Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Malibu Half Marathon

This was my big come back race after many months of not running thanks to piriformis syndrome with sciatica. It was also my first west coast race after moving from South Carolina to California. The training I did was with the LA Leggers, the official training partner of the race. The training was a nice slow build up with lots of crosstraining in the pool. Other than one long run which I cut in half because of a really tight hamstring everything went relatively well.

 Through the club I got a nice discount and the race ended up being $105, still an ouch inducing price for a half IMO, but races in general seem more expensive on the west coast. This year the race did a t-shirt, previous years was a beach towel.
The packet pickup was the day before in Malibu. It was well organized. We parked easily and got everything we needed fast. All the volunteers (and on race day) were lovely. The whole thing was laid out in a parking lot at Zuma beach around 30 minutes from my house. Can you tell it doesn't rain often in California? 
How else could I tell the race was in California? The main sponsor produced Matcha bars. The food truck there sold acai bowls (in SC this would be BBQ). I tried probiotic coffee and non-alcoholic beer. I was even handed Peppermint essential oils after crossing the finish line to put on my sore muscles. I also think there was a meditation zone. I'm not making fun. I love eating healthy and smelling like peppermint but I think I'm in cultural shock!!!

For the race itself, I carpooled with two running friends, leaving my house at around 5.30am for a 7am race start. We had prepaid for parking and ended up around a 10 minute walk from the race start. The race start area had tons of porta-potties and hand wash stations. No lines there....but my body would not cooperate (TMI). Mildly worrying considering I'd also consumed a large coffee that morning! 

As we lined up the race start was delayed around 10 minutes, as cars were still streaming in, due to a crash on the PCH. At this point I was feeling distinctly sardine like as the starting shoot was narrow and really jam packed. It spread out pretty quickly once we got going. My friend and I stuck with the 2 hour 30 pacers for the first mile, as this is our usual long run pace. Eventually, we got sick of the uneven pacing and ran a little faster. That says a lot about the pacing considering how cautious I was feeling, in their defense they were first time pacers. My friend watched our pace, pulling me back when I got a bit too speedy and I timed our walk intervals (5 min run:1 min walk).
The course was an out and back on a closed lane of the PCH. The temperatures were nice starting out but by the end of the race it was warm. Luckily, most of the course had shady patches and the open sections made up for the heat with spectacular views of the ocean. The race also put out loads of aid stations with water and Gatorade. Some also had honey stingers and nice salty pretzels. Every aid station also had at least one porta-potty (appreciated that at around mile 8). 
I felt really good for the majority of the race. This really surprised me because most of the course consisted of rolling hills.....the nemesis of my weak core. I probably pissed my friend off because I got cheerier as the race went on and I realized I was staying strong. Around mile 8, I realized my running buddy was on pace for a PR and it became my mission in life to help her get it. It really required very little effort until about the ten mile mark when it got hotter and the shade went away. I think she might have hated me for the last two miles, not really, ok, maybe a tiny bit, but it was a distraction for me and she got a 2 minute P.R hurray! 

I got my shiny medal. Slathered my calves in peppermint oil and chugged my non alcoholic beer as we waited for our other friend to finish. Then I got to try out Normatech recovery. It basically squeezes the shiz out of you feet and legs to clear your lymphatic system back towards your body. Other than it hurt my feet a little, it was quite enjoyable, and I got to lie down for a few minutes.
We walked back to the car along the beach and got to see 10 or so dolphins playing in the waves....they even swam right under a swimmer! At that point I was already on a little high and watching something as cool as that added to it.
After going home, eating and having a nap I felt fine. My calves were tight, which seems to be my new thing, and lower back (glute med?) was a tiny bit sore and tight. Overall, I've felt way worst after runs at the beginning of training, yay!

Finish time (chip): 2.26.03
Half Marathon: 36
State No.: 17+DC

I enjoyed this so much! So much so, that I was tempted to sign up for the Monterray Bay Half next weekend, a big bucket list race for me. I'm even camping 20 mins away on race day. New sensible me kicked in and I didn't do it. I probably won't even get to do a long run this weekend. 
Now that I have a somewhat decent level of fitness, and completed a half feeling good, it's time to start upping the training volume slightly. The plan is to add in more easy runs and to start more intensive strength training. Fingers crossed it goes well and I can start getting my half time back closer to the 2 hour mark.

Next race: Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5k

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Training and life right now

2 months (and a bit) into our move to L.A. and I can say I'm really happy here. I'm naturally shy and anxious which generally makes me tend towards the negative but right now I'm embracing and really holding onto feeling content with everything.

So many glasses

Life wise:
The apartment still feels like it has way more of someone else's stuff than ours. Our landlady/friend still hasn't taken much away. That sucks. However, I've been a lot more forward about rearranging her stuff (non-private things obvs.) to suit us! It feels a bit more like ours now.

There are also a lot more dog-friendly apartments, within budget and target area(s) coming onto the market. So, possibly moving in January seems like a positive thing rather than super stressful.

Boomer has been left on his own and coped pretty well a few times. I haven't had the need to leave him very often but knowing that I can has made me a lot happier.

