good, they’ll have a footmapping machine you stand on to read the pressure distribution of your body weight in your feet. They’ll also analyze your gait and arches to see if you over-pronate, under-pronate, or have any other special concerns that you might need support for from your shoe. This machine will also measure your foot size, to ensure you’re in the right size shoe. Then the employees will know exactly what brand and style of sneaker will provide you and your feet the best possible support and cushion for your run. They’ll help you try on pairs until you find your perfect match.

A lot of people get sucked into cool looking sneakers that are currently hot in the market. For example, my senior year in college, a lot of my lacrosse teammates wore Nike free runs. Our practices were intense: three hours a day, six days a week. We did sprints and endurance conditioning mixed in with dynamic strength exercises. We were constantly sprinting, jumping, changing direction on a hardwood gym floor – putting a lot of pressure on our feet and ligaments. Those who wore Nike free runs had shin splints – or worse – in less than a couple of weeks. Why? Well, I believe it has a lot to do with Nike’s minimal feel.

These shoes my teammates were wearing had little to no cushion, minimal arch support and little to no ankle support. They just weren’t made for the workouts we were doing. Now, I’m not saying Nike shoes are terrible for all runners. I’m simply stressing the importance of wearing the RIGHT sneakers for YOUR preferred type of running and YOUR feet.

Personally, I enjoy long runs. I also enjoy running fast when I can. I tend to over-pronate. My ankles collapse inward when I run and my arches aren’t all that stable either. I told my old coach, who works at one of these fabulous running stores I’m talking about, about my stress fracture injury and how I was starting to run again after six months. She recommended a brooks2sneaker with good cushion and lots of support. So, I’m thinking ASICS. I’ve worn ASICS my whole running career and love them. I only wore Nike’s for one pre-season of lacrosse and after developing numerous issues in these shoes, switched back to ASICS. The ASICS I typically wore had adequate cushion, so I thought they were the best for rehabbing a stress fracture. However, this coach put me in a pair of Brooks, which offer the same cushion, plus a whole lot of stability and support.

These people KNOW what they’re talking about.

You’ll be amazed at how the quality of your runs will improve when your feet are being protected and supported the way they should be. Additionally, you likely won’t feel as sore and worn after a run when your shoes are the right fit. Sneakers not only support and cushion the impact to your feet, but also everything connected to your feet! The forces that come from the impact of your feet hitting the ground while running disperse and travel up your legs. In the right pair of shoes, your knees and your shins will be spared. In the wrong pair of shoes, you could develop plantar fasciitis, shin splints, tendonitis, stress fractures or worse.

I know sneakers can be expensive. Especially a good pair. But it’s worth the money to take care of yourself and ensure you can continue to exercise and enjoy your runs. Don’t skimp out and get injured! I swear, you really can feel a difference in the right pair of sneakers.

Dear Coach Special Edition: My Journey

Hi! Now that you’ve read a few of my articles and hopefully continue to check back in here, I wanted to give you a more meaningful and personal introduction of who I am and where my fitness journey really began, as well as where it is now.

The Beginning

I played sports in high school, but was just average. It wasn’t until college that I really found a passion for exercise and health. After that freshman 15 (ouch), I turned myself around. I declared my major as Kinesiology and got to learn all about sports, nutrition, anatomy and physiology, muscles, the effects of exercise and disease on the body, and so much more.

The Turn Around

All of this new knowledge is what led me to begin viewing my body as an agile, efficient, smooth-running machine. Whenever I went for a run, I would revel in how capable my muscles were. Striding out, contracting, pushing me faster. I started incorporating more strength into my exercise routine and finally got stronger. No more wimpy girl push ups!

I learned to eat the best foods and actually enjoy them. Chickpea and bean salad with beets. Yum. Granola and yogurt. Double yum. The more I ate good, healthy foods, the less appealing potato chips and ice cream became. All cravings for unhealthy foods stopped. iphone2014-2015 008

I started playing college sports. Even though I wasn’t the most skillful lacrosse player, my speed allowed me to keep up and help my teammates improve as well. Being on a team was an amazing experience! It was worth all the hard work and pre-season training I tortured myself with.

