Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Social Media Updates

Just a quick post to make you all aware of a few things. Since I changed the name of my blog from The Running Cook to Sweat Junkie, I updated Facebook and Twitter as well.

Unfortunately, Facebook won't allow you to change the URL of your Facebook page (which was, so my only option was to create a whole new page. That means you need to go here: and "Like" me.

My Twitter username has also changed from @therunningcook to @sweatylauren. Since Twitter is cooler than Facebook, you don't need to do anything and if you are already following me, you will just see my tweets show up under my new name. If you're not following me yet, go here to follow:!/sweatylauren.

If we're not friends on Daily Mile yet and you want to see how I'm getting my sweat on, you can find me here:

On Klout (which I have yet to completely figure out), you can find me here:

I think that's all for now. Thanks for bearing with me through this transition! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and long weekend!

Time for me to go lift things up and put them down!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dusting off my Garmin

Since I haven't been able to run in a month, my Garmin has been sitting on our desk, unused and collecting dust.

With it getting dark so early and it being colder outside, my means of sweating over the past month has mostly consisted of riding this beaut inside for 45 minutes to an hour without knowing how far I've gone...

That is, until a few days ago when a new toy came in the mail!

Garmin speed & cadence sensor + Garmin bike mount = data nerd is happy once more.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Running Cook has moved!

Effective today, "The Running Cook" has changed to "Sweat Junkie". My domain name is, however if you go to, you should get redirected here. If you're already following, you shouldn't have to do anything!

Also, you can now e-mail me at [email protected]


P.S. No, I'm not having an identity crisis!

P.P.S. Please don't mind if things look weird on here for a while. I'm changing a few designs, but nothing major.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Look Who's Late to the Versatile Blogger Party!

About a million years ago I was tagged by Emily @ in the between and XLMIC @ Taking it On to participate in the Versatile Blogger game.

The "rules":
1. Thank the giver (Thanks Emily & XL!)
2. Share 7 random things about yourself (see below)
3. Tag 15 people (below).

I’m a nerd. I really love Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and utilizing formulas in spreadsheets. I finished 4 years of college in 3 years (part of this is thanks to a few credits I picked up in high school). I really loved my accounting, information systems, and operational management classes in college. My job now has nothing to do with this stuff now, and that makes me a little sad.

These are not really my glasses.

The first time I spoke to my husband I was wearing a Santa Clause outfit. HOT.

(he is the one in the back with his eyes closed...he's still a blinker)

The next time we spoke I was wearing a Jeep t-shirt, which I still have and probably always will.

He told me that he liked my shirt. We both drove and loved Jeeps so that’s how we started talking and we realized we had so much in common. The rest is history.

I’ve never changed a baby’s diaper in my life. I babysat kids 2 times when I was younger, but they were old enough not to crap their pants. I want to have kids one day, but I don’t consider myself “good” with kids. They kind of scare me. I’m hoping God will just give me those skills (to include diaper changing) whenever we decide to have kids. Yes, I am going to be that girl at the hospital asking the nurses how to change a diaper. I’ll probably be referencing Google and YouTube a lot (fun fact: if you type "how to change a diaper" in the YouTube search, there are 9,440 results. I think I'll be okay).

We haven't gone in a while, but Andrew and I like to go shooting together. I have my concealed carry permit. So you know, don’t try to be a creepy stalker or anything.

I can fall asleep in about 3 minutes. If it takes me any where near 10 minutes to fall asleep (or heaven forbid, 20 minutes), I consider that “having a really hard time sleeping”. Also, I always make a noise (a hum/grunt noise) and/or have a full-body twitch when I’m falling asleep (right before I’m actually asleep). That’s how my husband knows I’m asleep and he thinks its funny. Sometimes making my noise and twitching wakes me up.

I have the worst poker face ever. I am so terrible at keeping a straight face when I need too.

I live in the same city where I grew up and I have no intentions of moving. I also went to college here. I don't get out much! I love where I live and I love being near my family.

Okay, your turn. I picked these completely randomly, however they are "newer" followers of mine (which means I am going down my Google followers list and seeing who else has a blog!):
1. Jeanette @ Journey to Health & Happiness
2. Jen @ Concrete and Coffee
3. Corrina @ Mama Needs to Run
4. Katherine @ Neon Blonde Runner
5. Candice @ I Have Run
6. Zaneta @ Runner's Luck
7. Lisa @ Early Morning Run
8. Jen @ Running with the girls
9. Michael @ Slowly Tri-ing
Okay - now blogger is being stupid and slow so I can't click on any more names right now. Seriously, if you want to play along, consider yourself tagged!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Changes @ The Running Cook

Sometime soon, "The Running Cook" will change to "Sweat Junkie".