I am organizing my re-education for a new career. It's happening very slowly but its happening! I got my GRE prep books in the mail yesterday and boy are they humungous. Luckily, other than some vocabulary I haven't come across before, it seems simple enough. I just need refreshing on basic principles and lots of practise. I haven't taken a formal exam, other than my driving test, in over 10 years. I also have to take Math and English placement tests, for the community college that I want to take classes at, so lets hope a couple of months of GRE study helps that too.

Special offer haircut at the festival
Socalizing is good. We haven't gone out a lot but I meet new people every week through running and even have met a few people who I'll catch up with every week or twice a week, if they go to track too.

We have ended up doing something fun ourselves most weekends which is nice. The last two weekends there have been street festivals within walking distance of our place.

10 miler
Training is going well. Some weeks are better than others. I was fine on a 10 mile run (2 weeks ago) but found a 5 miler last week hard because my lower back got really tired. I'm trying really hard to look after it but its the one area that I'm struggling to improve through strength training. I wonder if I tore something like my gluteus medius (that then triggered piriformis syndrome) and its still healing...who knows.

I'm putting a lot of effort into mobility and strength. I do a little bit almost everyday. Nothing heavy but I'm finding its paying off. Starting back to running I had some ankle pain but regular stretching and a bit more ankle and foot exercises has made that go away. Post injury my left leg (hell the left side of my entire body) is weaker but I feel it getting stronger every week.

Livingroom gym
Right now, I just can't believe that I'm back to double digit distances on two runs a week. Granted, I'm also doing two x one hour sessions of swimming and lots and lots of walking as well. One of my runs is long and slow and the other is a track session that is usually a mile warmup and 2 miles of speed work.
Wednesday Track
Board walking :)

I'm looking forward to upping the workload a little, after the Malibu Half Marathon (Nov 5th), by adding in 1-2 extra runs and some heavier lifting. For now I think the low mileage has worked out perfectly for me. It won't get me running a half marathon fast but my first objective was to be able to run at all.

Most importantly I'm really enjoying working out right now, even swimming.....who knew that could happen.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Constant FOMO and training

Seeing pictures like the one above has me itching to register for races! Why, when I'm not even sure my body can handle training to the full marathon distance?

I think this means I've got my running mojo back! I'm enjoying training and want to tackle all these amazing west coast races that I've never had the opportunity to do before. 

I really have to rein myself in tho. I'm loving running but I can still feel how weak my left leg is. It's improving but any hard running, like track work, leaves me with a super tight hamstring and a sore ankle. My body has to adjust to the workload again, the sciatic part of piriformis syndrome really did a number on me!

Right now the majority of my training is actually cross-training which is perfect for reducing the stress on ill prepared joints while still getting fitter. I'm also slowly working my way back to more strength work which was scaled back to the bare minimum with the disruption of moving. I'm also doing a little yoga pretty much everyday to keep everything as loose as it can be.

I think (and I change my mind constantly) that I'm gonna save the L.A marathon for next year. I have the Malibu half in November. That'll be slow. After that the Legger training adds an extra run/week. If I cope well with that and I still want to run more I can always train a past half distance (maybe as far as 16 miles) then drop back to half distance (for another race) before the stressful part of full training kicks in (aka the 20 milers). 

Next weekend I'm volunteering at a race. This will be my first time doing this..beating my anti social tendencies, ha ha! If I enjoy it maybe that'll be a new outlet for me to get my racing fix!

Friday, 18 August 2017

Life in California, so far

We are here almost a month, isn't that crazy?

We arrived happy to sleep in a real bed after two weeks on the road from South Carolina. The fact that I was dying with a cold expedited our arrival. We pushed through and did a long last day of driving. The nice thing was we were staying with a friend rather than in a hotel.

Martina, who has lived here before, was worried I wouldn't like L.A. After a walk along the beach and the nearest shopping street, I knew it was for me. I've fallen in love with West L.A. It's remained that way, I love stepping out the door and being able to go shopping, grab a drink or go out for dinner. 

Obviously, that all comes with a price. The neighborhoods nearest the beach are also some of the most expensive, for rent and just about everything else (think $3+ drip coffee). However, Martina works in one of these neighborhoods so living here reduces her commute time. Heck, she can even get a bus on the days when I want the car. Since moving here was about improving the quality of our life, as well as career opportunities, it's worth it!

Our living situation is kind of complicated. We looked really hard for a few days for a place to live. It was stressing us out because there was very little available. Then an off-hand comment to our friend obviously planted a seed of an idea. I joked we'd take his place and he could move in with his girlfriend. Well, we were on the verge (literally walking to look) of taking a place in an apartment complex, with really shitty reviews, when she decided to move in with him and asked if we'd sublet her place.
 It's in Venice, 5 mins walk from the boardwalk and it's a really cute 1 bed place. It's rent controlled which means we are paying waaaayyyyy below market value. Really it is the only way we could afford to live in Venice right now. The area is just so cool. Its such a complete mix of people and scenes. There is Abbott Kinney, a shopping area for the super chic and rich. We are talking McClarens, Porsches and Ferraris abound. Then there is the boardwalk with homeless people, tourists and the smell of weed everywhere. We are also right next door to Santa Monica which kind of fancy but much more normal, middle of the road. This is probably where we will eventually end up. Hopefully, still close to the beach but probably not :)

So, what is complicated? Our friend is not meant to sublet. Its also not a pet friendly building, even tho I've spied a few cats in windows! That makes leaving our slightly (understandably after so much change) anxious puppy to cry it out, if we both leave, a non-starter. It doesn't stop us going out because a lot more places are pet friendly here. It also doesn't stop us doing the one thing I've missed the most from Dublin (Ireland), wandering around people watching.