The Setback

Then, all the good feels came to an end. Senior year of college, I got injured. A stress fracture in my tibia put a halt to all things exercise, running, and sports. I was devastated. Running was my thing. It was my stress reliever, made me happy, helped me think about the issues in my life, kept me sane. Running was my therapy and my training! To be honest, I relied on running a little too much… it would definitely be fair to say I idolized it.

So, The Good Lord opened my eyes to this idol in my life and forced me to turn my eyes back toward Him. I had to spend 8 weeks on crutches resting, watching my teammates practice and play. What a humbling experience. When I was finally cleared to run again, I discovered that the fracture still wasn’t fully healed like the doctors thought. So, I had to start the healing process all over.

This cycle continued three times. Each time I would start back at it, the bone just wasn’t healed fully. Each time I would start back, I got too excited and started my running frequency or intensity at too high a level. I would immediately get selfish with my running, and have to run faster than anyone near me at the gym. How ugly, how proud! When would I learn? I would give other people advice on only focusing on bettering yourself, on being patient with injuries, on the important of rest. Yet I couldn’t swallow my own advice. 

The Present

Now, its been a full 6 months of NO running at all, and I get to (God willing) start running again – slowly this time. I designed a 12-week cardio program to help me not only strengthen the muscles in my legs to help avoid re-fracture, but also to hold me accountable to minimal frequency, mileage and intensity. The program begins with mostly walking, and slowly and gradually builds up to my desired mileage and intensity over a three month period.

IMG_4495In addition to the cardio, I re-evaluated my nutrition. Was I getting enough protein? Was my diet lacking in essential vitamins and minerals? Was I unknowingly negatively affecting the health of my bones?

So I researched vitamins, cut out foods that were actually leaching the calcium stores from my bones (Coffee is one culprit! How awful!), and started incorporating more leafy greens filled with calcium and other nutrients into my diet (Kale, broccoli…), as well as really made sure I was getting adequate amounts of protein in each meal.

Since I began personal training during this process, I was able to incorporate more meaningful and effective strength training exercises into my regimen, which has made a huge difference in how my legs feel! I’m confident this will translate into helping me with my running comeback by taking some of the impact and load off my bones.

Results

This journey back will likely feel slow and laborious. Torturous even! The first two weeks I literally can only run for a grand total of 6 minutes (3 minutes one day, rest two days, 3 minutes the next day…Humble pie, anyone?) Plus, it’s always a conscious journey to keep my nutrition in check. (Limiting my coffee intake is probably the biggest struggle!) But if I have learned anything from this chronic, long term injury, it’s that rehab and rest are critical to one’s health. It’s smarter to take the time your body needs to heal rather than rush it. You’ll just be hurting yourself and prolonging your journey back to health. Take it from me, I was diagnosed with this fracture a year ago!

Additionally, my eyes have been opened to the dangers of over training. I idolized running to the point of idiocy. Going for two to three runs a day. Running sub-7 minute mile repeats for 5 miles straight, then going back to the gym later in the day to do it again. No wonder I fractured my tibia. Thank God for forcing me to find new ways to do cardio that I actually enjoyed so I’m able to change it up. Aqua jogging, long bike rides outside, swimming…I never would have opted for these methods of training if I hadn’t been desperate for exercise, but they’re really awesome!

As a result of this injury, I’ve also learned so much more about strength training and cross training, as well as how nutrition influences our biology. Really ensuring you maintain a proper diet, eat the right nutrients and calories, and make up for any vitamin deficits is truly just as important as when and how you exercise. IMG_4500

If any of you readers can relate, feel free to comment any questions about stress fractures, strength training and cross training, or nutrition below. I would love to chat!

I’m excited to be back, running around in the gorgeous New England spring and summer weather. I will definitely be writing future posts on my comeback journey! So stay tuned 🙂

-Coach A