I just wanted to let you know before I did it, so that you weren't all like, "Who the heck is 'Sweat Junkie' and why is their blog showing up in my Google Reader?!" I will have my own domain (I will let you know what it is once I actually do it), but you should get automatically directed there.

I loved everyone's suggestions for blog titles. Some of them that I really liked were already taken. This is a spin off of Emily's suggestion of "Endorphin Junkie" (that one was taken, too). Sweat Junkie seems to fit me because not only do I sweat a ton, but in this break of no running I have realized more than ever that I'm addicted to sweating.

That is all. I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

PS - I will be gradually making some design changes on the blog, so please ignore it if you come here and it's all jacked up or it looks like it changes everyday! Thanks :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Richmond Marathon Spectating Report

In case you haven't been keeping up, I was supposed to run in my first marathon last weekend but instead I had my very first DNS (did not start, for all you non-runners) due to injuring my back. While I was bummed about not being able to run, I would not have missed the opportunity to cheer on and support my running partner for anything!!

Andrew and I traveled to Richmond the day before the race. It was a beautiful day, although a bit cool and breezy.

View from Afton Mountain on the way

We got to Richmond around 2 and headed to the expo to pick up my $80 t-shirt that I can't wear with pride. The expo was busy and a little overwhelming, but it was fun nonetheless.  We met up with Grace and her husband there and walked around for a little bit with them. Then we decided to go check out the start/finish area just to get an idea of where everything would be. After that we went out to eat at an Italian restaurant so that Grace could carb up!  Grace had everything planned out as far as where she wanted people stationed so that she could hand off gloves/jackets and pick up more water and fuel.  So once we had everything planned out, we went our separate ways for the evening.

The race started at 8 AM and it was a chilly morning with temps in the low 30s.  The temps warmed up into the low 60s and thankfully it was sunny and not too windy, so it really wasn't that bad.  Since Grace wanted us to wait at mile 13, we didn't go to the start since it would have been really crazy and hard to find a place to park.  We actually didn't leave the hotel until 8:30, and we headed straight for mile 13.

Mile 13 was a "Party Zone" so there were lots of people cheering in this section.  It was pretty fun actually. I got a pretty sweet cowbell that I intend on using at all future spectating events.  The excitement really started to build as the runners started to show up. Shockingly, the Kenyans were winning.

Here's me being an AWESOME spectator with my messed up hair, cowbell, and Team Sparkle skirt (It was our plan to wear matching skirts as we ran. Grace still wore hers so I wore mine over my jeans!):

Names were printed on the bibs, so it was fun to cheer for complete strangers by name. Andrew thought this was a little weird, and I was a little embarrassed because it's not really my style either. I did it a few times anyways and the runners would usually smile and say "thanks".

It was so exciting to see Grace round the corner and come our way.

I walked quickly next to her for a little bit as she gave me her gloves and her jacket. I poured some water into her handheld and handed her a bag of chews and a fig newton. She seemed to be doing great at that point, and I was really excited for her.

Off she went and off we went to wait for her at the finish. Traffic and parking downtown was a little crazy because of all the people and the road closures. We had plenty of time to spare though, so it wasn't a big deal.

Once we parked, we found a spot to wait that was about 200 yards away from the finish. Runners from the half and full marathon were continuously approaching the finish, so it was pretty exciting. The last 1/2 mile is downhill, which was brutal for some but a great opportunity for others to sprint like crazy maniacs finish really strong.

I absolutely loved watching everybody approach the finish. Some people were smiling. You could see pain on the faces of others. Some people were crying (from happiness and/or pain). Some people looked like runners. Others looked like average people. Some people were sprinting. Others could barely walk. The crowd was supporting all of the runners, and the runners were supporting each other.

One of the notable things I saw was one guy finishing the half marathon on crutches. Crazy beast.

I was so excited when I saw Grace coming towards the finish.

Her official time was 5:07! Woohoo!

Me with Grace after she finished.

I am so proud of Grace for finishing and doing so great. I wanted to be out there with her so much, but there was nothing better than seeing her cross the finish line and accomplish something so awesome and something that she had worked so hard for.

