Christmas Knitting Round Up

Hitting the (Goal) Wall

I haven't blogged much about running this year, mostly because I haven't blogged much about anything and because I was in a nice routine and routines don't really make more interesting blog posts.

Except that stuff got pretty interesting and I don't mean the half marathon (which was great!) 

By interesting, I mean messed up, but it took me a while to get myself to the point where I would accept that I'm not going to make my running goals this year.

Back in late June I started getting weird pain and numbness in my right leg.  I had a really sore spot in my butt that I figured was a result of tight hamstrings or IT bands or something sport related.  Ball hockey season was coming to an end and we had some pretty intense games, I got injured or something, no biggie.  I would just take it easy and it would go away.

Except it didn't.  I couldn't sit for more than 5 minutes without pain shooting down my leg.  I got another sore spot in the bottom of my foot.  Google was saying sciatica AND plantar fasciitis and it was all sounding horrible.  And ya, I shouldn't have googled...but I wanted to fix what was wrong with me and didn't think it warranted medical intervention beyond physiotherapy (which was helpful, but didn't make the symptoms go away).

I was having a hard time at work (I sit 99% of my day) and I couldn't stand being in the car (of course this summer we drove almost every weekend, sometimes up to 8 hours on a trip).  It was horrid.

Did I stop running?  


In a lot of ways it felt better to move than not to move.  It didn't hurt at all to run and the leg numbness would go away.  So I kept at it.

By September I realized stuff wasn't getting better.  I finally went to the doctor. Turns out I have an L5, S1 herniated disc.


That's old, sedentary person stuff.  Not 40-something, in the best shape of my life, happy healthy stuff.

Turns out that sitting all day is one of the main culprits and that my active lifestyle and healthy weight kept things from being worse.  No one is sure what caused the injury (usually there's something) though I suspect it's either ball hockey since there's lots of twisting and some body contact or it might have been my new bike.

The much loved coaster brake took some getting used to and I'm pretty sure in the beginning I was coasting to an almost stop, stepping down and then using my body to come to a full stop.  That's not a good thing to do, especially with a 22kg bike.  I've really started thinking about how I stop and have tried to not do that anymore.

Regardless of the how it happened, I now have to live with it.  The treatment: core work.  Pilates in particular.  Also, lay off the running, get up every 20 minutes at work, be careful on the bike.  I added, no more high heels (sniff, I have some poor Fluevogs that need to hibernate for a bit).

I didn't lay off the running right away since the half marathon was a few weeks away from the diagnosis.  In fact I kept running but at very low mileage until about 2 weeks ago.  Now I've stopped completely.  Getting the flu made that easier, but now I'm almost recovered and I look longingly at my shoes and get jealous when I see other people running along.

I have never been a very high distance runner, I average about 20kms a week but I miss getting out there a LOT.  I need that exercise for stress reduction.  I feel better when I get out and move.  I don't want to gain back the weight I worked so hard to lose.  I'm not even thinking about ball hockey even though Spring sign ups are only a few weeks away.

Sad thing is, that week in bed really helped.  The shooting pains are gone and my butt and foot are almost better.  The herniated disc presses on my sciatic nerve and I need to get the disc goo back in place to stop that pain.  Rest is the key.

Stupid rest.

I've also started Pilates back classes.  My physiotherapist is also a Pilates instructor and has started a series of classes aimed at rehabilitation for those with back problems.  It seems to be helping.  I need to get a bit more disciplined about doing the exercises at home, but I like the active approach to managing this.

I was really hoping to run 1000km again this year.  

And I got so close.

Running goal
I'm still debating whether I start a slow run again next week or try to just walk instead (less jarring) or just give up on the goal and find an alternative exercise.  

It's all wait and see.  I'm considering a gym membership so I can use an elliptical trainer (no room for one in my house) but I hate gyms and the idea I have to actually GO somewhere and not just run out the door when I feel like it. 

I've also been assessed for a sit-stand desk for my office.  I have 25 years of work ahead of me and I don't want sitting to make things worse.

So that's my running story for 2012.  I'm not setting a distance goal in 2013.  I need to see what my body wants to do.  Right now, I'm just hoping that running is a part of my exercise routine next year.


