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Running For More…

The personal blog and website of Kristen Cincotta

Posts Tagged ‘Injury’

Running While Pregnant and Injured, Part 2: The Comeback

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Wow, finding time to write while working and raising a newborn is hard!

Even harder, it turns out, is finding the time to train for a half marathon. I had high hopes a few weeks ago that I’d be able to keep up a pretty easy training schedule, especially once we fell into a routine with work and daycare. Ha! I’m learning the hard way that newborns have a stubborn way of not sticking to a routine. They also have a stubborn habit of not letting you sleep. And when your only chance to run is in the morning before work and you’re faced with a choice between going for that run or grabbing an extra hour of sleep, well, you know where this is going.

Post partum yoga is EXHAUSTING, Mom!

Post partum yoga is EXHAUSTING, Mom!

That being said, I have managed to go for a number runs over the past five weeks, slowly stretching my “long” run out to five miles. Not nearly as many runs or as many miles as I had planned to have run by this point, but it is what it is. I wish I could say that I was running free of any residual knee pain, but unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Even after all of the this time, my IT band feels tweaky on most of my runs. Not enough to stop running, but enough that I’m noticing. I can’t really run on back to back days and I have to be diligent about stretching, foam rolling, and icing after every run. I also¬†should be doing my PT strengthening exercises multiple times a week, but that definitely hasn’t been happening, despite my best intentions. But I’m working through it. Fingers crossed, if I keep doing what I’m doing (and add in those PT exercises… ), I will still be able to run the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving.

Speaking of racing, tomorrow morning, I will make my “grand” return to racing. I will be racing in the Atlanta Track Club’s Cartersville 10k. The conditions should be PERFECT – temps in the mid-50s, clear skies, relatively flat course. Normally, I’d be chasing a PR (I’m seriously jonesing to drop that last minute off my 10k PR and get below one hour!). But that’s not going to happen tomorrow. So far, I’ve only run one five mile run since I’ve been “back” (and actually, since last October!) so racing six miles is going to be an adventure. I know I can finish the distance and I’m not really worried about my time. In fact, I’m so not concerned with time that I turned the time prompts off of my RunKeeper app. The half marathon course time limit is based on a 16 min per mile pace and I know I can do that, so there’s really no point to focus on pace. Just distance.

So here’s what I’m hoping happens tomorrow: I hope that the race goes well enough that I feel like the half marathon is doable, but not so well that it doesn’t motivate me to recommit to my training. I need to be better about training or I really am going to re-injure myself again. And that is the last thing that I want. So yes, I want tomorrow’s 10k to kick my butt a bit. Just enough to get moving again with some discipline and dedication.

Walking with my favorites in the park!

Walking with my favorites in the park!

As far as said training, here’s my general game plan for the next eight weeks:

Monday – 3 mile easy run, plus core conditioning
Tuesday – PT exercises
Wednesday – 5 mile easy run, plus core conditioning
Thursday – Barre3 class online (here)
Friday – PT exercises
Saturday – Long run (adding a mile each week, with one step back week in the middle somewhere)
Sunday – Yoga at home (I have a few videos that I love and rotate through), PT exercises

That shouldn’t be too hard to manage. It’s only three runs per week, plus conditioning that can all be done at home, with a focus on core and my PT exercises. At some point, I’d love to work in actual Barre classes in person, pilates with my friend Laura, and some actual cardio cross training, but those things are going to have to wait until after this training cycle. For now, the above plan is going to have to be sufficient. I just need to recommit to making it happen. Hopefully writing it here will help keep me accountable.

But before all of that can happen, I have to finish my race tomorrow. I’m nervous but excited. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve pinned on a bib and my new sneakers are aching to finish this race. Wish me luck!


Go, new kicks! Go!

Go, new kicks! Go!



 

Running While Pregnant and Injured, Part 1: Recap

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Today, I went for a run. I also went running twice last week. For someone who’s blog is ostensibly about running, that shouldn’t be anything noteworthy. But between my knee injury that developed last fall and my pregnancy, it actually is a big deal, at least for me.

I am four weeks post partum and was given the go ahead by my doctor to start “gentle” exercise a week ago. My guess is that my doctor what my doctor means by “gentle exercise” is a bunch of walking and maybe some easy yoga and upper body weights. However, because I am registered for a half marathon on Thanksgiving day (just over 12 weeks away!), I’ve been anxious to get back out running again. I am not an idiot and I’m not jumping back into eight mile sweat sessions or crazy speed work at the track. I am going to take my time and start with short distances, walking whenever and however much is necessary. I have a tentative training plan that I am going to try to follow to prepare for the half, which I’m going to write about in my next post. But first, since I haven’t really written about it yet, I wanted to fill in the blanks about what all has happened with my running since the Atlanta 10 Miler last October.

