The stomach bug from hell, and how soon should you return to normal training?

I know that I am in good company when I say that I do not like to take unexpected rest days from running.  But what about my plan?!?  On Tuesday I woke up not feeling so hot, but I slugged through my speedwork anyway and went to work.  My stomach felt off, but I’ve been suspecting that I might have a food allergy for a while now, so I thought I might have just eaten more chocolate the night before than I could handle (dairy).  Sparing you the details, nothing that I ate stayed with me for long on Tuesday, but I didn’t have a fever.  It was supposed to be a weights day, so I got through about 1/4 of my workout on Tuesday evening before realizing that I was absolutely crazy for even attempting to lift.

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Tuesday night before I realized that I had the plague.  Failed attempt at completing weights.

Fast forward to Wednesday morning when I was a whole 7 lbs lighter than the day before and weak and shaky.  I probably would have tried to tough it out, but I am breastfeeding, so I was losing even more fluids than normal for a person being thrashed by the stomach bug from hell.  No medication was working, and I was starting to get a little scared.  My general practitioner told me to go to the ER for an IV, and my sweet husband packed me up in the car and drove me to the emergency room.  A few hours later, I had received 2 liters of saline, and I felt better, yet starving.  We got home and I still couldn’t eat much, but I thought I was improving.  Wednesday night proved to be round two of the worst stomach bug ever, and I woke up thankful that we had “invested” $400 in hydration the day before or this bug would have killed me (maybe I’m being dramatic, but holy cow!).

Thursday I hardly ate anything (applesauce becoming my favorite food) for fear that I would wake the beast, but Friday I was pretty much back to normal, albeit on a relatively bland diet.  All this to say, my running schedule was interrupted, although my body had certainly been challenged!

So what’s the point of this post?  I wasn’t sure when it would be best to resume my running schedule, and I’m sure that I’m not alone when I say that I am the worst at resting.  How soon can you return to running after having the stomach bug?  Runner’s Connect points out that there is not a lot of research on the topic, but they suggest to run easy and short for at least three days after getting better.  If you exercise too soon, you can further compromise the immune system and delay healing.

This article states that it takes longer to replenish fluid in tissues than it does to restock glycogen stores. Even if you have been able to resume drinking, it will still take some time for rehydration to fully occur, as a balance of NaCl (salt) must also be achieved. If you exercise when you aren’t feeling well, you will further compromise your immune system and have mediocre performance in training. Once you do resume running, it is important to hydrate well and take electrolytes after you finish working out.  Also, eat shortly after finishing a work out.

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Day 1: off, Day 2: Easy 4 miles, ~30 minutes

I had an advantage (if you want to call it that) with this stomach bug because I had an IV with saline distributing the correct ratio of fluids to my body.  Normally after a stomach bug, I still feel the hangover effect days after I’m well.  In this case, I felt mostly normal by day 4 of a 3 day bug, albeit a little hungry.  I reached out to my coach to ask how she wanted me to handle the days missed in my schedule, and she said to do about 30 minutes easy on my first day feeling better, then an hour easy the next day, followed by the next few days of my original scheduled workouts at 60% effort.

I’ve pretty well followed this guidance, and I’m feeling really good/healthy again!  It seems that being a mom has given me a little more maturity (gosh, that sounds old but good) in my training decisions.  I know that if I don’t let myself properly recover, I won’t be able to take care of Cadence properly either.  Pregnancy was also a huge lesson that it is ok to take a break from the normal running routine.  One week of missed training is not going to break a training cycle.  Trust the thousands of cumulative miles that you’ve put on your legs, and don’t add stressing out to the obstacles that you might be facing.  Tomorrow is another day and another mile.

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Because she is everything.

What do you do to help you recover from little set-backs?

Have you ever had a big set-back in training? For me: pregnancy and most recently a surgery   

When things come apart: Diastasis Recti

So I’m trying to be really positive and not dwell on the past, but I recently had hernia surgery for a hernia that didn’t exist.  And I still have the original problem that I started with.  Yes, that’s right, a faux hernia.

