Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ice Packs & Low-fat Chocolate Milk


I’m sitting here with a large zip lock bag full of ice strapped to my left ankle and I couldn’t be happier.  Yep, I’m injured.  I got caught in a lightning laced hail storm while I was out for my daily lunch hour 10k. I was hustling through a wooded trail trying to make it back to the office in time for a staff meeting when it happened. [I had never been out in a hail storm. It’s nasty; you don’t want to experience it. It’s like a much taller person is chasing and throwing rocks at you. This storm was producing hail the size of peach pits and when they hit my head, they hurt like they really were peach pits] The injury happened when I slipped in mud and rolled my left ankle. Running primarily on trails, ankle rolling is typically no big deal, but this was different. It happened at the top of a descent and all my weight rolled the ankle and sent me stumbling down the hill in pain. I did my typical 5-stride/hop routine telling myself to run through it, but the pain wasn’t going away. I still had 1.5 miles to go so I worked out out some sort of stride and eventually made it back to the office in the down pour amongst awesome lightning bolts.  Now if I could run more than a mile my ankle must be ok, right? Wrong. I pulled off my sock and calf sleeve and saw the damage. At this point it looked as though I had a fist sticking out of my ankle. I showered, found some ice, drank a chocolate milk(serving as both refuel & comfort food) and I dialed into the conference call. In spite of the ice, my ankle was now growing. Long story short, I made my way to the doc and after an X-Ray and a conversation about a piece of my Fibula that never fused from a past injury, he told me that my grapefruit-sized ankle wasn’t broken. My only focus now was how long would it take me to get back to running.

X-Ray Candidate

I mentioned earlier that I was happy and I should explain. Today, 11 days after that hail storm 10k, I finally went for my first run. I went to my “go-to” route, a trail on a nearby mountain ridge which is an out and back to a radio tower site with a spectacular vista high above Harrisburg, PA. It’s only 6 miles, but it’s rocky in places with numerous downed trees and ascends/descends about 700’. I expected to walk most of it and maybe run some. Instead, I ran most of it and barely walked at all. Yeah, I ran slowly, but I was up off the lazy-boy without an ice pack lashed to my leg. Encouraging progress! Yep, that’s why I’m so happy.

Purple Toes


Injuries are a bummer for obvious reasons. In endurance running, most common are over-use injuries. I do all I can to lie to myself while backing off the training miles and settle in to ice and Ibuprofen my way through them. Now and then, injuries require drastic measures. For instance the week prior to this ankle sprain I gave in to Plantar Fasciitis and actually went to the Podiatrist for an injection to fix it. For something like a rolled ankle, I would typically never think of going to the doctor. One of my biggest challenges while rehabbing an injury is my appetite. Running gives me a massive appetite and not running and allowing that appetite to persist would result in added injury pounds, so backing off the calories is step one. Step two is finding some other way to burn calories while not running. I turned to weight lifting for that. Refueling with low-fat chocolate milk was also part of the repair program. Every serving of low-fat chocolate milk delivers protein, carbs, Vitamins A, B & D, Calcium and a bunch of other essential goodies that put you back the way you were before exercise. I use low-fat chocolate milk to recover from a workout so it made perfect sense to use it to recover from an injury.

I’m not completely healed, but I’m definitely on the road to recovery. I spent the entire weekend watching the Olympics iced and elevated and today my toes might still be purple from the injury, but I was able to run 6 miles.  When I went to the doctor the next 3 races I’m entered in flashed in my head as improbable. When he told me it wasn’t broken, they improved to ”maybes”. After today’s slow encouraging run they were moved to the “yep, I’ll be at those start lines” column. My next event is a fun one with my family, The Chiques Challenge 3.5 miles on foot & 2.5 miles by kayak. After that I’m running a 30k trail race that may now be just a fun training run in preparation for The Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ RollHalf Marathon. Half marathon is a fun distance and it’s a beautiful course; looping through town and an out & back on Kelly & MLK Drives along the river. On top of that I’ll be running representing Team REFUEL. I look forward to crossing The Falls Bridge heading for the finish at The Art Museum. I can almost hear the Rocky Theme now, but first I’ve got to get this ankle back to 100%!



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