Fall

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Fall is the best season for running. Spring is great too. Winter snow runs are fun but a bit slippery. Summer is awful: too hot. But in the fall it’s cool and crisp. It’s not humid, not slippery. There’s still daylight after work. The leaves are full of color on the trees and littering the path as your feet strike the pavement. I could run forever in the fall. I hope by next fall, I’ll be able to.

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One of my other favorite parts about fall is the food. Pumpkin. Apples. Squash. And I can use my oven again! Lately I’ve realized that my metabolism has finally slowed down due to inactivity (this generally happens to me after a 2-month running drought). So while I’d love to be drinking pumpkin spice lattes, eating pie, and drinking pumpkin beer and hard apple cider with Fireball whisky, I’ve found myself on the hunt for healthy fallicious recipes. This week, both breakfast and lunch feature fall flavors and spices: Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats and Butternut Squash Soup. I accidentally ate both of these before I could snap a picture today. #sorrynotsorry

Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats
This recipe I made up myself. Not too bad for a first try.

1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup milk
2 1/2 cups water
2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
6 Tbsp. brown sugar
Cinnamon and nutmeg

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer until the oats are cooked and the consistency is how you’d like it. I honestly didn’t pay attention to how long. This could also be made in a slow cooker. 5-6 servings at 200-250 calories. Next time I might toss the apples in a little cinnamon before putting in the saucepan.

Butternut Squash Soup
from Gimme Some Oven

2 cups vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
1 granny smith apple, cored and diced (I used Gala)
1 medium (uncooked) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 sprig fresh sage (I used dry)
1 white onion, diced
1/2 tsp. salt, or more to taste
1/4 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper, or more to taste
1/8 tsp. cayenne, or more to taste
pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg
1/2 cup canned coconut milk

Add everything but the coconut milk to the slow cooker. Toss to combine. Cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high, until the squash is completely tender and mashed easily with a fork. Remove and discard the sage (if you used fresh). Stir in the coconut milk. Blend in a blender, food processor, or immersion blender until smooth. Add additional seasonings, if desired. Eat ALL the soup. I got a little over 8 cups of soup, and the whole recipe is only about 1,000 calories.

What healthy flavors are you enjoying this fall?

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The Sadness Rut

Sadness

Sadness. This girl gets me.

I’ve been on crutches for almost 14 weeks. I had appointments with my physician at 4 weeks and 10 weeks. At both appointments, I hoped I’d be released from crutch life. At both appointments, he said no. At the 4-week appointment, I was fine with it. There were still some endorphins in my system; my metabolism hadn’t slowed down; I was still “losing weight” (coughmusclecough). At 10 weeks, I had to chant don’tcrydon’tcrydon’tcry in my head for the duration of the appointment, until I made it back to my car, where I could lay my head on the steering wheel and wallow in self-pity. #dontcryanddrive

The problem isn’t necessarily that I hate the crutches so much; sure, they’re a nuisance, but I’m still able to pretty much do what I would normally do. (My husband might disagree with this statement, as he has to carry all the groceries, vacuum the floors, carry the laundry, and at the end of October, carry all the boxes when we move.) The problem is that my personality is built to need and expect forward motion. It’s why I like running. With running, there’s always progress to be made: running farther, running faster, feeling better. It’s why I like knitting: I can see the scarf (that’s all I can knit) get longer and longer. It’s why I like doing laundry: Giant piles of folded clothes that smell great are satisfying. It’s why I like cooking and baking: Hello, delicious results!

I need to feel like I’m making progress and getting better, and these days, 85% of the time, I feel a gut-ache worry that there’s not any improvement, that I’m not getting better, and that I might still be on crutches when the snow comes.

My go-to sadness busters (running, long walks in the summer sun, and eating) are not available to me. So tell me, friends, how do you snap out of a sadness rut?

I Have an iPad in My Pants (And Other Stories from Life on Crutches)

If you ever want a pinhole-sized glimpse of how non-accesibile the world is to people with physical disabilities, try a stint on crutches.

When I was a kid, I thought crutches were cool. My parents bought me an old wooden set at a garage sale that my friends and I would use to play make believe leg injuries. When I broke my ankle in 10th grade, crutches were a nuisance, but it meant I got to leave every class 5 minutes early and make the boys carry my backpack for me. So when the sports med physician said I had to be on crutches, I not only didn’t think it was a big deal, I failed to even notice that he didn’t give me any idea about how long I’ll have to use them. For all I know, I’ll be on crutches till I’m 40.

So, what exactly sucks about being on crutches?

You can’t carry anything.

Have you ever been inconvenienced because the paper towels were six steps away from the sink in a public bathroom? When you’re on crutches, you have to make the choice between using your toilet hands to bring a paper towel to the sink before washing or using wet hands to get to the paper towels after washing your hands.

