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Too much too soon. Now what? (Read 1120 times)

trucksnstuff


    Hi, Folks!

     

    I've been running since May of this year, but my training has occurred in fits and starts.  I started with Couch 2 5K but didn't stick with that.  Then I signed up with Team in Training to run a half in October, but my work schedule prevented me from meeting with the group.  I training on my own, but 

    I had trouble being disciplined about it.  Anyway.  Long story short, my training was irregular and I ran built up to 6 miles prior to the half.  I thought if I ran verrrrryy slowly, I would have the energy to finish complete my run, and I did!  Yay!  But.  I think I got a stress fracture in my ankle in the process.

     

    Its been a month and I haven't run since.  I do have a dull ache from most days and a good bit of stiffness in the mornings.  About a week ago, I ended a long walk with a bit of running (somewhere between jog and sprint) and immediately wished I hadn't.  The pain was not major, but it could not be denied.

     

    So, my question:  When can I run again?  I know I will need to start back very slowly and conservatively when I do, but how will I know I'm ready?  Should I expect the pain to subside completely before I resume?

     

    Thanks for any help!


    day after day sameness

      Sounds like you need to get consistent time on your feet.  Not running for distance, not running for any target pace -- just steady time on your feet 'building base'.  I recommend you pick a time and walk (mainly) and jog (less) for that time (30 - 45 - 60 minutes) each and every day.  On days you feel good, jog more.  On days you're not feeling as strong, walk more. Day in, day out. Do that for a few months and then start working into a more steady diet of jogging.

      I've done my best to live the right way; I get up every morning and go to work each day...

        Hi, Folks!

         

        I've been running since May of this year, but my training has occurred in fits and starts.  I started with Couch 2 5K but didn't stick with that.  Then I signed up with Team in Training to run a half in October, but my work schedule prevented me from meeting with the group.  I training on my own, but 

        I had trouble being disciplined about it.  Anyway.  Long story short, my training was irregular and I ran built up to 6 miles prior to the half.  I thought if I ran verrrrryy slowly, I would have the energy to finish complete my run, and I did!  Yay!  But.  I think I got a stress fracture in my ankle in the process.

         

        Its been a month and I haven't run since.  I do have a dull ache from most days and a good bit of stiffness in the mornings.  About a week ago, I ended a long walk with a bit of running (somewhere between jog and sprint) and immediately wished I hadn't.  The pain was not major, but it could not be denied.

         

        So, my question:  When can I run again?  I know I will need to start back very slowly and conservatively when I do, but how will I know I'm ready?  Should I expect the pain to subside completely before I resume?

         

        Thanks for any help!

        Well, looks like you know what you did wrong (too much too soon).  So what's next?  Don't do it again.

         

        To be honest with you, your issue seems to be more of a discipline issue than anything.  As far as your "injury" is concerned, and I don't want to be irresponsible but, unless the pain is, well, so painful that you just can't run, I'd go on running easily.  I strongly believe that far too many people worry far too much about any nibbling aches as "injury" (a feather in a hat for a "runner") and shy away from running.  Some (a lot) of "injuries" can be worked out if you run (exercise) sensibly.  Too many people use that as a convenient excuse not to run.  It sounds like you just repeat a bad cycle of, as you had pointed out, doing too much too soon and, for whatever the excuse, not do anything at all, hence, losing all the strength you had gained from any exercise you had done and making yourself even move vulnerable for more aches and pains.  For you, perhaps you map out what you think you can do for one workout and cut it in half; and do it twice as often throughout the week.  See what happens.  If you really had a stress fracture, not just you THINK you got it, then you may actually feel some level of soreness on the spot.  Don't use THAT as an excuse to take 3 months more off.

        trucksnstuff


          Thank you both for the sound advice.  

           

          You're right, Nobby415.  I definitely have discipline issues, which is why I wanted to train with a group in the first place.  Since that is not going to work with my variable work schedule, I'm going to have to learn to impose discipline on myself.  I like the idea of it, and really just need to go auto pilot and DO IT!  

           

          I don't know what's going on with the pain in my ankle, though.  I can run through the discomfort, I just didn't know if I should.  I certainly didn't want to do some real damage.  I went to the doctor Monday and got results this morning from xrays which find no abnormalities in the bone, joint or soft tissue.  So I will start back as slowly and regularly as possible.

           

          Slow and regular really doesn't sound too exciting, does it?  But so it shall be.

            Thank you both for the sound advice.  

             

            You're right, Nobby415.  I definitely have discipline issues, which is why I wanted to train with a group in the first place.  Since that is not going to work with my variable work schedule, I'm going to have to learn to impose discipline on myself.  I like the idea of it, and really just need to go auto pilot and DO IT!  

