I hope you all had a fabulously relaxing and indulgent holiday. I had a wonderful time visiting family in New Hampshire, Boston, and Pennsylvania, and am using this week to finally get caught up on my to-do list.
I apologize for the infrequent blog posts these days. Quite honestly I haven’t been running all that much since the Manchester City Marathon and sometimes find it hard to blog about running when I’m not running :) Also - I am working on some re-vamping and re-branding ideas for the site. I’m excited to kick off 2013 with a fresh start.
BUT! I have been thinking about Part Two of this blog post for weeks. Sorry to leave you hanging.
PART TWO: How to Come Back from a Double Pelvic Stress Fracture and Qualify for Boston
Where were we? OH! Neglecting my body while running way than I could handle, right!
Receiving my double SFX diagnosis left me angry, depressed, and distraught. I won’t lie, I sobbed like a child to my mom on the phone, “why does my body SUCK when I take such good care of myself? What will I DO for three months?! How will I run New York?? I’m gonna die.”
Truthfully, telling a runner she can’t run for 3 months is pretty devastating. After a week or two of self-pity, I snapped out of it and decided to make a plan. A googled (obviously) similar injury stories and eventually learned that my stress fractures were likely on the less-severe end of the spectrum. Some people with pelvic stress fractures can’t even walk without crutches or have severe pain while sitting. Although the pain while running was excruciating, I could walk, sit, and bike without any pain whatsoever. I decided I would try to keep a level of fitness over those 3 months, and come the end of July, I would try running.
I also was able to recognize the factors that likely contributed to my SFXs and decided some things needed to change. I needed strength training. I needed yoga. I needed balance.
So here, my friends, is the recipe for how to come back from a terrible injury and train for a marathon:
(Again, If you stumbled upon this site while frantically researching your own injury, please consult your doctor before taking my amateur advice.)
1. Don’t Stop Being Active: Just because you can’t run doesn’t mean you have to sit on the couch and lose all that fitness you worked for. Not to mention you’ll go completely insane. During the months of May through July (get ready) I did the elliptical. Six. Days. A. Week. Yes, it sucked. Now and then I would throw in long bike rides, but I felt like the elliptical was the closest thing to running without the impact. But I got used to it. I developed some “interval workouts” and became a devoted fan of Gossip Girl (my rule was I could only watch GG while on the elliptical – which was obviously very motivating). Tip: Hold 2lb hand-weights while on the elliptical. It amps up the workout by not allowing you to lazily transfer your weight onto the handles. Also, it’s a great arm workout.
2. Strength Training: I believe the strength training regimen I adopted was the number one reason why I was able to train for a marathon this fall. During my 3 months off, I started Strength Running’s training regimen 2-3x per week which I also maintained throughout the fall when I started running again. I focused on strengthening my hips, glutes, and core. Also, I added dynamic stretching routines before every single workout as well as static stretching for at least 10 minutes after every workout. These are non-negotiables.
3. Yoga!: While I was injured, I found an amazing power (hot) yoga studio that I became a devoted member of. I started practicing hot vinyasa yoga at least twice a week and was amazed with how tough of a workout it was, but also how great it made me feel. Being able to devote 90 minutes to stretching a few times a week seems like such a luxury. I loved it so much that this past fall I started the teacher training at that studio, which required us to practice six times a week! So, yes, while I was marathon training I was also practicing yoga six times a week – I can’t help but think this was also a key factor in bringing me across the finish. (PS: I graduate this weekend!)
Return to Running:
4. Come Back Slowly: On July 22nd, my twelve weeks were up (but who’s counting?). I decided I would give running a shot. I’ll never forget those first few steps. It was as if it was the first time I ever ran. I “ran” about 5 minutes on the treadmill, at a pace pushing 12-minute miles. It felt like my legs were disconnected from my body. This was incredibly humbling, to say the least. But I was in no pain, I just felt awkward. Throughout July and August, I s l o w l y increased my pace and mileage. I ran/walked 5 minutes off and on for a couple weeks. I was running 10 minute miles from there, and eventually got down to 9 min/miles in September. And it was TOUGH. Running was not fun for a couple months there. There were no “easy-breezy” runs, getting lost in thought, nope. Every run, every step was a struggle. But, again, I wasn’t in pain.
Around Labor Day, I decided it was time. I was going to begin a 12-week marathon training regimen. A plan that was equally conservative and aggressive depending on how you look at it.
5. 12-Week Marathon Training Plan: My plan was simple: Run the least amount possible. You can check out my Training Plan here. I only planned one 20-miler. I didn’t even consider speed/hill work until October. I cross trained on the elliptical when I could to give the body a break. Continued yoga 6x per week. Continued strength training 2x per week. Stretched every day.
Basically, all I did for three months was run, do yoga, eat, sleep, repeat.
6. Diet & Supplements: Determined to maintain my weight, I began eating a lot when I started training. Diet included a daily avocado, red meat 3x week, lots of nuts, veggies, yogurt, whole grains, LOTS of peanut butter, and a froyo sundae every night. And chardonnay. I also continued to take 1500 mg of calcium every day.
Towards the end October, I was feeling good. I was increasing my speed to 8:30’s pretty consistently, and running was becoming fun again. I knew that qualifying for Boston required me to run this marathon sub-3:35, which is roughly 8:12 min/miles. The week before the marathon, I didn’t really consider this a “real” goal. There’s a big difference between 8:30’s and 8:12’s – especially over 26 miles. My original goal was a 3:45 or so.
But then Hurricane Sandy happened. And then the New York City Marathon was cancelled.
7. Extra Motivation: At the last minute I signed up for the Manchester City Marathon scheduled for that same weekend. I was determined to run a marathon, any marathon. All I did for the past 6 months was think about this damn marathon. I felt so lucky that my friends and family were safe. But I felt guilty for all those who were affected. I also felt guilty and disappointed for my friends who were registered for NYC and who weren’t able to run that Sunday morning. I think that’s when I decided to just go for it. I was able to run. I didn’t have a stress fracture. Maybe that was the extra motivation and adrenaline I needed.
So, you just do it. I kept an average pace of 8:11’s and finished in 3:34:21.
And that is how you break your pelvis (twice) and qualify for Boston all in six months.