Loves the beach
However, this is just a temporary situation. The plan is to stay here until January. That'll give our friends a cushion to see how living together goes (without giving up a rent controlled apartment) and gives us an opportunity to throughly explore Venice and find the perfect place, with less pressure and at a less busy time of year.

Martina is enjoying her work so much. She's mentioned how she learned as much in a week at the new job as she had in a year at the old one. She has been thrown in at the deep end, learning more about the business and management side of research but she is tacking it head on and I can tell that the change in job alone has made it worth it for her. Right now, she is still officially a posdoc (because of visas) but in January she'll be changing visas as well as starting her new job and new salary $$$ ha, ha, which will make life easier.

I've spend the last few weeks arranging our stuff. Subletting, at least for now because it was a sudden move, means fitting our stuff in with someone elses (who owns more things than both of us combined!!). I've also caught up on my rest as the road trip was amazing but left me feeling rather jet lagged. I've been running and I'm starting to up my activity in general. I'm not starting any pre-req classes until January. So, I think if I'm stuck with Boomer, I'll use the next few months to do some much needed study for the GRE!

A expected, I've been caught off guard at times by how busy it is, mostly in big stores, but it'll just take a bit of time to get used to. Most things are the same but just different enough to make you pause. Trader Joes (our regular grocery store) is much the same but then little things are obviously catered to the market here. My beloved Reisling also does not seem so popular here :( but they sell liquor in the regular grocery store (didn't in SC). Must find a real wine store before I start hitting the hard stuff ha, ha! 

Driving here has been an adventure. I'm so glad we bought the GPS. There is a lot of tailgating so you really need to know where you are going. There are also a lot more pedestrians and cyclists so I really have to be very aware after quiet Columbia SC. Thankfully, I did not have to sit a 3rd driving test in my lifetime, just a theory test! I spent a ton of time in the DMV to register the car and change over my license, hopefully I don't have to go again for a very long time.

I do miss the convenience of having some big box stores (like Target) near by but moving all of our stuff has taken the sting out of that. Most of our big furniture and extras, like camping gear, are nearby in a storage unit but I'm glad of all the stupid little things (like trash cans) that we don't have to go out and find. Everything made it in one piece. I think the only thing that got even slightly scuffed was our dresser, which is an ikea one, we'll probably eventually replace anyhow. Overall, I was really pleased with the Relocube experience.

I've covered everything I can think of! Sorry for the random, rambling nature of this post 

Friday, 11 August 2017

What I've learned about piriformis syndrome

Piriformis syndrome has been the bane of my life this year. I've tried to learn as much as I could and I thought I'd share it here.  Piriformis syndrome is a result of tightening or spasm of the piriformis muscle, a hip abductor. In many cases this results in not only a pain in the butt but compression of the sciatic nerve, which passes behind the muscle.  Compression of the nerve can cause pain and numbness all the way to the toes. In some rare individuals the nerve actually goes through the muscle making those people more prone to piriformis syndrome. Often damage or spasm is due to the muscle being overworked due to tight hips and inactive glutes.
It's considered a rare injury. It's often misdiagnosed as other conditions but that's not surprising considering that other small hip muscle injuries, high hamstring tendinitis, slipped discs in the lower spine and si joint disfunction can cause similar types of pain. It takes a physical therapist or Doctor to be able to diagnose it properly. Luckily the muscular problems have a common treatment, core/hip stabilization muscle strengthening seems to be the way to go! Also stretching is very important.
Not all cases are created equal either, as some people don't have bad nerve pain and can function pretty normally, except for sitting for long periods of time. Some people can be back to normal activity in weeks or like in my case it can take longer. My feeling is that it probably depends on the amount of nerve involvement.

Conservative treatment consists of pain management and PT. If that doesn't work Botox or pain killing injections directly into the muscle seem to be a common treatment and if all else fails a surgeon can 'release' the muscle. 
It seems to be very individual as to what works. I guess it depends on what triggered the problem and any individual muscle imbalances contributing to it. 

I think I originally had a very mild case, due to bad posture and muscle imbalances, but didn't realize it. Then a friend came over and I sat on the floor for an hour chatting. BAM I woke up that night in agony!
I've split my experience into what I'd consider my phases of treatment and recovery.

Phase 1
 Excruciating pain: moving hurt. The kind of pain I'd never felt. Moving short distances was enough to reduce me to a mess. Luckily thanks to muscle relaxants and painkillers this lasted only a few days.

Phase 2 
I still hurt a lot but if I was careful it was constant rather than sudden and unbearable. I still could not dress myself for a while and for the entirety of this I couldn't bend down or do simple things like put on shoes and socks. I basically moved between my bed, bathroom and couch and considered myself lucky. So more painkillers. I actually lost about 8lbs over this phase because I had no appetite either because of the painkillers or the pain.  Martina was a lifesaver and literally did everything around the house including all of Boomer bathroom trips. PT really helped. It started slow with hip bridges and a gentle back stretch. Dry needling gave me amazing temporary pain relief (hours-day with much reduced pain). Lasted around 2-3 weeks. 