After the race we went to a few bike shops, ate a late lunch, and headed home. It was a really fun trip, and I hope to be able to spectate at more marathons in the future. Oh, and I still hope to be able to run in one too ;)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

3 Weeks

It has officially been 3 weeks since my last run.

I really appreciate everyone’s encouragement and praise of my good attitude about all of this, but I just need to be honest and say that my thoughts and outlook are far from positive right now. I know people are struggling with problems way worse than this and I realize that I am a very blessed person, so I feel bad for even whining about it. But this is my blog so I’m going to anyways. Honey badger don’t care!

My back still hurts. It doesn’t hurt as much as it did 3 weeks ago, but I know that I would really screw it up again if I tried to go for a run today. The Richmond Marathon has come and gone. In some ways I thought that its passing would make me feel better, but it has only made me feel worse. There’s no way my back can miraculously feel better and I’ll be able to run it because it has already happened. Now my focus is not on whether or not I’ll be able to run the Richmond Marathon, but if I will ever be able to run a marathon or be able to do any kind of distance running at all.

I know that people have recovered from injuries far worse than what I’m dealing with, but right now I’m really having a hard time being patient and keeping an optimistic attitude. I know I said that I enjoy cycling, but not being able to run has made me realize how much I actually love running. You never know how much you love something until it is taken away. Also, cycling is kind of boring right now because all of it is inside between the colder weather and it getting dark so early. And what’s more, I learned the hard way that the fat seats on the bikes at the gym make my pirifomis muscle want to scream. I would love to add swimming to the mix, but I’m missing that whole “having a pool at my gym” thing.

I’m signed up to run the Blue Ridge Marathon on April 21, 2012. I signed up last year right after I ran the half marathon because prices were super cheap. When I realized I wouldn’t be able to run the Richmond Marathon, Blue Ridge became by back-up plan. Earlier this week I began designing a 20 week training plan that will hopefully prepare me to finish this marathon. The problem? 20 weeks from the race begins the first week of December. I’m not even sure if I will be able to start training for this race on time. Oh, and did I mention that the Blue Ridge Marathon claims to be *ahem* America’s Toughest Road Marathon with 3,620 feet of elevation gain (7,234 feet of elevation change)? Even if I’m feeling 100% better this would be a daunting task (don’t worry, the marathon is in my hometown so I’d have plenty of opportunities to train on these hills!).

So I’m clearly pretty depressed about still not being able to run right now. I get sad when I read other running blogs and my twitter feed and see that everyone is having fun without me. My attitude towards everything else in life has suffered as well, even though I know I shouldn't let this affect the rest of my life.  I know that my happiness in life should not depend on being able to run, but it’s so hard when you’re not able to do something you’re passionate about, even if it’s just putting one foot in front of the other.

There’s no real positive point or end to this post; I just wanted to express how I’m feeling right now. I’m not sure when all of this will resolve, which is ultimately why I’m so frustrated. So anyways, this concludes my whining (for now).

On a happier note, I’m signed up to walk the Drumstick Dash (5K) with my mom on Thanksgiving morning. It will be fun, even if we’re just walking. I think I heard they are expecting somewhere around 15,000 walkers and runners, and it all helps to support the local Rescue Mission. I would love to be able to run the Jingle Bell Run (5K) on December 10th, but I might end up walking that one too!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

This post was inspired by a tweet I read yesterday from Tough Chik. The tweet said "Two steps forward and one step back is still ONE STEP FORWARD". I read it, loved it, and retweeted it. I kept thinking about this saying yesterday and I thought about it a lot in the shower this morning (I do my best thinking in there!). I liked it so much I made my first inspirational picture!

Yes, these are my legs. Yes, I used my camera's self-timer. No, I was not actually walking. Yes, I looked silly. No, I didn't care.

Being injured and not being able to run my first marathon is definitely a step backwards. Yes, it really sucks that I put in 15.5 weeks of training, made it through all of the hard weeks, and got all the way to the taper before this happened. It’s so easy to focus on the negative and so easily forget the positive things that I have accomplished. Training for this marathon has increased my physical and mental endurance to a level I never thought was possible. I ran 20 miles. Twice. And before that I ran 15 miles. 17 miles. 18 miles. Each of these longs was a big accomplishment for me. Even though I’m not able to put my training to use and run this specific marathon, nothing can take away my past accomplishments.

