Thursday, October 1, 2015

Marathon Plan

Well, my hopes for a miraculous full recovery of my ankle weren't enough.  It's still swollen, but significantly less painful for the most part. 

The official diagnosis:  I've torn two ligaments (ATFL and C-something).  I have a medial sprain (which is apparently fairly rare, less than 10% of all ankle injuries!).  I have a "stress reaction" on my fibula (small bone in the shin).  It could already be a stress fracture, but my doctor can't tell, but it's also from the fall.

Prognosis:  cast has come off and I'm wearing this awful brace thing.  I'm free to be active as long as there's no pain, and as long as there's no inversion or eversion of my ankle (kind of redundant since there's crazy pain with the slightest inversion/eversion).  The doctor said probably no running for 8 weeks (though I was cleared for things like pool running and running on a special treadmill), but the doctor said I could walk until I'm blue in the face.  In 8 weeks, the doctor will apparently be able to tell if the two ligaments are healing properly.  If they aren't, then it's a pretty simple surgery to stitch them (and then more recovery time).  In 8 weeks, the stress reaction will likely be a full stress fracture if it's not already, or it will have subsided. 

So far...

The day my cast came off, I tried the elliptical. 

I likely overdid it.  Who would have thought just over 2 hours on an elliptical in a whole year was too much????

(Ignore the fact that it was over 2 hours after more than a week of full immobility on my leg and yeah, I hadn't been on an elliptical in probably 5 years before that day.)

So I strained a medial gastroc muscle.  That's territory I know!  I've never had to miss over a week of running due to an injury since I got hurt in October 2005 (and then I missed months).  But almost every year, when my mileage gets high, I miss a day or two of running due to fear of an injury, usually in one of my calfs (calves?  That sounds like cattle to me.). 

A few days of exercising more reasonably resolved the gastroc strain, so that's out of the picture now.

I also ran on a treadmill for just over 1.5 miles.  It was an Alter-G treadmill at a sports rehab facility.  Basically a normal treadmill, but you wear biking shorts with half a zipper around the waist.  You get on the treadmill and a big bubble thing is pulled up around the treadmill belt and up to the treadmill side arms.  You're then zipped into the opening at the top of that bubble.  It's a little like wearing a huge hoop skirt or something.   Then the bubble is filled with so much air you almost float off your feet.  It calibrates a few times, then you set how much impact you want, based on a percent of your body weight, from 20 to 100 (so 100% has just room air in the bubble, and it's like running on any other treadmill).  PT thought I'd maybe start around 65%, and they said if I got up to 95% without pain, I could probably run the marathon.  But there was pain at 65%.  And 50%.  And 45%.  But not at 40%!  So I ran at 40-42% of my body weight (I fluctuated it a little).

It was so-so.  I was so happy to be running and it was totally pain free, but wow, it was awful.  Alone on a treadmill and not even a TV to watch (well, there's a TV screen, but you're just watching 3 different camera angles of yourself running).  Insanely boring!  Made me think that I might not love running as much as I think!  Instead, I really love exercising with my friends outside.  The actual running motion inside on a treadmill doesn't hold much joy.  But I was actually elated for most of the run just because I was doing it.

So I don't know what it means for this weekend's marathon.  The doctor assured me that I would likely be fine walking for the better part of a day repeatedly in Europe and Africa, he said walking doesn't have any impact that concerns him, as long as my steps are on level pavement.  And the doctor said I could walk the marathon if I was so inclined.

The marathon pace requirements are 14:52 per mile, and that might be pushing it for me.  I walk with my neighbor sometimes and we usually hover between 15:45 and 16:15 per mile (I consider her a fast walker).  So I'd have to be faster than that. 

The most likely option I think is that I start the marathon, walk until I'm tired, bored, or the last person/behind the required pace, and then take the sag wagon to the finish.

I have a friend who gets here on Saturday and she's racing it, trying to do her first sub-4 ever (this is the friend I paced a few years ago to a 4:10ish PR).  So I would like to be able to go with her to the start and enjoy some of the race (they don't let you defer entry anyway). 

But I might also just watch, though it's not a spectator-friendly course. 


  1. Hmm, that seems a little more complicated than at first. You do seem to be healing rapidly, though. Hopefully in 8 weeks you'll be feeling much better and appear quite healed.

    1. In the last day, I feel like my outlook has finally shifted to Nov/Dec.

  2. Wow. You really did a number on your foot! What awful timing for this. Good that you are cleared for day-long walking on your vacation. As for the marathon, hmmm. That walking pace is pretty fast, and would trying to walk fast aggravate your foot? I'd worry that doing that might negatively impact how much you're able to walk on vacation. Oh, and I agree about the treadmill. If the treadmill was my *only * option to run, I would probably find another activity. I see treadmill running & outdoors running as two completely different things, and I don't enjoy treadmill running at all.

    1. Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I think I still want to start, but maybe I'll just walk the first few miles, until whenever I miss a timing cut-off, but not worry about trying to walk quickly.

  3. Well I will be curious to see what actually happened on race day. That is a rather involved diagnosis. Your attitude seems positive, but I'm sure underneath it is a lot of frustration. I'm not a treadmill fan either. Of course I am pretty sure my Achilles injury was due to treadmill running. I hope to someday get to a 4:10 PR and then maybe beyond.

  4. I would at least start the marathon and see how far I could get. I've walked three 5ks since I've been in my walking boot and I power walked and I did one in 43:34 and one in 44:30-ish as my 2 fastest. That's around the minimum pace for your marathon. While totally do able, I'm not sure I could walk that pace for 26.2 miles. But I'd try anyway.

  5. Well, just getting to this - crazy injury, hope it heals up well and you can stop yourself over-doing it too much while you mend. Loved seeing the pics and hope that the recovery is going well!

  6. Wow! That's a heck of an injury. Hope you feel better soon!