Phase 3
The nerve pain slowly went from bad to barely there but my leg down to my ankle was still numb a lot of the time. The nerve 'waking up' felt like raindrops on my leg. PT got more intense and I actually felt the least pain after doing my PT exercises. Squats, clamshells, leg raises amongst other exercises were added to my hip bridges. I could roll part of my butt cheek on a ball but I never found trigger points and parts I avoided rolling because it was inducing nerve pain. I had constant muscle pain isolated to 3 main spots; top of butt cheek, trochanter (bony protrusion on side of butt) and at the butt crease into my hamstring. Massages still felt like it was 50/50 as to whether they helped but anything that made the rest of me relax after being in pain for so long helped. Walking, swimming and elliptical were ok for workouts <1hour. Lasted around 2 months.

Phase 4 
Barely any pain day to day just a little tightness around the lower back. I finished PT. I was able to expand on my PT exercises myself including more and more strength work but avoiding anything that induced pain. Any impact related cardio, running/stairs, caused nerve pain. Frustrating, because I felt so much stronger in general but was stuck to a lot of swimming and walking. I had trigger points in my hamstring which releasing really helped me be able to bend over again. Everything from my lower back to my toes on my left side were substantially weaker so I had to work on strengthening everything including my ankles and feet. I also spent a lot of time stretching, trying to gently improve the flexibility in my hamstrings and hip flexors. 

I bounced back to phase 3 after a month or so of phase 4 but I think this time it was due to trigger points building up in the tissue. That's not so surprising considering I had been building up muscle in a previously injured area and sitting more frequently. Many painful times with an elbow DIGGING deep into the muscle helped break those down and drastically reduced the daily pain.

My long drive from SC to CA to move was an exciting but terrifying prospect as sitting is generally not good for piriformis  syndrome. The drive (and the previous break from running) actually made it better! I drove with a lumbar support which forced me to sit up straight with good posture. I'm back to pain free day to day life. While my piriformis is a little tighter the day after running it doesn't cause any nerve pain. I mostly feel it if I've been sitting on something hard or with bad posture or lifted something too heavy (impossible to avoid with moving). Now that I know this I can really focus that much more on my posture.

If you think you have this get yourself to a Doctor and/or physical therapist. If you have a severe case like mine my biggest piece of advice is patience. Pushing beyond what you've been advised to do or what feels ok is going to set you back. I've cried many times at the beginning because I was constantly in pain, which really messes with your head, and later because I was frustrated and convinced I'd never get fully better but oh so slowly it's going away.

I'm a Legger

Before I even had a place to call home in Los Angeles I joined the L.A Leggers.....priorities :) They had an orientation day the weekend we arrived and I knew if I didn't sign up then I'd chicken out. A big club has a lot of advantages, discounts on everything from races to PT and of course lots of new friends to make.

The training really suits me right now,  5:1 min intervals and starting out with only 2 weekly runs but lots of cross-training. I'm also in a slow group to start out which will help me not push too hard until I see how I get on with longer runs. So far I'm up to 2 miles with no pain. 

We are still getting settled in so my cross-training has been pretty dismal (walking with Boomer mostly). Does moving boxes around count? Next week I get my drivers license (locals pay approx. half the price for pool time) and then I can get some good time in the pool.

Optimistically, I've signed up to the Malibu Half Marathon in November. The club is their official training partner and offered a hefty discount. I'm hoping if I can make it that far in good shape, I'll either sign up for the L.A marathon (just a slow to finish marathon for fun) or I'll stay at half distance or less and focus more on speed. 

Races are mucho expensive and of course now that I'm on the west coast there are a lot of bucket list ones I'd love to run but injury recovery is really keeping me cautious and helping my pocket out :) So far so good tho and it's making me so happy. Once the humidity drops a little (temps are glorious) fall running is going to be amazing!

Monday, 26 June 2017

We are moving...fresh starts

I'm so excited. We are moving and soon. Mid-July will see us take a two week road trip mostly along the remaining portions of Route 66, as we make the cross country journey to our new home, Los Angeles. Driving is largely for Boomers sake, as its too hot to risk flying him as cargo and he is too big for flying in cabin, but its also going to be a fun vacation.
A whole lotta driving!

The spare room

It's taken a long long time to get all the paper work for Martina's new job together, so I've kept this quiet until the last minute. It's ended up lining up perfectly with the end of our lease here. 
We've spent weeks selling extra furniture, since we'll be moving to a much smaller apartment. The plan is to ship our remaining furniture via Relocube. We'll get 3 days to stuff as much household goods into 6Dx 7Wx 8 ft H metal container as we can. Thank goodness most of our furniture can easily be broken down to make it more efficient to pack! It's costing around $2200 but since we now have some nicer furniture, it'd cost more to replace it all. Then there are all the little things like pictures and decorations that we wouldn't even be able to replace. Surprisingly, a truck when you add in a car hitch is almost as much but we wouldn't get any storage time and obviously it'd be a pain to drive a truck across the country.

Furniture coming apart
 Martina's new job is the opportunity of a lifetime and as much as I've appreciated the time off while I recuperate I need something to do too! Visas are becoming tricky so I'll probably go onto Martina's again. Unfortunately, on the next one I won't be allowed to work. I'm thinking of using the time to retrain for another career since I'm done mentally with the career structure that comes with research. I have something in mind but I'll have to do a bunch of pre-reqs (it's not medicine :p)  and see if I get accepted. It'll be a slow process. I won't start until next spring. I'll probably spread out the pre-reqs, at least at first, to ease back into school and if I decide it's not for me I can stop without having invested too much.

