From the Sidelines

By | June 25, 2017

Sidelines

You may recall from my rather dismal post last month that I was struggling with a painful back injury.  I was also dealing with the emotional stress due to the timing as it forced me to withdraw from my first “A” race of the year.  I had trained for 3+ months using the Hanson’s method and was set physically and mentally to take a shot at a new PR at the North Olympic Discovery Marathon.

xx2ilakecrescent

A quick rewind for context.  On May 14, I completed my final scheduled long run – a hilly route that measured just over 18 miles to take me to 60 miles for the week.  I felt fatigued as that is a big weekly volume for me with my comfort zone typically around 40 per week.  But, like every marathon runner in training, I was relieved to be done with the big miles and was looking forward to just practicing my pace and winding down through the taper period.  Pic below was from that run, making my way back up a steady 3.5 mile climb.

2017Centennial

The next day as I got ready for the commute I felt the slightest of twinges in my lower back. And, I mean slight, like nothing – didn’t even think about it.  In fact I was more concerned with making sure I iced my legs later that night after my scheduled easy run.  2 hours later and I can barely sit down at my desk at the office.  I have a few more details in my post as I came to terms with having to accept that I could not run my target race.  But, the damage was done.

Fast forward and the Strava training log bubbles tell the story.  Other than one 1.4 mile test run to see if there was any chance of attempting the marathon, I have not been able to run or ride.  Not a very familiar position for me at all!  This is by far the longest that I have been out with any kind of injury and I have no idea what this layoff has done to my overall fitness.  But, it’s time to look ahead because, yes, this is actually a positive post today!!

Looking Forward to Looking Ahead

The good news.  I am close to being ready…very close.  I have resisted all temptation as the back has improved significantly over the last couple weeks.  The weather in the Pacific Northwest has turned beautiful and the temptation of the trail has almost lured me.  But, I held off.  I’m bored, going crazy, and really driving Paula nuts…and I mean really.  I even had to buy her a new handbag for putting up with me 🙂  Well, I didn’t have to, but I did.  She also had to mow the lawn and do pretty much everything so it ended up being 2 handbags.  And, that might well be the only time you’ll find a picture of a handbag on this site 🙂

I’m targeting a return next weekend if everything holds up over the next few days.  I wont jump back in super hard – a couple weeks of easy runs and probably only 3x week with a couple bikes for good measure.  I’m also planning to go back to my chiropractor and get another deep tissue massage treatment a couple weeks after I have returned.  If all that goes well, then I will be focusing on developing my training plans for a busy Fall season.  I’m not sure I can target the PR again in 2017 – there’s no way I can go through another Hanson’s session this year, so that may have to wait.  But, I will be back for it in 2018.

It has taken 4 chiro sessions, 3 deep tissue massage treatments and (by the time I run again) almost 2 full months of rest.  I’ve learned a lot.  To say I learned the hard way would be a cliche but not true.  Running is one of the toughest sports in terms of impact to our bodies.  I had trained super hard to go after my marathon PR and suffered an unfortunate injury.  It happens.  And, I’m pretty sure it won’t the last injury I ever endure.  I think what made this sting was that it was so close to race day…at the end of particularly grueling plan.  The timing made it that much harder to accept.

Time to move on and look forward.  I mentioned earlier that I have a busy race season in the Fall.  The prime time lineup now includes:

  • Sep 10 Craft Classic Seattle Half-Marathon
  • Sep 23 North County Wine Run Half-Marathon
  • Oct 22 Marine Corps Marathon
  • Dec 03 Rock N Roll San Antonio Marathon

These all look like fabulous events.  And, having never ran any of them they will all be a new experience.  Also exciting is that I will be representing BibRave in all except Marine Corps.  I will, however, be pacing Paula in her first ever marathon at MCM.  I’ve also got some great product tests coming up and I’m looking forward to resuming normal blogging activities.

