Sunday, August 14, 2016

Recovery from Plantar Fasciitis

I suppose this could probably be classified as a Jess Goes Running post, but in addition to affecting my running life, plantar fasciitis has also had quite an impact on my work and home life over the last couple of weeks.  It has now been a few weeks since my diagnosis and the start of treatment.  I have gone back to my 50 hour workweeks with only slight soreness at the end of my shifts, and running longer distances with no problems at all.  I am lucky to be feeling great!  I figure it may be helpful for me to share what has worked for me over the last few weeks in relieving issues related to PF.  NOTE: I am not a doctor, and if you are concerned you should see one.  I am just a runner and human interested in helping others!

Stretching.  I have been stretching several times a day.  I find I get the most success when stretching not only my foot and heel, but my achilles' tendon and my calf as well.  Today, I felt really loose early on in my run which I contribute primarily to all of the stretching.  This website is a great resource for stretches and ways to relieve symptoms from PF.  I was pleased to find that I was already doing things on the list.  Don't forget to stretch out both legs; the doctor reminded me to do this so I didn't become unbalanced and potentially develop PF in my other foot.

Icing.  I have been icing my heel regularly since last Thursday.  It does a great job of relieving any slight soreness or tightness I might be experiencing.  I have an ice pack, but I have also been rolling a frozen water bottle under my foot.  This is probably my favorite way to deal with PF and I find it does a good job of both relieving any inflammation I may be having and helping me become stronger.  I highly recommend this!  (The same kind of principle of applying pressure and stretching out the fascia can be achieved with a tennis or lacrosse ball.  I have never tried these methods, but I presume it would feel quite similarly!)

Insoles.  Per the recommendation of my doctor, I went to Dick's Sporting Goods and picked up a pair of Superfeet Green insoles.  They were expensive, but worth it; I put them in the shoes I wear to work most often and though it took me a few days to adjust, there is a noticeable difference.  I'd recommend them!  I will probably get a pair of insoles for the pair of shoes I bought for work, but I may look for something a little less expensive but still high quality.  Arch support is key, especially if you have flat feet like I do.  Don't be afraid to do your research and find the ones that work for you!

Night Brace.  When I had been dealing with the pain for almost a week, I had started doing research and thought I might have PF.  In a way, it was a relief to have my assumption be confirmed with the very same diagnosis.  Knowing that I seemed to be more likely to have pain in the morning, I felt like even if it wasn't PF, I would be a good candidate for a night brace.  I found one at Target and have been wearing it ever since.  I definitely struggled with it in the beginning because I would wake up and find that I had taken it off (completely without recollection!) in the middle of the night.  I have gotten much better about leaving it on and my foot feels flexible and pain free when I wake up.  It may not be the most glamorous of additions to my sleep life but it definitely helps!

I also was given a cortisone shot at my doctor's appointment and I believe that helped to immediately relieve a lot of the inflammation in my heel (which was pretty bad according to the doctor).  I have been taking Aleve when I am concerned about inflammation but have generally been able to keep the pain and soreness under control without the use of medication.  Please, as I mentioned above, make an appointment to see a doctor if you are worried!  These are just things that have helped me to get back a pain free work and running and personal life.  As a runner training for her first marathon, I am grateful to have gotten this issue under control and am constantly listening to my body and monitoring my foot for the first sign of pain or concern.  I feel pretty great to be on what feels like the other side of this.  Here's to being healthy!

Jess Goes Running: Marathon Training--Week 10

So I have to be up front--week 10 was a pretty quiet week for me.  Also pretty tough.  The mileages certainly weren't impossible for me, and I should have been able to meet my goals and get the distance in with little difficulty.  As you may remember from my last training recap, I ended up doing the half marathon training run from week 9 on the first day of this week.  It was as very challenging experience, but I did it and I survived.

