Catching Up

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, but wanted to bring this blog up to speed a bit.  I may have more time this weekend for posting more info on what’s been going on over the last few months, but this is a quick recap.
 
I implemented several changes since the injury after my last race in June, and they seem to be helping quite a bit.  For starters, I took 2 weeks off all the walking/running just to make sure my leg had time to get back to normal.  At that point I started the 30 day arms challenge and also an Ab’s challenge, and saw those through for a month.
 
Then I started on a 7 week walking plan designed by the folks at Runners World magazine, and it was designed for people who really hadn’t been exercising much at all so it was like going back to square one.  Since I wasn’t sure at what point I did “too much too soon” to cause the overuse injury in my calf, I figured I’d start at the beginning and see if it happened again so I’d know what the ‘breaking point’ was exactly.
 
So, 7 weeks of walking 4 days a week with the length of time of each day increasing each week.  Then I started another 7 week plan designed to “start running”.  The first 2 weeks of that was actually all walking.  Then intervals started.  First week was 1:00 running, 4:00 walking, repeated however many times for the duration of the session.  The next week was 1:00 run, 3:00 walk.  Then 2:00 run, 3:00 walk.  After so much time going by it was really challenging to run for 2 minutes straight and to repeat that several times over 40 minute or so!  Then it went to 2:00 run 2:00 walk.  I stayed on that two weeks because I had a week where I got the flu shot and ended up with a mild version of the flu and was out of pocket for about 5 days, so the following week I just repeated that one since I didn’t do all the scheduled days of running the week I was sick.  
 
The training schedule I’ve been keeping is basically 20 minutes on Mondays, 40 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 55 minutes on Saturday.  From there I can tell if I’m improving, if I can squeeze a little more mileage out of each session then I did the last time I did that time frame.  The last week of the training is 2:00 running 1:00 walking, and that leads me right up to my 5K race at the Wicked Halloween Run.
 
So now about 4 months “post injury” and I only had one little flare-up with the calf swelling issue, and that was shortly after I started the running intervals.  I made a little change and have been good ever since.  What I did was bought some “calf compression sleeves” that I wear now when I run.  And I got compression socks that I usually put on for about 2 hours or so after each run.  And I’m being more diligent about properly warming up and stretching before I start the run and a minimum of 10 minutes of stretching directly following each run.  The stretching and compression have worked wonders for my leg!
 
I’ve lost a couple more pounds since my last blog posts, I’m down to 119 now which is awesome!  It’s amazing now that I’m staying so active how easy it’s been to maintain a good weight.  I still log all my foods just to make sure I’m staying on track but I find that I can splurge on treats and go over my calories on special occasions and it really has no impact on my weight as long as I just keep up with my running 4 days a week.

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

June 2013 – Monthly Fitness Stats

Review Time

June ended up being a whole different kind of month in regards to my fitness activities.
In previous months, I had been mostly walking on my treadmill and was tracking and tweaking each month details like my starting speed, max speed, duration, and adding in small amounts of jogging intervals – each month slowly increasing the duration of those intervals and slowly increasing the speed as well.

Over the last nine months this has been a slow and steady transformation of my workouts from very basic, slow walks for short durations to longer walks, more speed, more incline, more calorie burn, etc. But the overall goal was to keep the progression very slow for the purpose of avoiding injury. (Because I have proven to myself over and over in the past that I am very prone to injury if I just jump full force into a running program.)

So how was June different?

Crossing the finish line - Kona Run 5K (time 38:14)

Crossing the finish line – Kona Run 5K (time 38:14)

June was kicked off by running the Kona Run 5K Race. This was a big goal for me. I had completed a 5K once before, in 2012, and I mostly walked it, finishing in just over 47 minutes. This time, I ran just about the whole 3.1 miles. I did take a few short walk breaks but for the most part I ran the whole thing. (Well, maybe jogged would be a better description.) My finish time was 38:14 which to me, is amazing!

This was a real eye opener to me, that I was ABLE to run over 3 miles. And this changed the dynamics of my workouts in the month of June. My scheduled walk/run days turned into more running than walking, and further distances than I did in the past.

With the recent acquisition of my Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS watch, I also did a lot more of my workouts outdoors. What I found that was really different about this was my pacing. On my treadmill, I have full control of my pace. I set the speed on the treadmill and go, and my speed only changes if I adjust the speed of the treadmill. But on the street, I go…well…however fast my feet take me.

Granted, I can use some tools on my Garmin to set a pace and be alerted if I am going above or below it, but for the most part it is much more difficult to control my speed. Consequently, I ended up walking and running much faster on my outdoor runs in June than I had been doing previously on the treadmill. Being outdoors often pushed me to also increase my distance/duration. The further you get from home, you still have to go that distance to get back. It’s not like being on the treadmill where you can just press the stop button and step off.