             

            I don't know what's going on with the pain in my ankle, though.  I can run through the discomfort, I just didn't know if I should.  I certainly didn't want to do some real damage.  I went to the doctor Monday and got results this morning from xrays which find no abnormalities in the bone, joint or soft tissue.  So I will start back as slowly and regularly as possible.

             

            Slow and regular really doesn't sound too exciting, does it?  But so it shall be.

            Trucksnstuff:

             

            I didn't mean to come out harsh (which I've been known to do) but, bottom line, here's the thing; you need a sound plan and you need to stick with it.  It ain't "flashy and cool and anything-goes" (as opposed to slow and regular); but most of the ground work ain't.  Probably the most important time of the growing tree is in the winter when there's no flowers, no fruit, not even leaves crowding on it; but when it's slowly growing roots underneath.

             

            You don't have your log up so I don't know what kind of training you've been doing or prefer doing; but if you send me some basic information, I can put together some "basic" beginner's training for you.  Shoot me an e-mail at nobby415@msn.com

             

            In regards to your ankle, like I said, as long as there's no damage to your bone, in many cases, light exercise would enhance movement, blood flow with nutrients and oxygen, often resulting quicker recovery.  I'm not sure what exactly you mean by "discomfort" or "pain" but you DO need to identify what kind of "pain" it is; if it eases as you go exercising along, it's more likely to be a growing pain; if it gets worse, stop.  A growing pain shouldn't be mixed up with an injury.  You are basically abandoning the opportunity to grow stronger.  What makes you stronger is not one impressive workout; but rather, slow and gradual "ground work". 

              While I am no expert.....I thought i'd throw in my two cents since I do have solid and fairly recent experience in (a) being a newbie and (b) stress fractures.  I also live with an elite level marathoner ....so while I'm not an expert, I get a lot of good expert advice Big grin

               

              I have only been running consistently for a couple of years.  When I first started, I got overeager and ramped up mileage too quickly and got a stress fracture in my left shin.   The following year, I had taken some time off and again .... ramped up too quickly and got yet another stress fracture in my right shin.  Both times, the fractures took a really long time to heal .... 2 months or so.  And even after the 2 months, i could still feel some "phantom" pains in the vicinity.  My PT told me this was the muscles in the surrounding areas.  I think healing time varies person to person -- depends on age, general health, etc, but I know several people who have had them too ... and none of them have healed fast.  A

               

              You'd think I would have learned after my first fracture ... but no ... it took me 2X to finally learn some valuable lessons.  So here's what I've learned ... and hopefully some of this will be relevant for you:

               

              Everyone in my running club tells me that if you are new to running, it just plain takes TIME for your bones and muscles to build up the strength and durability.  I'm told newbies should increase mileage no more than 10% per week.  I didnt follow that very well the first year and paid the price.  My second year, I did ramp up mileage carefully .... but added intensity and speed too quickly ... and ended up with fracture #2.

               

              Yes, some people do use minor aches and pains as an excuse not to run.  And...a great line I recently read in a book .... you have to learn to be "comfortable feeling uncomfortable."  A lot of people do not push themselves as hard as they could because it's too much work, or they feel little aches and pains, etc.  But you do have to listen to your body too.   My first year, I kept ignoring my "nibbling ache" for over a month ... and ended up with a stress fracture .... so you do have to be careful.  It's a balancing act of knowing when to push yourself and when it's truly an injury.

               

              Here's my sureshot way of diagnosing a true stress fracture (this only works in the shins ... not sure if this holds true for the ankle..).  With most stress fractures, the "fracture" is usually extremely isolated into a very small area.   This area will be ENORMOUSLY tender when any pressure is applied.   With both of mine, the areas injured were about the size of a quarter.  When they examine you for a stress fracture in your shin ... the doctors generally will run their fingers along your shin bone applying pressure ..and when they hit the injured area, the pain is so intense it's like a lightning bolt hit your body.  My doctor at Tria told me the reaction is very common. 

               

              So ... while it may be different with an ankle ... if you have a very isolated, specific area on the bone that will cause you to scream out when you press on it ... you more than likely do have a stress fracture. The only way for it to heal is to not run.  Sometimes, if they dont heal well .. you have to take all pressure off of the area for a week or two (I had to use crutches for 2 weeks and also wear a boot for a while).  If you truly do have a stress fracture, if you continue to run on it ... not only will it not heal, it will progress to a full blown fracture.

               

              BUT ... if you dont have any isolated, specific areas that are tender ... then it could be something else.  I'd be wary of any very sharp pain or pain isolated in a specific area.   That aside .... I have learned that newbies typically just have a lot of aches and pains here and there as our bodies get used to things. 

               

              The injury aside .... from one former newbie to another .... try to build up slowly in mileage and speed, and be consistent. Once you get a base, your muscles and bones can take a lot more.  I'm about 3 years in now and my legs and bones can now take faster ramp ups and harder workouts.  I finally had my first spring with no stress fracture!

