Well, My Season is Over

>> Monday, April 25, 2016

I'll get right to it: I'm pretty pissed.

This was my view as I was grading projects on the couch yesterday afternoon:

Yep, I'm back in the boot. Damn it.

The boot came off 10 days ago on Friday. As I posted last weekend, the Doc didn't initially rule out a 10K this upcoming weekend, but then we called it off. A short duathlon the week after that was still a "go." I met with my physical therapist (PT) right away, and she gave me a plan: walk for 30 minutes, take 2 days off, then try running every-other day starting with walking 4 minutes, running 1, for 25 minutes. That's a whopping 5 minutes of total running.

So I tried doing that running "workout" on Thursday. The first 1-minute run was OK. The second 1-minute run started to make my leg hurt where it hurt a month ago. Damn it. Minute 3, 4, and 5 were just OK. And then my leg ached the next day. (Which it wasn't supposed to do - I was SUPPOSED to only do things without pain.) I wasn't sure it it hurt from the running or from a good acupuncture appointment Thursday night post-run at Magna (Robert's approach causes a bit of an ache like you might get after a deep massage, and he had a needle right on the sorest spot on my leg).

So I attempted run #2 on Saturday. It hurt in my first minute of running. I walked 4 minutes and tried 1 more minute of running, and it still hurt. I was done. I'm back in the boot, and it feels like it did a month ago when I first went into the boot. I THOUGHT about trying to "run through it" for the next 2 weeks just to be able to race the Cinco Du Mayo Duathlon, but that'd be super, super stupid.

What makes me so upset is that I've been doing everything right! I wore the boot all the time except for PT exercises. I'm RELIGIOUSLY doing my PT exercises and stretches. The Doc said I could still bike, but I told her I'd be safe and start with 10 days on the trainer first (as to avoid too much clipping in and out which could be hard on my leg), and I did all I could to stay seated (as to avoid too much stress on my leg). And even though I haven't been running, my training has been GOOD. Look at these 2 weeks that I now just have to throw away:

The week of the 4th was every-other day of aqua jogging and trainer rides (both are purple) - the equivalent of nearly 60 miles on the bike and 25+ miles of running. And the week of the 11th was nearly 100 miles on the bike and another 24+ "miles" in the pool of running. Those were GREAT mid-April numbers for me! Last April, I was training better than I had in the past, and I've surpassed those numbers this year. Here's looking at my training numbers for 2 weeks that were 2 and 3 weeks before the Cinco Du Mayo Duathlon in April (which I did in 2012, 13, and 15):

- Two weeks of April 2012: 0 miles biked, 57 miles ran.
- Two weeks of April 2013: 36 miles biked, 33 miles ran.
- Two weeks of April 2014: injured (ankle sprain).
- Two weeks of April 2015: 120 miles biked, 31 miles ran.
- Two weeks of April 2016: 152 miles biked, 50+ miles "ran."

(And it's not that ONLY the last few weeks have looked better; my training has been better all winter long.)

I did well at that race last year, and I was ready to kill it this year. AND I'D BE TRYING OUT MY NEW BIKE AT A RACE FOR THE FIRST TIME! But I can just flush that training down the crapper now.

I'm not being "dramatic" with the title of this post: my "season" this year was going to be a few May duathlons. Remember, I haven't been swimming since last August (my last triathlon) because of my elbow issue, so I was going to take the year off from triathlons this year. Duathlon season in MN is May. Then it's tri season.

I saw this last week and I felt like it was fitting.

My 3 goals for right now:

- Don't swim, don't bike, and don't run. That includes aqua jogging. (This is a weird goal.) I just need to totally stop and let my body heal up. No use keeping my endurance up for a season that's not going to happen. In the off chance that aqua jogging and/or biking was hurting my leg, I'll cut it all out so my body can heal.

- Don't get fat. I'm not joking. I'll need to make a conscious effort to watch what I eat a bit more now that I'm not logging those miles. (In those 2 weeks above, I burned about 13,000 calories biking or aqua jogging. That averages about 1,000 extra calories/day. I need to adjust my intake now that I'm not burning those calories.)