Another new start, kind of, is running. I've not had a lot of success getting going again in SC. Some of it is that it hurts (not a lot, partly injury, partly starting running from scratch sucks)  and some of it is fear that I'll get injured again. Its also beyond hot and humid here lately so running has not been appealing. It'll be a little cooler and a lot less humid in LA so that'll be a great time to start again. There are also numerous large running clubs I can join. One that I like the look of does beginner couch --> marathon group training. I think that'd be perfect to help me get my mind away from the fear of injury, make new friends and enjoy running again. 

Mostly, the biggest fresh start I want is to be more social. We are moving there and straight away will have about as many friends as here. That's a sad reflection on the number of good friends we've made in 5 years but it is a good start for LA. The main difference is we won't be living with 'one foot out the door',  as the plan from the start is to be there for 5+ years. 

I'm really looking forward to living in a big city again with a more diverse population and a lot more amenities available. I'm going to have so much fun finding new restaurants to try, concerts to go to and of course new running and hiking routes to work off all the food and drinks. Already we have a trip to Vegas planned with my brother-in-law. He is coming on vacation with his girlfriend, from Australia. We also have concert tickets for one of our favourite bands from Ireland that are not that well known here, The Coronas. So I'm already SO excited!! Be prepared for me to instragram the hell out of the whole process and road trip, apologies in advance ;p

Monday, 12 June 2017

June 12th update ---feeling better again

After two weeks of feeling pretty crappy, with piriformis syndrome again, I'm finally back to feeling much better. What did I do differently?

1.  I backed off exercise except for my most basic PT exercises and walking this week. 
Seen a lot of cool wildlife out walking this week. I feel like my recovery is slower than this turtle.

2. Relaxed. I tried to calm the hell down because I got pretty worked up about the fact I was having pain everyday again. It took a good cry to acknowledge how shitty it was making me feel and miraculously slowly I began to feel better, until this Friday I woke up pain free again. There is other stressful, but good, life stuff happening. I'm not just a drama queen, ha ha!!!

3. I've been super diligent about taking B vitamins everyday to help with nerve repair.

4. I've tried to correct my posture when sitting upright.

Ultimately, give how the last of the pain left overnight I think my hips shifted into a good position again releasing some tension on the muscles and in turn the nerve. Whatever did it, I'm so happy to be pain free. I'm going to try adding more exercise in again this week, probably weights and swimming, to try continue getting stronger. Fingers crossed the last couple of weeks were just a tiny blip in my recovery!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Dealing with setbacks

Frustratingly the last two weeks have been painful weeks, after a long pain free period of day to day life. This is now the end of the 4th month I've dealt with recovering from piriformis injury. 
It's only when it gets worst that I realize how good I've had it! I've gone back to daily constant pain. It's not bad pain (2-3/10)  but it's a setback. I think I can put it down to looking after my friends baby for a couple of hours a day and as a result of frequently sitting for long periods of time, often with not so good posture. Something else to work on.
In good news, I can still roll on a ball (all over my butt cheek) which is something I could barely tolerate even as I was finishing PT. I have so many trigger points and as a result my long suffering partner is now having to work those out using an elbow as most are pretty deep or in akward spots. 10-15 painful minutes 2-3 times a day has been helping so much it's crazy!
I'm trying to stay positive. I know that for some people this injury takes as long as a year to clear up so we are playing the long game. I'm continuing with lots of work in the gym as well as stretching. Doing the physical work is easy, staying positive not so much. I'm really missing running more than 1.5 miles, especially those nice 5-6 mile runs, tiring and statisfying but not absolutely exhausting! I'm going to keep fighting to get back to it though and I think once I get some fitness back I'll be a better runner for the work I'm doing now.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Weekly Training log


20 min walk including a while in the river for Boomer
30 min elliptical
PT routine + other overall body weights- gym was friggin hot

2 mile run with Boomer- run itself felt good but I was sorer for the rest of the week
Smiley face after

1 hour walk

45 min elliptical 
PT routine + Ab work


40 minute swim- pool was cold as it had just rained but it felt great.
30 minute walk
PT routine

General recovery from piriformis syndrome
Running is really frustrating me. I feel fine when I run but after my piriformis muscle tightens right up, despite stretching, and I have to back off running for days afterwards. I'm happy to be getting some general fitness back but I'd like to be able to run a little, even if it was only enough to run 5ks for the next few months.

I'm thinking of getting new shoes, maybe the switch (even if it was months ago) to a stability shoe (very slight) is not helping. It'll mean switching away from Brooks but I'll try anything to help at this stage. Thinking of Altras- neutral, low drop, lets the foot do what it wants, vegan friendly (a bonus) and has a varying of cushion levels in their shoes. A lot closer to my discontinued PureConnects. Anyone have any experience with these?

