Change of pace

So, it is 7:42 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I should be outside running right now. Why, then, am I sitting here in my pajamas, sipping coffee, writing this blog post? I’m glad you asked!

It has been brought to my attention (by my body) that I am injured and need a rest from running.
I am quite disheartened by this news, but am trying hard to stay positive and be creative about other ways I can stay fit and keep burning calories.

Time for one leg squats?

better one leg squatA few weeks ago I remember teasing with the girls in my office that I must really have one dominant leg when I run because it seemed like I had built up the muscle in one leg significantly larger than the other.

I was frequently noticing while wearing capri-length pants that they would be very tight around my left calf, to the point of discomfort. But they fit just fine around my right calf.

One gal suggested it wouldn’t be that unusual to have one foot that I always lead with and that I could actually build up more muscle in that leg than the other. She thought maybe I should consider doing some exercises specifically with the other leg to try to even them out. It sounded somewhat logical, and I didn’t do any further research on the subject.

Over the last few weeks I’ve frequently found this situation to be very noticeable and sometimes uncomfortable, but then other times I didn’t notice it at all and it would just slip from my mind. I would occasionally notice tightness in my calves, that one side in particular, and a little tingling and a lot of muscle twitching. I assumed this was just the results of working the muscles hard when I run.

Not your ordinary soreness

This past week on Monday, my left calf was really bothering me while I was at work. It seemed like as I sat at my desk, with my legs dangling down to the floor, my calf was swollen. I kept trying to prop it up on something under my desk, looking for some relief from the discomfort caused by swelling. On my lunch break I even sat out in my car, with my foot propped up on the dashboard for elevation, just trying to get some relief.

By Tuesday I started to realize some thing was really wrong here. This was not just muscle soreness from vigorous exercise. My left calf was swollen to nearly twice the size of the right leg! And it just felt so tight, and uncomfortable and constant twitching of the muscles. I decided it may be time to see my doctor. To be honest, my mind was zeroing in on ‘worst case scenario’ and I feared it may be a blood clot. I just wanted to hear my doctor say that it wasn’t that.

As it turned out, my doctor, upon seeing my swelling and hearing my symptoms, immediately became concerned about the same thing. She told me it was most likely that I had a sports injury, but that the symptoms and risk factors also pointed strongly towards deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) and she wanted to rule that out before pursuing any other options.

She ordered me over to the hospital for an ultrasound “stat”! It always worries me when the doctor actually seems anxious and in a hurry for a test. Her staff called the hospital and explained they needed this test done right now, and they sat on hold while the hospital admin made calls to rearrange their appointments to fit me in. Then I went straight over there for the ultrasound.

The ultrasound was an interesting process and I have to tell you, it looks a little bit like the moon – inside my leg. 🙂 At the end of it, the technician told me that she cannot give me any results of the test, that the doctor would have to review it and go over the results with me. However, she could tell me that if she had found a blood clot she would not be allowed to let me leave the hospital. Then she smiled and said “And you are going home now”. Enough said, I finally exhaled with relief.

Time for a change of pace

A few hours later my doctor called with the official test results saying that the ultrasound was normal and there was no blood clot. That leaves us with the most likely culprit being some sort of tear, strain or other type of sports injury. She referred me to an orthopedic sports-medicine specialist. That was Wednesday afternoon, and with Thursday being the July 4th holiday, I had to wait until Friday to even call them for an appointment. Now I’ll be going in there on Monday to see what they have to say about the situation.

At least now that I know I am not dealing with anything life-threatening, I could start treating this like a soft tissue injury even though I don’t know exactly which muscle it is or the extent of the injury. I started immediately on Wednesday afternoon with R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression and elevation), coupled with a few doses of Tylenol to help bring down the swelling.
RICE

Being the fitness addict that I now am, my mind is already reeling with thoughts like:

    How bad is this injury?
    How long will it take to heal?
    When will I be able to run again?
    How much more damage did I do by continuing to run long after being injured without realizing at the time that I was injured?
    What sort of rehab will I need to do to heal and rebuild my strength?
    How will I continue my quest for fitness and burn the calories I need so I can keep eating a decent amount without regaining the weight I’ve lost?
    What kind of exercise can I do that won’t continue to make matters worse in my leg muscles?