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About 10 weeks postop

 

I don’t know where I went wrong, but I wish that I had gotten more opinions and visited women’s specialists instead of a general surgeon.  I was diagnosed with a hernia in May because I had a small place above my belly button that bulged slightly when I worked out.  An ultrasound didn’t show any tears in the fascia, which is what qualifies a hernia, but the general surgeon said that it was a hernia and that he could fix it.  To be fair, it was a weak spot in my fascia, and it was bound to only get worse with my activity level.  I was scared and I asked for the surgery.  The general surgeon was really good, but he essentially fixed a hernia that didn’t exist, and now I have a weak spot above my belly button AND scar tissue.

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After 6 weeks of recovery, I was able to resume all of my normal activities at the end of June, which means I started my strength routine again.  Right away, I noticed a bump pop out below the incision area.  I went to the surgeon the next week for a follow-up, and he said that it was not anything.  After a month more of exercise, I have continued to feel something “pop” out along the midline of my belly near the incision.  It is not visible, but clearly I can feel something happening beneath the skin, and I am able to “push” it back into place.

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I would do anything for this little lollipop!

Post op deja vu has definitely been a test of my character.  I went back to my surgeon last Friday and met with the physician’s assistant.  She gave me a lot more insight and reassurance about what was happening, but it still does not make me happy.  Essentially, I have diastatis recti, or ab separation, to the tune of 2.5 cm (normal separation is about .5 cm), and the fascia running down the center of my abdomen is holding everything in.  The PA did an ultrasound to confirm that I do not have a tear in my fascia (I have never had a tear in my fascia), but fascia is weaker than muscle, and my fascia is having to hold in my intestines.  There is nothing that I did during my postop recovery to make this happen.  It is just general anatomy.  I am pretty thin right now (breastfeeding and training for my first 100 mile race), so I do not have much of a fat layer to act as a buffer.  What I am feeling “pop” along the middle of my abdomen are my intestines as they push through my abs and against the fascia.  I’m a living science project!

The PA told me that a tummy tuck is the only solution to ab separation, but I cannot believe that something muscle related can only be fixed through surgery.  (Also remember that these are the surgeons who operated on a hernia that didn’t exist on me.)  So, this week I have called around to a few physical therapists and made an appointment to see one on Thursday morning.

I can’t help but feel guilt, regret, confusion, and fear about my condition.  I was cleared by my OB for all activities in October after I had Cadence.  All through pregnancy and postpartum, I took fitness classes specifically geared towards the right exercises for new mom bodies.  I read about Steph Rothstein’s postpartum journey of ab separation, but I really didn’t think that I needed to worry much about it since all of my doctors had told me that I was cleared to continue any type of exercise that I wanted.  I was vocal about training for Boston and running ultra marathons.  I also thought that I had covered everything with my surgeon, who told me that I could resume all physical activities after 6 weeks postop.  Good as new.

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We are dedicated to our training schedule. 🙂

I am not sure why I am only feeling these symptoms later in my postpartum journey, other than that my intensity level has increased while I have also gotten thinner.  I am hopeful that I will be able to correct some of the separation.  The physical therapist assured me on the phone that diastatis recti is genetically predisposed, and there are some exercises that I can do to help strengthen my core again.  I’ll find out more on Thursday at my appointment.

Thank you if you have followed my story this far.  One last thing that I want to end with.  Recently I was reading my Bible and I came across the passage below.  It just reminded me about how much God wants for us to go to him in prayer for everything.  He is the ultimate Creator and Healer.  So my prayer is that my body will heal and I’ll be protected from any further discomfort or damage in my abdomen.  I do not want to worry about it every time I pick up my daughter or go for a run. I pray for peace of mind and healing.

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Do you have experience with diastasis recti?

Did you do any type of postpartum physical therapy?

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Update: You can read about my physical therapy appointments here.

Race Report: Hot to Trot 8 Hour Race

This will be my third race report in three weeks!  Races can be a great way to train for other goal races, and they can also serve as the perfect opportunity to connect with other runners. I really love running races, and I have to watch out or I’ll sign up for everything that comes my way. 🙂 I am currently training for my first 100 mile race, so all of the races between my Boston marathon and the Yeti 100 in September serve as opportunities to have fun and add a little change to my training scenery.

