Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Following Shelly To Her First Half Marathon Part I

We're starting a new series on Up-N-Blogging where we follow runners to meet a specific goal. In this case, we're following a good friend of UNR, Shelly! As you'll read in her first posting, she's already going through some injury struggles! Let's all follow her and cheer her on to the Pittsburgh Half Marathon:

Hello! My name is Shelly, and I am a 29 year old who is registered for my first half marathon (the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on May 6, 2012). My relationship with running long distance began in high school when I joined the track team upon the suggestion of friends, but I mainly thought of running as a way to train for the other sports I played. After I graduated from high school, I continued to run long distance as part of my daily exercise routine for the first few months of my undergraduate studies . . . then I experienced my first winter in Johnstown, PA. My consistent running routine came to a very abrupt halt. Following graduation from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, I started graduate school at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. In graduate school, I progressed into an even more sedentary lifestyle as homework piled up around me and quick meals became a larger part of my diet, which led to my putting on over 30 pounds in the five years it took to earn my PhD (ugh). However, I should mention that throughout both my undergraduate and graduate career, I did remain somewhat active through sports such as ultimate frisbee, soccer, and rock climbing and a short-lived period of dance lessons. I have also continually been an avid hiker.

In February of 2011, I started to experience some alarming health concerns. I had no appetite, I could not quench my thirst, and my vision was quickly worsening. Shortly afterwards, in March, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and I have since transitioned to an insulin pump. This diagnosis led me to adopt a much healthier lifestyle and led me to begin running again. In late June, I started running again (if you want to call it that). In the beginning, I did run/walk intervals with the running intervals being approximately one half mile. By mid-September, I was running 5Ks regularly and loving each race. Then, by the end of October, I was averaging 4-6 miles per day while running 4-5 days per week. As I turn 30 years old in January, I thought it would be a great goal to run my first half marathon as a celebration of my entrance into a new decade of my life.

Then the pain in my heel started . . .

It turns out I have plantar fasciitis, but I refuse to let it hamper my running. I began a daily regime of calf-stretching and strengthening exercises, icing, massaging my heel, and wearing a dorsal night splint. My training was continuing with bearable pain that only manifested in my first steps out of bed in the morning and after longer periods of inactivity until . . .

I suffered a calf strain with some micro-tearing in a volleyball tournament. The injury to my calf led me to take a 3 week hiatus from running. In this time, I tried to continue my conditioning and training by riding a stationary bike 10-20 miles per day for most days of the week, and I added calf stretches and strengthening exercises as my healing progressed. The 3 weeks have now passed, and I ran my first test mile pain-free yesterday! I am hoping that my training can now continue . . . although I realize I could be battling the plantar fasciitis for quite some time. I have to continually remind myself to not push my mileage up too quickly, so I can avoid any further injuries. However, the temptation to run the Jingle Bell 5K is definitely there!

Thank you for taking the time to "meet" me in cyber space and hear the beginning of my story. I hope that you will continue to following my progress in the weeks and months that lead up to the Pittsburgh Half Marathon (it's only 158 days away . . . not that I'm counting). Any suggestions for training (more specifically, training with plantar fasciitis) or words of encouragement would be greatly appreciated!