My biggest fear is that I’ll get lazy and completely fall off the wagon of exercising and end up gaining back the weight and losing the strength and fitness level I’ve worked all these months to gain.

My biggest sadness is that I’ve begun to genuinely enjoy my running and I’m already missing it. My husband is getting ready right now to head out for “our” early Saturday run and I am sad that I will be sitting here while he is out in the fresh air pounding the pavement.

The next step

I guess I will know more after I see the ortho-specialist. But for now I’ve begun formulating a plan and it goes sort of like this:

I know for the time being I need to drastically limit the exertion I put on that leg. I finally have the swelling down a bit and don’t want to aggravate it again.

There is a fitness-minded motivation group I am part of on Facebook, and one of the gals had recently posted a 30 Day Arms Challenge. I decided I’m going to give this a try, now is a good time to focus on my upper body strength and I should be able to do this without much impact to my legs. This is the challenge, I am only on day 3 and I am already feeling challenged, lol!
armchallenge

In addition to this, I’ve been doing some research on Runners World and found what looks like a pretty good plan for a core strengthening routine which I’ve now begun to follow. Core Strength Training

For more of a cardio type burn, I think that swimming will be my go-to for a while. However, until I see the doctor and know exactly what type of injury I’m working with, I’m reluctant to even work those legs in the water. Thursday morning I went for a swim and put a floaty-noodle under my chest and another smaller one under my ankles and did my laps with just my arms.

I may have to put running on hold for a few weeks but I’m going to have some tremendous upper body strength when this is done! 🙂

The key I am trying to remember is that I made a decision to change my life, to become healthier, fitter, stronger and happier. I am NOT going to let a road block stop my progress, it will just send me down a different path for a while where there is still plenty of room for growth.

small changes

May 2013 – Monthly Fitness Stats

Ok so as I’m posting my stats for May, this will finally bring me up to speed and I’ll have all my months progress reports on here from the time I started getting back into shape up until now. After this I can start putting out some posts of other stuff that’s been on my mind! 🙂

When May started I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with the month, training-wise. This was sort of another “last chance workout” month for me, as the last weekend in May I had an appointment to take my bridesmaid dress in for fitting. That meant that if I was going to lose any more weight, I needed to do it now, because once the pins go in the dress I go into maintenance mode until the wedding in July.

What I ended up doing throughout the month was a complete hodge-podge of various things.

BASIC STATS:

Speed: 2.4 mph starting speed, Max walking speed 3.2 mph. Run interval speed 4.1 mph

This was another 0.20 mph increase over April for starting speed. I am reaching my full speed much quicker now which helps to increase my overall mileage and calorie burn. As with other months, increase speed by 0.20 mph every minute until reaching ‘max’ speed. First set of weight reps during this warmup. Max walking speed stayed the same as last month.

Duration: Aimed for 50 minutes.

Because I did some different things this month, my timing was different all the time, but if I didn’t have a specific plan in mind I just set my sights on basic intervals for 50 minutes.

Weights: 1 to 2 sets, 12 reps

This is the first time in many months that I started to drop off on the weight sets while walking on the treadmill. There were a couple of reasons for this. First, I did more workouts that were other types of strength training and didn’t feel as much need to work upper body during my walks. Secondly, I was doing more speed intervals, outdoor runs and 5K test runs where the weights were just too much distraction.

Incline: 5

Worked on getting consistent with incline at 5, but found this to be very challenging. Found I could do my walking at 5 but tended to drop it down to 4 during run intervals. Also, as the month went on and I started doing more focused goals on my runs I used less and less incline.

Average Burn: 300

I feel the need to comment here, that it bums me out the more weight I lose, the harder I have to work to get my burn! What used to be over 300 calorie burn workouts for me now are often just a little over 200 calorie burns. No fair that I work just as hard, if not harder and now I have to start eating less to maintain because I’m not burning as much as I did when I weighed more!

Ending Weight: 123.6

This is 2-1/2 pound loss from last month. I have now lost almost 27 lbs. YAY ME!! 🙂

At this point I will be moving into maintenance mode, although my “goal weight” was actually 120 lbs. But I need to maintain this size now until after Terri’s wedding in July so the dress I just had sized will still fit me!

OK – so I’ve mentioned a few times here that I was doing some “different things” this month. Here is a run-down of what that looked like.