I signed up for the Hot to Trot 8 Hour Race hosted by GUTS on impulse on the day that I had my hernia surgery in May. My training plan for the 100 primarily involves higher intensity running at a lower mileage, plus strength training. I had to take 6 weeks off of any type of strength work (and a couple of weeks off of running) after my surgery, so I was a little worried that I would lose a lot of ground in my training. Plus, 8 hours of running sounded like a lot of fun as I sat on the couch unable to move my body. Ha!

The race was held at Sweetwater State Park around a 1.1813 mile long trail that looped from the aid station, down toward the river, and then back up.  There were three main hills of note, but the loop basically descended to the river and then ascended to the aid station.  No dramatic elevation change, but definitely enough to produce effort, especially after 8 hours!

I was running late on race morning because Cadence had not slept well at all the night before the race (this is something that I am now accustomed to; I have not had a good night of sleep before a race since before I was pregnant), and I had to take extra time to feed her, pump, and get all of my stuff packed up.

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It all worked out, but I was two minutes late to the start of the race.  I sprinted to the start, only to catch up to the walkers on the single track at the beginning of the loop.  I had so much adrenaline after leaving a crying baby, speeding to the park, and sprinting to the start, that I knocked out the first few miles a little faster than I would have planned otherwise for an 8 hour haul.  But it felt so good to stretch my legs and breathe deeply after a stressful week of work and a teething baby.  Isn’t it great how running just makes everything melt away as you focus and feel your body move?

I was really thankful to meet up with one of my trail running friends, Seth, on the first mile.  We ended up running the next 34 miles together.  Seth had run the RuntheATL race the weekend before as well, but he had finished before me.  I didn’t realize it until later in the race, but it was a huge help mentally to have someone to talk to as we ran in circle after circle.  It never really bothered me that there was no change in scenery for 8 hours because there were plenty of really interesting, encouraging people along the trails, and the aid station was full of support.  Seth and I made a goal to run continuously for the first 20 miles.  After that, we allowed ourselves to hike two of the three steeper hills.  At 26 miles, we allowed ourselves to stop at the aid station.  The mile goals were really helpful, and I think getting such a solid base of miles in the beginning helped set the tone for the rest of the day as it got hotter.

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I stopped to pump around 4.5 hours into the run.  I ended up pumping at the picnic tables in the middle of the aid station area instead of walking all the way to the Group Shelter for cover.  I had a cover, and everyone was extremely gracious of me.  Trail runners are pretty used to bodily functions as part of the nature of the sport, so breastmilk hardly seemed a thing.  I am in the right sport!

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From this point on, Seth and I just maintained each loop as well as we could, stopping quickly at the aid station for water and food after just about every loop. After about 5 hours of heat and sweat, I was drinking about 8 oz of water for every loop.  During the course of the 8 hours, I ate one pack of Clif Shot Blocs, one Hammer gel, lots of PB&J squares, a few pretzels, and a moon pie.

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Photo credit: Samantha Taylor Photograghy

Once we hit 35 miles, my running buddy decided to slow down and enjoy the last few laps.  I had a goal of 40 miles in my head, so I kept running. I knew that my coach had written the next week as an easy/off week, and I wanted to earn that schedule.  I ended up finishing just over 41 miles in 36 loops.  I felt tired but not depleted, continuing to run up hills and keep a pretty consistent pace. From about halfway through the race, the volunteers had created a leaderboard out of a portable white board, and my name went from second to fourth to third, etc.  This was not a goal race for me, but it is always fun to be near the top.  My goal for the race was to keep moving and let the Hot to Trot serve as a training run for my 100.

Not only did I want to train my legs on the course, but I also wanted to test how my body felt, where I would get sore, what I would want to eat, and how I mentally handled the heat and the monotony.

  1. I did not wear my hydration pack (I already know that I do not like the way that my current hydration pack fits–breastfeeding has definitely changed things there).
  2. It was a good test of my shoes. No blisters!  Also, my stomach seemed fine in eating lots of PB&Js. I’ve learned that my stomach might feel crampy, but if I just wait it out, eventually, it will start to feel better. For nutrition, I did borrow a few salt tablets from my running buddy, and I want to have them on hand for my 100 as well.  I have read articles stating that cramping is not a result of electrolyte imbalance, but my calves started cramping around 7 hours, and after eating the salt tablets, I felt fine.  If that is placebo effect, I’ll take it.
  3. Mentally, I actually had no problem at all running in circles for 8 hours.  Ever since being pregnant, I have been so grateful to just be able to run.  I’m hoping that will also serve me during the later hours of my 100 mile race.
  4. As for soreness, my legs were only mildly sore.  I did feel sore in my hips and my shoulders.  This makes me grateful that my plan involves a lot of strength work because I am sure carrying your body weight for 24+ hours is a load on the body!