I'm sticking to my PT and lots of daily stretching. My left Glutes, abductors etc. are probably 95% of the strength of the right side so those exercises are working. However, my sciatic nerve was not innervating muscles all the way down to my feet, meaning those muscles need rebuilding. I've been adding in exercises to my PT routine, like calf raises, that I normally wouldn't do. This week I'm adding in some exercises for my feet and ankles.
Sorry for the horrible feet but can you see how little I can raise my left big toe compared to my right, no Bueno.

Going to do:
Being barefoot as much as possible
Towel pulls
Standing on one foot
Walking on toes

All easy things to do around the house , even while doing other stuff! Any suggestions?

Anyhow, I'll keep truckin on and hoping I'll continue to improve but right now the memory of the pain I was in is still strong enough that just putting on shoes and socks by myself makes me grateful for what I can do!!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Weekly Training

A tiny bit of an easier week. Everything felt good! Loving getting back to moving. I always feel happier and more like myself when I can work out.

1.5 mile run during the daytime that felt good.
Evening- Full PT routine + legs +upper body 

I got a massage and unlike the last time I wen this one did not make me want to cry :)
45 min walk.

My last PT session. I'm gonna miss Jim my pyshiotherapist.

40 mins elliptical- longest one yet
30 mins walk

3 walks - throughout the day that added up to 6 miles.
PT routine

30 min walk

Get to the Green 5k in the morning -38 mins
30 min walk in the evening

30 min walk
30 minute swim- first outdoor swim of the year. Outdoor pool felt great.

We had Bailey, our friends cocker spaniel, as well as Boomer Thursday to Monday so lots of walks to keep the pups nice and sleepy. Since I've been really bad at taking workout pics here are some cute pics of the dogs!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Get to the Green 5k, Columbia SC

It's my 3rd year running this race. This year they had the usual 5k and 10k but added a 15k to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the race. Every year I get slower :p At least this year I have a good excuse! I aimed to run half and walk half of the race, since 1.5 miles is about the most I've run comfortably since getting piriformis syndrome in Jan. However, I didn't have my watch because I've not been able to find the charger since Jan (a sign from the universe lol). 
Lots of green

The course was similar to the last two 5ks I ran with the only real difference being the finish point. I walked all the hills and regularly took walk breaks to check in on my back/butt. The finish was on a long straight stretch of Divine Street where you could see the finishers timing clock for almost a mile. Here I forced myself to walk a good bit. I felt good the whole time until I dropped my sunglasses almost at the finishers chute and bent down to pick them up. Ouchie! That hurt a lot and I was really afraid I'd pushed to hard and hurt myself again. Based on how I recovered, yes maybe I pushed a tiny bit too much, but barely because after a rest I felt fine. Judging by my pace I either ran really fast (unlikely) or ran way more than I should!

The race itself was well organized and busy. The start area had packet pickup. On course there were lots of marshals as well as two aid stations. The finish area had lots of food and water. It was the second race this year I could have run with Boomer but only realized it when I was running :( I saw dogs running and doggy bowls out at the aid stations.
 I really like this race as a fun healthy way to mark St. Patricks Day, which was my grandads birthday, without getting caught up in the chaos of drinking. They always have great tshirts (cotton for the 5k), medals and if you do want to party the race entry includes entry into the day long festival.
The rest of the day was really exciting because my friend had gone into the hospital the night before and we spent until that afternoon waiting with Bailey (the cocker spaniel) to find out that she was a big sister to a healthy baby boy. Another St. Patrick's Day birthday!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Back to light training

My PT for piriformis syndrome is tapering off. So I decided that I should push myself a bit more with activity this week, to gauge if I was ready to get back to working out, before I lost the safety net of a physiotherapist to tell me what levels of pain are normal at this stage.

2 mile run- a little tender/nerve pain...too much. 

45 minute swim with my new waterproof iPod. The time passed much faster with music. I got out of the pool because I was tired not bored.

1 hour and 15 min walk in morning with my pregnant friend.
35 minutes on an elliptical which felt fine.
Full PT routine plus upper body weights.

PT appointment- so I did my workout here. Talked to my guy about running and he limited me to increasing mileage by more than a quarter of a mile at a time so I won't run to the point of nerve pain. Treated myself to lunch at the market next door afterwards...nom.

1 hour of yoga. Surprised by how much I could do! I only sat out a few of the more advanced moves. A tiny bit of nerve pain towards the end but not bad so I think I can manage another class next week.

Pretty sore so a rest day.

1.5 mile run. Felt great. I think this might be my sweet spot for the next few runs.

Full PT routine + upper body + a few new lower body weights (to see if I can)


So I've discovered that it's really only running that's a problem right now. Low impact exercise feels fine, it just leaves my weaker side sore but just workout sore rather than nerve pain. 
I think running is a problem because my joints and muscles are still healing/loosening up. It's frustrating that it's taking so long to heal up. The sciatic nerve is HUGE, so even if the piriformis muscle is not impinging it, it'll take a long while to fully settle down. I do not want to go back to sciatic pain so running will be a slow progression for a while.
I'm still really excited to be able to do as much as I can. Being limited in movement for a while really makes you appreciate the little things a healthy body can do.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Piriformis Syndrome Week 7

Let's start with I ran this week, woohoo! 

Earlier in the week I tried a short jog back from the gym and it felt so weird. I felt like a mangled baby giraffe. Probably because all my leg muscles are weak and tight. So I spent a few days focusing on stretching more. That irritated things a little. Tiny bits of nerve pain and muscle soreness but nothing dramatic. 
I've really missed working up a good sweat so I then decided to try the elliptical. Low and behold I was able to manage 20 minutes with no pain. When I did that I figured I should be able to run as long as I'm careful.