Running on Monday meant that if I stuck to the plan, I wouldn't be able to get a rest day in before starting my 3 day stretch.  I made the decision to shift everything forward a day and make Tuesday one of rest, then run on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, after I woke up that morning feeling so exhausted and so worn down from my long run the day before.  In addition to that, I was also experiencing a milder version of the cramps I had on Sunday.  I felt pretty okay with my decision to wait.

And then on Wednesday morning, it was hot and I ended up having to take care of the car insurance and also had a dentist appointment before work.  It just didn't really happen for me.  I was also still feeling pretty worn down from 13.1 despite trying to hydrate and refuel to the best of my ability.  Thursday, when I was at work, I shifted wrong while I was sitting down in a meeting and pulled something in my thigh, which basically put me out of commission for running on Thursday and Friday.  By Saturday, I was feeling better and ready to run mentally and physically, but totally exhausted from an exciting morning at work where I had to deal with a temporary power outage.  This week was pretty rough on my body and I felt like it took me a few days to recover from all of that.

Which brings us to today.  The long run: 15 miles.  I got up and got ready, got breakfast, and picked up my friend and running buddy V. fot an adventure to the Skokie Lagoons and the Chicago Botanic Garden.  I was excited for the long run and feeling quite good about it!  We had a good pace going as we headed north along the trail.  Unfortunately, shortly after we got into the park, I found myself afflicted with a cramp in my lower left calf muscle--the same side that is affected by plantar fasciitis (which has not acted up in several weeks now, a true miracle!).  Though I really wanted to run, it really just wasn't in the cards for me.  V. was very encouraging of my need to walk, not wanting me to injure myself.

Besides that, the Chicago Botanic Garden was just stunning, and we found ourselves stopping to smell the flowers quite often, so to speak.  There was definitely more that we could have explored, but it was pretty crowded.  Ideally, I'd like to go there earlier, and maybe even during the week.  Eventually we made our way towards the south exit and back on the path on the other side of the lagoon.  All in all, we got in 9 miles total and I walked an additional 2 miles around the neighborhood with Tom after I got home, in an attempt to keep myself limber and stretch out my left leg.  I bought a muscle roller at Target and have also been icing it; just another way that I feel like a true runner.  And even though it was yet another week where things didn't go as I planned them to, I still made progress.

I am a runner.  There were a few times this last week where I struggled with that--it is such a huge part of who I am, but sometimes I don't feel like that's what I am.  Or that I don't think I can do it.  I need to remember that I am capable, that I am strong, that I can and I will if I set my mind to it.  The minor setbacks that I have faced over the last 10 weeks have made me into a better runner, little by little.  Fifty-five days until the marathon...and if I set my mind to it, I will make it happen.  This week, I am going at the very least attempt every run and try to get as close to my daily mileage goals as I can.  Feeling good for week 11!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Jess Goes Running: Marathon Training: Week 9

This week brought me to the halfway point.  As of today, there are 60 days until the Chicago Marathon.  Um, what?!  That seems absolutely crazy to me, but here we are.  I have to be honest--training has not necessarily gone how I planned.  And it's been hard, much harder than I anticipated it would be in the beginning.  But...  somehow I have stuck with this for 9 weeks, through injuries and changes in plans and bad weather and I'm here, starting week 10, feeling strong and confident.  I am so proud of myself for keeping with the plan and not quitting. 

When I ran the Chicago Half Marathon in 2014, I started out on a plan and gave up after only a few weeks.  I definitely was not as prepared as I could have been and it showed.  I didn't follow a plan in 2015 either, but I was running more regularly in general and felt much stronger.  I have known all along that having a plan in my best course of success for completing my goal--I just want to finish, I want to cross the finish line and know that I have earned every single one of those 26.2 miles.  I'm feeling more in tune with my body and I can tell that marathon training is getting me in the best shape of my life.  I am optimistic for the next 9 weeks and ready to improve even more as a runner!

