Thursday, 8 September 2016

11 Months On from an Femoral Neck Stress Fracture

11 Months on...

It's been nearly a year since my injury and I’ve just started to get running again, I can’t believe it’s taken so long it has generally been the hardest year I’ve ever had. I just hope it makes me stronger and wiser. Every day I still fixate on my injury, and overthink it.  Any ache or pain in the area and I panic, should I still run should I stop? I hope this will pass in time. Sensitivity and phantom pains are normal after a stress fracture.

The first run was daunting and I was terrified. My last run was agony in Adelaide and I just didn’t know what this one would feel like. With the Physio there to support me I started a slow jog on the treadmill (I can’t believe how hard it was) I felt knackered after one minute! However, there was no pain. I was then put on a running plan 1 minute run, 1 minute walk for 10 minutes then adding in an extra minute run each time. This was a painfully slow process for someone with little patience like me but you have to listen to the experts.  I am now running 6k slowly but comfortably and after an initial few weeks of panics and anxiety before my runs I am now over it and am looking forward to my next run, happy to get that running buzz again!

Looking back I’m convinced now that my injury was caused by a mixture of thing;  1.  Too many miles, 2. Not having a proper rest day, 2. Letting my weight get too low, 3. Not refuelling properly after training in the morning. 4. Doing track sessions on concrete. 

It’s taught me a lot and I think I have now created a healthier view and habits especially in regards to nutrition. Food is fuel and is it needed. I had a barrier that putting on weight would slow me down when racing (stupid I know), but in reality my body needed the fuel. I had to get over this to allow my body to heal and yes I am a few Kgs heavier now but people say I look healthier and I feel stronger so going with it, except I am slower cycling up hills! I am also ensuring I do my two resistance strength sessions a week to get my bad leg,  hips and pelvis stronger.  

So what have been up too, I’ve been on my bike a lot. London Ride 100 (100 mile sportive) was the first event since my injury and I was pleased to have a slightly quicker time than last year.  I think my biking is stronger now than before my injury, just now to work on the running.  I recently won a competition and was invited to the Garmin Ride Out. A fantastic day apart from the heaviest rain I have ridden in constantly for 47miles. It was a great excuse to be reunited with my partner in crime “Claire World Champ Steels” I didn’t see her for long during the ride as the speed machine shot off with the pros but it was a great day. We met Alex Downsett and teams Merida, Cannondale and Movistar. They all rode with us, had lunch with and answered any questions we all had.


Alex Downsett, Me and Claire
On Sunday last week I entered the Circuit of Kent a killer 80mile sportive, where we encountered a horrible head wind throughout!  I was pleased with a 1st in my age 15-39 year olds and 3rd Lady home. Just being back at events has cheered me up and I have a few more random ones coming up (a 6 hour mountain bike race, no I can’t mountain bike, a hill climb possibly and a few more sportives).   

Duathlons may have to wait a while until I can get some speed up but it’s good to be back on some sort of training programme!

Back to training now - Training smarter not harder.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Injury, depression and finally a little hope.... #Ashmei Ambassador opportunity?


So I haven't posted anything for a while for a few reasons:

1. I feel I haven't done anything exciting to write about recently due to this on going injury.

2. I've been fairly depressed for the first time in my life and it's taking me a long time to feel like writing again.

In November, the excruciating pain that was now causing me to limp when walking was diagnosed after an MRI as a neck of femur stress fracture, one of the worst injuries a runner can experience. The same injury Paula Radcliffe experienced before the Beijing Olympics. See the picture of the line below, apparently it was at grade 4/5, the next grade up is a full break.

The doctor was surprised I wasn't consuming a large amount of painkillers. I think I had become accustomed to the pain. Hiking around Ayres Rock/Kings Canyon and mountain biking were probably not the best activities to be doing on a partly broken bone but when would I go to Oz again!?

Sitting on top of Kings Canyon

I was put on crutches for 10 weeks. The worst 10 weeks of my life, getting to work on the tube was a struggle but the worse was the sudden free time I had. No training I felt lost, I couldn't easily get anywhere to meet friends. Most of my friends were cycling and running, training for the spring races, going on club runs over Christmas and all I was doing was swimming with just my arms (they are pretty muscular now) and gaining weight!  I felt very low. During my degree I studied sports psychology and was experiencing the depression and the psychological stages of injury. I have to say with 4 months off now,I have experienced the 5 stage grief response (Hardy and Crace,1990).

1. Denial (walk or run it off, it will go, train through it!)

2. Anger (why me, what did I do that others didn't to deserve it?)

3. Bargaining (wanting to come back too soon, mood swings)

4. Depression (loss of identity, lack of confidence, fear I will never return to my sport, isolation) 

5. Acceptance (positive outlook and coping, a sense of progress).

So how do you avoid these feelings, research suggests relaxation techniques, talking to specialist, setting new goals, visualizing yourself coming back to your sport, staying active as much as you can, meeting up with old friends again, trying  new hobbies (I've been on a bike maintenance course so I can now fix my bike and change a puncture on my bike when I ride again),  learning about your injury and your anatomy and  finding out why the injury occurred are proven to reduce these symptoms. Talking to others that have experienced that injury also helps (no, I didn't manage to talk to Paula Radcliffe!)
My weekly plans!

After three months I had a scan, not bad news as such but I felt it put me back to the depression stage. The leg is healing but taking longer that expected to heal. This would explain the pain I still experience occasionally. I felt all the previous emotions return to me especially when withdrawing from Europeans which I had trained so hard to qualify for. All I can do is wait.

With such a long time now off running I need to strengthen my muscles used for running before I start again. I've been lucky enough to try an anti gravity treadmill and  am starting incredibly slowly-  15mins of running with 20% off my body weight, when no symptons occur afterwards I can build this up and re sculpt the muscles (they've all got very squidgy, which has lowered my body confidence completely) baggy tshirts it is now! The machine is hilarious, it lifts you up with air, on the first attempt I couldn't put my feet on the floor. I feel like Mr Blobby running on the moon!

I am trying to stay positive from now on and to set myself some new goals for 2016. I have applied to be an Ashmei Ambassador and was delighted to be shortlisted to the Meet and Greet Day (this includes a trail run which I'm gutted I can't do!) I'm very much looking forward to meeting everyone though and finding out more about the company. We also have homework to do for this day which includes bringing two polariods.
1. A picture of yourself.
2. A picture of a training object that means something to you.
I've been looking through photos from last year trying to pick the best ones.
They are all special to me, most of them a first experience of any race,  a podium, a proud race completion or fun training session. This saddens me slightly. Will I ever be as quick again, will I be able to run up this hill again? I have to feel proud of what I've achieved last year and if I can do it once, it may take time but I can do it again! Anyway the two pictures I have picked are below;
Let me know your thoughts. Hopefully next time I write I'll be jogging around the woods with Mango again!