I'm not sure if I ever actually stated my summer fitness goal on the blog, but I wanted to incorporate more cross training into my workouts this season. In the first half of this year, I really slacked on any kind of cross training - I was just running, running, running constantly - and I was afraid this would lead me to re-injure areas I had problems with last year. I'll back up for a minute and explain those injuries.
Last year I was elated to find out I had won a spot in the Nike Women's Half Marathon out in San Francisco, so I was training all summer for it. However, I gradually started to experience pain in my shins and lower legs that I thought was shin splints, but I continued to run through the pain. The last experience I had with shin splints was when I ran track in high school, and I'm pretty sure we just iced our shins and continued training. I don't ever remember taking time off or missing meets because of it. Well, the pain got pretty unbearable last July so I went to see an orthopedic doctor who thought I may have developed stress fractures along my tibias. She ordered a bone scan to check it out. What a strange test that was. They inject you with radioactive dye in the morning. Then you come back to the lab a few hours later and they take pictures to see where the dye has migrated. The tibia in both legs was lit up so darkly with dye, the technician said he had never seen inflammation like that before! Then the doctor came in and said I had severe tibial periostitis and I had to immediately stop running or I was in danger of getting stress fractures up and down both legs! Im addition, I was diagnosed with posterior tibial tendinitis at this time as well.
This pretty much crushed my dream of going out to San Francisco to run Nike. So I started physical therapy, and very reluctantly took some time off running. But apparently not enough time. After a few weeks and against the advice of my physical therapist, I started running a little bit a few times a week. Bad idea. This just prolonged the injuries. The thing that really frustrated me during this time (other than not being able to run, which was REALLY hard) was that none of my doctors or physical therapists could pinpoint what had caused these injuries and how to prevent them in the future. I still don't have an answer for that. So I took some more time off through last Fall and that's when I got into CrossFit. LOVED CrossFit and if I had the money to join a box I would definitely have continued. I think the conditioning I got during my trial month was probably some of the best workouts of my life.
So fast forward to early this year. I found out I won a spot in Nike's Inaugural Half Marathon in DC and was PUMPED! With all the time off and conditioning I did through the fall, I felt this was my reward for missing San Fran. So I trained from January through April for that race, but only by running (I never learn!). I developed a nagging issue with my right knee before that race but it wasn't enough to stop me. I still don't know what that was. I had a great race, not a PR, but I felt really good the entire race, which to me is a WIN! After the race in late April, I never took any time off from running. In fact, I've not take any rest weeks or time off since the beginning of the year. (You can probably see where this is heading.) A few weeks ago, I started to feel pain on the inside of both ankles but kept running through it. It got progressively worse and I also noticed some tenderness in my left tibia. I think at this point I realized the tendonitis in both ankles had resurfaced and my shins were hinting at some inflammation as well. This is what I get for NOT cross-training. Even though I told myself at the beginning of the summer that I would be more conscious of adding non-running workouts into my schedule, I failed to do this.
So it's now been about 3 weeks since I've gone for a run. I have the Runner's World Half Marathon coming up in October and I don't want a repeat of last Fall. In the past three weeks I have been swimming, biking and lifting like a maniac. I probably should add in some total rest days here and there, and I know I also need to be doing some strengthening exercises like these as well:
Video via Runners World
In the meantime, I continue to search for answers as to WHY I keep getting the same soft tissue injuries in my lower legs. I personally think the surface I run on is part of it (I run solely on concrete and asphalt) but I also think my form is part of it as well. After reading Born to Run, it just seems heel-striking is not the most natural way to run. I've also been connecting with some teachers of Chi Running on social media and am interested in picking up a copy of that book next. I read an article in Runner's World recently about a woman who would cycle through the same overuse injuries between every race until she took a course in Chi Running and has now been injury free. Proponents of Chi state that it is a more relaxed, natural way of running that reduces injury. After I've had a chance to read the book, I'll post a review up here. When I start running again, I may go back to the treadmill for awhile to see if the softer surface helps at all. (I haven't run on a treadmill in probably over a year, ugh!). I'm hoping if I really stick to taking some time off, doing some strengthening exercises and cross training, I will be ok to start training again soon and do Runner's World in October.
One of the things that actually did force me to incorporate cross training were the monthly Challenges that I started this summer. Remember Plank A Day for June? And last month was the 30 day Squat Challenge:
If you squatted along with this entire challenge, you did 3,295 squats this month! Give yourself a giant pat on the booty for that :)
I've decided August will be for Arms and this is the challenge I'm doing for the month, if you'd like to join:
I mean we need to balance out our hugely muscular thighs now right?!
Here's to hoping by the end of the month, my legs are feeling healthy and fresh.
Questions for you today:
Have you experienced any running injuries? How did you deal with them?
Are you participating in any Fitness Challenges this month?