Life is a journey and we’re not always moving in a straight line. Sometimes we have to take an unexpected detour and we don’t reach our destination on time. Sometimes we have to turn around because we’re lost. Sometimes we run out of gas and we have to stop completely. We can map out a perfect route, but chances are things won’t go as planned. We hit bumps in the road and it forces us to make decisions we weren’t necessarily prepared to make. We have to change our plans and adapt.

The important thing is to not let your one step back turn into two steps. Because then two steps turn into three, and it’s a slippery slope from there. Analyze what went wrong. Ask yourself if what happened was completely out of your control or if you could have prevented it. If it was out of your control, there’s not much you can do but pick up the pieces and move on. Stressing out about whatever happened is not going to make anything any better. If it was within your control, take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from happening again. This won’t just magically happen for you. It will require hard work and dedication. It won’t be easy to do, but it will be worth it.

In my case, the cause of my problem was weakness. Once I got into higher mileage, I spent most of my time focusing on running and I didn’t make time for strength training, core work, or a lot of stretching. There’s really no excuse for that, but I could whine and tell you I didn’t have time or I was too tired from running so much.

A lot of our setbacks are ultimately caused by a weakness. We’re not perfect and we all have weaknesses, which is why our journeys don’t always turn out like we planned. But we can make small changes to make ourselves stronger; there is always a way to strengthen a weakness. Make a plan to implement these changes into your life and be patient as you gradually begin to see results.

Once we address our weaknesses and become stronger, we’re better able to adapt to the situations that caused our setback before. You will become stronger than when you were at "two steps forward" and you’ll progress to three and four steps forward. At this point you may look back on your setback and actually be thankful for it, because you know it helped make you stronger.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Back Update and Info on Kinesio Tape

My back is feeling so much better and I am so happy that I am almost back to walking without pain! It still hurts a little bit when I am going up the stairs or if I am off-balance (i.e. walking with my purse on one side). I have enjoyed cycling during this break and my legs have been getting a good workout.  I also did some upper body strength training and core work yesterday so my upper half is pretty sore today. After feeling rather slothish over the past week and a half, it felt good to be sore.

I wouldn't trade feeling better for anything, but it makes having decided not to do the marathon tougher on me.  It has me wondering if I did the right thing, but my doctor reassured me that I made the right decision. I know this was the smart thing to do, and I'm trying to plan out my next move!

Yesterday my doctor applied some Kinesio Tape to my butt area (since my pirifomis is also bugging me). I had heard of Kinesio Tape before and I received a sample of KT Tape with my Team Sparkle Skirt.  But I hadn't used it yet because I really didn't know what the heck to do with it and I would probably have just put tape on myself unnecessarily and incorrectly.  I have noticed a big improvement in my back over the past 2 days.  I'm sure I'm just getting better, but I think the Kinesio Tape has definitely helped out!

Kinesio Tape can be used to help treat ailments all over your body. My doctor gave me a handout on the benefits of Kineso Tape:
  • It helps to reduce pain by causing the body to release endorphins and enkephalins (the body's natural pain relievers).
  • It helps (chiropractic) adjustments hold by gently supporting the area.
  • It reduces swelling by improving lymphatic flow
  • It reduces muscle spasm by reducing muscle fatigue and over-contraction.

I also checked out this article from How Stuff Works. Here's some more info from this article:
  • Kinesiology = the science behind muscular and skeletal movement
  • The Kinesio Taping Method was developed by Japanese chiropractor Dr. Kenzo Kase in 1979
  • "This taping method gently lifts the layer of skin and attached tissue covering a muscle so that blood and other body fluids can move more freely in and around that muscle."
  • "Kinesiology tape is applied on top of an injured or strained area to stabilize it, but care is always taken to ensure that a muscle or tendon is never encircled with a ring of tape. As you move, the tape, skin and connective tissue (or fascia) over the muscle or tendon also move, pulling slightly away from the muscle and creating space for lymphatic fluid to flow around and cleanse the inflamed tissue."
  • "To ensure a full range of motion for the wearer, Kinesio Tape is very thin and made with a porous cotton fabric. The fabric lets the skin breathe and has an elasticity comparable to that of the skin and muscles. The sticky side of the tape uses a water-repellant, medical-grade acrylic adhesive that further supports the muscles and connective tissues. In addition, the tape can stay put for three to four days even through sweating and showering, and Kinesio makes a waterproof tape for use on hands and feet"
  • "Its primary benefit over traditional athletic tape is that it's designed to allow freedom of movement and flow of body fluids to speed the healing process."
  • "Before you attempt taping, get informed. Even if you're familiar with the muscles you're treating, applying the tape incorrectly could do more harm than good."
  • "Perhaps the biggest challenge in using kinesiology tape is that you can't always use it correctly by yourself. If you're treating muscles in your back, for example, getting the correct tape placement could be difficult, if not impossible, on your own. If the muscles you're treating are difficult to reach, consider getting a kinesiology tape buddy who's willing to learn to help apply the tape properly."