And, I wasn’t out just buying handbags.  I replenished the rotation a little for when I do return 🙂

nikenewbalanceshoes

In terms of goals, I’m really not sure yet.  I mentioned I will not follow Hanson’s again this year but after I’ve been back for a couple weeks, I’ll evaluate my overall fitness and see if I can figure out some race objectives.  And, before we know it, we will be looking at the 2018 calendar.  BTW, I will post separately my thoughts regarding the plan.  This injury does not dampen my enthusiasm for the Hansons method and I will absolutely try it again.  Most likely next year.

I’m very much looking forward to getting off the sidelines and back in action.  Hopefully, I’ll be fully recovered and ready to continue chasing the dreams on the trails!  Thank you all for the great support and positive messages…I really appreciate the kind thoughts and being part of the amazing running/blogging community.

  • Have you ever had a significant injury layoff or are you on the sidelines right now?
  • Any fun races in Fall/Winter lined up?
  • What did you buy on your last major shopping trip?!!

‘Till next time,

Run safe, run strong, run happy!

Cheers!
James

35 thoughts on “From the Sidelines

  1. neveradullbling

    I don’t know… handbags look mighty fine on your site, especially when they’re mine, 🤣
    AJ and I both are extremely happy you’re on the mend. All that matters is that you’re healthy. But it will be fun to run a bit in Seattle next week, so looking forward to it. Hugsies! 🤗

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Hehehe…yes, they do look rather nice don’t they?!! A bit of a changeup for the site at least! Yes, next week will be fun in Seattle for sure and really looking forward to it…thank you for all the awesome support hugs along the way!!

      Reply
  2. Stephanie

    Wow! Sorry to hear that you’ve still been out of the game. As you may have seen, I too am on the sidelines right now (not due to an injury, but instead due to a medical procedure). 🙂 I got really excited when I saw your Craft Classic logo since I’ll be speed walking the Craft Classic San Diego next month, but then I saw it was not in San Diego. 🙁 Good luck this upcoming weekend as your make your comeback!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thanks Steph! Yes, it has been a tough almost 2 months but I’m hopeful that I can resume next week and get back on track. Hope you are healing well and ready to go at Craft next week…I just caught up on your great report from Utah Valley!

      Reply
  3. Kimberly Hatting

    I’m currently sidelined at the moment, but most of that is due to marathon recovery (that surprised me with an unexpected phantom “injury” four days PRIOR to the race itself). Let’s just say that phantom injury (or whatever explicative one would choose to call it) returned (again by surprise) four days AFTER the finish line ….the docs are all stumped and not being very proactive in treating it. UGH. That said, the Hanson’s method totally scares me…I know I’d never be able to handle that kind of mileage LOL

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Hi Kimberly, thanks for stopping by! i checked out your blog post…I hope that knee injury is healing. It is so weird sometimes how these things come out of nowhere. I have no history of back injuries and it’s one of the last things I would expect from running. I doubt that I will ever figure out the cause so all I can do is move on and hope things return to normal soon…ie I start running again! Hansons was tough for sure…it is not something I could do over and over…once a year for a specific race or goal and that’s all. It does include a lot of easy runs but the hard workouts are hard. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

      Reply
  4. sophtaysom2000

    I’m very glad you’re on the mend. Back issues are not fun to say the least! The thing that has worked best for me is doing those dreaded core exercises. I wish you well and back fully to running soon!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you Sophie! Yes, definitely will be changing things up a little bit and evaluating what I did or didn’t do during the course of this plan. I had been doing really well on my core work up until that final month when I completely dropped it…time, tired, real world stuff etc and something had to give. I think that may have contributed. Also, moving forward I’m adding chiro and deep tissue massages to my training agendas! Hope you are doing and well in your ultra training!