The Mix

In previous months, I pretty much just walked on the treadmill. With the tiny intervals of jogging. But for the most part treadmill was what I would do, and I would do it 3 or 4 days a week.

This month I was actually trying to follow both a walking/running training program and also a strength training program. These were guides that were included in that book I had been reading, The Salt Solution.

The walking/running portion of the plan was a 6 days per week plan and was broke down like this:

    35 minute Interval Walk
    40 minute Steady-State Walk
    35 minute Interval Walk
    30 minute Power Walk
    35 minute Interval Walk
    50 minute Recuperative Walk
    Rest Day

The interesting part was that each week the duration times were increased, to the point where it was 45 minute intervals, 50 minute steady-states, 40 minute power walk, and an hour and a half recuperative. I had a hard time keeping up with the duration increases and found myself modifying this as the month went on.

The strength training was a 3 days per week program. It was a routine of 7 exercises and the program called for a certain number of reps and sets. For example, week 1 was one set of 10 reps of everything. By week 5 the first day you’d do 3 sets of 15 of all the exercises, day 2 was 3 sets of 12 reps, then 3 sets of 10 reps. The exercises were things like squats, chest press/fly with small hand weights, lunges, bent-over rows with the hand weights, dead lift curl presses, bicycle crunches and planks.

I followed this plan pretty closely all month so I was working out an average of 6 days per week, some days were both running and strength training. And I got in a good swim also about 2 days per week.
Pretty intense this month!!

With the addition of the Garmin to my fitness toolbox, I am now able to more closely track and report on my fitness activities. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until close to the end of the month that I could manually log activities that I didn’t use the Garmin for. So here is a glance at how this tracking looks, minus some activities like the strength training and early month treadmill runs.

Garmin Activity list June 2013

Garmin Activity list June 2013

BASIC STATS:

My treadmill stats were:
2.8 mph starting speed (up from 2.4 in May)
3.4 mph walking speed (up from 3.2)
4.2 mph run speed (up from 4.1)

However, my street running was more like an overall average of about 4.5 mph and this included my walking. I was typically walking at just over 4 mph and my running was a little over 5 mph.

I logged a total of 42.47 miles in the month of June, averaging 10.5 miles per week.

Average calorie burn: 220 per workout
Ending Weight: 121.6 lbs (down 2 lbs from the end of May)
Garmin June 2013

My whiteboard calendar in my workout studio - the purple entries are mine (green is Jim's).  June was a very FULL month of training!

My whiteboard calendar in my workout studio – the purple entries are mine (green is Jim’s). June was a very FULL month of training!

Was kind of surprised to see my weight keep going down this month. I was actively working to adjust my calorie intake to a higher level for “maintenance”. But it really wasn’t until the end of the month that I started taking in much more calories than normal, so with all that activity it’s no wonder I kept losing weight. Technically I did want to get down to 120 lbs, but had been thinking I’d save those last few pounds until after I stand up in Terri’s wedding in July. I don’t have much room to work with to maintain the perfect fit on that bridesmaid dress. But I guess a pound or two one way or the other won’t make much difference.

Weight Log June 2013

CC Weight Log June 2013

Sink or Swim

What better way to start a Saturday morning than a 3.50 mile run before breakfast!?

I really love the weekends when I can get my run in early in the morning. (I’ve yet to be able to get up early enough to do that during the work week.) It gives me a burst of energy to power through the day, and I like having it done and over with so it’s not looming over my head all day like an unfinished chore.

Run Summary
Distance: 3.50 mi
Time: 46:39
Avg Pace: 13:20 min/mi
Elevation Gain: 115 ft
Calories: 285 C

Moving Time: 45:26
Elapsed Time: 46:39
Avg Pace: 13:20 min/mi
Avg Moving Pace:12:58 min/mi

It has become habit for me now on Saturday and Sunday mornings to hit the treadmill around 7 or 8:00 a.m. before I even make breakfast. It’s funny how at later times in the day, I need to time my workout well within a certain range after a meal or else I end up running out of fuel for the workout. Yet, first thing in the morning before eating anything I can power through just about any workout as long as I do it very soon after waking up (usually within 30 minutes of getting out of bed.) If I wait much longer than that, I start to get hungry and don’t have quite the energy-fuel my body needs for a good run.

My husband has often commented that he doesn’t know how I can work out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. But this weekend he decided he wanted to give it a try, so we laced up around 8:00 a.m. and headed outside for a good run together. Today was my “long run” so I decided to go 3.5 miles, which so far is the longest I’ve ever run. And I actually RAN pretty much the whole way. I did allow myself a 1/4 mile brisk walking break after about 1-3/4 miles while I was heading up a big hill. And on the last mile there were a few uphill stretches that I walked. But for the most part I ran it!!

