Monday, November 4, 2013

The Last Eight Weeks

Hello! It's been a while. Last time I checked in I had just DNF'd my first race and was dealing with piriformis syndrome. Sadly, eight weeks later, I am still dealing with it. No running. No sitting. You get the idea.

2013 has been a rough year, at least on the running end of things. I've been injured or slowly recovering from injury more months than not in the past 365 days. The last truly good race I ran was the Baltimore Marathon last October. It's pretty much been downhill since then and believe me, it has left me questioning what I think my body is actually capable of vs. what my mind wants it to be capable of.

In any event, at least each injury gets easier to deal with. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely bitter everytime I see someone running and I have avoided reading other running blogs at all costs. Frankly, I don't want to hear about someone else's awesome marathon recap while I'm benched for the best running weather season of the year. Still, aside from one or two days during the last eight weeks, I've been okay with not running. Or at least, I've accepted it.

Luckily, this fall has been absolutely insane between work and school and life and while I would love to be running right now, at least I'm keeping busy. Here's what I've been up to the past eight weeks:

Physical Therapy
As soon as I DNF'd that race, I called the doctor and set up some PT appointments. PT has always worked for me in the past and I felt confident we could nip this thing in the bud right away. Unfortunately, PT has not really helped at all this time around, which has been very disappointing. They even tried a fancy treatment called Iontophoresis that involves driving anti-inflammatory into my butt with an electric field. I felt a little improvement six treatments later, but as soon as I tried sitting again the pain would come right back.

Standing (Lots and lots of standing)
The week after I DNF'd it was pretty clear that sitting only aggrevated my symptoms and caused a tremendous amount of nerve inflammation. At first, I tried sitting straighter and getting up frequently, but it was quickly apparent that any sitting, no matter how good my posture, was causing more pain. The problem here is that I work in an office at a desk that I need to be at for most of the day. But, where there's a will, there's a way. Solution - standing desk.

Unfortunately standing desks can cost $$$ and I wasn't about to ask my office to shell out for one. Luckily though, we live in the age of the internet and there are thousands of super crafty people out there. It didn't take long for me to find a quick, cheap standing desk hack. One trip to Ikea later and viola! Standing desk for $22.

My set up at work

The first week standing was hard and my feet were killing me (even though I was spending 50 miles per week on my feet running previous to this). Now, seven weeks later I am feeling just fine. My husband and I also bought a standing desk for home. All said and done, I have done little to no sitting the past two months and if I'm on the couch, I'm laying down horizontally. Even after this injury is over I will probably continue to stand since its better for you anyway. At this point though, I would just love to be able to sit in the car or go to the movies without feeling pain.

Graduate School
Coincidentally the semster started the week I had my injury. I have about 5.5 weeks left of my graduate program and have been working every weekend all semester to finish my thesis. I did this program in 2.5 years straight by taking summer classes. I'm literally counting down the days until December 10th when I will be DONE!

My work coincides with the school year, so September and October are always slammed. Even if I was able to run, I wouldn't have time for lunch runs anyway, which had made the whole not-running thing a little easier to deal with.

I have always wanted to try a cleanse, but with all of the running I was doing, it was impractical to take in so few calories while I was burning so many off. I've done four cleanses over the past two months - an intense 3-day cleanse and three 1-day cleanses every couple of weeks. I don't know that I will be doing the 3-day cleanses that often since I feel like I can't work out at all during them, but the one-day cleanses are really nice and don't throw off your entire week.

I thought I would HATE the beet juice the most, but ironically it is my favorite and I could drink it every day

For those of you who are curious, I have tried three different cleanse companies so far - BluePrint, Suja, and a local Philadelphia juicer called Sip-N-Glo. If I get my act together I might just do a little omparative review.

Finding Other Ways to Workout
The really horrible thing about this injury, aside from the whole no running/no sitting thing, is that I can't bike or swim either. The nerves in my hamstring and butt become too irritated. This has been incredibly frustrating because I haven't really been able to do any cardio. I've resorted to a lot of strength training and try to fit in about 30 minutes a day, but 30 minutes of strength just doesn't compare to the amount of cardio I was getting in.

Finally a few weeks ago my husband and I bought our own heavy bag. We've been going to boxing class on and off for about three years and I've been wanting to set up a home gym for a while. Between all of the PT equipment I've invested in during my injuries and the foam rollers and hand weights I've bought over the years, turns out we have a pretty nice set up. The heavy bag has been great for getting some cardio in and of course, to take out my frustrations about not running :)

So that's pretty much been life for the last eight weeks. I am trying out ART therapy today after work and I'm optimistic about more positive results than traditional PT. I'll keep you guys posted!


  1. Ugh, that sucks so much. I'm sorry. :( I've been in the walking boot with a stress reaction for the last 5 weeks. Boo! I hope ART works for you. I've heard great things about that and about dry needling (maybe worth a try?). Good luck!

    1. Boo. Sorry to hear about your boot. Hope it heals soon! I have never heard of dry needling. Definitely need to Google that!

  2. I can totally relate to not wanting to hear or read someone's race recap etc. I felt the same when I was injured...intense running envy every time I saw someone out running. I actually 'unliked' quite a few FB pages because they were just reminding me of how much I miss running.
    You do what you have to do to get through it.
    Hope you can figure out what is aggravating your piriformis.

    I second Ashley's suggestion of trying dry needling. I've tried it (for my lower legs and IT band) and it's amazing. It's basically a neuromuscular re-education for the muscle and gets right to the point as opposed to any sort of Graston, ART which is effective and good in its own right but not as targeted as the dry needling etc.

    Hang in there! You WILL run again!!!!

    1. Haha I too have unliked too many FB running/race pages to count. Thanks for echoing the dry needling suggestion. I will definitely look into it if ART goes nowhere!

  3. Glad to see you posting again, though I'm sorry to hear you're still injured. Best of luck as you finish grad school - I'm a grad student as well and I can't imagine how exciting it must be to almost be done!


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