Hey friends! I hope you’ve had a great week. I had my last physical therapy appointment a few days ago, and she laid out a comeback plan the next 5 weeks. There’s something really comforting about having a timeline when all I want to do is run, run some more, and run faster.
But lots of things need to happen first. I thought it might be helpful to share a glimpse into my workout routine lately and my recovery timeline. Either way make sure you talk to your doctor and/or physical therapist on the best way to approach running again since every injury (and body) is wildly different. But this has been my experience so far:
November 1st: Stress reaction on my 3rd metatarsal (top of the foot near my toes). You can read all about it here but in summary, I was tapering for the Philadelphia Marathon, feeling great, and had just finished a hard track + tempo workout. In the span of about 5 minutes, my foot went from “that feels funny” to “cannot walk another step.”
Remainder of November: I took the first full weeks off any real activity aside from bodyweight core and upper body exercises. I didn’t do any kind of cross training while I let my foot start to heal. I was also in a boot during this time. At the end of November I started to incorporate upper body weights and stationary biking.
Early December: I stopped wearing the boot, and I tested out the foot with longer walks. I continued weight training, biking, and started doing the Arc Trainer. The Arc Trainer is similar to an elliptical but it mimics running mechanics a little more closely.
Mid December: I added walking the stadium stairs with November Project. I also incorporated some lower body weights, mostly squats and deadlifts, 2-3 times a week.
Late December: I was cleared to start running right after Christmas, about 8 weeks after my injury occurred, but I began with a few sets of 2 minutes running / 1 minute walking, twice a week.
Now: I’m up to 8 sets of 4 minutes running / 1 minute walking (40 minutes total), 2 days a week. I’ll progress the running portion by one minute each week and eventually move to 3 days a week. About a month from now, I should be up to 5 sets of 8 minutes running / 1 minute walking. If I can do that pain-free, I’ll try running nonstop for 40 minutes.
When my physical therapist laid out this timeline, I was initially frustrated by how slowly it builds up. More than a month before I can run without walking? And to be honest, the runs I’m doing now aren’t particularly fun. It’s hard to sell a friend on joining me for a run with walking breaks, let alone walking breaks during the Boston winter. The runs I really miss – my run dates with Georgia and Kelsey, Fenspeed, and Summit hills – feel like a lifetime away, but I know I need to be diligent with this phase to get me there.
I’m thankful that I’ve really gotten into strength training, and I now have a legitimate plan that’s targeted towards my weaknesses. Not only am I lifting more than I ever have before, but I’m also doing form drills to correct over-striding, heel striking, and vertical displacement – all things that are causing extra impact and inefficiencies.
I think there’s no possible way I don’t come out of this a better runner because I’ve never worked on these components before, and it’s been eye-opening to see all my muscle imbalances. I’m confident the endurance will come back in time, and when it does, I’ll be a hell of a lot stronger.
So let’s look at an average week now, about 10 weeks out from my injury.
Monday: Run + Core
- 5 minute walking warm-up, 3 minutes running / 1 minute walking x 5
- 15 minute core work
I ran outside this day with Georgia and it made me so happy! Once upon a time our Monday runs were 10 miles but hey, we were still running together across my favorite bridge and it made me giddy the rest of the day.
Tuesday: Cross Training + Weights
- Arc Trainer – 20 minutes
- Weights – 40 minutes cycling through a full body routine using dumbbells and kettlebells. More on strength later.
I walked snowy sections with a few girlfriends and we had a great time chatting as we climbed the stairs at a solid clip. It felt like spring out there!
Thursday: Cross Training + Weights
- Arc Trainer – 30 minutes
- Weights – 45 minutes doing these things (as my PT recommended):
- Reverse lunges
- Lateral lunges
- Plank variations
- Row variations (targeting the back muscles)
- Hip mobility exercises using a resistance band
This workout was awesome. I never thought I’d enjoy lifting so much but I’m finding that I operate better following some kind of plan and I was getting bored with my usual weight routine. It was way more fun to follow my PT’s plan especially knowing that all these exercises will make me a stronger one day.
Friday: Run + Core
- 4 minutes running / 1 minute walking x 8
My plan is to run the more reasonable hills in the neighborhood surrounding Summit Ave. Not quite ready for that hill.
My Saturdays start early to get ready for Nomadic Run Crew so I’ll take the extra sleep!
I’m not sure what I’ll want to do Sunday. I may take another day off, I may walk some of the stadium or I may go to the gym. We’ll see but it won’t involve running since I’m only able to run two days a week for awhile.
Wildly different from my old norm, but it’s still a solid amount of activity and I’m thankful for that alone. November Project is hosting their annual Sunrise 6K on Monday, and I’m bummed I won’t be able to run it fully but I’m going to do my run / walk thing for half of it. This was one of my favorite mornings last year so I want to participate however I can.
Basically the last few months have been a huge lesson in tweaking things, setting new goals, listening to my body, and doing whatever I can that day. Hopefully this provides some comfort to anyone going through an injury now – it does get better, and a comeback plan goes a long way in feeling like you’re moving towards something positive. Let me know if you have any questions! Have a great night, friends