Blood, Sweat and Pain

For those of you who follow me on social media, you may have seen me post about the fact that I’ve been dealing with what I thought were anterior shin splints during my marathon training.  Over the past few weeks, I have seen my orthopedist for X-rays and an MRI.  The good news is I don’t have shin splints! Nor do I have any form of strain, sprain, or stress fracture. Woohoo! I can keep training.

So at this point, you are probably wondering what the heck is wrong with me then.  It appears that the bone marrow in my left leg has increased its production of red blood cells to increase my O2 max. The doctor says that this is normal as my body is trying to keep up with the oxygen being expended by the increase in my training.  Normally when this occurs, people feel pain in their arm and it’s not as severe.  However since I’m also using my leg to run (duh), I’m really feeling the pain. I don't know smile

My orthopedist compared me to athletes who blood dope illegally.  They withdraw oxygen rich blood and then inject it back into themselves before an intense athletic effort.  My body is naturally increasing the amount of oxygen rich blood that I have available when I train.  Pretty cool to know how adaptive my body is. Before my hysterectomy I was always anemic so it’s kind of cool to see my body producing red blood cells en masse instead of bleeding them out.

bone structure and function

Here’s a bit more information about the importance of bone marrow from Science Daily.

Bone marrow is the tissue that makes up the center of large bones and is the place where new blood cells are produced.  There are two types of bone marrow: red marrow (also known as myeloid tissue) and yellow marrow.  Red blood cells, platelets and most white blood cells come from red marrow; some white blood cells develop in yellow marrow.

Red marrow is found mainly in the flat bones such as hip bone, breast bone, skull, ribs, vertebrae and shoulder blades, and in the "spongy" material at the ends of the long bones femur and humerus.

In cases of severe blood loss, the body can convert yellow marrow back to red marrow in order to increase blood cell production.

So basically, the yellow marrow in my tibia is being converted by my body back to red marrow.  As my body adapts to the increases in my training and O2 needs, the need for the increased blood cell production will subside and so will the pain.  In the meanwhile, I am taking a slow release long acting NSAID on an as needed basis to deal with the pain.  I am also able to KEEP TRAINING!!!

Have you ever had an injury during training? How do you stay focused as you heal or adapt to your body’s changes during training? How is your running going?

Post Surgery Progress Timeline

This past weekend I was talking to someone who had recently had a hysterectomy.  She was determined to start exercising immediately and excited to get her body back.  She is 6 weeks post-op and started full force with Shaun T and T25. It was a bit much for her even with the modifications.

I realized that it seems to some people that I went straight from post-op to running long distances.  Nothing could be farther than the truth.  So I decided to share my timeline back to fitness after my total abdominal hysterectomy.

Weeks 1-2: RECOVERY – I couldn’t do much more than get out of be, especially in the first 2 weeks.  I listened to the the doctor as far as how to slowly resume normal activities.  NO exercise whatsoever.

Week 3-5: WALKING – I walked short distances to get moving.  Around the block. To the Lake. I didn’t do more than a mile or so at a time the first time.  I also started upper body strength training during my 4th week using exercises designed for women who had just had hysterectomies or pelvic floor surgeries.  You can read about my progress at that point here.

Week 6: RUNNING – I had my first run exactly 6 weeks post-op. It wasn’t my best run but it felt great to be out there.  I still was following doctor’s orders.  I could only do 1-2 miles at a time for a while but I stuck with it.

What I’m trying to say is that you should listen to your body as you get back into the swing of things.  It has been more than a year since my surgery and I still have issues with my lower abs and core.  I work on it and remind myself that I am making progress each day.  You will too.

How long was it before you started exercising post-surgery?  Did you have any setbacks that caused you to have to build back up your fitness levels?

Bladder Infections after Hysterectomy

OK, so this may be a bit TMI.  But I’m dealing with a bladder infection.  I expected to have to deal with one shortly after my hysterectomy not 11 months post-op but…

Anyway, it seems as though this is not unusual.  What is a problem for me is being a runner who likes to stay hydrated and then tries to run.  The result isn’t a fun feeling.

My symptoms started last week with frequent urges to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night with barely anything to pass.  It then became full out running to the bathroom after drinking only a few ounces of water.  This is a problem as I usually drink between 32-64 ozs of water a day.

drinking_eight_glasses_too_much_water_work_bathroom

My doctor prescribed antibiotics which I picked up on my way to the track for speed work on Thursday evening.  I took the first pill and tried to run.  No bueno!  I was supposed to do 4 x 600m.  After the warmup and first 400m, I ran to the PortaPotty.  YUCK!!! I ended up walking for the majority of the workout just to get the workout in and avoid having to go back in that thing.

I was doing better by the time of my LSD on Saturday morning.  Because I run/walk using the Galloway method, every time I stopped to walk the slight urge went away.  I also think the fact that it was early in the morning before I had the bulk of my water helped.

But after my LSD, I went into SuperMom mode – Walmart & Target for school supplies, housework, drove to NY to check on my folks then back the next day.  I still went to work on Monday and Tuesday like was expected.  By last night, my body was ready to shut down and did.  No tempo run for me.

I forgot that my body needs a little more time to battle infections.  Instead, I was in bed at 7pm.  After a good night’s sleep, I’m back at work and ready for the world.