Running While Pregnant and Injured, Stage 1 – Resting, Resting, Resting

Just before the Atlanta 10 Miler in October, I wrote about my frustrations with some pain in my right knee that developed during the 13.1 Half Marathon earlier that month. After pushing through a couple of weeks of light(er) running following the 13.1 race, it became clear that this knee injury wasn’t going to just magically go away. So I promised my husband that after the 10 Miler, I would rest for at least a month, something I very much did not want to do at that time.

Although I’ve been running in some form for the last 4-5 years, I’ve only really felt like a serious runner since early 2012. Everything was finally clicking last fall and I was starting to see some real improvements in my finish times (a sub-28 minute 5K!). So, knowing that my husband and I had just begun trying to expand our family, and having no idea if I would be able to run during my pregnancy (despite grand visions of myself running right up until my due date!), the thought of voluntarily not running for an “extra” month was pretty scary. I had a sneaking suspicion that my one month break could easily become ten months or more. What if I lost everything I had worked so hard for? What if I never make it back to running? It felt like my relationship with running was still sort of precarious and taking a short break that could very well become a much longer break was taking a risk that might end the relationship forever.

Regardless of all of that, though, I couldn’t deny that my knee was seriously messed up. It was to the point where it hurt throughout my day, not just when I was running. Walking down stairs was a particular challenge. As much as my heart wanted to keep running, I knew that I needed to rest my knee. So begrudgingly, I agreed to rest for at least a month. Little did I know that the start of this rest period would coincide almost simultaneously with the start of my pregnancy. In fact, based on how an OB traditionally “dates” a pregnancy, the first day of my pregnancy was actually five days BEFORE the Atlanta 10 Miler. Which means that my self-imposed injury rest period happened to correspond with my exhaustion-filled first trimester. When it was clear a month later that my knee was still not better, I was actually perfectly content to continue my hibernation on my couch for another month. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I had ZERO energy to do anything, let alone try to go running. So I didn’t.

Running While Pregnant and Injured, Stage 2 – Rehab!

Once I got past Christmas Day (the lowest point in my pregnancy, health-wise, honestly), I started to feel much, much better. I never actually got sick during that time, but I was incredibly run down and just felt achy and blah. So when all of that started to lift, it was like having a whole new lease on life again. I knew that I had a pre-paid entry to the Atlanta Track Club’s Resolution Run 5K on New Year’s day and I was suddenly curious if my knee and my newly pregnant self would actually be up to running that race. So I cautiously tried for a short two mile run on December 30th, just to see how everything felt. And the answer was that while I felt GREAT during my run, my knee still felt like my knee cap was going to pop off at any time. To say I was disappointed that I would have to DNS the race would be an understatement. There were a lot of swear words involved.

Nope. Never made it there. Boo.

Nope. Never made it there. Boo.

At that point, I knew that I needed to see an orthopedist and that minimally, I could probably expect to be referred to a physical therapist. I wanted to be able to realize my dreams of pregnant running greatness, but even more so, I just wanted to be able to maintain some sort of fitness during my pregnancy for general health reasons. I was also nervous that suddenly carrying a lot of extra weight on a bum knee might do even more damage. It was definitely time to get a bit more proactive on the injury front.

After a relatively quick examination, my orthopedist finally identified what was really going on: inflammation of my right IT band, likely due to running on a sprained left ankle all last fall which altered my gait. Whoops. Because of my pregnancy, we couldn’t confirm the diagnosis with x-rays or anything, but my doctor was fairly confident. As expected, she referred me to PT for six weeks, with a strict no running rule. She did, however, encourage me to use either the bike or the elliptical at my gym to help break up some of the scar tissue and to get some form of cardio. So that became my routine for most of January and all of February – weekly PT appointments at the crack of dawn, PT exercises at home, and non-running cardio and light weights at the gym. Oh, and I also started prenatal yoga which I continued to do weekly right up until my due date.

Pregnant Gym Selfies: January, February, March

I was a little nervous about how being pregnant would affect my ability to complete my PT. However, totally by chance, my physical therapist was just back from her own maternity leave and was fabulous at coming up with stretches and exercises that I could do with my growing my belly. Plus, she was great to talk to about all kinds of pregnancy and parenting questions that I had. even though I loathed getting up so early in the morning, I actually really looked forward to our sessions. All in all, it was a great experience, and I definitely noticed a distinct improvement in my knee pain. Things were looking up!