So off I went for a 1 mile run. I stopped a few times to stretch and check in to see of there was any pain. All was good, I'm just terribly unfit right now. I wish I could have ran for longer but I think this is one time that at least for a few weeks I need to ramp up running slowly. 

I've so little pain that I can work out more, so I think I'll slowly mix in running but with lots of elliptical and swimming so as to not overload tight joints right now.  I ordered a waterproof iPod which should arrive tomorrow which I'm excited to try out and see if it encourages me to swim more frequently or for longer. 

I have two more weeks of PT, but only x1 a week, to focus on stretching and getting my hip mobility back. 

I'm so excited to really be on the road to pain free fitness again!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Piriformis Syndrome Week 6 Report

This week was amazing! My lower back, hip, left leg in general are extremely tight but wait for it....not painful. It's like something really changed last week and I just continued to get better this week. It was so nice to do stuff, like get out of bed, without having to brace myself or figuring out the best way to do it without hurting. I knew I was really onto the homestretch when my PT started adding more weight for exercises and showing me dynamic warmup drills for running. 

The real test was our trip to NYC. We had to drive 2 hours to the airport and then sit for two hours on the planes (and the same on the way back). Of all of that the worst was the first drive. A lot of walking and a few air squats got the blood following again. 
Then Saturday we did a ton of fun sightseeing, easily walked ten miles and went up a million subway stairs. Our last stop of the day was Central Park and I got a little limpy there, but not painful, and hopped into an uber back to my friends place rather than walk more for the subway. More walking Sunday but I felt fine even after the trip home.  

Then yesterday my PT said my next session might be my last. Holy crap! That's really exciting but I don't feel ready :) I guess there isn't much more he can do now that the worst of this is over. It needs time and work to get back to full functionality. I have all the tools I need now to do the rest on my own.

I guess that means I can try a short run. I'm going to wait a few days to try focus on getting some of the really knotty parts of my leg to loosen up. A lot of what I need to do now is get confidence in my body back and not worry that this is going to revert backwards for no reason.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Building a new runner

Being stopped in your tracks by blinding pain kind of forces you to evaluate how you treat training and injuries. 5 weeks with piriformis syndrome (and still not recovered) are a real motivation to start from the ground up and pay more attention to the little details.

I think I was moving in the right direction, last year; Taking a break when I needed it, including cross training and strength work more than I had in the past but it obviously wasn't enough.

In 2017, I want to work on core strength and mobility and not ignore, or run through, smaller injuries.

My PT training is covering about as much core work as I can handle right now. However, now that I'm free to move around a bit more I can focus on mobility before I'm back on the road. 
I noticed Dr. Kelly Starrett book at my PT appointment and decided this is exactly what I need to get me started with assessing my mobility. The book runs through self assessment tests for all the major joints involved in running and provides techniques to help mobilize problem areas or to carry out maintaince on good ones.
Some I cannot do right now because of my injury. For others I need to buy some bands or different size balls but I'm getting started on what I can do. I'm also looking forward to getting back to my Body Pump classes for extra strength work when I'm confident I can do all the movements without pain.

It's funny how motivating this whole 'episode' has been. I'm never going to be a competitive runner but I want to focus on feeling better and stronger while I run. That can only make it more fun!!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Piriformis Syndrome Week 5 Report

I've had much the same low level pain as last week. However, I've had more good days than bad. Maybe because Sunday night/Monday morning were so awful, I caught a break with the rest of the week.

I had a reoccurrence of nerve pain that night. Not the 'I'm aware of my leg/ankle' pain more like the I'm in so much pain you could stab me if it would stop this. It wasn't nearly as bad as when I first got piriformis syndrome but the pain and only two hours sleep that night did not make for a pleasant version of myself.
A quick trip to the PT for a back adjustment, normal PT and dry needling set me to rights. For a couple of days after I stopped being so stubborn and took ibuprofen (which I've been avoiding) for a break from the low level pain just so I don't lose my mind, ha ha! Lots of sleep this week to make up for Sunday night.

In case you can't tell my mood is pretty up and down depending on how I feel that day. On bad days I feel like I'll never be better (pain free, full mobility and running) and on good days I'm high as a kite because I realize I'm getting better even if it's not a completely linear or fast path I'm on. 

Other than that the rest of the week has been pretty good. I've not had any 'leg failures' on steps. I've sat quite a bit, for outings, and while it was uncomfortable it wasn't super painful during or after. My last heavy PT session (by myself) on Saturday night felt good. I got 3/4 of the way through my exercises before my glutes got really fatigued, so all in all, it's a slow recovery but the fact that I'm getting stronger is really encouraging.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Cupids Chase 5k

Cupid's Chase race is in aid of people with disabilities and its run in many different cities/states. I'd signed up for the 5k, here in Columbia SC, ages ago before I got injured. There is no way I'm ready to run but I decided to walk it instead. The race was very walker friendly with many strollers and puppies on course. 
I picked up my packet right before the race. There was a nice area set up for this and the post race party. I indulged in a pre race Diet Coke since I didn't have to worry about stomach problems walking.