On the KT Tape website, you can find instructional videos on how to properly apply KT Tape. Again, if you're not sure, you should probably check with a doctor first.

Have you ever used Kinesio Tape? 
This is my first time! (I know, I know...TWSS)

P.S. Keep those blog name ideas coming! I really like a lot of them!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm thinking about changing my name...

My blog name, that is. And I need your help!

I will be the first to tell you that this blog has been less about cooking and food than I thought it would be. It turns out that taking fancy pictures of things you cook and uploading them and writing out how to make it is more time consuming than I thought. I'm totally okay with that and of course I do occasionally do recipe posts, but I think the title of my blog has become misleading.  I still have a passion for cooking (mostly just eating good food). But the blogging about it part? Not so much.

Secondly, since I haven't run in a week and a half (due to injury), I have had some time to reflect. And time to ride my bike. And time to lift weights. I have come to the realization that it doesn't so much matter what I'm doing, it just matters that I'm doing something.

Yes, I miss running terribly right now and I am devastated that next weekend will come and go without me running in the marathon I have trained for over the past 17 weeks (15.5 weeks of pre-injury training). Trust me, I know it really sucks! But I know I will run again sometime, hopefully sooner rather than later, and when I do I will enjoy it again.

In the mean time, I've also enjoyed riding my bike. I want to be able to cycle more. I also want to start swimming (I don't have the means to do that right now, but it's something I want to do). Who knows, I might even cross over to the dark side...

Reflecting back on my active pursuits throughout my life, I remember always loving whatever I was doing. When I was in elementary and middle school I loved playing on a soccer team. When I was in middle school, high school, and college, I loved playing competitive tennis. After college and in the beginning of married life, going to the gym was enough for me. A year and a half ago I fell in love with running.

It might sound like I just have trouble sticking with one sport, and while that might be true, it's clear to me that I love whatever I'm doing. I love sweating. I love challenging myself physically. I love how it makes me feel healthy and makes me a better person. I feel this way no matter what activity I'm doing, as long as I am doing something.

So with that said, I'm thinking of making my blog title less running-specific, if that makes sense.

Here's where I need your help! I'm thinking that I want my blog title to have something to do with sweating or endorphins or something. After all, sweating and endorphins are what I ultimately love. Also, I sweat A LOT. I'm not trying to copy anyone (like Emily @, and the domain names for the first few names I thought of are already taken (Sweating it Off, Sweat it Off, Sweating it Out, Sweat it Out).

The next name I thought of was Sweaty Life, but I'm not 100% sure I like it yet.

possible logo?

Thoughts? Suggestions? Please leave me a comment or send me an e-mail if you have any ideas. Thanks!

P.S. In the mean time, please don't go out and steal the domain name

Inspiration from Eleanor Roosevelt

I have been so overwhelmed with everyone's support as I have been dealing with my injury and making the tough decision about whether or not I should run my first marathon next weekend.  On Friday I received a sweet e-mail from my awesome sister-in-law with some quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt that she discovered in the book My Year with Eleanor. I found them to be very encouraging and inspiring so I thought I would pass them along!

"Nothing alive can stand still, it goes forward or back. Life is interesting only as long as it is a process of growth."

"Looking back I see that I was always afraid of something: of the dark, of displeasing people, of failure. Anything I accomplished had to be done across a barrier of fear."

"Do the things that interest you and do them with all your heart. Don't be concerned about whether people are watching you or criticizing you. The chances are that they aren't paying any attention to you."

"The encouraging thing is that every time you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it you find that forever after you are freer than you ever were before. . . . You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'"

"My life can be so arranged that I can live on whatever I have. If I cannot live as I have lived in the past, I shall live differently, and living differently does not mean living with less attention to the things that make life gracious and pleasant or with less enjoyment of things of the mind."

"Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product . . . For what keeps our interest in life and makes us look forward to tomorrow is giving pleasure to other people."

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear, for newer and richer experience."

"A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humble and deals charitably with the circumstances of life."

"Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down."

"We are constantly advancing, like explorers, into the unknown, which makes life an adventure all the way. How interminable and dull that journey would be if it were on a straight road over a flat plain, if we could see ahead the whole distance, without surprises, without the salt of the unexpected, without challenge."

"About the only value the story of my life may have is to show that one can, even without any particular gifts, overcome obstacles that seem insurmountable if one is willing to face the fact that they must be overcome; that, in spite of timidity and fear, in spite of a lack of special talents, one can find a way to life widely and fully."

Thanks again Katherine!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Injury Update and DIY Ice Packs

First, let me say thanks to everyone who left encouraging comments, suggestions, and sympathized with me and my injury. I really appreciate it!

Yesterday when I was at the chiropractor, she told me that I have sprained my sacroiliac (SI) joint and pulled my piriformis muscle. For those of you who have never heard of those two things, here are some pictures courtesy of Google:

Some more information on this injury (the text in pink is from this website):

Sprains of the sacroiliac joints are caused by excessive movement, this can occur in a one off event such as a fall or car accident or more commonly developed over time due to repetitive micro-trauma (I'm pretty sure running = repetitive micro-trauma).

Excessive stress on the joint capsule causes microscopic damage to the ligaments surrounding the joint. The joint then becomes inflamed and painful.

The body reacts to this by instructing the muscles to tighten up to prevent more damage but this muscle spasm tends to last for longer than it is useful, resulting in more pain (awesome!).

It is common to get referred pain from the muscles that go into spasm. The most commonly involved are the piriformis (that's what I pulled), gluteal (buttock) and psoas muscles.

Problems with the hip, knee and feet can all put increased pressure on the sacroiliac joint, which can become painful over time due to repetitive strain (Remember when I rolled my ankle really bad nearly a month ago? Even though my ankle was feeling strong enough to handle 20 miles twice, it definitely could have thrown off my stride and put pressure on the joint. The pain I have now is on the same side as the ankle I rolled.).

Some signs and symptoms of SI dysfunction from another website:
  • Pain located either to the left or right of your lower back. The pain can range from an ache to a sharp pain which can restrict movement. (It's sharp when I walk and a little achy when I sit)
  • The pain may radiate out into your buttocks and low back and will often radiate to the front into the groin. (Definitely a PITA!)
  • Occasionally there may be referred pain into the lower limb which can be mistaken for sciatica. (At first I thought it might be sciatica)
  • Classic symptoms are difficulty turning over in bed (I had a hard time sleeping comfortably last night), struggling to put on shoes and socks (this hurts really bad) and pain getting your legs in and out of the car (this only hurts getting in and out of the passenger side when I have to put my weight on my right leg).
  • Stiffness in the lower back when getting up after sitting for long periods and when getting up from bed in the morning (yep).
  • Aching to one side of your lower back when driving long distances (mmm hmm).
  • There may be tenderness on palpating the ligaments which surround the joint (and check).
So, I'm pretty sure that's what I have.  Unfortunately I'm not feeling much better and that's frustrating to me. This isn't really the kind of injury that gets better quickly (according to my consult with Dr. Google) so I'm not blaming the chiropractor for not being able to fix me as quickly as I'd like!

I told the doctor today that I was pretty sure (at this rate) that I'm not going to be better in time for the marathon next weekend. She agreed. I mean, it still hurts just to walk and I haven't run in over a week now.  Of course if I'm still hurting this way next Friday, there is no way I'm going to think about doing it and I don't need a doctor to tell me that doing it would be dumb!  The doctor told me that if I'm feeling better next week, I could probably make it through with the endorphins (nature's pain killer).  But, as I suspected she would say, the joint is still going to be weak because it won't have had time to properly heal by then.  If I run it, I'll probably be in a world of hurt and not be able to run for a while. That is not what I want at all.  Having this pain for a week so far has been enough! I want it to go away ASAP because it's awful.

So I haven't made my final decision, but I'm seeing my little dream of running a marathon temporarily flying away.  The doctor was at least encouraging and told me that getting through this would probably make me a stronger runner in the long run (no pun intended), which is just what I needed to hear!