                Yes, some people do use minor aches and pains as an excuse not to run.  And...a great line I recently read in a book .... you have to learn to be "comfortable feeling uncomfortable."  A lot of people do not push themselves as hard as they could because it's too much work, or they feel little aches and pains, etc.  But you do have to listen to your body too.   My first year, I kept ignoring my "nibbling ache" for over a month ... and ended up with a stress fracture .... so you do have to be careful.  It's a balancing act of knowing when to push yourself and when it's truly an injury.

                I'm glad you said this.  By no mean, I was advocating to run through pain.  

                 

                I went for a run around Lake Harriet a few weekends ago with my wife.  I was AMAZED how some--a lot of--people run!!  It is as if nobody had ever taught them how to run properly (and I'm sure that's the case for a lot of people).  One young lady I saw had one of those black knee strap on both of her knees, leaning heavily on one side, kicking her feet outward, carrying her arms way too high across her chest...and she looked like she's in pain every step of the way!!  I was actually wondering if she ever know why her knees are hurt...

                 

                This actually brings me to another point.  Sometimes the best way to strengthen muscles is strength training.  Usually I tell people that easy aerobic running actually gradually build strength in your legs, strengthening also your tendons and ligaments.  It is true HOWEVER, I'm sort of convinced now that if the run is soooooooo slow that you're hardly lifting your body weight, or if you do way too much run/walk combination where you literally shut of the stimulus completely for some time, you probably won't do as much of this strengthening business.  I was reading a marathon training book by one of the premier marathon coach in Japan, Yoshio Koide.  He always brings a group of Japanese runners (3~5 hour range) to NYC marathon.  He said that just getting out and running day in day out won't guarantee marathon finish.  As a matter of fact, I remember Arthur Lydiard also did say the similar thing--he said, "Just to think the mileage you run every week being your main goal, you're not going to improve very much..."  At any rate, he said one of the best ways to strengthen your legs is to do strides and/or 1~2km fast.  Fast runs, if you ever tried to do that, really knocks your legs around.  And I'm absolutely convinced now that all beginner should include some sort of stride exercise.  

                 

                When I was coaching this group of beginners last spring, we did one day stride exercise.  We held this class at local high school and we went to the track and did this easy strides.  We had a group of about 30 ladies, ranging anywhere from 8-minute for one mile (one 50-year-old lady!) to 18-minute for one mile!!  So we had quite a wide range.  I didn't want anybody forced to do something they didn't really want to so I gave them a choice of either 20-minutes jog or strides.  ALL of them wanted to do strides because it's something different, you see.  At any rate, we would "stride" on the straight and walk around back to the start.  One lady quickly got left behind so I decided to go with her.  I noticed, after a few steps, literally, she got into heavy oxygen debt!!  She was so out of shape that she could not run 100m (relatively) fast at all!!  Fine, so when we developed Beginner's Training Program, we had set up a formula such that, if your total running time (we go by time) is so short, we only give them something like 3 X 20m strides.  The idea is that they run relatively fast without getting into heavy oxygen debt.  And 20m, in the beginning, is more then adequate.  If you push them too much at the start, they'll get hurt or lose interest.  But this way, you'll strengthen your legs as well as work on proper running technique that, in a long run, would help you eliminate change of getting injured.  

                 

                I think, as a society, the biggest mistake is when the majority of running gurus in the 1990s started saying that "there's no need for speed".  It obviously went to the extreme and, in the end, ended up hurting more runners than helped.  Cheerleading only gets you so far.  It is the practical sound advice that really actually HELP.  Telling a kid that he is doing great in math when the kid is clearing having a problem and doesn't understand won't do him any good.  Over the last several decades, we are all saying it's okay to be slow; no need to work on your form, etc.  That's only for the elites...  Wrong!!  That kind of thinking actually eventually had led to mass injuries.  I am totally convinced for it.  It's up to you to take this idea or leave it though. ;o)

                   

                  Yes, some people do use minor aches and pains as an excuse not to run.  And...a great line I recently read in a book .... you have to learn to be "comfortable feeling uncomfortable."  A lot of people do not push themselves as hard as they could because it's too much work, or they feel little aches and pains, etc.  But you do have to listen to your body too.   My first year, I kept ignoring my "nibbling ache" for over a month ... and ended up with a stress fracture .... so you do have to be careful.  It's a balancing act of knowing when to push yourself and when it's truly an injury.

                  I like to be in pain in a fair amount of my workouts just because it's callousing. It mentally and physically makes you tougher. When you have those weak moments and you want to give into the pain, I feel calloused in my training because of it.

                  "If you have the fire, run..." -John Climacus