I ran 3.17 miles to the pier on Tuesday.  Wednesday I ended up making a rest day, but I did go for a walk before work.  Thursday, I ran 4 miles after I got home from work; it was so hot, and other pedestrians were acting ridiculously, and I was happy when it was over with.  Friday, I went for a 3.36 mile run while I was waiting for Tom to get home from work.  I was supposed to go 7 miles, but considering the heat and the fact that I am still recovering (and was planning on running 13.1 miles on Sunday) I didn't want to push it too much.  It ended up being quite a nice run.

On Sunday, Tom and I were down in Kankakee.  He participated in the Two Rivers Century bike race, picking the double metric century route.  He ended up with 130 miles for the day!  I am super proud of him for accomplishing his goal and for all the work that he has done to become a healthier person.  It's pretty inspiring, to say the least!  While he was out, I was planning on going for a run at Kankakee River State Park.  I was excited to check out the park and I felt pretty well prepared to run 13.1 miles, my longest run of training so far.

Unfortunately for me, my body had other plans.  Almost immediately after beginning my run I found myself dealing with some pretty bad cramps that just wouldn't go away.  I was also having some chafing issues with my leggings, which was frustrating because they were something that I had worn before.  All in all, I was pretty damn miserable.  I pushed through as hard as I could, but at 2.5 miles in I gave up.  I cried and threw my water bottle and allowed myself a few minutes to freak out.  Then I collected myself, took a few deep breaths, and started the 2.5 mile walk back to the car.

I was very frustrated, but I told myself that I could try again.  I went back to the hotel and went swimming before picking up Tom from the finish of his race.  We enjoyed a nice evening at the hotel and then, yesterday morning, I dropped him off at work before coming back up to our apartment.  I got coffee with a new running friend, which was so very nice, and then later on the in the afternoon, I decided to attempt 13.1 again.

I'm not gonna lie... It was so hot, and I had a hard time getting my breathing under control, and I had to walk more than I wanted to.  But I got it done, and in a faster time than my previous two runs of that distance.  So even though I was just done by the end of it, it felt good to accomplish it.  Now I'm not so scared of the longer distances, too, because I know I can push my body that far.  I am super sore today and I imagine I will be asleep shortly after I get home from work tonight, but I am so happy I did it and so happy I pushed through.

Halfway through.  Week 10... here we go!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Jess Goes Running: Marathon Training--Week 8

[sharing my running adventures as usual on instagram.]

Week 8.  Another week requiring patience...  as I spent the beginning part of the week resting and trying to recover from plantar fasciitis in my left foot.  I did a lot of stretching and icing and resting, keeping my foot elevated.  Even though I wished I could have been running--I was told to wait at least a week and see how I feel before attempting to go running again--I did my best to stay focused and stay positive.  I did a lot of reading (of running related books, of course) and looked forward to Thursday.  I also made plans to go running with my friend and fellow runner K., who lives out in the Western Suburbs.  Though the schedule was calling for 13.1 miles, I decided to modify it to 10 miles instead.  I figured that would be reasonable for my first long run in a few weeks; I had been feeling strong in my running even when I was in pain so I thought it was safe to test the waters now that I was feeling back to normal.

Because I wasn't in pain!  Tuesday I went back to work, and though I experienced some soreness near the end of my shifts, I was never really in pain.  It was more of an annoyance than anything else, really.  So after work on Thursday, I put on my running shoes and went out for 3 miles.  It was a slow 3 miles compared to how I have been running, but I must admit I had a moment of terror that I could go out and ruin all the progress I had made in the the week before in such a short distance.  And then I knew I at least had to try, because I would never know if I didn't at least give it an attempt.

I ran out to the edge of the pier at the beach, felt the lake breeze on my face, then turned around and came back.  The third mile was the fast and was comfortably in the range I was in before being diagnosed with PF.  I didn't hurt at all during the run, although I felt a little bit of tightness somewhere near 1.5 miles.  When I got back, I stretched it and iced it for good measure.  I was so glad that I had gone out and done it, and felt really optimistic as far as getting back to training was concerned.

