Monday, November 11, 2019

Training log - Week ending 11/10/19

This week was 23 miles of running, 6 "miles" of pool-running, 500 yards of swimming, 2 hours on the elliptical or arc-trainer, and a whole lotta x-rays and shoulder rehab work -- training log is here.

On Wednesday morning, 3.5 miles into my planned 5 mile run (the last before leaving for Indy), I was hit by a pick-up truck while in a crosswalk.

I'm a planner.  And this was not the plan. 

Amazingly (if I do say so myself), I literally got up and walked away with non-life threatening injuries, though my entire left side was battered with my left shoulder taking the worst of it.  But it very quickly became obvious (if hard to accept) that there was no way I could realistically race the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on Saturday.  Y'know - the superfast course with fast weather and a 2:55 pace group where I was a member of the elite field.  That one.


As frustrating as it was, I was also frankly so relieved to be alive that the marathon no longer seemed that big a deal.  And all the x-rays so far (and I've had many) show no indication of broken bones.

But what I did end up with, in addition to a lovely assortment of lacerations and bruises, was a left arm that wasn't working well.  I could use the hand (good) but moving at the shoulder, including lifting my hand above my waist to the front or side, was absolutely impossible.  I just couldn't make the arm move at the shoulder joint on its own - it wouldn't listen to me - and having someone else move my arm was pretty damn painful.

[I should note here, that though I'm ambidextrous, my left arm is normally my stronger, slightly more dominant arm, making its sudden lack of function even more awkward.]

Needless to say, the latter part of the week did not go according to schedule.  Rather than tapering down and hopping on a plane to Indianapolis, I was rehabbing, with my wonderful partner putting his schedule on hold to chauffeur me to various appointments (I couldn't drive the first few days).  Rather than carb-loading, I was protein-loading, trying to give my body as much building material as possible.

And while there was a tiny part of me that wanted to crawl in a hole and cry, there was a much larger part that wanted to take a shot at a marathon to express my fitness, if I could pull it off.  And by "pulling it off" I mean have a decent shot at running a fast time while also being comfortable I wouldn't be making the shoulder any worse or risking anything else.   Marathon running as emotional coping strategy.  And Richmond Marathon, on 11/15, was still open.

So that was the challenge.  While protecting and rehabbing the shoulder, I also had to figure out how to do just enough aerobically to preserve my ability to race Richmond if the shoulder would allow.  I'm unfortunately not one of those people who can shut things down completely during taper - I get stiff and flat.   And my normal cross-training alternatives of swimming and pool-running were out.  (I could _kinda_ pool-run, but only by wearing a belt and crossing my arms). 

So...after consulting with a physical therapist friend, and getting fully checked out by multiple doctors, I turned to the arc-trainer and the elliptical.  To protect my shoulder, I either clasped my hands in a fist and held them at my chest or placed them on stationary handles.

At the same time, I was working on the shoulder - starting by walking in a shallow water pool (the water supported the weight of my left arm) while using my right hand/arm to grasp the left arm and move it around.  From there, I moved to exercises on land - I placed my left hand on my kitchen island, and let my fingers walk the arm out and back in.  Plus lots of icing to bring down the swelling (because of my ulcerative colitis, I can't take NSAIDS).

All very humbling - a week ago I was doing presses with 35 pound dumbbells.  And now, I can't envision doing a pressing motion with my unweighted hand.  But, you have to train where you are, not where you wish you were or used to be.

Over a few days of careful rehab, I got to the point where I was comfortable trying to run.  I have a fairly low arm swing, so I don't need that much range of motion or strength in the arm to run.  Test runs on Saturday and Sunday went well - good enough to build confidence that Richmond would happen if the doctor signed off.  [I will NOT race Richmond if there is a possibility that it will make anything worse or create a new injury.]

So that was the good news.  Unfortunately, independent of the arm, I didn't feel great on Sunday - just stiff, sluggish, flat.  But I think this is not that surprising.  I've had to cut out a LOT of my daily routine - I can't even do a plank, let alone swim.  I can't foam roll, since I have to brace with my shoulders in order to do that.  And my DIY yoga mobility routine has been out of bounds, though I'm now able to do some of it again, as long as I clasp my hands to my chest.    Plus, the physical and emotional strain of the past few days has to have taken its toll on my reserves.

Hopefully, now that I'm able to at least run again, some of that flatness will go away.  I'm thinking that with a few more short runs before Richmond, I'll feel sharper.  And if I work hard at it, I should be able to restore and top off my reserves over the next week.

Some observations from this experience:

  • If you slam your Garmin hard enough, it will stop automatically.
  • 8:30 am on a weekday is a great time to go to the ER.  No wait at all.
  • If you can't raise your hand above your waist, you can still put your long hair in a pony-tail or bun by doing "standing forward fold" pose from yoga.  It just won't look very good.
  • If you're ever going to have a non-working arm, it's best to have a collection of button down shirts.  If you are like me, and despise button down shirts with a passion, and live in sportsbras, close-fitting tank tops, and long sleeve technical shirts, then you have a problem.    In that event, I recommend that you save at least one old stretched out super thin strap bathing suit.  Because you'll probably be living in that thing plus sweat pants for a few days.
  • When donning said stretched out bathing suit, or a coat, put the injured arm in first.  Correspondingly, when taking off a coat or stretched out swim suit, the injured arm comes out last.
  • If you are going to get majorly bruised and scraped up, the last week of marathon taper is a surprisingly good time to do it.  I am amazed how quickly the superficial stuff has healed.  I suspect that it's because my body was stocking up on all sorts of resources to throw at a marathon, and it just threw those at this instead. 


Monday: DIY yoga and 6 "miles" pool-running.  Foam rolling at night.

Tuesday: 7 miles, including a track workout of 3x800 in 2:58, 2:54, 2:52 (recoveries of 2:13 and 2:28).  Also 500 yards recovery swimming.  Sports massage in afternoon.

Wednesday: 3.5 miles (8:54) followed by x-rays.

Thursday: Off except for shoulder rehab exercises.  And more x-rays.

Friday A total of 60 minutes on the arc-trainer, mostly with hands clasped in front of chest.  Added in 4x3:00 hard with 1:00 easy to remind my body that we're not done for the season yet.  More shoulder rehab.

Saturday: 2.5 miles very easy (8:43) to test shoulder and then 60 minutes on the elliptical at easy run effort, with hands on stationary handles.  More shoulder rehab.

Sunday:  10 miles aerobic, split as first 5 easy (8:19), second 5 moderate (7:08).  Followed with some careful leg injury prevention work (all stuff that didn't need arms).  More shoulder rehab.


  1. I'm so sorry for this major interruption. How frustrating! I still have high hopes for Richmond, but I know this is a big hurdle to overcome. I think you've made smart decisions and hopefully hit the starting line with a lot of pent-up energy!

  2. WHAT. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear this. I hope Richmond works out for you.

  3. I came here to see how you did at Indy...and I am SO sorry. I was hit by a car while running two years ago and suffered facial fractures, a torn ACL and MCL, and a broken tibia. Needless to say my marathon training that season was over. Anyway, it's scary to be hit, especially while running, and I'm truly sorry. I hope that they at least stopped...

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