Archive | Injury RSS feed for this section

Running: Breaking A Personal Barrier

19 Mar

My Distance Enjoyment Chart

Yesterday morning I went for a 17km run.

As usual, I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. As usual, I seriously questioned the sanity of what I was doing as I got ready. And as usual, I ended up enjoying the run far more than I had thought I would.

Whenever I’m ramping up my distance, 17km is a milestone distance. If you were to plot my enjoyment of distances on a graph, the line would rise steadily from 5km to 10km. Then it would start to drop, and the lowest point would be at 16km – a distance that for whatever reason is hell for me. After 16km, the line climbs and reaches its highest point at 21.1km – the half-marathon distance.

So 17km is like a magic number for me. It means that I have broken the ugly 16km barrier at which I never really know how to pace myself, and I am free to run true to my natural style.

I knew going into the run that it might be a challenge. Two decades ago I sustained a serious injury to my left ankle that flares up from time to time. On Saturday night, I had woken up multiple times feeling as if someone was sticking a red-hot skewer right into the centre of my ankle joint. Sure enough, when I started running on Sunday morning, my foot felt a little tender. In addition, my left hamstring was a little tight, probably due to the fact that I added hill training to my routine last week.

I ran anyway, reasoning that I could always stop if I had to, and yet knowing that I wouldn’t. Little aches and pains that I feel at the start of a run have a way of disappearing as I loosen up.

Apart from a couple of little twinges, I pretty much forgot about the pain in my ankle. The hamstring never really loosened up, but it didn’t get worse either, and I was able to pace myself more or less consistently throughout the 17km. I had my usual difficulties at the usual times, and got through it as I always do: positive self-talk, upbeat music, and a reminder that my whole reason for running is to raise funds for autism.

It’s amazing how the thought of doing something for your kids can put things into perspective. My son lives with the challenges of autism day in and day out, and it will be this way for the rest of his life. Surely, surely, I can cope with the challenges of running for a couple of hours once a week.

And so I finished my 17km, and returned home to be greeted by the child who motivates me to do all of this. This little dude is the only person in the world who can hug me fiercely without caring that I have 17km worth of sweat and salt all over me. Sure, it’s a little gross, but at the same time it’s totally endearing.

After the run I may not have felt as good as new, but I was in reasonable enough nick. My hamstring hurt like the blazes for the rest of the day and I needed to stay off my ankle as much as possible, but I felt the sense of triumph that always comes after a successful long run.

My next long run will be 19km, and I say: BRING IT!

Advertisements

Giving Up A Race

14 May

Well, this is crap. I am registered for the Toronto Womens Half-Marathon at the end of May, and it looks like I won’t be able to run it. I hate, hate, hate having to give up race registrations, and there’s a part of me that still wants to try and run this race. But training has been hard when it’s happened at all. There has been too much going on – like the small business of getting married and all of the planning that went with that.

I’ve still been running, don’t get me wrong. But my distances have not been as long as I’d want them to be, and I haven’t felt quite as strong as I’d like.

And now I’ve gone and caught a cold. Not a bad one, but just enough to make me feel like I shouldn’t take a chance on running. And to complicate matters, the nerve in my neck that got damaged last year has been acting up. This happens from time to time: I feel that uncomfortable numbness in the fingers of my left hand that is accompanied by a slight aching sensation in my arm as I run. My gut keeps on telling me that if I try running a 21km race a mere two weeks from now, I will get injured and sideline myself for the rest of the summer.

My gut is always right. I know better than to second-guess my instincts.

It’s not all bad news, though. I am looking for another half-marathon to run in late June or early July (if anyone knows of anything within reasonable driving distance of Toronto, let me know!), and I have submitted my registration for my annual Run for Autism, meaning that soon I will be able to start fundraising.

I may be temporarily down, but I am by no means out.

A Life Hanging In The Balance

20 Apr

About three weeks ago, we hired a new respite worker for George. It has been a long, frustrating process – anyone who has ever had a need for a respite worker will know that the good ones are like gold dust. They are very hard to find, and even harder to keep.

When our new worker, F, walked into our home for an interview, I liked her immediately. Perhaps more tellingly, both of the kids took to her immediately. In a very short time, she has wormed her way into the hearts of the entire family.

Sadly, as she becomes an important part of our family, a crisis is happening in her own. A couple of weeks ago, the car that her sister and sister-in-law were traveling in was hit by a car making an illegal turn. The driver of the other car drove away at speed, but not before a witness snapped a picture of him with a cell phone. Police have since found the vehicle and identified the driver, who is currently hiding out in the United States.