      Reply
  5. rmarier2014

    I was training for my first destination race in 2012 (Disney Marathon/Goofy Challenge) when I developed an overuse injury in my ankle. I was stubborn about it and trained thru it. I didn’t see a doctor about it until right after the races (finished both and had a great time). There was acute inflammation (which would heal) and permanent damage (which wouldn’t). He told me to stop running and that the damage would worsen over time (running would damage it a lot faster). He knew I was going to keep running and basically said to listen to my body. If it didn’t hurt, I probably wasn’t injuring it further and I could keep training. But it would become a problem I could not ignore indefinitely.

    I did 3 months of rehab (during my planned off-season) and was frustrated that it wasn’t getting better. I had a huge slate of events planned and paid for and I was looking at a lot of DNS. The ankle finally settled down a couple weeks before my first race and I ran everything that season pain free. And the next season. And the season after that.

    I had occasional brief twinges that I listened to immediately over those years. But I started noticing it with more regularity last year. I was able to finish all of my races but I didn’t register for some later in the season that was on my radar. I took 6 months off this winter, but the ankle hurt all of the time. Podiatrist tells me that I am risking permanent damage and surgery it I don’t cut it out soon.

    My race season this year is minimalist. My longest running race is 10 miles in October. My “A” races are Triathlons so I am focusing on the swim and bike training. The running is down to a couple of 5-10k slow jogging around the neighborhood a couple of time a week (more and more I am doing elliptical as a substitute). It hurts all of the time (hard time just walking when I am get up in the morning) but it is no worse now then it was in the middle of my winter off-season.

    I am fortunate in the injury department. I have never experienced heartbreak in a DNS or DNF. Not one. I can’t imagine the disappointment. However, I am facing a career ending injury. I’m actually ok with that. My interest and motivation were waning anyways. It is playing out in such a way that I can plan my exit from the sport (October 1st, 2017 is retirement day) and I knew that my last marathon was the last marathon. Same thing with my last triathlon and final race. I can enjoy the last expo, the last start line and finish. I can smile and ham it up for the race photographers. I can take my victory lap and final bow. I have accomplished all of the things I really wanted to do, so I am content. On one hand, I can’t imagine your DNS disappointment after all of your hard work since I have never experienced it. But, it can be a reminder to enjoy every race as something special. Each one is a gift. Enjoy them all and don’t take them for granted, even the ones that don’t live up to your hopes and expectations. Finally, listen to your body…I wish I had. Glad you are on the road to recovery! Be patient and don’t push too hard or too fast. Have a great season!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you for the great comment and feedback Ray, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your support and experiences as well your kind words of encouragement. It was indeed incredibly frustrating to train for almost 4 solid months of intense workouts targeting a new PR only to come up without even making the start line. I hope it never happens again but, as you rightly state, every day and run should be considered a gift. There is no way of knowing how I will fare in my return but it is so important to listen. I was so tempted to run or ride this weekend…the weather was perfect, my back felt the best it has since I got hurt but I knew deep down it was too soon. I probably would have been fine but I also would have risked a serious setback and it’s not worth it. So, next weekend is my target and it will be slow. No serious training for some time.

      It sounds like you have a plan for your retirement from the endurance scene and that you are in acceptance and happy with your decision. You have accomplished so much…getting to full IronMan in addition to your running exploits is incredible and very inspiring. I would be happy to be able to even come close to achieving that one day. Wish you the best of luck in your final race season and hope you stick around and say hello once in a while. Take care my friend.

      Reply
  6. runningtotravel

    I’m also sidelined right now for my ear of all things. The medicine has kicked my butt and I’ve been so unable to hardly exercise at all because of feeling so run-down. The ear’s no better as of today either, so I’m beginning to question how long I should continue taking this medicine. It is a different one than I was on before, though, so I feel like I should give it at least a week. Eventually I’ll get back out there! I hope your training goes well and you’re able to get back out running soon. You’ve got some fun races coming up- good luck!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Hi Donna…oh my, that sucks to be brought down by medicine for something completely unrelated. I hope you are able to get back to normal soon and get everything resolved. I’m looking forward to getting back into action and hopefully this weekend! Best of luck to you too and look forward to reading your next adventure!

