Training: Sept 19-Oct 9

As I type this, I am sitting in a chair with a block of synthetic ice wrapped around my right upper hamstring and groin. I’ve tried to avoid my naughty bits, but to effectively ice your groin (more specifically, adductor) muscles, you need to let things slide a little geographically, as it were.

You know, and I’m not saying this sarcastically, for once — the past few months have been amazing. I’ve met some kind and generous people, both in person and virtually (although I hope to eventually bridge those digital divides with many of them). Many have been a great source of information and support. I don’t know that I could have accepted my current predicament without them.

I’m now convinced that I have a stress fracture of the femoral neck. So, here’s something fun: when I was interviewing the elites at the Fifth Avenue Mile event late last month, I got the opportunity to talk with Shannon Rowbury. Another reporter was asking her about injuries and she mentioned the femoral neck stress fracture that hobbled her after high school. I asked her the what the symptoms (and progression) were and they were dead on.

Several of you mentioned this likelihood as well — and don’t think I forgot about that exciting reader contest. If in a month I can actually run without pain, I’m going to declare that diagnosis sound (and, I hope, myself cured) and I will randomly distribute the virtual loot accordingly to one lucky amateur diagnostician, as promised.

Being the biggest amateur diagnostician of all, I have concluded that all of those incredible muscle knots were, aside from being red herrings, a reaction to the fracture. Or maybe they’d always been there and I’d never noticed them because I never had a proper massage or bothered to try rolling them out.

The update on those is that they are all gone. Not only that, but I have loosened up my IT band (and broken up scar tissue that ran along the top part) to the extent that I can roll happily and pain-free, where in the past such activity made me shriek in agony. I can only hope that once I’m actually running again, all of this loosening up will mean a bigger stride — and that means faster running.

But back to my current stay in injury purgatory. I did a lot of walking/standing around Sept 22-26, in conjunction with the Fifth Ave Mile event (interviewing and then volunteering) and also for a new freelance project. I felt all that walking afterwards — the deep, gluteal pain was back and I was a little mad at myself for having pushed things. I took a couple days off (and used the car more), which helped. Then early this month I made a quick trip out to Arizona, so obviously didn’t do anything trainingwise during those days. Then got back and work was crazy again. I was tired from the travel and sleep disruption anyway, so I took off the Tuesday I got back without much guilt.

Now I’m back and can honestly say that I’m working my ass off again. I am averaging 2 to 2.5 hours of gymwork a day. I have rarely gone twice a day, but I may start doing so on days that aren’t as busy with work, so I can break things up a little more and enable some recovery.

It’s not only physically difficult to, say, do an hour of spinning, then stretching/rolling, then weights, then pool running. It’s also quite hard mentally. If I don’t get it over with in the morning, then I literally have to drag myself to the gym in the afternoon. By which time I’m in a terrible mood and seething with a mixture of resentment and despair.

How have other runners dealt with long term injury? I wonder about this. On one hand, I think that doing the alternate training helps because at least I feel like I’m doing something and I get to maintain the chemically-based mood enhancers that I have come to depend on getting from hard exercise. (You think I’m depressed now? You should see me without exercise.) But on the other hand, the whole rigarmarole is a daily reminder of the fact that I can’t run.

I got up this morning at about 7:00 and it was 52F out, sunny and dry. It was the kind of day that I would have loved to have run the 14 miles up to White Plains and back. I know I’m whining. I know it’s unattractive. I can’t help it.

12 Responses

  1. I feel your pain (the mental pain at least!)! I’m also injured right now, although I just had a stress fracture ruled out. During this time I have developed an (expensive) habit of downloading TV shows from iTunes to watch on the elliptical to keep from going crazy. This American Life podcasts also work pretty well for me, but running-related podcasts just make me sad. Sometimes I pass the time by imagining scenarios in which I snap and start cursing out the people running nowhere on the treadmill on a beautiful day (though I know, I shouldn’t judge).

    Aside from missing my favorite fall running weather, I long for the simplicity of going out for a run. I can’t forget something and be forced to skip my run, and it doesn’t involve dealing with the MTA. Anyway, I wish I had some words of wisdom or inspiration about enforced cross-training. But, if nothing else, aside from maintaining your fitness, spending 2+ hours regularly in the gym proves that you’re super hard core. It might even require more mental toughness than a marathon! Btw, I really enjoy your blog.