I wanted to at least attempt to run on Friday and Saturday, in order to keep up with my training schedule.  However, on Friday, the weather was not in my favor and on Saturday, I felt more tired than I would have liked (Fridays and Saturdays are my early days and some Fridays and Saturdays are more energetic than others).  Given that I was planning a long run for Sunday, I figured that maybe it wasn't such a bad thing that I had taken a few days to rest.

Early this morning, I woke up, got dressed, ate a quick breakfast and got in the car to head out for my run with K.  We met at her place and she took us to the Prairie Path.  I was excited to run in a completely new place and it certainly did not disappoint.  The trail is primarily limestone, which felt great as a running surface.  There was plenty of shade and plenty of gorgeous scenery.  In addition to all that, K. was a great running partner and the 10 miles pretty much flew by!  I felt really good and didn't have any pain in my foot at all.  We alternated running in 4 minute intervals to walking 1 minute and it was a nice and steady pace, still keeping us moving.  It was definitely one of the more enjoyable training runs I have had over the last 8 weeks and I am definitely going to try and branch out more often!

Tomorrow is the start of week 9, and it's also August 1st.  I can't believe how quickly this summer--and training--are both flying by.  The mileage is upped a little bit this week, but I am feeling so refocused and refreshed after today's run that I am ready for the challenge.  This weekend I'll be doing my long run in a new to me state park and I'm really excited to explore uncharted territory!  As I ran 10 miles this week, which is the distance for next week, I'll be doing the 13.1 miles that I passed on today for my next long run.  The weather is supposed to be really nice next Sunday per the 10 day forecast, so I hope that holds out.

I am feeling positive about August, about my reentry into training and the second half.  October 9th isn't really that far away, but I have plenty of time to continue to make progress.  I am continuing to stretch and ice and watching out vigilantly for any sign of pain or occurrence of the issues I was having before with PF.  I am hoping that the worst is behind me, though, and ready for whatever comes.  "I can and I will."  I can run a marathon; I will make this happen.  I got this!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Lately, Currently.


[Reading]  I had a very long spell of not being able to find anything that I enjoyed reading, leaving quite a few books half started and never finished. Well, I am happy to say that streak has ended!  I just read three books (you can find them to the right on my 2016 reading list) and recently went to the library, where I picked up a few books about running, which should be no surprise.  Especially over the last few days, as I have been unable to run, I have been immersing myself in books.  Just started up again with What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, in the spirit of marathon training and all that.  Expect a "book review" esque post up on the blog soon!

[Doing]  Marathon training is a large part of my life right now and I love it.  T. and I are going to be doing the Chicago Half Marathon together and we ran in the Lincolnshire 4th of July 5K (and we both had set personal records!)  We ran a 10K in June that was very hot but very enjoyable.  I have been taking it easy since my PF diagnosis, but looking forward to getting out there and training soon!  Back in June, we also celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary and went to a swanky party thrown by my work.  This month has been very busy and August looks like it will be much the same.  I'm ready for it!  PS-Also cut my hair a few weeks ago.  SO happy with this decision!

[Thinking About]  Healing and recovery for my foot--I am taking it slow, but I am so determined to get back out there and make my training happen.  Though deferring is an option if it gets to that point, I would really rather not as I have already put in a considerable amount of time training and really want to make it across that finish line in October!  I am also thinking about family...  I just had a lovely time in the city with my brother last week, and my sister and niece are back in the Land of Lincoln after some extended time away--so excited to see them in a few weeks!  Though this month has not necessarily looked like I thought it would, I am feeling content.

[Watching]  We watched season 3 of Bojack Horseman over just a few days.  Seriously, go watch it if you haven't!  We also just watched Archer and are making our way through Orange Is The New Black (almost caught up to where we ended before).  Thank you, Netflix!

