Sunday, December 8, 2013

Recovery attempt – take 1

After three months of mysterious injuries I think I’m slowly getting back to my first workout love (a.k.a Running).  My list of injuries started with Peroneal Tendinitis on my left foot and it quickly radiated upwards to my ITB.  Within weeks I had lot of difficulty picking up my left foot. Due to some strange locking mechanism on my upper left leg, my lower leg was rotating outwards when I run. This was causing too much stress on my lower back on the right side and bout of Shin Splints on both legs.
I went to see a sports medicine doctor in NJ and he first suspected foot drop due to accelerated compartment syndrome. He first sent me to neurologist to get an EMG (Electromyography).  It did not reveal any nerve damage. The next step was Compartment testing to see if there is any unusual pressure built in the lower leg compartments. Painful procedure but luckily it did not reveal any compartment syndrome. Lower back MRI did not reveal any herniated disc and a brain MRI revealed everything was normal. I was getting frustrated with test after test and none of them helping to figure out what’s going on.
During these frustrating months I had cut down running completely and switched to strength / weight training, physical therapy and cross training. My cross training activities included swimming, spinning, walking, elliptical & occasional pool running. Both intensity and volume of all workouts were reduced to about 30% of what I was doing before. Building patience and being happy with what I could do each day was part of this exercise.
After about two months of physical therapy, my therapist suggested to start running slowly for 5-10 minutes and back off at slightest hint of botheration.  One key aspect of running was to focus a lot on picking up my left foot (which had the foot drop).  To my surprise I was able to run on treadmill for about a mile (10 minutes). At around 10 minutes, my left leg reverted to drop and rotating outwards. So I practiced running for 5-10 minutes to the point of irritation and stopping. Slowly I was able to increase the duration to 15-20 minutes.  With this approach I have been so far able to build running 30-45 minutes about three times per week. I’m still spending a lot of time strength / weight training and cross workouts. I just checked my training logs for November and to my surprise I have been able to run 50 miles, which was accumulated, with several shorter runs of 2-4 miles each. At this point I’m able to run 10-12 miles per week. I’m extremely pleased with the approach and will continue to build slowly. My left leg still tightens up towards end of runs and my lower back gets irritated.  Heat and ice therapy has been helping a lot to reduce the inflammation. With a day of rest between runs I’ve been able to stay active once again.
I have run 9 NY roadrunner races this year and have a guaranteed spot to run the NYC Marathon in 2014 fall.  I’m really not looking that far ahead. Needless to mention I had to cancel my two fall races marathon at Hartford and a half marathon at Philly. I still have good memories of running NYC half and Stratton Faxon half marathons this year and also NJ marathon in the spring 2013 with a personal improvement of 26 minutes over my first marathon. To wrap up the year, I ran a fun toy drive 5k called Big Chill at Rutgers today with my running club and was able to run in 29 minutes. I’ll take this happily as I struggled with thoughts of never able to run again 2 months ago.
Am I back? No I don’t think so as I still have bouts of irritation after 3-4 miles of running. Still doctors are clueless as to why my legs behave the way they do. But the positive approach is getting stronger by the day. I’m enjoying each workout for what it is without setting any expectation or comparing with my past achievements. Patience and taking one step at a time has become my mantra for now.