Running While Pregnant and Injured, Stage 3 – Racing!

I had my final PT appointment on March 6th. At the time, I began eyeing the ATC’s Atlanta Women’s 5K on March 29th as my comeback race. I knew with only three weeks to “train”, I wasn’t going to be setting any PRs (even though I’ve PR’d this course twice before!). But with stretching, foam rolling, ice, and a healthy application of KT tape, I was able to run relatively pain-free for the first time in months. Of course, I was starting to get a bit bigger at that point, making running a bit more a challenge in that respect, but knee-wise, things were coming together. I picked up my number and my race shirt and let myself get excited for my first race day in five months.

And then it rained and rained and rained. The race itself still went on as scheduled, but with the slickness of the roads, both Mike and I felt that it wasn’t worth the risk of me slipping and falling just to say that I finished this race. I was super bummed – the Women’s 5K is one of my absolute favorite races (like I said, I’ve PR’d there twice!) and I was really looking forward to finding my race legs again. But it was definitely the right choice to skip it this time around. So for the second time during this pregnancy, I DNS’d a race.

However, I didn’t let that stop me. I still felt good enough to keep running, so I did. Throughout the month of April, I ran a few times a week, in addition to some light weights at the gym and prenatal yoga. I was super busy during this time with work, baby prep, and lots of volunteer work for both Komen Atlanta and the ATC, so it wasn’t easy to fit in gym/running time, but I made it happen. I really wanted to be healthy and fit during this pregnancy (mostly in the hopes of an easy recovery), and I also still really wanted to run a race while I was pregnant. There are a ton of races here in Atlanta in the month of April (at one point last April, I ran in three races and walked one more event in a 10 day span!) so it was just a matter of picking the right race.

For me, the right race ended up being the Inman Park Festival’s Rocket Run 5k. This race was in one of my favorite areas of the city, benefitted a great cause (Mary Lin Elementary School), had a later start time, and, most importantly for me at this stage, was untimed. Between my injury and being 27 weeks pregnant, I knew I had lost a lot of speed and I wasn’t too keen to see a clock reminding me of that. The goal here was just to finish and to be able to tell Dash that we ran a race together. Moreover, because Mike wasn’t concerned about his finish time, he ran beside me the whole time, which ended up being really helpful. The race was hilly and I needed all the encouragement I could get. But I hung in there and was proud to get across that finish line!

Ready to Race!

Ready to Race!

Running While Pregnant and Injured, Stage 4 – Taking it Easy

After that, it became clear that running in my third trimester just wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t enjoy my runs and I didn’t want to put myself in a situation where I would come to resent something that I loved before my pregnancy. The elliptical at the gym was much gentler on my body overall, so I moved my workouts there instead. By doing that, I was able to continue my cardio and light weights up through about 36 weeks, which I was pretty darn proud of. I know it pales in comparison to what some other running bloggers have been able to do during their pregnancies, but that’s ok. I did what I could do and I listened to my body. I probably should have made more time for my knee PT exercises, but oh well.

Pregnant Gym Selfies: April, May, June

As far as racing, I was actually registered for the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure in early May but knew I wasn’t going to be able to run that race (I was at my cousin’s wedding that weekend). I was also registered for the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th but at 36 weeks, the thought of squeezing my big belly onto a MARTA train to the starting line just to trudge six miles in oppressive heat and huge crowds was wholly unappealing. Instead, I got my race fix and fulfilled some of my ambassador duties for the Atlanta Track Club by volunteering twice at the race expo. All together, I DNS’d four races while I was pregnant. Oh well. There will always be more races to run.

Matching bellies at the Peachtree Expo!

Matching bellies at the Peachtree Expo!

And speaking of more races to run, when I was caught up in the excitement of the Peachtree Road Race expo, I made the bold move of registering for the Atlanta Half Marathon, on Thanksgiving day. Now that I’m able to run again, I’ve laid out a tentative “training” plan to work my way back. Over the weekend, I’ll write up what that plan entails, my goals for this race, and my progress so far. But for now, my early morning run is dictating an early bedtime tonight!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Welcome to 2014!

