December 3, 2014

Revising My Running Plans

Most people have a typical day they do long runs – and it’s usually Saturday or Sunday. Last week, though, I did my long run on Thursday. It worked out well because it was Thanksgiving and I had the day off from work, plus it gave me a ridiculous appetite for dinner! 🙂 But I also needed to get it done then because Friday I was planning to go out to the mountains to ski, and I didn’t want to do my long run on a ski day. For one thing, I wanted to get out there as early as possible; for another, that’s just way too exhausting of a day to try to do both!

I can already see that I’m going to want to be in the mountains a lot of weekends this winter, so I’m really glad that my marathon is at the end of January so I don’t have to worry about the conflict of training runs and ski days. I may still do some other marathons in the “spring season” (which for marathons I consider to be anytime January to June, even though I know that’s not actually spring), but getting the training done now means that I can just run marathons then and not have to train. That means more time for skiing!

However, I recently got some bad news medically, and the upshot is that I need to go in for surgery on my arm in two weeks (December 17). Although it’s just one day in the hospital, I’m going to be on all kinds of pain medication once I return home, and will probably be just grabbing protein bars for sustenance and drooling on my pillow for about a week. Don’t worry, though, I’m definitely stockpiling the gingerbread/peppermint/cranberry flavors to eat on Christmas Eve and Day, to keep me in the holiday spirit!

Hugh Laurie as House, in Bathtub of Vicodin
Pretty much how I assume I’ll be spending my winter holidays. #AllIWantForChristmasIsMyVicodin

As far as my arm goes, post-op, I’ll have zero use of it for a few weeks, and it’s going to be encased in a brace so that it’s completely immobile. To me, this sounds really minor, especially compared to all the other scary stuff, like the awful electric shock/needle tests I had to endure last week. But the surgeon tried to impress upon me that it’s going to be a huge PITA, demonstrating that basically anything within a two foot radius of my shoulder won’t be reachable by my hand. He stressed that I should plan ahead to ensure I can function – hence, the stockpiling of protein bars. (On the self-care front: dry shampoo, baggy clothes that don’t require closures, no bras… I am going to be so sexy!)

Even though I had already asked a million questions, I asked a few more, that were admittedly more about having fun than actual recovery: What about physical activity? When could I work out again, and would running be off-limits since it was my arm that was having surgery? The doctor told me that after those couple weeks of painkillers and wearing the brace, I should pretty much be up for anything after that; I would just need to make adjustments if there was any pain. He cautioned that I shouldn’t expect too much out of my arm for a while (and said that he would expect that it will take 12-18 months for me to regain full function in my hand, if ever), but that I was welcome to try just about anything except really super duper heavy weightlifting. So – running is on!

I know that surgery is a perfectly valid excuse to back off on my training plan, or even bail out of the marathon entirely. However, I actually feel pretty committed to not just doing the marathon, but sticking to my training plan as closely as possible. I’m planning to do a final pre-surgery long run the day before I go into surgery (since Adam pointed out that it might not be the best idea to do it the morning of). Then I’m planning my next long run for the same day I get my brace off – so that means only missing one planned run. And if I adapt to the brace and find myself not in need of too many painkillers, maybe I’ll even get that one run in after all! (Not going to push it, but I’m open to it if it works.)

Before the surgery, I’m trying to get in as much activity as possible, so I’m going to be in the mountains again all weekend for a girlfriends’ getaway to Breckenridge. Yay! But that means once again no long run on Saturday or Sunday… which actually might be for the best. In preparation for the surgery and needing to do my long run on a Tuesday that week, I’d like to start pushing my long run day up earlier in the week, while still maintaining nearly seven days of rest between long runs. That means this week, I’m once again doing my long run on a work day – and in fact, I did it this morning.

The downside of doing my long run on a weekday is not so much getting up at 4:30am (that part is really not as bad as you think), but the fact that I need to do it on the treadmill instead of outside. Sunrise isn’t until 7:00am these days, and I don’t want to be running for hours in the dark, no matter how many reflectors/lights I have on my outfit! Recognizing that I wouldn’t get to run outside made me kind of not-psyched for my run when I went to bed last night, since a big part of why I’ve been loving to run lately has been the gorgeous Colorado views I get to experience while doing it. But when my alarm went off this morning, I dutifully got up and headed for the gym…

…and I am so glad that I did! While it was a struggle at first (“I have how many miles left?” I really need to learn to cover up the electronic display on the treadmill until I’m at least an hour or so in…), the time actually flew by. Furthermore, my legs/feet feel great and I feel like I could do it again tomorrow! Over the course of my scheduled 15.3 miles, I got fully caught up on The Biggest Loser and Revenge, and was reasonably entertained in the process. (Tell me I’m not the only one watching those two shows still? I know they both jumped the shark a long time ago….) When I run on the treadmill, being able to set the pace help me push much harder than I push myself when I’m running outside and have to consciously think about it, so it also meant that I averaged a reasonably quick 9:18 pace per mile – though I actually negative split the run and cranked up the treadmill a little bit every 30 minutes. Whee!

I felt fantastic at the end of my run, and I also feel like I’ve had a really productive day of work after beginning it with a long run. Maybe weekday long runs are the ticket to the perfect start to the day, where I feel great and ready to accomplish anything? We shall see, but I’m glad that being flexible is working so well so far.


6 thoughts on “Revising My Running Plans”

  1. Oh no! Sorry to hear about your surgery 🙁 I will be around for the holidays and can bring you food and hang out and watch cheesy movies!

  2. Laura,
    I’m so sorry to hear you’re having to get surgery on your arm! I’ve neglected catching up on your blog for a few days -and I had no idea! I really hope everything goes well and that you’re not laid up too long. I admire you for sticking to your plan of running the marathon in January- you’ll do great, and maybe it’ll help take your mind off of your arm healing! If you need a tasty home cooked meal over those few days when you’re not feeling up to it, let me know!

    1. Thanks so much for the concern, Rachel! I am hoping to be mostly functional by the new year, and am also planning to spend the next week or so stockpiling some homemade meals in the freezer for when I feel up to making it out of bed and to the kitchen 🙂 You are so sweet; thank you!

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