What I Learned From Not Running For 4 Months

I’m running again!

It’s not far, it’s not fast, but it’s all good, like Pete the Cat. He just keeps movin’ and groovin’ and singing his song. I wonder if he was ever an injured runner?

At the end of March, I got the OK from my doc to begin a slow and steady buildup. There’s no guarantee that my plantar plate won’t tear again, and I don’t think it will ever be 100%, but the Incurable $hitty Toe is cured “enough” at this point. I got some new shoes (a post on that soon) and went and did an “easy” mostly-running-some-walking, 2 mile run around the neighborhood.

running injured runner

“Spring, are you here yet???”

No protests from my toe, but it felt weird. Even though I’d been working out, all the little tendons and ligaments that I hadn’t used in 4.5 months had a little protest party the next day, but some foam rolling and some Aleve silenced them. Since then, I’ve upped the milage a bit, and The Toe does let me know if I’ve pushed to far by giving me a dull ache in retaliation. Nothing like I had back in November, but it reminds me to be patient.  Speaking of, on that 2-mile run, I thought about what I learned from not running for 4.5 months. Be warned, it’s kind of rando:

1. Swimming and me – we’re cool. Dragging myself 2x week to the pool, after 7:00 PM, usually when it was 14 degrees and snowing, was really, really hard. But once I got myself there and actually got in the pool, I was glad I went. I learned that there’s more to a swim workout than just endless laps of front crawl. I learned how to do a decent flip-turn. I worked up to a MILE STRAIGHT (I pretty much ate the entire pantry when I got home from that one.) While I wouldn’t say I love swimming now, I learned to appreciate what it does for my body and health. And it certainly won’t be my weakest of the three triathlon sports this year (hello, bike, I’m lookin’ at you!)

swimming triathlon injured runner

This is what happens when you forget to take your makeup off before swimming.  It also smeared all over the inside of my googles. FTW!

2. Don’t underestimate the value of someone tweaking your swim stroke. I got some good tips from taking a swim endurance class, and I’m a much better swimmer for it. If you are a triathlete or thinking about “tri-ing” one, but the swim is holding you back, consider a lesson or two. Even one session with a coach for feedback on your stroke would be quite helpful.

3. Replacing pedals on a bike is harder than it looks. Using about 90 minutes of my life I won’t get back, I wrestled with wrenching off the old pedals off for what seemed like days. I finally just took it to the bike shop and they did it in 5 minutes for $5. Oh, the burn.

4. I never knew that feeling strong felt so good. Strength training was the last piece of the running puzzle I was never able to get a handle on. I just always skipped it, usually due to time, even though in my soul I knew I had a typically weak upper body and feeble core of a runner. Enter Crossfit. I joined in January with a Groupon, attempted a hideous pull-up, couldn’t do even ten modified push ups, learned the language of weightlifting, but stuck with the introductory classes. Fast forward to now, and I’m seeing incredible results. I lost body fat, and I gained some biceps. My chicken legs now have some muscle tone. I can do about 50 modified pushups in a row (and about 8 “real” pushups). I climbed a rope (not very far, BUT STILL). I did a bench press! A clean-and-jerk! A push-press! And some of my back fat is disappearingI REPEAT: My some of my back fat is disappearing! I finally understand it. Sure, I can run 38 miles a week, but until I added hardcore strength training, I never actually felt LEAN. I CAN’T WAIT to see how this will improve my running. (BTW, I drank the CrossFit kool-aid, I’m a full-on member now. Shout-out to Ridgefield CrossFit!)

Crossfit injured runner off-season

That was a 65 pound push-press. I got up to 75 pounds that day. It’s like lifting 1.5 of my children over my head. I kind of want to try it.