Cross Training:

There is a workout that my husband found on an On-Demand video by a trainer whose name is Declan. He was following this video doing this workout for some time before our cruise, and when it was about to be taken off the On-Demand menu he wrote it all down so he could keep doing it. This month I started doing this cross training workout with him. I need to start building strength and muscle in my body in areas other than my legs!

This workout is a collection of things like push ups, jumping jacks, planks, high knee lifts, lunges, squats, side-punches, crunches and a bunch of other stuff. It takes us about 40 minutes to do 2 sets of everything and by the end of that 40 minutes I am sweating like I ran a 5K twice! And the next two days my gluts and hamstrings are so sore I can barely walk! I think that means it’s working 🙂

I added this about twice per week and over all cut down my treadmill time to about 3 times per week instead of 4. So, I was actually working out about 5 days a week most of this month.

Strength Training:

I had recently been reading a book called “The Salt Solution” which talks about the epidemic of high sodium diets in this nation and all of the health issues this causes. The author of the book offers up a solution to lowering sodium intake, and outlines a program for eating to break the salt habit. I am not at this point following that program, although I am going to be putting some of the recipes into use.

What I liked in this book was there was an accompanying 6 week workout plan that had a 6 day walking/running plan combined with a weekly strength training plan. I’ve been thinking about following some sort of set plan for a while just to go into auto-pilot and not have to think too much about what I want to do for my workouts and decided I wanted to try this plan. However, I am scheduled to run a 5K race on June 8th ( www.konarun.com ) so I was also wanting to push my training more this month in preparation for the race.

The last week of May, I did start adding this strength training in twice a week. But it is just a short, 20 minute workout. I’m using small weights, they are not more than 5 lbs. each, but they have metal plates that can screw onto the ends to increase the weight as I get stronger. The program is just 7 different exercises and is pretty easy to follow. It doesn’t burn a ton of calories, but I like having something fairly easy some nights that is still helping me build my muscles and upper body strength.

The walking/running schedule part of the program I will wait until June to begin, after the 5K race.

5K Race Training:

Did a few “test runs” this month to work on my time for the 5K race.
Last year, I did my first 5K and I walked most of it. At the time it felt like I was walking as fast as I possibly could, I jogged a little of it (a very little bit of it), and my time was 47:11. Not a great time to more experienced folks I understand, but to me, I was so happy to just have done it, and to have finished it!

Mid-month I did a 5K on the treadmill and attempted to do as much of it as I could at my normal ‘run’ pace of 4.1 mph. I did it in 42:00!! I couldn’t believe I could do that! I was hoping maybe I could come in under 45 minutes this year.

Later in the month, my husband and I bought ourselves Garmin Forerunner 10 watches so we could start hitting the pavement to be free of the treadmill and still be able to track mileage, pace, calories, etc. This has been fun, and challenging too. Heat/humidity fatigue, hills and wind resistance – these are all new challenges to a girl who is used to always being on the treadmill!

We did a 5K training run outside and to my SHOCK I was able to do it in just a few seconds over 40 minutes!! So now, I can’t wait to see what I can do in that race!

Run Intervals:

On my standard treadmill workouts…I had been (very) slowly working in run intervals. I think I started out with 1 minute intervals every 10 minutes a few months ago and have steadily added 30 seconds to that each month. Last month I was doing three intervals of jogging for 3-1/2 minutes throughout my 50 minute walks. So I was on pace this month to go up to 6 minute walking/4 minute running intervals.

Well, the first week of the month I decided to take that up a notch further and did 5 on/5 off. I amazed myself I was able to jog for 5 minute intervals! The next week I went to 4 minutes walking/6 minutes running and at this point I dropped my incline down to 3. (Yes, I was actually doing the 5 on/5 off at an incline of 4!)
The following week I did 3 minutes walking/7 minutes running. However, when trying to do this outside I found it really hard to keep up the run that long, as my pace seems to increase significantly when the treadmill is not pacing me, so I tire myself out quickly! The last week of May I worked on 2 minutes walk/8 minutes run and I have to say, it was hard for me. Really hard.

I’d like to think I could attempt to “run” this whole 5K race, but I’m not sure my stamina will hold out. We’ll see.

Stay tuned next month for June’s stats – I’ll be trying to follow that Salt Solution workout guide through the month after the race so I’ll give a full report on that next time.