    • For me, it’s seeing fat people out jogging. That sets me off for some reason. But, yeah, I had a bad reaction to seeing people running on the treadmill next to me as I “spun” yesterday. It was a gorgeous day. I wanted to yell at them.

      Thanks for reading, and may you heal up quickly.

  2. Have you been diagnosed by a doctor with a femoral neck stress fracture, or are you guessing? From what I’ve read about those, some types can be managed conservatively and some absolutely can’t (require surgery, and bed rest until the surgery can be scheduled, because there is great risk of dire complications). (Also from what I’ve read) this kind of injury is best diagnosed/confirmed/treated/managed by a medical person.

    A few years ago I had symptoms similar to yours, and I became convinced I had a femoral neck sfx. This brought on a huge bout of the “oh noes” because I had no health insurance and no extra money to pay for diagnosis and treatment. Luckily what I had turned out to be a bad hip flexor strain that took some time to go away, but it did go away.

    • Of course I haven’t gotten an actual diagnosis. I always diagnose myself with the help of The Interwebs. Then I go see someone eventually when it doesn’t get better. This is a terrible pattern, but I can’t seem to break it. I will end up going to a real doctor in about three weeks.

  3. Julie, I wish I had known you were coming to Arizona (I live in Tucson). I have a doctor there (ART/Chiro actually) who works on many elite athletes. He can get an MRI done at a pretty cheap rate. Although for the femoral head you might need a contrast done to rule out labral tear (which was my guess for you). Anyway, my boyfriend just paid out of pocket for a foot MRI for $400. If you want more information, or are planning on coming back out here anytime soon. Please let me know.

    I am recovering too, luckily, I am running again, but only 40 mins at a time and today was my first day of back-to-back running. I still have to pool run and do the elliptical (FE to me). I do relish every second that I run outside. Chin up … you will come back mentally and physically much stronger!


    • Thanks, Bonnie. That’s extremely kind of you. I was in the opposite direction (Sedona) and had no time other than flying in, driving up, family function, driving down, flying out again anyway.

      I’ve got freelance dollars flowing in again through year’s end, so I’m not quite as hesitant about going for diagnostic tests anymore. I will do so in the next few weeks. Labral tear is another one I’m wondering about. I need to stop wondering.

      Part of my hesitation has been watching several people I know live with running injuries that no one can diagnose. I would rather not go down that frustrating (and expensive) road myself if I can help it.

      I’m glad you’re running again. Maybe Houston’s not a longshot for you this year.

    • Also, fucking hell. How do you train in that place in the summer?

      • Yes, my significant other (I am 48 so “boyfriend” seems quite silly, especially since we have been together for 10 years now, oh well, whatever he is called) has been through 1.5 years of that … FINALLY got a diagnosis … but it is weird and doesn’t really have a “definitive” fix. It really sucks — so, I understand what you are saying.

        I doubt I will do Houston, I like at least 18 weeks of marathon training — and now I can defer and be there next year to watch the Olympic Trials (glass half full and stuff).

        It is really hard during the summer. To make it worse, I am not a morning person, so the “get up at 4AM before the sun comes up” rarely happens. I just adapt, and I don’t do much (read any) speedwork until the temps come down. Just lots of slow miles. Also, we try to get to Flagstaff for most of at least one month during the summer — just breaking it up helps a lot. But, hell is right.

        Next time you come out this way we definitely need to get together for a run — it is a small state ;-).

  4. For long easy rides or elliptical sessions, I found the discovery channel invaluable.

    For hard interval workouts, I’d just visualize the toughest parts of the courses of races that I was hoping to run in the future, and tell myself that the interval I was doing right now would pay me back at that point in the future race.

    For just the tedium in general, I’d remind myself that the longer my heart rate was elevated, the heavier the blood flow to my injury, and the quicker I would heal.

    • That’s interesting. I just listen to music for the workaday workouts. For the intervals, I pretend I’m on the track doing 200s, 400s and 800s. Maybe I’ll try imagining Central Park’s hills tomorrow instead.

      I also take a certain pride in the fact that I am always in the pool for much, much longer than anyone else there.

  5. OMG, I laughed out loud on your comment of how angry you get when you see fat people running and you can’t. I feel the same way. In fact I have fantasized running them over with my car. Thank goodness I am running again after my spring femoral neck stress “injury,” it did not fully crack. Super sucks. Just don’t try jumping on it.

  6. The lady I told you about who has that injury is still on crutches. Not sure how your injury is progressing — maybe you’re past the point where crutches are needed. But, if you have any pain walking, might be worth looking in to.

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