I sympathize. I've had a very similar scenario this year myself. I was very active and working out 6 days a week with my cardio being kickboxing. I love kickboxing and had been doing it almost 2 years when I just couldn't ignore my knee pain anymore. The doc finally did some real tests on it and found that I have no cartilage in my left knee and a torn miniscus. This is related to an older injury that I thought I had recovered from years ago but turns out it wasn't treated properly and resulted in the loss of all my cartilage. Yay. So I may have to give up kickboxing completely and I'm just not ready to admit to that yet. I'm also not thrilled with the "old lady" diagnosis when I'm only 45!

I started swimming on doctor's advice. I was determined I was going to get a good workout and wasn't going to just kick around in the pool. I've found that I can get a REALLY good workout swimming and have almost completed the zero to 1 mile challenge (much like the couch to 5K but with swimming for a mile). It works your core too by the way. It works it a lot. I pulled an abdominal muscle over Thanksgiving which meant I had to rest it for a week. Because it is low impact, I just don't know when I should stop sometimes so it is a bit of a challenge. I also get that endorphin high more often than I did with swimming and that ain't bad.

I got injured and found that water exercise was terrific (I was VERY reluctant to try it). Now I teach water aerobics. It's fabulous for your core strength, and can be very aerobic. Good luck on your recovery!

After 40+yrs of running, I too have had to stop for a while to permit healing. Pilates is great as runners typically have weaker core muscles. Water workouts are wonderful, though it is hard to accept I am old enough to enter the water aerobics era of my life. At least I am the youngest in the class. Have you thought about running in a pool? Or wearing a water vest so you can safely tread water for half an hour or more? A great leg work out. Opting out of setting a distance goal for 2013 is a smart idea.

That is so frustrating! I am sorry. I hope you find a work out that works for you in the new year. Me - I'm still trying to find something I can stick to.

I'm sorry. For an active person, anything that sidelines that activity seems to be the worst. I have unfortunately gained quite a bit of weight since my doctor said I should stop running. I'm at the stage of just trying to maintain, because I'm tired of gaining.

I'm sorry you've had the bad luck to end up with back and leg pain.
I hope your recovery continues well.

Swimming has really helped my mom deal with her sciatic pain. She swims daily...the gentle twist of doing front crawl keeps her limber and her back has been really good for years now! I suggest it, once your doctor clears you to try it.

Aww....that really sucks. I have a similar story (maybe a wee bit more complicated in some ways), and am just hoping to go back to running a very little bit in late spring. Take care of yourself, there's no fast way out!

Depending on the level of your disc, you might be able to successfully try spin classes (check with your doc and physio first, of course). That is the one cardio activity I can do, and it's a good 'fix' if you've gotten used to some high intensity workouts. If you get into trouble with your back, you also don't end up stranded 10 km from home!!

Hang in there!!!!

I just had to de-lurk to say that I, too, had a herniated L5-S1 disc, and that it happened when I was just a bit younger than you are (I'm nearly 42 now), in the best shape of my life, and we still don't know exactly what did it. I thought at first I'd torn a hamstring in yoga, then my achilles tendon started to hurt - couldn't figure out why. We finally connected them all when my left leg started to go numb. (My back never hurt once, in all of that.) After nearly two years of constant pain in my left leg, increasing numbness in my leg, and finally some loss of muscle function (in spite of PT, etc), I ended up having a fusion. In the end, I'm glad I did, although I really wish that PT had done it instead (surgery isn't much fun), but I did end up with some permanent muscle function loss in that leg - it just doesn't "listen" the way it used to, and a sciatic nerve that is VERY sensitive to being used or stretched in particular ways (oh, how I miss forward bends!). The one thing I could and did do throughout everything (even post-operatively), that saved my health and my sanity? Walking. Lots and lots and lots of walking. It's not running - I've been enviously watching my SIL this year as she's worked her way up to a half-marathon, but I realize that that's just not my wisest choice - but it's very good (and I still occasionally outwalk joggers :) ). I also swim, do pilates, and I'm (finally!) trying to add some yoga back into my routine. Most weeks I walk between 12 and 15 miles, depending, sometimes more. So, I guess what I'm saying is that it's really worth doing what you have to do to get healthy, even though I know how hard it is to back away from doing something that you love and that feels good (for example, I had to give up yoga classes - no way to take a yoga class without forward bends, and I couldn't modify them enough to keep them from causing cascades of tingling pain down my leg the next day - what I call "wasabe leg"). Hang in there!

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