      Reply
      1. runningtotravel

        Thanks, James. I quit taking the second medicine the doctor put me on because the side effects were even worse than the first one! I hope to be out running again in another couple of weeks.

        Reply
  7. Zenaida Arroyo

    Those handbags are beautiful!

    I am sorry to hear about your injury! Early this year I had a calf strain along with knee bursitis and runner’s knee. Not run but I had no choice but to stop running and wait to get better.

    For now I am planning to run the Lake Michigan Marathon on September 3rd and then the RnR Denver in October.

    No shopping trip for me but tomorrow I need to take my car to the shop for a new catalytic converter and some sensors (oxygen?) and I already know it will be so much money that I will have to eat rice and beans for a few weeks.

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you Zenaida for stopping by and glad you like the handbags!! Probably will be the only time you might see a picture of a handbag on my running site!! Those types of injuries are frustrating aren’t they? They force you into rest and that is all you can do…when they meet up against a high value race they just feel that much more miserable. Lake Michigan sounds really cool as does RnR Denver – watch that altitude though, I never do well in the mountains training at sea level. Look forward to following your Hanson’s and BQ journey!

      Reply
      1. Zenaida Arroyo

        Thank you. Yes, I’ve been told about the altitude. However, I am not planning to PR or anything but just to have have and to check off another state from my list. I ran in Utah a few weeks ago and felt the altitude change.

        Reply
  8. Meranda S (@fairytalesnfit)

    Oh man I know how this goes, I suffered with ITBS for 18 months but I did not recover properly (cus I wanted to run the races I had already signed up for). Hope you are back at it soon.

    You have good taste in handbags and shoes!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you Meranda!! I’ve lucky with the ITB so far…it did flare up during my first ever marathon and again later down the road but not really bad. The back though that was something else! I’m going to add chiro and deep tissue massages every once in a while during the tough training periods. I really think this is what finally put me back together, so to speak!

      My wife did approve of the handbags too and I’m pretty sure it will be the only time you’ll ever see a handbag on my running blog 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!!!!

      Reply
  9. Once_upon_a_run

    I’m so glad you’re recovering and on your way back to training. Your situation definitely scares me as I’m using the same Hanson’s plan. Were you using the beginning or advanced one? Either way, I’m going from a 35 peak mile plan (last year) to a 57 peak mile plan. I’m extremely scared. haha I’m in week 4 of the plan. I started late so it’s actually week 3 for me. 🙂 Hope the rest of your recovery goes smoothly!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thanks Mai…I really think that I am close to returning and if all goes well we are going for a run along the Seattle waterfront at the weekend. So looking forward to running and riding again.

      I was using the “beginners” plan but, as you know, the beginners Hanson’s plan is anything but beginner level. This would have been my 12th marathon and it was by far the hardest plan I’ve ever followed. But, also the most rewarding in terms of my overall performance up until the injury. I would say make sure you run the easy runs easy…easy means easy and do not over exert yourself. My peak week was also supposed to be 57 miles so it sounds like we are on the same plan. But, I added a couple miles to my final long and ran a very hilly course with a 3-4 mile steady climb at the end of my biggest week…don’t do that!!!! Run the 16 as stated in the book, no matter how badass you might feel by then! I’m not sure I’ll ever figure out what caused the injury but I will be trying Hansons again and I am sure it will lead me to a PR, next time!

      Reply
      1. Once_upon_a_run

        Yeah, I saw their plans and even their plan for first time finishers is intense. This is my second marathon so I’m pretty scared about using it. Maybe I should have waited until I put a few more under my belt. Eek! Good luck on this weekend’s run!

        Reply
        1. James Post author

          I think you will be fine…just follow the workouts and stick to your target paces. Look forward to following your adventures!