How do you remember to listen to your body?  What is your ah-ha moment when it comes to recovery from illness or injury?

Look ma, no girdle!

When I first came back to the pavement post-hysterectomy, I went on a quest for compression tights which would hold my weak stomach muscles and swelly belly together while I ran.  I even wrote about my quest and several of the styles I tried.  As the weather began getting warm, I panicked.  There was no way I could afford to buy as many pairs of compression shorts as I would need to get through summer running.  Plus, I have so many pairs of running shorts and skirts that I would hate to have them sit around collecting dust.  So I did what any good frugal fastinista would do, I found a way to wear them.  My secret was to wear a panty girdle.  I had a few which I had purchased in the Fall so that I could wear real clothes again after the surgery.  I hadn’t worn them since.  So I started wearing them under my shorts and skirts to run.  I tested them out on my shorter weekly runs and then an 8 mile long run.  They worked perfectly! They held me in without discomfort as I was still rebuilding my core.  I wore one under my skirt at the Baltimore Ten Miler and even though it wasn’t my best race I couldn’t blame my belly.  For the Dreaded Druid Hills 10K, I wore the one pair of compression shorts which I did purchase.  I would have worn compression shorts regardless of being a hysterrunner because…well it’s the DREADED Druid HILLS! But then the inevitable happened, I needed to do laundry and didn’t have a clean panty girdle to wear.

laundry day at my house_exercise

Laundry day at my house. Seriously, this is what it feels like!

So for the BWC, I wore my skirt and regular undergarments & I was fine.  I think between my core work over the past few months and recovery in general I can safely say I don’t need the extra support in my midsection when I run.  However, I do like compression garments for support and recovery of muscles during and after intense workouts.  So I will probably continue wearing compression tights or shorts on long runs.

Do you wear compression gear?  What is your go to gear for intense workouts?

Ice Bath Haiku

ice bath haiku

As I have been training for middle distances, my mileage has increased as expected.  When I sat down to write down my training schedule, I wrote the word ICE next to each run that was longer than 8 miles.  I had heard from one of my BRFs, Real, that 8 miles was the distance that brought out the aches and pains during trains.  Anything more than 8 miles and you really feel it.  However, Real trained for her first half-marathon during the summer and raced it in the Fall.  I’m training for Spring races in the Winter.  The thought of coming in from a frosty (20-40 degrees) run and getting into an ice bath just didn’t fly with my brain.  The last thing I wanted after running next to an ice covered lake or pond was to come home and get into ice water.  No way, not me!

In February, I started doing runs longer than 8 miles but did I ice bathe after?  Nope!  I ran 9 miles the Saturday before my birthday.  On my birthday, I had a therapeutic massage.  The masseuse commented on how tight my calves were.  She is a runner herself and spent extra time getting the knots worked out.  I ran the RRCA 10 Miler a few days later to celebrate with no ice bath.  Then, my mileage dialed back a bit for a few weeks.

Fast forward to this month, I ran 9.5 miles 3 Saturdays ago and 10.3 miles last Sunday.  Following both of those runs, I came in and took my warm shower.  I wore my ProCompression Marathon socks to recover.  I made sure to stay hydrated, paid attention to the macros and micros of my diet, etc so that I would recover well.  However, for most of last week my calves were TIGHT!  My speedwork was more like slow-work.  My 7 mile easy run was cut short to 5 miles.  I did Bikram Yoga on Friday with the hopes that the heat and the stretching would help.  It didn’t.

So this Saturday’s long run of 10 miles – the last long run before the Cherry Blossom on my schedule – was BRUTAL!!!  Instead of my calves loosening up after the first few miles, they felt tighter.  I do 1:1 run/walk intervals.  I mostly walked the last 3 miles.  I finished in my worst time ever since February.  I knew it was time to embrace the ice bath.

If you haven’t taken an ice bath before, check here for some Do’s and Don’ts.  I climbed in to my tub filled with cold water, sat down and winced.  I stayed in for a little over 10 minutes.  When I climbed out and warmed up, not only did my calves feel better but aches in my hips which I had only just begun to realize existed were gone as well.  Even more important to me as a hysterrunner, the aches in my lower abdomen around my incision which I have felt since I started running again were also going away.  I thought that they were a permanent ache to deal with.  Turns out they too were just muscle aches due to running!  I’m a believer – cue The Monkees!

The Monkees–I’m A Believer

Have you ever taken an ice bath?  What do you do to recover from intense effort?

Hysterectomy Statistics–Infographic

I wanted to share some basic hysterectomy facts with you.  But, I didn’t want to bore you with a really long list of statistics written in research-ese.  If you want that version of the facts, visit the CDC website for Hysterectomy.

To give you the facts, I have created my first infographic.  It’s a pretty simple one and because I’m not that graphic arts savvy it only has a few key points.  But, I think it gets my point across.  Here you go –

hysterrunner facts

Are you a runner or avid exerciser who has had a hysterectomy?  Do you know any one who is?  Let them know about this blog.  I’m interested in learning about others’ experiences as they regain their fitness post-hysterectomy.

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Rock N Roll Philly Half Marathon

Race # 10September 15th, 2013
Aiming for a PR!