Ruth seems to be asking, “how do you turn this thing on?”
I am now 7 weeks out from the Atlanta marathon, which would normally mean a pretty long run and some serious workouts. But instead, I barely ran at all this week….
What? Why no running?
As I mentioned in last week’s recap, I started having some shin pain early in the week of New Year’s. Last Friday, I took an unplanned rest day and went to Orthology for some deep tissue work. I ran my long run on Saturday and my shin was definitely sore then, but bearable. However by Sunday’s recovery run on the treadmill, I was really favoring it and starting to get worried that I shouldn’t be running on it. (It’s such a tough call to determine when you’re pushing too hard, isn’t it?)
I couldn’t tell if the pain was pinpointed to one part of the bone (like a stress fracture often is) or if it was just pain from the deep tissue work and the medial tibial stress syndrome that I thought I had. Yet I have been to Orthology many times and this felt worse, so I was worried.
I also get really nervous about any pain in my right leg because that’s the one with the plate and 12 screws in it from my broken tibia/fibula two years ago. The surgeon had warned me that it’s common to have to have the hardware removed after awhile, so I’m definitely hyperaware of any pain in that leg!
So with that, I cancelled my run plans on Monday and I called Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine. They had an opening that day at 3:45 (amazing!). I walked over there through the skyway in downtown Minneapolis (so convenient!)
They took X-rays first and then I met with the doctor. He felt around on my shin and seemed to think the tenderness was along the bone, which warranted an MRI to see if it was a stress fracture or ‘stress rection’ (the precursor to a stress fracture.)
The X-ray hadn’t shown any issues, but X-rays won’t show stress fractures until they heal. The X-ray did, at least, put my mind at ease that all of the hardware was still in good shape.
It was so great that I was able to get an appointment for an MRI right away at 7:30 am on Tuesday morning (the day after my initial visit) and then the follow-up meeting with the doctor was scheduled for 30 minutes after the MRI.
Have you ever had an MRI? It’s sort of a weird experience where you have to lay still for about an hour, wearing ear plugs and large headphones because the machine is so loud. But even with the loud noises, I actually fell asleep for most of the MRI. Most expensive nap ever, ha!
The results of the MRI were very positive- no bone issues at all- great news!
However, there was a LOT of swelling, so much swelling that the radiologist thought I had an infection of the muscle tissue. But if that were the case, I would have been a lot sicker, i.e. a fever, etc. and I wasn’t sick at all. Instead, they determined the fascia looked so bad because of the deep tissue work at Orthology. The purpose of deep tissue work or things like A.R.T or Graston are essentially to damage the tissue slightly to bring about the healing process and bring blood to the area. Most people don’t get an MRI shortly thereafter, but if they did, this is what it would apparently look like.
So basically the diagnosis was good- no bone issues, just muscle that were ‘mad at me.’
The doctor recommended about a week off of running and potentially a walking boot if walking caused pain. By Tuesday night, (which was day 2 of no running), I was walking okay and decided to opt out of wearing the boot.
(The boot is so DRAMATIC! I didn’t want everyone at work to ask me what happened, especially since it was so minor. I already had the drama of the broken leg when I first started this job, I just didn’t want to be in the boot again at the office.)
Instead I wore a compression sock on that leg, iced and wore my Norma-tec recovery boots in the evenings. I also tried to minimize walking and standing at the office.
And after 5 full days of no running, it’s feeling SO much better. I can’t say its 100% cured and I won’t have any pain again, but I have a plan on how to manage (compression socks, some PT exercises, ice after runs, Norma-tec recovery boots!)
I do realize that I probably could have skipped the doctor’s appointments and MRI, and just taken 5 days off of running until I was pain-free. But those of you reading this that are runners probably understand just how hard that can be to do without someone telling you to! I know my body and I know that I can tolerate a high level of pain. So it’s hard to know what is too much or when to back off. Better safe than sorry right?
I feel very fortunate that I have awesome medical insurance through my work as well as access to great medical care with Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine right in the skyways. I have heard stories where runners had to wait a few weeks for a sports med appointment and maybe more waiting for an MRI, and I got the whole thing sorted out in less than 48 hours. Pretty amazing.
Based on my diagnosis, here is what I actually did this week for ‘training.’
Monday: I had a 1-on-1 session scheduled for Monday evening at Discover Strength with one of my favorite trainers, David. I could have cancelled, but I figured I could still do strength training with some modifications, and I was right; I told David about my injury and he made a few small changes to the workout, eliminating any lower body work where I’d be pressing with my legs. I did got a killer workout in and felt awesome afterwards!
Tuesday: With the MRI and doctor’s appointments in the morning, I was pretty busy catching up at work, so I took this as a total rest day.
Wednesday: I swam about a mile in the morning at the downtown YMCA.
I swam a ton during my recovery from my broken leg, even going as far as hiring a swimming coach to get better at it! Once I get in the pool, I love it.
(Side note, I was glad my waterproof shuffle still works and it was fun to see what was on it! Lots of Hamilton soundtrack, ha!)
I don’t think my goggles are that tight, but they really leave quite the marks on my eyes! Anyone else have this problem? I swam before work and tried to hide the marks with makeup, but didn’t have a lot of luck!
Thursday: Another swim, this time after work at the YMCA, plus Discover Strength session over my lunch.
Friday: An hour on the elliptical at the YMCA and some strength exercises for my shins. The elliptical is more impact than swimming, but since my leg was feeling so much better, I figured the step in that direction was okay.
Saturday: The temperature outside on Saturday morning was below zero, with a ‘feels like’ temperature of about -15. So even though I was ready to try running again, I kept it inside on the treadmill. 7 miles. My shin felt fine, so I was very happy!
That evening, I went out with my sister Cresta and a bunch of her friends to Upstairs Circus for her birthday.
Upstairs Circus is a craft and cocktail place; you book 3-hour blocks and pick from a menu of crafts for a fixed price (I think $40.) Cresta and I both made “catch-all” little trays out of cement, with a painted design.
My design is the silhouette of a vizsla!
Speaking of vizslas, the good news this week is that Matilda is cancer-free! If you recall from a few months ago, she had melanoma removed. We’ve been monitoring her with appointments at the University of Minnesota veterinary hospital and they said she’s in good shape!
Sunday: Another frigid morning in Minneapolis, another treadmill run. I tested out my shin with a slightly longer run, with 10 miles this time.
Summary: Not much running (just 17 miles), two sessions in the pool, two strength training classes at Discover Strength and one elliptical workout.
I’m excited to get back to regular training this week; I was fully mentally prepared for 6-8 weeks in a boot if my injury was a stress fracture, and I had started to think that Atlanta was off the table. I would have still had fun going to cheer for the Olympic trials the day before and cheering for Dustin at the marathon, but fingers crossed, I will still be running 26.2 miles on March 1 in Georgia!