Part of the treatment for this injury, as it is for many others, has been ice. Ice acts as an anti-inflammatory which helps to reduce pain and aid in recovery.

We have a smaller ice pack, but I wanted a larger one to cover more of my back at one time.  I tried using bags filled with ice but they weren't as comfortable as my ice pack.  I've also used bags of frozen veggies before, but they start to smell weird if you leave them out too long.  I looked online and you can buy some larger ice gel packs for anywhere between $20 - $40.  That's a little steep if you ask me. So, I did a little Googling and learned how to make my own ice packs.

It's super easy.  All you need is a gallon size ziplock bag (or 2 if you double-bag), rubbing alcohol, and water.

Pour the water and rubbing alcohol into the bag in a 3:1 ratio (I ended up using 4.5 cups of water and 1.5 cups of 91% rubbing alcohol).

A lot of the sites suggested adding food coloring to the liquid so that you wouldn't confuse it with something edible. I don't really know how in the world you would confuse this with something edible, but I decided to label mine "ice pack" in case I ever opened my freezer and thought about eating it. Also, if this thing ever leaks, I'd rather have clear liquid all over the place than blue or green liquid. And speaking of leaking, I would recommend double bagging the ice pack and maybe also reinforcing the sides with some duct tape or packing tape just in case.

Let it freeze. Duh.

I took a low quality video with my phone so that you could see how it stays flexible and gel-like. This is straight out of the freezer and it's been in there for almost 24 hours.


This thing is super cold, so make sure that you don't apply it directly to your skin.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Injury, A Tough Decision, and Advice Needed!

Last week I was hit with an injury. This is where it hurts:

The red circles seem to be sources of pain and the arrows are where it feels like it's radiating. Also, I don't have red hair but this picture makes it look like I do.

About 2ish weeks ago I started having a little intermittent tightness in my lower back. It just sort of felt like I needed to give it a good twist and pop, but I couldn’t. I ignored it and for the most part it didn’t bother me. I ran a tough 20 miler last Sunday and I wasn’t feeling any pain in my back, though I might not have noticed it because I was too concerned about not throwing up. I took a rest day on Monday and cycled on Tuesday. On Wednesday I ran 4 miles. I was definitely feeling the pain at the beginning and during my entire run, but it wasn’t enough to make me stop.

When I got out of bed on Thursday morning I could barely walk. Each time I took a step and shifted my weight to my right side, I felt a super sharp pain in my lower back/butt/hip on the right side. It made me wince with every step and I knew something was wrong. I could tell it was definitely not a pulled muscle or something; this was nerve-related and I have never had any problems with this before. There is a very big difference in the pain that comes from muscle soreness and the pain that comes from a nerve being pinched or compressed in the wrong way. It sort of sends a shock through your whole body.

I generally don’t go to the doctor for things that I consider minor aches or pains, and I don’t go when I have a cold. But this was so bad that I immediately checked my insurance provider directory for a chiropractor, called them, and asked if they could see me as new patient the same day. Thankfully they could see me within just a few hours.

When I got to the chiropractor she moved me around in all different directions and asked which movements hurt. Leaning forward felt better but it hurt when I came back up. Laying on my back and sticking my right leg up in the air and having my toes pulled down towards me hurt. She took some x-rays then did some adjustments with a drop table and an activator. She could tell that something was off because there was about an inch difference in my leg lengths. Then I was hooked up to an electrical muscle stimulator (e-stim) and I also received ultrasound therapy. She told me that my x-rays showed that the space between two of my lower vetebrae is a little bit narrower than it should be and it could be pinching my sciatic nerve. Also, she said the piriformis muscle could be tight and could also be irritating the sciatic nerve. I’m also feeling it in my hip/sacroiliac joint, so I really have a few problems going on here. She said I’ve probably had this for longer than I think and I have just pushed through because that’s what athletes tend to do. I have been to the chiropractor 4 times now for adjustments, e-stim, and ultrasound. I go back again tomorrow and I have 3 more appointments set up for next week.

I am definitely not in as much pain as I was in last Thursday morning, but I’m not getting better as quickly as I would have hoped. Every morning when I get out of bed I’m hoping that the pain will have gone away, but it hasn’t. Each step still hurts. Bending down and standing on one leg to put on a pair of pants or a sock hurts. I can’t imagine what running would feel like right now.