          Reply
  10. mawil1

    Nice handbags! Be careful , if that’s the result Paula might want you to get injured more often and you will be finding a potato under your mattress!!😂😂 I’m glad that you are getting better. Take it gently with those lovely new shoes!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Hahahaha, too funny Julie! I don’t think she wants me to be injured but if I see her running to mow the lawn every week, I might think something’s up 🙂 I will break the shoes in gently, hopefully starting next week during our Seattle weekend getaway!

      Reply
  11. sarahdudek80

    I’m so glad to hear that you are on the mend. It can be so frustrating and at the time, it feels like you will never get better or ever get back on track. That certainly makes the patient healing process even more difficult. I have definitely had my share of injuries. I think they are all learning experiences. I’ve never been gifted anything like that when my husband has been injured. I might need to share this post with him.

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      hehehe…I’m pretty sure this is the only time you’ll see a handbag on my running site, but I did balance it with new shoes too 🙂 thank you for the kind words and support Sarah – it is so frustrating as you know and I know you hear it often with the runners that you and your husband coach…hopefully we learn and get a little smarter next time, though in this case I honestly don’t think I’ll figure out the exact cause. I will get back to my core work next time and will be adding deep tissue massage and chiro at least monthly. Looking forward to coming back, albeit very slowly!

      Reply
  12. Jodi

    Glad you are in the mend!!! Those little twinges can turn into bigger things!! I had to change how often I run a few years back, i couldn’t recover back to back daily runs, it lead to ITB and knee issues. I still sometimes need two days of rest between runs for everything to settle down!!!

    It looks like your Fall schedule is shaping up, stay healthy and I look forward to seeing you back on the road!!!

    Jodi

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you Jodi!! These injuries can be so frustrating. I just hope that it does not become an ongoing condition but I won’t know until I am able to come back and get in a few runs. I will also make some adjustments including paying attention to when I need rest and investing in a deep tissue massage treatment on my back at least once a month!!

      Reply
  13. Sharon

    Sorry to hear about your back and not being able to run! Lucky Paula. those handbags look nice!! I hope you will be able to run your fall races with no problems!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you Sharon!! Yeah, it has been a frustrating couple months, especially missing the marathon. But, looking forward to getting back out this weekend and coming back slowly before preparing for the Fall races. Hope you are doing well and have some fun races or trips planned too!

      Reply
  14. wanderwolf

    Handbags and shoes… nice combination. 🙂 kudos to Paula for sticking with you in thick and thin! Remember these days if she’s ever injured (but hopefully that never happens!).
    Glad to see you’re on the mend and moving forward…those shoes have to be broken in somehow. Having a few months before the fall races looks good, and leaving us here on the sidelines to cheer you on is the best plan, ever!
    As far as my own 2 month recovery is going, I finally (Wednesday) got the all clear to build up ever so slowly. I have no races planned for the rest of this year, so that I really commit to a slow build up (we’re talking 20 miles a week now, 35 by the end of the year). However, I’ll see how I’m progressing and accommodate.
    A final thought: my doc diagnosed my back as being the problem for my leg and feet woes… so if you have this problem now and haven’t gotten your back x-rayed yet, you may want to do so to prevent issues in the future. She told me it also could have to do with long treadmill runs at 1% or more incline, so that’s something to watch out for as well.
    Wishing you all the best!

    Reply
    1. James Post author

      Thank you Dorothea and so nice to hear from you! Yes, long injury layoffs are so frustrating especially when we train so hard for a given race. That DNS was awful, dealing with it 3 times in 6 months would be horrendous. I ran for the first time today and made it through a very easy 4 miles with several walking and picture breaks! Hoping to build slowly over the next month before even trying any serious training for the Fall races. I did do a lot of treadmill training over the winter but not really at a constant 1% incline…definitely something to watch though next year when I ramp up the treadmill again. I’m also going to add routine chiro and deep tissue massage to my back…at this age, I need a bit more care and maintenance apparently to keep me going! Best of luck with your summer training and plans and keep us updated!!

      Reply

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