Here is a list of things that I have carried in my pants because I am on crutches: iPad, iPhone, Lysol disinfectant wipes, travel coffee mug, water bottle, television remote, silverware, yogurt, dirty dishes, wallet, and dirty clothes from the bathroom floor.

I have also now taken to eating my breakfast oatmeal while standing at the counter in the kitchen at work. Not. Awkward. At. All.

Doors.

What’s more work: pulling or pushing a door open? When you’re on crutches, the answer is both. This experience also comes with the added bonus of awkward interactions with strangers. Sketch little crutches into it, and this cartoon pretty much sums it up.

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Hand abuse.

My once soft and ladylike hands are now covered in calluses, dry skin, and peeling blisters. I’ve also damaged the ulnar nerve in my right hand, so I can’t feel my pinky or ring finger.

Water.

One tiny drip of water on the floor is all it takes to make a person on crutches flail desperately for stability. I recently went to a Kwik Trip while they were cleaning the floors. It was like hobbling through a mine field.

Distance.

16 weeks ago, I could run 8 miles. Not anymore.

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Despite 12 weeks and 4 days on crutches (but who’s counting?), I’m happy to still have enjoyed my summer. If you’re ever wondering, it is possible to go to a beer festival and enjoy the state fair on crutches.

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Till next time, I’ll be here, drinking whole milk, eating cheese, and whispering sweet gentle urgent desperate words of healing to my crotch bone.

The Stages of Injury

Getting injured leads to a rollercoaster of emotions, from depression to grief to hope to worry to disappointment to relief. If you ever get injured, you can expect to experience some form of The 8 Stages of Injury outlined below.

Bewilderment: What do I have?
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  • Incessant Googling of symptoms
  • Describing your symptoms repeatedly to your husband
  • Twisting and turning, poking and prodding your body to see what really hurts

Recognition: Could I have that?
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  • Google search terms become more specific
  • Discovery of “tests” you can do at home to see what it is
  • Trying those tests and hurting yourself
  • Weighing the cost of medical care against the chances of successful self-diagnosis and self-treatment

Denial: There’s no way I have that.
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  • Reading further into the Google search results in hopes of finding someone with your symptoms who doesn’t have the injury you think you have
  • Trying to run one more time and failing miserably
  • Taking pain medication and pretending nothing hurts
  • Telling your husband about how rare the injury is and hoping that means you don’t have it

Anger: Thanks Obama.
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  • Crying
  • Swear words
  • Throwing things
  • Angry phone dialing to make an appointment with the doctor
  • Blaming your shoes, the cats, your chair at work, and your upbringing
  • Giving your husband the silent treatment for going to the gym without you

Bargaining: Please, let it be anything but that.
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  • Promises to run less, rest more, stretch more, and lift more weights if your body lets you run again
  • Telling your injured body part how nice and pretty it is and if it will just feel better you’ll take it out for a nice jog or swim or cycle or whatever it wants

Depression: That is the worst thing that could ever happen.
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  • Shopping for motorized scooters online for when they amputate your leg because you’ll never get better
  • Crying
  • Ice cream
  • Making your husband watch chick flicks with you

Diagnosis: That’s what it is.
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  • Saying, “I told you so,” to all the skeptics who doubted your self-diagnosis
  • Cool bone pictures
  • Dusting off the crutches from when you broke your ankle in 10th grade
  • A crush on your cute doctor

Acceptance: That will heal. Eventually.
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  • “Will you take the trash out?”
  • “Will you hold the door for me?”
  • “Will you get me a beer?”
  • “Will you cook dinner?”
  • “Will you go to the grocery store?”
  • “Will you get up early and drop me off at the train station?”
  • “Do I have to wait till you’re done with all the chores before I watch Game of Thrones?”

So You Have a Pelvic Stress Fracture

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high hamstring pain
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pubic ramus stress fracture
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These are just some of the terms I searched when trying to figure out my injury. One of my hopes for this blog is that it will find its way into the Google search results for other women who are experiencing these symptoms and don’t know what’s going on. From the stories I read on the Runner’s World, Let’s Run, Cool Running forums, and other blogs, this injury is misdiagnosed fairly frequently, and being informed before you even see a sports medicine physician can help ensure you receive the proper diagnosis, which can completely change your prognosis for healing.

What is a stress fracture?

“Stress fractures are tiny cracks in a bone. Stress fractures are caused by the repetitive application of force, often by overuse — such as repeatedly jumping up and down or running long distances. Stress fractures can also arise from normal use of a bone that’s been weakened by a condition such as osteoporosis.