- Talk with my PT and/or doc to get healed up and out of this boot ASAP. I have a PT appointment scheduled for Wednesday, so maybe I'll see what she says. I'm not TOTALLY convinced it's a "stress reaction" like the doc first said because would that hurt so much? But what do I know? It's a sharp-ish pain slightly to the inside of my leg along my tibia between my knee and ankle. Thoughts anyone?

I've often, often said "I'm good at being injured" because I know I've been doing something wrong and need to take some time to recover. It hasn't bothered me that much over the years. But now I'm sick of it. I'm over it. I was so smart all winter: I took 5 weeks off after the TC 10 Mile and then started building a good base of easy miles all winter. I just want to be a "normal" runner again. I'm currently on top of the Grand Prix standings, and now that's over. My running team is currently on top of the local USATF series, and I hope they can keep that up without me. And all of this also begs the question: how much longer should I be running? How many more years of running do I have left before it's just not worth it? I'm not saying it's now, but I'm starting to prepare myself in case it's soon.

I the meantime, I have to remember that life is good. Three weeks ago, my Mom was "healthy;" two weeks ago, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer; one week ago, she had it successfully removed; and this past Friday, the boys and I visited her for a bit. Bad things come and go, and in the grand scheme of things, my leg pain is nothing. I posted this on Instagram when I was feeling pretty bummed about life after my last unsuccessful run on Saturday:

... but I was just trying to stretch...

Those fellas. They'll make things better for me.

(Or they'll make me want to pull all of my hair out. One or the other.)


Doc 7:27 AM, April 25, 2016  

Missing one season won't break you. Rest up and come back stronger next year! You'll still be faster than most of us!

TerryR 7:54 AM, April 25, 2016  

Short distances at the speed you run are hard on the body. Time to switch to long and slow(er)?


Jackie 10:31 AM, April 25, 2016  

I never understood why wearing a boot is supposed to get a stress reaction better. It seems to me that being non-weightbearing on crutches for a few weeks would rest the bone more than walking in a boot. Just a thought.

I would ask for an MRI or a bone scan.

Robyn 10:40 AM, April 25, 2016  

Steve, I hear ya. There's no righteous indignation quite as righteous as that of an injured athlete who's been DOING THE RIGHT THINGS FOR ONCE DEAR GOD WHY DID THIS HAPPEN ANYWAY??? Yeah, been there. ARGH.

And it doesn't help that PT exercises have the two most annoying features ever (to the injured athlete):
1. They're boring as shit. (Not even a fair comparison, with young children in the house, you know how fascinating poop can be).
2. They freaking work, so you really ought to do them anyway.

All of which is to say: I'm so sorry to hear this, and I have an idea of how frustrated you must be. Seems like you are getting good advice on how to make things better on the physical side, although that road is uncertain as always. Things I've done while injured that seemed to help mentally?
1. Continuing to do whatever kind of exercise I can do. For you, right now? Might just be core for a while. But you'll have the best ass ever by the time you're back in business.
2. Continuing to be in my athletic community. That could mean volunteering at races and events, doing trail work, or just showing up at the end of a group training run or ride for socialization. For me, feeling socially isolated from my running family is one of the worst parts of being injured.
3. Doing projects that I haven't had time for. Your garden is going to LOVE your injury. Your house projects are going to LOVE it. Your kids? Well, sheesh, it's obvious they already love you... but MORE LOVE.

Finally, I always have to remind myself, sometimes forcibly, that injuries do heal. Really. Even bad ones, even mysterious ones. You will be back. Your community and your races and your friends will be here. There is an endpoint to this odyssey.

Best of luck to you, and I hope you find some good news today and this week!

drdave 2:00 PM, April 25, 2016  

Sure sounds like a stress reaction/fracture. Similiar to an avulsion fracture (nasty shin splints).
Just keep an eye on your circulation. Can't rule out compartment syndrome without an MRI.
Rest and possibly a bone stimulator to accelerate the healing. Try an ice massage for pinpoint relief.
Good luck. Injuries suck! Been there, done that. Still struggling with a blown hamstring and meniscal damage from a half ironman two seasons ago.
I feel ya man!