First and foremost – apologies for sort of disappearing a bit in December! While I am usually pretty busy this time of year (as we all are), this year really wiped me out. In addition to the normal hustle and bustle of the holidays, I also ended up having multiple orientations for some things I’m taking on this year (including serving on the Komen Atlanta Community Grant Review committee and acting as an Ambassador for the Atlanta Track Club), a number of parties with new friends and old, and a five day trip home to upstate New York, something we haven’t done in YEARS. Unfortunately, due to our work schedules, the only time we could schedule that trip was two weeks BEFORE Christmas, right in the middle of the month. The timing of that trip threw me off so much that I’m STILL playing catch up. Seriously: I’m still working on getting our “Christmas” cards out. On January 2nd. OIY. All in all, it was such a crazy month that by the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, Mike and I were perfectly content to just stay in by ourselves and relax.

Celebrating the season with some of my fellow Atlanta-area running bloggers, a wonderful group of ladies!

Celebrating the season with some of my fellow Atlanta-area running bloggers, a wonderful group of ladies!

On top of that general busy-ness, I also haven’t been running, thanks to a knee injury that just will not heal. When I initially hurt my knee back in October, I planned to take off a full month and hope for the best. After that month was up, I could tell from just my day to day activities that my knee was still pretty inflamed, so I decided to take December off as well. Things finally started feeling better over the last couple weeks, so in the hopes of participating in the ATC’s Resolution Run on New Year’s Day, I attempted a short run last weekend. It did NOT go well. Less than a mile in, my knee flared up and felt just as bad (if not worse) than it felt back in October. It was incredibly discouraging. My fellow running bloggers have been writing and sharing their running goals and race plans for 2014 and I couldn’t even finish three miles, let alone start planning for next year. Honestly, it was kind of a crummy note to end the year on.

Nope. Never made it there. Boo.

Nope. Never made it there. Boo.

However! I can’t let that get me down. Instead of moping, I’m making my first resolution of 2014 to figure out what’s wrong with this knee once and for all, figure out a plan to get it back to where it needs to be, and follow that plan to the letter until I’m back out on the roads and running the way I want to be. That means it’s absolutely time to find a doctor. I gathered some recommendations from friends on Twitter and on Facebook (thanks for your input, friends!), and established today that my health insurance doesn’t actually require a referral to see an orthopedic specialist. Tomorrow, I’m going to start calling around and see who can see me in the next couple weeks. Fingers crossed that by the end of this month, I’ll have the beginning of a game plan to get back to running again.

So, given that ongoing frustration and the general chaos of the holidays, it’s been pretty easy to fall out of my “Running for More” groove. However, I love writing here when I get the time, even if it is occasionally sporadic. Plus, with the new year starting, a lot of exciting things are happening that I’m really looking forward to:

  • As I mentioned above, I’m serving on the Komen Atlanta Community Grants Review Committee again this year. I’ll be reviewing my assigned grants over the next month and in early February, I’ll meet with the rest of the committee members to decide on our final funding recommendations to the Board of Directors. The whole process is intended to be confidential, so I probably won’t say much more here. But suffice it to say, working through this process will be eating up a big part of my January!
  • As an ambassador for the Atlanta Track Club, there are two non-race events next week that I’m really looking forward to: the town hall to discuss the future of the Grand Prix race series at 6pm on Monday, January 6th and the Annual Member Social on Thursday, January 9th. Look for a post with all the details on both of those over the weekend. Just as a note, though, ATC has asked people to RSVP for the town hall by Friday, January 3rd. If you’re interested in attending, please shoot a quick email to feedback@atlantatrackclub.org.
  • Finally, as this year’s Participation and Teams Chair for the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure, I would be absolutely remiss if I didn’t mention that registration for this year’s race (which will take place on Saturday, May 10th) is now OPEN! This is a GREAT goal race if one of your resolutions is to get in the exercise habit and improve your physical fitness. Our race is open to runners and walkers alike, so regardless of your personal goals, we’d love it if you made taking part in our race your goal. Also, as an added bonus, if you use the discount code “earlybird” at checkout, you can save $10 off your registration from now through January 15th. If I convinced you to register, you can do so by clicking on the link at the end of this post!

And finally, I really do intend to go back and fill in some of my blogging gaps from back in October. Tentatively, I’m planning to write those up over the next couple of weeks (I think I’ve got five posts to write). I think I’m going to back-date those posts when they’re done so that they make more sense in the archives and then I’ll write a quick wrap-up post with all of the links once they’re done.

With all of that on my plate, maybe it’s for the best that I’m not also trying to squeeze in training and races. I’m going to be plenty busy enough as it is focusing on the “For More” part of my personal mission without the “Running” bit. But first, though, I MUST finish addressing these Christmas cards once and for all before this gets seriously embarrassing!

Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure logo

Click the image to register for the 2014 Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure today!