Stress fractures are most common in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot. Track and field athletes are particularly susceptible to stress fractures, but anyone can experience a stress fracture. If you’re starting a new exercise program, for example, you may be at risk if you do too much too soon.” (from Mayo Clinic)

What is a pelvic stress fracture?

Pelvic stress fractures are not common and occur almost exclusively in females, primarily in runners and women who are training in the army. From what I read, pelvic stress fractures account for about 3% of all stress fractures. Although, for all you know, I made that number up.

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There are several locations in the pelvic bone that are susceptible to stress fractures. Most commonly, they seem to occur in the pubic rami. Mine is almost exactly where the fracture is shown in the lower (“inferior”) pubic ramus below.

pelvic stress fracture

How do you get a pelvic stress fracture?

  • Wrong shoes
  • Hard running surface
  • Hills
  • Being a recovering couch potato
  • Too much running
  • Too little rest
  • Not enough cross-training
  • Not enough strength
  • Not enough flexibility
  • Lady parts
  • Osteoporosis or osteopenia
  • Calcium and/or vitamin D deficiency
  • Swallowing your gum or not eating your broccoli as a kid (just guessing)

I did not have any idea that I was overtraining. If I could run it, I did. And going from running 3 miles at a time to running 6 miles at a time did not seem like a huge leap. But going from running 0 miles in January to 28 miles in February to 68 miles in March to 85 miles in April to 98 miles in May was too much too fast.

What are the symptoms of a pelvic stress fracture?

The symptoms vary for each person. If there were symptoms that developed slowly over time, I missed them. Here’s what I experienced:

  • Tight hamstrings (unusual)
  • Sensation like I was developing a UTI (not a UTI)
  • Pain in groin and adductors
  • Pain in fold of glute/top of leg
  • Couldn’t stand on one leg to put pants on, wash foot, or get in and out of shower
  • Pain when walking
  • Pain when sitting
  • Pain in groin/back of leg when lifting and carrying a laundry basket
  • Pain subsided with rest but never went away
  • Very clearly pain in bone, not muscle
  • I have not been able to find a painful spot on palpating the area

I walked on my injury for three weeks, during which my body compensated by changing my gait which resulted in pain in my gluteal muscles and tfl (outside of my hip).

For those following along at home, the symptom that clued me into the fact that I might have a stress fracture was not being able to stand on the leg of the injured side when putting pants on. The other common test is the hop test. If you can’t painlessly hop on the injured leg, you might have a stress fracture.

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Here’s the biggest takeaway I learned: Go to the doctor. If you’re informed, you’ll know what symptoms to emphasize, what questions to ask, and what kinds of tests to ask for. And if they give you an ice pack and some ibuprofen and tell you to RICE without doing any tests, find a different doctor.

So what happens now?

Rest. If you need me, I’ll be on the couch catching up on Orange Is the New Black.

Will Run for Food

I am lazy. I love TV. I love food. I love beer. But I also love comfortably fitting into my clothes and being able to walk uphill without having an asthma attack.

So last summer, I bribed myself to go on a run with the promise of ice cream afterward. And it stuck. Running allowed me to enjoy beer, pizza, and ice cream with much less guilt. It also made me feel strong, happy, and productive. But when winter hit and we moved from Rochester to Minneapolis and couldn’t afford a new gym membership, I took up being a couch potato again. In Minnesota, it’s a good idea to pudge up over the winter, anyway, right? Then, in February, when I had to jump to get into my pants and lie down to button them, I decided it was time to clean the cat toys out of my running shoes and hit the pavement. I did 1-minute run, 2-minute walk intervals on day 1 and went 3 miles. My lungs hurt. My legs hurt. I was drenched in sweat. And it felt amazing.

I bragged about documented this moment by sending this selfie to my husband, who was traveling at the time. (This was a big deal. I don’t normally take selfies.)

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Over the next 3 months, I went from run-walking 3 miles 3 times a week to running 20+ miles over 4 or 5 days each week. My longest run was just over 8.5 miles and was one of the few times I actually experienced a “runner’s high” and felt like I could keep going forever.

But it had only been a few months, and I still didn’t feel like I deserved to say those magical words: “I am a runner.”

Then, something happened.  I had a run that felt off. Then another. Then I ran one block, limped home, and took a few days off. After a forced 4-mile run/walk/limp/hobble/stumble, I knew there was something seriously wrong. I saw a family practice doctor, who referred me to a sports medicine physician. On June 20, I received a diagnosis: stress fracture of the inferior pubic ramus, an injury that affects almost uniquely female runners. More on the journey from injury to recognition (to denial to anger to bargaining to depression to acceptance) to diagnosis later.

I never felt worthy to say, “I am a runner.” But I can now say with confidence, “I was a runner.” And I will be again! Eventually.