[Feeling Thankful]  I am really thankful to have a diagnosis, the tools to get better, and the opportunity I've had the last few days to rest.  I am optimistic about my recovery and listening closely to my body to stay strong.  I'm incredibly grateful for all the support I've had over the last few days, especially from my husband and family--it's hard to feel down when you've got all that love coming in!  I'm thankful for cooler days like today, a delightful respite from the heat dome we've been stuck under over the last few days.

[Loving]  Technology!  I got to video chat with my sister, her fiance, and the niece the other night and it was fantastic.  I feel so fortunate that the tiny redhead and I will still know one another well even though they live over three hours away.  I love baseball games and meals with family and opportunities to hang out and explore in the city.  I love a good brunch at a dear friend's condo and a good thunderstorm, summertime vibes and the heat of late July.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Jess Goes Running: Marathon Training--Week 7

I went into this week of training feeling slightly shaken from a confidence perspective, but trying to push through that and deal with it, find my mojo again, so to speak.  I had ended the week previous with a sore calf; this one ended with a break, as I took 6 days off from running.  Though I didn't run on Sunday, I did do a fair amount of walking on Monday with a trip downtown with my brother to get lunch with Tom and to go to the Art Institute.  I was fully prepared to start up with training on Tuesday, as scheduled.  I needed the break from the perspective of being exhausted, but I had also been feeling a bit physically off, especially my left foot (which was an ongoing problem with varying levels of intensity and frequency of pain) so despite the fact that I was reluctant to take it, I felt like the six days off would ultimately help me in the long run.

Then I woke up with a headache resembling a migraine.  I felt miserable.  It was bad enough that I was out of commission and had to go into work late.  Running on Tuesday was definitely out of the question, so I opted to push everything forward a day--3 miles on Wednesday, 6 on Thursday, 3 on Friday, long run on Sunday.  Not really a big deal.  I was able to go running on Wednesday morning before work, and I felt pretty strong despite the break and how I had felt the day before.  It was a slower run, given those issues and the heat, but I enjoyed it.

When I was out, my foot hadn't bothered me.  Pretty much as soon as I got back from my run, though, it started hurting--just slightly, just enough to be noticeable.  That mild level of annoyance had escalated to full on searing pain by the end of my shift.  I feel like I may have exacerbated the pain due to the tennis shoes i was wearing, as they were not as supportive as other pairs I regularly wear.  I was also experiencing a lot of the same pain that I had been having before, to a much higher degree.  The next morning, it still hurt and by early Thursday, afternoon, I could barely put weight on my left foot.

After a conversation with my boss, I wrapped up my loose ends for the day and left work early to go to a doctor.  I couldn't play through the pain any longer; I wanted to be at work, and I wanted to run, more than anything, but...  I also needed--need--to take care of myself, too.  I knew I wasn't going to be able to get into my doctor on such short notice, but I also didn't want to go to an emergency room, either.  I figured an immediate care clinic would be a relatively good option given the circumstances.

I was wrong.  I am not going to go into detail here, as it was a negative experience I am just wanting to move on from, but I was turned away from the immediate care clinic and refused to be seen.  It was a very bizarre experience and I have lodged a complaint with the appropriate party.  I ended up at Illinois Bone and Joint Institute, where they were able to fit me in with a consult that evening, without an issue.  Tom left work early and met me there; we had to wait a while and I am pretty sure I was the last patient of the night, but it gave me plenty of time to thoroughly fill out the paperwork and relax a little bit.

Everyone I dealt with at IBJI was incredibly pleasant and kind.  After talking to the nurse and getting a few x-rays done, I met with a podiatrist, who diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis in my left foot.  I felt incredibly relieved to have a diagnosis.  PF was something that I had been suspecting; I was glad that it was not something worse.  He recommended a few stretches for me, gave me a print out with a few different kinds of insoles, and also gave me a cortisone shot in my heel.  The shot has provided me with a lot of relief, but it really hurt at the time; Tom said the needle was pretty long, but I didn't watch.  I had a lot of inflammation in my heel.