Steve Stenzel 2:21 PM, April 25, 2016  

Thanks Doc. I *KNOW* that missing a season is OK, it's just that I worked so hard this spring. Just bummed.

Terry, I've had issues with running long too, so I'll stick to short. I built a good base running easy all winter, but maybe I actually needed to do MORE speed work to be ready for racing season.

Jackie, I hear ya. I try to stay off it. My wife was SOOO good a few weeks ago about watching the boys when she gets home so I can get off my feet. And I keep hearing more and more about being in a boot as SHORT as possible because you need to keep using some of those muscles before they atrophy too much.

Robyn, I'm actually OK doing the exercises, and I KNOW they help. So I'm good there! Yeah, I'm still going to do those, keep my core work up, and do what I can for other parts of my legs too. And your the 2nd person since this weekend to say I should volunteer! And YES, I know I've got other stuff to work on that could use the time too, so I'll try to focus on those things. And my dudes. :) Thanks Robyn!

And THANKS for your 2 cents Dr.Dave! I like having multiple people say it's the same thing… then I feel more like the Doc was right. You get better too!!

Mary 6:26 PM, April 25, 2016  

I'm sorry, Steve. Hopefully you heal as fast as you run!

Merrilee 6:55 PM, April 25, 2016  

I'm with you. No really. Skiing in February resulted in ACL/meniscus repair surgery 6 weeks ago. Had no weight bearing for a month and learned I am not very good with crutches. So....I too am watching all the other athletes get fit for summer while I try not to stress eat and remember that it could be worse. I do feel better if I whine a little! Hope you recover quickly- and I guess we'll both be more appreciative when we can run again!!

Shinianen 8:16 PM, April 25, 2016  

Sorry for the bad news! I know how much it sucks to be out an entire season thanks to an injury, so I feel for you. Here's to a good recovery and a great season next year.

Bethk 10:19 AM, April 26, 2016  

Been in your "boot" before and understand your frustration. You've done a great job of staying fit and not just throwing in the towel and doing nothing. Hang in there. As I can also tell you from experience, it pays to be tenacious and push, push, push to get the tests and answers you need. If you need an MRI to get the answer, then push until you get it. Hope to see you out on the course soon!

mg 9:07 PM, April 26, 2016  

A stress reaction ended my 2015 season and the after effects have thus far made 2016 pretty crappy. Have you had a MRI? The sharp pain sounds like what my injury felt like when it was new. My doctor was very conservative in treating it - I was booted for 6 weeks, and he wanted me off running for another 6 weeks (while being allowed to walk and other weight-bearing activities). I switched practices and saw a PT, and she let me start run/walking once I was able to walk without pain for 30 minutes.
Does your PT have an Alter-G? My PT said that they've allowed athletes with stress fractures/reactions run on that to maintain some fitness. I wish I had started with that clinic, because I would most likely have opted to try that.
Best of luck to you - I hope you recover quickly!

Paul 8:55 AM, April 27, 2016  

Steve, I'm sad to read that you're back in the boot. As others above had said it's worth loosing 1 season to get back on your feet.

Mario 9:32 AM, April 27, 2016  

I missed last season. Not to my own injury though. You probably know why. Whatever issues I face now are merely "set-backs". Any set-backs that come my way now I will always, unfortunately, be able say "I've been thru worse." Perspective, Steve...perspective.

Speaking of set-backs, we are sort of in a similar situation with regards to injuries. Right now I am 3 weeks from my last run due to an injured left Achilles. Running= no; Biking= pain; pushing off the wall in the pool= stings sometimes. I too was doing everything right to prepare (for a spring marathon), but too much time has been lost to get on track. You'll recovery soon enough. Take advantage and enjoy your forced 'unrequested time off' with your kids, wife, and family.

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