F’s sister is OK. She has a broken leg and some nasty bruising. The sister-in-law, on the other hand, is in very serious condition. She was pregnant at the time of the collision, and the baby did not survive. And now her own body is gradually shutting down. She is not responding to medication, her lungs are filling up with fluids, and doctors are saying that there is nothing they can do.

She has been moved to palliative care. There have been conversations about DNR’s.

My heart goes out to F, who is very close to her sister-in-law. I think of the anguish she is going through, and the pain of the man who is likely going to be widowed very soon. I think of a two-year-old child whose mother is dying. And it just breaks my heart.

Anyone reading this – please send out positive thoughts of strength and healing to a family who really needs it. The doctors say that a miracle is still possible. Let’s try to bend the will of the Universe to make that miracle happen.

Overcoming The Bad Stuff: 19 March 2010

27 Feb

As I attempt to patch together bits of my life that feel as if they are falling apart, I find myself unable to write. This is a re-post from last year. In fact, this was only the third or fourth post in the life of Running For Autism. I’ll see you tomorrow, emotional Band-Aids and all.

 

2010 did not exactly start off well for me.  In early December, I had suffered from a strep throat infection, during which I had only been able to lie down comfortably in one position for three days.  This resulted in some stiffness in my neck and upper back.  It was not crippling, merely uncomfortable, and my chiropractor was helping me out with it.  The day before New Years Eve, a chiropractic adjustment went horribly wrong.  I had excruciating shooting pains in my back and going all the day down my left arm.  The fingers in my hand went numb. While everyone else was out partying it up the following night, I was sitting on the couch writhing in agony. I missed the New Years Day Resolution Run – something that I had been looking forward to for weeks.

Over the next month, I went to the Emergency Room twice, was seen by five different doctors, and got four different prescriptions for drugs.  I cried myself to sleep each night because I was in so much pain, and I appropriated the kids’ giant stuffed gorilla because it was just the right size for me to rest my arm on.  I was taking Percocet for the pain every six hours, and when the pain between doses got too much for me to bear, I was taking Tylenol Three as well.

For a month I could barely stand up, let alone run. In the end, it was the folks at Toronto SEMI (Sports and Exercise Medicine Institute) who saved me from insanity.  The doctor there told me what I had suspected, which is that I had a pinched nerve.  The pinched nerves always get resolved, he said, and it could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to a few months.  I immediately started seeing one of the physiotherapists at SEMI, and within days I was starting to feel relief.  After two weeks, she told me I could try running again.  Two weeks after that, I was in full-on training mode again, and feeling great.

As soon as I had gotten back on my feet, though, I was struck down again.  I caught a cold, and the cold turned into something a lot worse.  I had a hacking cough, I had a fever that came and went, I was weak.  I was so sick that I was off work for two weeks, and was not allowed back without producing a doctor’s note certifying that I didn’t have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. During this time, I was not able to run for three weeks.

Last weekend marked the end of this three-week drought.  I got up on Sunday morning, and although I was still coughing a bit and somewhat congested, I decided to give it a try. It went surprisingly well – slower than I would have liked, but considering all I’d been through over the last three months, I didn’t mind.  I was just happy that I was out on the road again.

On Tuesday I went for a lunchtime run.  Due to time constraints, my weekday runs cannot really be longer than 5km, but that’s still enough for a good workout.  About 500m into the run, my hair band snapped.  Not a good thing – I have quite a lot of hair.  I ran almost 5km with my hair streaming out behind me.  It reminded me of those movies about horses, where the horses are running across meadows with the hair on their tails flowing behind them in the wind.  That’s what I felt like.  A horse’s ass.  I had also misjudged the weather that day, so I was overdressed.  Hair flying every which way plus clothes that are too hot leads to a run that is uncomfortable and cumbersome.  I was not happy with my pace or the fact that my heart rate was reaching the stratosphere.

My next run was on Thursday.  I almost left my running clothes at home that day, because I had had zero sleep on Wednesday night and did not rate my chances for a good run.  But you never know, so I took my gym bag to work, not really expecting to use it.  Come lunchtime, I still felt like the undead, but knowing from past experience how a run can actually have healing powers, I suited up and hit the road.  My clothes were appropriate and my hair band stayed intact.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and I had a fantastic run.  Although the “pace buddy” on my training watch still beat me, my pace was a lot better than it had been on Tuesday.  My heart rate stayed within reasonable levels.  When I reached the end of the 5km, I could have continued.  It was one of those runs that reminds me why I love running.

I am planning another 5km run for tomorrow morning, and a longer one for Sunday.  I am looking forward to my 10km race on April 3rd.  I am hopeful that I will stay healthy this time.  I have to.  After all, there are only 190 days to my next run for autism.