4. Running is just part of my *new* fitness mindset. Once I couldn’t rely on running for my (almost) daily sweat anymore, I realized just how vital that sweat, that workout, that release was to my mental health and my very being. Of course I missed running, but it occured to me that if something happened and I couldn’t run ever again, I’d find a way to be fit. I didn’t really think that way before my injury. I just thought, “I’m a runner. If I got injured I wouldn’t do anything else, why bother?” NOW, I think, “I’m an athlete. If I get injured, I will find a way to be healthy a strong.” After January 1st, I managed to workout in some way 5x per week most weeks. I couldn’t believe it I was standing in front of my giant calendar planning my workouts for the week and getting excited, and none of those workouts contained running. Running will always be my first love, but I’m married into the fitness family now.

bike trainer, cross training, triathlon, injured runner

What price sanity? An hour on the bike trainer in the toy room watching Frozen for the 2,395th time, that’s the price.

There’s so much more I want to tell you, but I’m tired! I’m in training for TriRidgefield. I got new running shoes. I’m a volunteer trainer for the local Run Like a Mother training group. I discovered the heaven that is homemade roasted almonds. I’m coaching 6 year-old softball. I’m still herding loveable cats teaching as my full-time job (just graded some math tests, in fact). WHEW. It’s going to be an interesting Spring!

What has an injury taught you? What’s new for your spring? Is it even spring yet?

-Nancy

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See Nancy NOT Run: How I’m Working Out With a Toe Injury

What can you do when you have an injured toe? Pretty much anything but run and jump. *sigh*.

December ended with me carrying an additional 5 pounds more than my “normal” weight. Cookies, much? Oooof. Just enough to make all the clothes feel tight. It really wasn’t too much cookies, but rather I was still eating like I was running a marathon, even though not only was I NOT training for a marathon, I wasn’t even running at all.

Once January hit, and I was also starting to feel blah and cranky, I resolved to workout 5x per week, even if I couldn’t run. I’ve been:

Swimming: I signed up for an endurance swim class for the winter. I’m determined that the swim will be the least suckiest part of my triathlon game this year. Already, my stroke is better, and I’ve worked up to a mile (MILE!) total workout in the pool. SWIMMER-ARM POWER: ACTIVATE!

swim training off season endurance swim

Makin’ waves

Spinning: I’m keeping with my weekly spin class at a private studio in the woods. As long as I avoid “jumps” and ease into the different cycle positions, my toe is fine. Switching to rigid bike shoes helped tons.

spinning injured runner

Blurry, ’cause I’m spinning so fast

Bike Trainer-ing: I got my husband a bike trainer for Christmas. A perk of being married is that you get to share all gifts, amiright?

bike trainer triathlon injured off-season

Kids’ foam block lift only adds to the superb basement playroom ambiance.

Yoga-ing: I had a Groupon for a Hot Yoga place in my town. I tried it twice. I like yoga, but I’m not feelin’ it for the hot yoga. It’s just too…HOT. Besides, crowded hot yoga is second only to childbirth in modesty loss.

someecards.com - My favorite yoga pose is the Whatever-The-Sanskrit- Word-Is-For-Nap.AMT-ing: There’s this thing at my gym – I didn’t even know what it was at first. It’s like an elliptical, only better. The Adaptive Motion Trainer is hard to explain, so I’ll just link to it here. I’ve been doing some interval training on it, as it’s easy to vary your strides, but I have to make sure I don’t push off to hard. Otherwise, it’s pretty cool.

Precor AMT off season crosstraining

Not me. Not my house.

Cross-fiting: Groupon strikes again. I have a couple of friends who are not the gym-rat type at all, but they LOVE it. So I’d thought I’d try it. So far I’m just in the training phase (learning the moves before partaking in the regular classes) but there is some serious butt-kicking potential here. Also, I did my FIRST AND UGLIEST PULLUP EVER (assisted by the bandz).

crossfit crosstraining pullup

Glorious. Yes, the chin did get over the bar. Barely.

I think I’ll end on that note. Getting a sweat on 5x per week has lifted my mood tremendously. Thank goodness there’s tons of snow and ice around, otherwise, I’d want to be out running. I think once March rolls around, I’m going to get that ITCH to RUN RUN RUN. But, I must have patience and wait for April 1st – my goal date to come back to running.

If you’re injured, what’s your alternative workout? Any runners out there who also so Crossfit? I’m curious as to how to you integrate it in the middle of training for a race. Leave your answers in the comments below.