The 5k course was a familiar mismash of other local 5k courses, a mix of flats and rolling hills, with one aid station along the way. 
I woke up feeling good (injury wise) and my hip/leg behaved for the walk. I walked fast compared to my normal amble and finished just under 53 minutes. The only time I had any major injury problems was after I finished and tried to step up on a curb and my stupid muscles did nothing but hurt bad. Luckily that only lasted a few seconds but I swore out loud in front of kids, in the South, whoopsie! After that my previously non functioning glute (root cause of piriformis syndrome) was extremely fatigued but not too painful. Surprisingly, I was exhausted. My other muscles weren't sore/tired but I had the kind of extreme sleepy feeling I normally only get after a really hard workout. I guess functioning through pain is hard on the body.

I was really happy that I went out and did this. I didn't want to miss it but I could have been too proud to walk a race. I was functioning to the best of my ability, giving to a good cause and getting my cardio fix for the day..all good things. I didn't even feel bad about getting a medal when I saw the dogs getting them too, ha ha!

No more races until April and definetely no more signing up for them until I'm back to regular pain free running. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Steady progress

Where am I at a month after developing piriformis syndrome?
The good
I have sciatica type pain only when my hip is at its worst. Muscle pain is reducing steadily. So much so, that now and again I'll forget about it until it gives me a sharp jab to remind me to slow down.I still don't think I'm ready to run but the overall pain level has gone down enough that walking and swimming are enjoyable. 
The bad
Certain movements I can't do because my mobility is very low; My hamstring in my left leg is SO tight but I can't stretch it. Walking on slopes and up steps frequently causes my hip muscles on the left side to give up on working.

This week 
Monday-Wednesday: feeling good-excellent, Thursday: back to being pretty sore Friday: sore, Saturday: good Sunday: sore. So I'm having 4 out of 7 days feeling pretty good, a change from a few weeks ago!

My PT has stepped up this week:
Everyday I do my nerve glide, back extensions, bridges and (x3times) stretching.
Now added  X 3 times a week
-squats (2 sets body weight, 2 sets + 10Ibs) with an elastic band around my thighs.
-lateral walk with band
-resistance band at shoulder height from the side, under tension....push in and out with arms, followed by a set of side steps, without letting my back or hips rotate.
-lateral leg raises
-clamshells with a band (discovered in PT I've been doing these wrong, so much harder when my hips are properly stacked).
-Step ups (small step) with 10Ibs
-(Baby) deadlift type movement

Friday, 3 February 2017

Slowly getting better & planning

So besides an awful doctors visit, which annoyed and upset me, I've been getting better in little steps. 

I've noticed this week, that while my left butt/hip area is pretty much always sore, the really annoying pain going down into my leg and foot is gone more often than its there. The numbness is receding too. I'm starting to get small stretches of time where even my hip doesn't hurt, it'll be tight but no pain. 

Now that the level of pain is going down:
I feel more like doing stuff
I can drive for around 10-15 mins when the pain is low
My normal appetite is back (I wasn't really eating a lot)
I'm not so grumpy

Inevitably, the muscle starts to spasm again and then the pain in my hip is intense but in the last couple of days stretches have been added to my PT. A very uncomfortable minute of light stretching seems to make it stop most of the time. I see the light!!
Mini stretch 

This week I've had a massage which was ouchie. Then two sessions of PT on back to back days. The first day was working out, bridges etc. The second day was scraping, cupping and dry needling. The scraping and cupping were very light so it basically felt like 45 minutes of my butt cheek getting massaged by a guy I hardly know, so it was a little weird but I chatted my way through the embarrassment. The dry needling was awesome for pain relief as usual. 

My new strength work includes resistance bands. I had actually bought myself some in January to work on hip strength, it's a pity I didn't get to it before this happened. 

Next week....
More PT, adding in weights...woohoo this feels like progress 
Swimming- even though I was cleared to swim before now I didn't because I couldn't drive to the pool and I was in too much pain to feel like doing it anyhow.

Stupidly, I've also had a hard time letting go of the races I've registered for.
 There is a Valentines themed 5k next weekend that I can walk because the race includes walkers. It's short enough to be a nice test to see how much walking I can do. It'll feel like an achievement to get that far but won't be enough to damage my progress.

The hardest is what was meant to be my race for NY at the end of this month. There is no way I can do it and I think even walking 13 miles right now would be damaging and hard. Especially on top of sitting on a plane for two hours. It would be stupid to do it. Luckily this trip was planned mainly to go see a friend and for Martina to do some touristy stuff, anyway a trip to NYC is never wasted. 

There is another half here in April that I've registered for. I won't be able to run it all by then since I think I need to start at scratch and build up my cardio as my hip strength improves. I'm hoping that by then I can have a walk-run strategy that could be part of my training for a goal race. 

So as an incentive, I'm gonna take a small bit of my tax refund, when I have a better idea of where I'm at with running, and register for a race somewhere I really want to go. 
As much as I hate it, I think I'm also going to have to just suck it up and train through next summer. If I don't I'm not going to get back into the kind of shape I need to to run multiple halfs a year without suffering! Anyhow, I find the beginning of training, when I'm unfit, harder mentally than training in the heat. 

I think the fact that I'm thinking about running means I'm getting better. At least I'm not crying about being Sir Limp-a-Lot for ever :)