When we got home, Jim suggested we head to the pool to cool off. There is a nice pool at our condos, but we don’t typically use it much. Most of the time that I consider using the pool, it is either not open, or is filled with children. This morning we had the whole pool to ourselves and we did 30 minutes of laps.

The water felt so refreshing after that run! I really liked the idea of adding more workout to my day, while doing what actually felt like a cool-down to the run. It was nice and low-impact on my knees, yet was strenuous and challenging and I ended up burning almost as much calories swimming for 30 minutes as I burned on my 46 minute run!

To my surprise, within a few hours, I became very sore. I mean, really, really sore. My arm and chest muscles, basically my whole upper body, was screaming at me! I hadn’t fully considered what a strong upper body workout it was to swim laps and apparently the small amounts of strength training I’ve done in the last few weeks has not been enough to prepare me for swimming laps.

But, I was determined to be in full “beast-mode” today and I still stuck to my 25 minutes of strength training that I had planned for this evening. It was hard, but I felt very accomplished after completing it.

There is something that just feels so good about doing something physically challenging, especially when you don’t feel like you can do it. Getting it done feels like a big win!

My eating was a bit off the charts today, but I did use a certain amount of restraint. After all this running and swimming we cleaned up and headed out to see a movie at the theater that we’d been wanting to go see (the new Star Trek movie, was really good – I highly recommend it!) and we were both so hungry we knew we needed to grab lunch somewhere before the movie.

Opted for Panera Bread since it was on the way and they have fairly healthy options on the menu with several good choices for lower calorie meals. I got the “You Pick Two” deal where you get half of a cafe sandwich and half of a salad. I chose the Turkey Bacon Avocado sandwich (which is my absolute favorite!) and the Strawberry poppy-seed salad with chicken. The salad had so much good stuff in it! Strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, roasted chicken and pecans, it was fabulous! Lunch came in at about 425 calories and between all that fruit, the protein from the chicken and turkey, and the healthy fats in the avocado, I felt very good about the nutritional content of my choices. The worst part was the high sodium, even now several hours later my face is still flushed from the elevated sodium! (My weird physical reaction to high sodium meals is something I guess I’ll have to cover some day in another post.)

The eating went a bit downhill from here. At the theater I indulged a bit because, well…just because part of the “going out to the movies” experience is eating junk food! But I kept it in check for the most part, I got some water instead of soda (I don’t normally drink soda anyway, but it seems more tempting when I’m out somewhere like that), and I got a box of chocolate covered raisins (my favorite movie snack!). Before even opening the box I checked the nutrition facts label and sure enough they claimed there were 2.5 servings in the box! And each serving was 180 calories. So I was careful to only eat what I believe was about 1 serving and left the rest in the box. Said box of chocolate covered raisins is currently sitting on the desk next to me testing my resolve. I expect that box to land in the garbage soon before I am tempted to finish it off.

On our way home from the movie, we grabbed some sandwiches from Subway to have on hand for dinner. It really is nice every now and then to take an entire day off from cooking! And again I went for their Turkey Bacon Avocado sub on 9 grain whole wheat bread. I really love that combo of flavors, and I realize I could have saved substantial calories by skipping the bacon on both sandwiches but come on, every one loves bacon right!?

After dinner we were craving dessert, I did indulge but was careful on the portion sizes. I had 1/2 a Vitatop deep chocolate muffin top. (These things are seriously delicious, taste like a chocolate brownie, but they are PACKED with vitamins and nutrition and they are only 100 calories!) And we still had some ice cream left in the freezer that my mother in law had brought over when we celebrated Jim’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. So, I had 2/3 of a serving of the ice cream with it. So just by only having partial servings of each of those I shave off about 100 calories from dessert from the standard serving size. And considering most people typically serve themselves much more than what the product describes as a serving size, I think I did really well.

I’m only including all this detail about the food today because of my last post where I talked about my struggles with sweet treats. I’ve decided that if I really want it, I’ll let my self have it and I’ll enjoy it. BUT with that comes some responsibility on my part to closely monitor my serving sizes, and to make sure I am burning the necessary calories to balance it out. My normal daily calorie target is 1350 and today I ate 1708. However, I did so much exercise, that I burned over 600 calories. I closed out the day with a -197 calorie deficit, so I do not feel one ounce of guilt over today’s eating.

Tomorrow I will probably be very sore from that swimming. But I enjoyed it and I am so proud of myself for getting in so much activity today! Luckily I have an 80 minute massage scheduled in the morning, that should help quite a bit. Tomorrow is a 55 minute recuperative walk, I think I’ll try to get that in early so that after my massage I can completely relax for the rest of the day! 🙂