Raise your hand if you’re still sleep deprived from the World Series. *raises both hands* I’m beyond thrilled that the Cubs are hanging in there, and I will happily take two more nights of less than seven hours of sleep if it means winning the World Series, but man. Remember last Wednesday when the game started at 6:08 instead of 7:08, and the world didn’t end even though the game started an hour early? I vote we make that the standard start time for all playoff games from here on out. Primetime, schmimetime. I would have a lot more energy for these games if they didn’t last until nearly 11:00!
Anyway, Cubs enthusiasm aside, I have updates on my foot, and thus my plan moving forward out of marathon season. I went to the doctor and got another x-ray on Friday, which, in what came as the most expected news I have ever received, showed no evidence of a stress fracture. This did not surprise me, since I’m still one zillion percent convinced I never had a stress fracture or anything like it in the first place, given the fact that all of my pain occured in the exact location of my peroneal tendon and was completely consistent with what one could expect with tendonitis and/or subluxation, not a stress fracture. My doctor now thinks I had a stress reaction, because apparently all my talk about pain in my ankle is completely irrelevant to this entire conversation. I’m transitioning out of my boot, wearing regular shoes for an hour or two before wearing the boot for an hour, with the goal of eventually building up time out of my boot to the point where I don’t need to wear it at all. I…have not followed these instructions to a T, but when I’m going to be walking a lot, I wear the boot. When I’m going to be walking a little, I don’t wear the boot. I spend most of my non-walking time sitting down, so I figure whether I’m wearing the boot or not doesn’t make much of a difference when I’m not putting any weight on it in the first place.
I’ve been prohibited from engaging in impact exercise until my next appointment on Nov. 18. This has a couple of disappointing implications. Dance counts as impact exercise, so I’m going to have to drop out of this session of hip hop, which will be the first session I’ve missed in four years. I also won’t be able to participate in Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas in any capacity, including the 10K. Both of these things frustrate me, because I really, truly, in the deepest depths of my soul, do not think this was a bone injury in the first place. Being sidelined for six weeks as if it were a bone injury is pretty upsetting. I could, of course, go to another doctor and get a second opinion, and I suppose the main reason I’m hesitant to do that (not wanting to take more time away from work to go to more doctor’s appointments) is stupid. At the same time, if we’re still going to operate under the assumption that this was an overuse injury–which it could be, given the whole two marathons in three weeks things, despite the fact that it came on suddenly–I assume more rest isn’t going to hurt the recovery process.
I walked out of my appointment on Friday with a script for PT, which I expected just as much as the news that I didn’t have a stress fracture. That will start next week and last until about Thanksgiving-ish. I’m hoping with all that is in me that my PT will listen when I tell her that I have ankle pain, not foot pain, and treat me accordingly. If things still haven’t improved with my ankle after PT, I’ll suck it up and go to my sports doctor rather than my sports podiatrist for a second opinion. I believe in the power of PT (combined with rest), so I’m feeling cautiously optimistic that PT and not running until the week of Thanksgiving at the earliest will take care of things.
In the mean time, I’m trying to maintain as much fitness as I can. For the next three weeks, I plan to do three days of primarily cardio and three days of primarily strength, shooting for 30-45 minutes of my “primary” workout for the day and 5-10 minutes of my “non-primary” workout. That was also my plan for the past two weeks, and I failed miserably at doing that, so I’m not really holding my breath that it will happen perfectly between now and Nov. 18., especially now that I have to throw the monkey wrench of PT into my already busy schedule. I’m allowed to bike, swim, or row for cardio, though so far I haven’t done anything but bike. The lap swim hours at my gym are a joke, so even though I’ve wanted to swim, I haven’t been able to make that happen so far. Biking is all right, and I certainly feel like I’m able to get a good workout on the bike if I set it to the right program, but the seats on the bikes at my gym are far from comfortable, and I’ve been awfully sore as a result. Instead of spending 45 minutes on the bike, I’m thinking about splitting a 45-minute cardio workout between the bike and the rowing machine to hopefully minimize post-workout butt soreness. The gym’s swim hours aren’t quite as terrible on the weekends, so that’s an option on Saturdays or Sundays as well.
From a strength standpoint, I was exclusively doing upper body and core work for two weeks, but I think my ankle could handle some basic lower body work as well at this point. Normally I use the NTC app for all my strength training needs, but a TON of their workouts include exercises I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing quite yet (burpees, squat jumps, etc.). I’ve found Fitness Blender to be a helpful resource in finding strength routines, which don’t yield much in the way of calorie burn, at least according to my Fitbit, but it’s better than nothing. Using that same mindset, occasionally I’ve found myself with only 10 free minutes in a day to work out, and on those occasions, I’ve picked up my five pound weights at home and done a low weight, high rep upper body routine that involves arm curls, hammer curls, overhead presses, reverse flies, and tricep kickbacks. I’ll do 10 reps of an exercise before moving onto the next, take a very short break, and start the circuit all over again, attempting to get in as many sets as possible (with good form, of course) in the 10 minutes I have. While this also burns basically no calories, it does help me get in SOME movement, which makes me feel less like a lazy oaf. Logically, I know you don’t need to burn 300+ calories in a workout for it to “count” as an actual workout, but I’ve always found it difficult to transition out of that mindset after marathon season, where most workouts last 40 minutes at the ABSOLUTE minimum, and often fall more in the one to two-hour range.
Looking really far forward, I have a 5K in late December that I still plan to run. Depending on how things shake out with my ankle, I’d love to have a higher mileage year in 2017 than I had in 2016 to see if that can help me reach my marathoning goals. I hope to run one or two half marathons next spring and maybe a 10 miler as well. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some shorter races found their way onto my calendar, too. I completed CARA’s Marathon Incentive Program in 2016 and filled out my application on Sunday, so in a few weeks I’ll know whether or not I received a guaranteed entry into the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. I’ll hopefully find out before the lottery closes, so if I don’t receive a guaranteed entry, I’ll put myself in the lottery, and if I find out after the lottery closes that for some reason I didn’t get in through the Marathon Incentive Program, I’ll get a charity entry instead. I really want to run Chicago next year so I can get my fifth finish in and be set with guaranteed entries through, minimally, 2023. Marine Corps and New York are still on my bucket list, but I don’t feel quite ready to tackle two marathons in a short time frame again, so I don’t plan to enter either of those race’s lotteries for 2017.
So that’s where I am at the moment. My biggest fear in all of this is that a misdiagnosis with my foot/ankle will lead to an extremely long recovery process that will derail my 2017 running plans, but I’m trying to trust that things will get better with time and physical therapy, just like all of my past injuries did. In the mean time, I’m happy that I’m at least putting my gym membership to good use after neglecting it during marathon season, and hopeful that all of my cross training will help round out my fitness overall and keep me in good enough shape that I can get back on the road soon.
What does your fall/winter fitness routine look like?