I haven’t run for a week now, though I have tried to stay active on the bike. As you can probably imagine, I’m getting nervous about my marathon. It’s in a week and a half. Here’s what’s going through my head:

If I DON'T Do It:

I have trained specifically for this race since July. I have run countless miles specifically for this event. I have run 20 miles twice. I have invested my time. I have spent pretty much every Saturday morning running and every Saturday afternoon recovering. I have spent money on clothes, shoes, running accessories, fuel, and a registration fee. I have wanted to do this for some time now. Not being able to start my first marathon would be devastating for the obvious reason of having already invested so much time, energy, effort, and money into accomplishing this goal. It would feel like I have wasted a lot.

I have been training with my running partner the whole time. I would feel terrible if I wasn’t able to run it with her. I know that she has trained just as hard and she is perfectly able to run 26.2 miles without me, but I would really feel like I was letting her down.

I really don’t want to have to tell people that I didn’t run it. I’ve been talking about this for months now and I would feel like a failure when they ask me how it went and I have to tell them that I didn’t even start.

Towards the end of my training I kind of decided that I wouldn’t do another marathon. Apparently this feeling changes once you cross the finish line (or at least once you’re over the soreness…). If I don’t do this now, I feel like I won’t have the drive to train for another one. Not only that, but I’m sure I’ll always have the fear in the back of my head that if I train for another marathon I’ll just get injured again.

I don’t want to use this as an excuse not to run if I’m really okay. I was scared enough about doing it when I was feeling fine, and I don’t want this to be an easy way out (or be perceived in that way by others - yes, I do realize that I'm overly concerned with what other people think...).

If I Do It:

I’m worried I won’t be able to finish. I don’t know what kind of effect not running at all for 2.5 weeks beforehand is going to have on me during the race. Also, even if I’m feeling fine before, I don’t know if this will start hurting badly midway through the race. Honestly I’d rather not start than not finish.

I’m worried that I will cause further injury and damage to my spine that could last longer than it has now. I want to be able to keep running after my marathon (after I recover). I don’t want to decide to run based on my emotions then end up in worse shape afterwards. That would just be stupid. I’m planning on asking my doctor her opinion about this, but I have a feeling she won’t be able to give me a straight answer. Thankfully she has done a century ride (kind of like the marathon of cycling), so I think she understands that I’d like to do this if I can. She’s also a doctor so hopefully she won’t recommend that I do something that would cause further injury. I’d rather explain to people why I didn’t start this race than why I can’t run/walk at all anymore.

Things I’m trying to keep in mind:

There will be other marathons.

Running this marathon does not define me as a person. Doing it does not make me any better; not doing it does not make me any worse.

My bib# is 6205. Psalm 62:5 says “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.” I can hope that God will allow me to run this marathon, but my hope does not come from running a marathon. The next three verses are also my favorite…Psalm 62:6-8 says “He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” This is encouraging to me whether I do it or not!

I have already accomplished so much. I have run 20 miles twice. A year ago I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that I could run 20 miles.

What I’m worried about with NOT doing it is purely emotional (notice that it says “I feel like…” for every concern). I will probably eventually get over it. What I’m worried about with doing it is physical. If I do it and get injured, I may or may not get over that. Keep in mind that this isn't muscle-related pain, but joint/spine/nerve-related pain.

I’d rather lose a registration fee than drop $$$$ fixing any damage I do. Of course I’m not guaranteed to get injured and cost lost of money, but it’s a risk.

So that’s what’s going on in my mind right now. I want this to get better and I want to run my marathon. I’m hoping that it will feel better and I’ll be able to do it, but I’m also trying to be realistic. Come next Thursday/Friday, if I feel like I feel right now I probably will not be starting my first marathon. I feel like I always come through, but generally everything I experience is a little more acute than this.

If you have any advice or if you’ve been in this situation before or experienced this type of injury, I’d love to hear from you. Sorry this post was so long, but I really had to unload what I was thinking!

Fuel Sampling Giveaway Winner

Just a quick post to announce the winner of the Fuel Sampling Giveaway.

There were 67 entries and picked comment #9, which belongs to Jen @ Miles, Muscles & Mommyhood!

Congrats, Jen! Send me an e-mail ([email protected]) with a mailing address so that I can send you your winnings.

Thanks again for everyone who entered. I hope my reviews were helpful to at least one person! Hopefully there will be more to come.