Today, Sunday, I should have run 12 miles.  Instead, I relaxed on the couch, had brunch at the condo of one of our best friends (we brought bacon and cherry strudels and she made amazing omelettes with broccoli, peppers, and cheese), walked to Aldi with Tom to stock up on a few things, and have iced my foot.  While it can be difficult for someone like me who is usually so go-go-go to slow down, I am taking cues from the universe and listening.  This is the first time in a few weeks that I have been completely pain-free and I certainly don't want to push it.

So what does this mean for my training for Chicago?  I'm currently in the middle of four days off from work--I was given a note and instructions to rest from the podiatrist.  After that I should be able to go back to work with little issue.  As far as running, he told me to take a week off, then see how I feel.  Start slowly.  Thursday, I plan on lacing up my shoes and seeing how far my feet take me.

Even despite the pain I had been having the last few weeks, I still felt like I was having strong training runs so I am hoping that I can fall back into it.  It makes me very happy to know that I can continue training and keep working towards my goals.  As I move forward, I am definitely going to be listening to my body and putting in the work to get stronger and be healthy.  So this was week 7, another unexpected week of rest and recovery.  I really hope week 8 has me running again, because I sure do miss it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Jess Goes Running: Marathon Training--Week 6

Week 6 of marathon training has definitely been the most challenging for me since this whole thing started.  You've heard me say it many times over the last few weeks: flexibility.  Also: patience.  I have been trying to remind myself that this is a long road, that I have time and a lot of room to grow and get stronger before the race in October.  Sometimes I still get wrapped up in the idea that if I falter now, I will fail in the long run, when that is simply not the case!  I have more strength than I realize; I am in control of this ride and I will make it happen.

I had two great runs this week.  I missed the other two.  Not by choice.  6 weeks in and these are the first ones that I have missed.  In that regard, I am really proud of myself.  In the beginning I felt like it was going to be really hard for me to stick to such a routine and so far, I have done it!  I'm pretty happy about this.  I have also been trying hard to listen to my body--and this week I needed rest.  It's not that I felt horrible; I just did not feel at the top of my game.  So I ran on Tuesday and Thursday, missing 5 miles on Wednesday and 7 miles on Sunday.  I am upset that I did not make it through the whole week, but I know I will be better served as I continue training by taking a few extra days.

On Tuesday, I was at work by 4am (unusual for my "Monday").  Tom had to do laundry that night, so I ran a route that led me to the laundromat.  It was hot and muggy, but I enjoyed getting out and exploring new places (by foot, anyway) so I had a good run regardless.  Got to the laundromat in time to help fold, too.  Wednesday morning I woke up and needed more sleep; I felt really lethargic and kind of thrown off from my early wake up call the previous day.  I had to work late, so running afterwards was not really an option.  Wednesday I also started dealing with an increase in pain in my left foot, a lingering issue over the last week or two.

Thursday, after work, I went running; it was brilliantly sunny and beautiful but it was so hot, and I kept a slower pace.  Friday was a rest day, Saturday I went for a walk, and Sunday I woke up feeling quite dehydrated and not really up for a 7 mile run.  The foot pain was lessening but still there; as it turns out, had I gone, the weather would not have been in my favor.  Yesterday I spent the afternoon walking around downtown Chicago and the Art Institute with my brother so I got some miles in that way, but I wish I would have gone running.

So all in all, last week was not a total loss.  I did get some good runs in, and while I was not planning on a break, I think it has been good for me.  Week 7 is already off to an interesting and not entirely lovely start; there was yesterday, of course (which was amazing!).  Today, however, I woke up with a bad headache and immediately knew that running 3 miles was out of the question.  I have taken some medication and am working on rehydrating; I think it's starting to go away.  I'm planning on runnning tomorrow, Thursday, and Friday (and hopefully I'll be able to do all of the runs outside, although I will admit the heat makes me a little nervous).  Guess we'll just have to wait and see!