Now I’m looking at a week of easy recovery before I focus on resuming my 100 mile training.  The Hot to Trot was a hot, long, and very fun race!  I can’t wait to run even further in September!

What is the longest run you have ever had?

Have you ever completed a timed run like this?

Race Report: RuntheAtl, the weirdest race I’ve ever run

This past weekend I participated in one of the most bizarre, fun races that I have ever experienced.  It is called RuntheAtl, and it is an informal trail race that gives a tour of Atlanta that I had never experienced.  The “trails” consisted of old railroads, active railroads, construction zones, unfinished beltlines, and dirty tunnels.  Very little of the race was on paved surface, and nothing about it was conventional.  I heard about it through the Yeti group, as some of my buddies had run the winter version of this race in January.

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First of all, the pre-race instructions advised for runners to print out the “map“, which was really a bunch of pictures with notes like “Climb over guard rail and run through some litter covered trail. There is some garbage. Don’t be afraid. It will be over shortly. Stay in the woods a short hop.” Instead of race bibs, we were told to select a playing card out of a deck, and our numbers were recorded.  Mine was the Queen of Hearts.

I met up with two trail friends for the race (and met a bunch more), and finished 20 miles in 3:24 hours.  I am normally cautious when it comes to running by myself, and this race was no exception. We ran through some pretty sketchy sections, so I was really thankful that my friend, Brandon, stuck by my side for the entire run.  He is a former Marine and also a very strong runner.  He was beyond generous to run my paces and share the experience with me.  This was just meant to be a training run for me, not a race, but I ended up finishing first female.  I didn’t run very fast, but I think that everyone was just having fun, and no one was competing.  My finish time just happened to be first (and I got a huge, very heavy award for it.)

Here is the start of the race. We all raised our right hands and swore that if anyone asked what we were doing, we would say that we were just out by ourselves for a fun run, not an organized race.  😉 I took pictures with my Go Pro because we were told that we might need our phones to navigate if we got lost.  The quality isn’t the greatest, but I was able to capture a lot of the weirdness of the course this way.  From the start, we got our shoes muddy.  Welcome to the trails of Atlanta!

I was with a group of top runners, trusting their navigation skills, when we realized that we were off course within the first three miles.  I think we only ran about 0.2 miles off course, nothing in a trail race, but it was just enough to keep us checking our “map” more frequently from then on.

The little detour meant that we were able to join up with another group of runners, and I met a really neat girl named Kirsten (she is the girl in the hot pink compression socks).  A lot of the runners that we met are obstacle course competitors, which is a deviation from the standard ultra trail runner. Below we are running along a fence next to Marta.  Then we came out at the railroad tracks and ran along them for a bit.

Between miles 5-6, we took a left onto Joseph E. Lowry Blvd at the Atlanta Food Community Bank until it ended at King Plow.  Then we took a left onto West Marietta Blvd until we reached a liquor store sign and Floren Immigration Attorney. To the right was Angel’s Hole (pictured below), and this spit us back onto the railroad tracks.

We crossed 6 lanes of railroad tracks and followed the far right tracks.  The trains were active on Sunday, so we were told to keep our ears open for any running trains.  I only saw Marta, and I was glad not to be delayed by a moving train. At mile 9, there was an aid station, but we only stopped for a quick minute.  Along the abandoned tracks is a golf course where the golfers were nice and waved to the crazy, dirty runners.

Finally, we ended up along the unfinished part of the beltline next to Piedmont Park, and we stayed on the Beltline to Irwin St at about mile 13.5.

At Irwin, it was back to the “trails” for us along the unfinished beltline.

I was running with Brandon, and we were thankful that a runner came up behind us and helped us with directions to the next big course change to the Krog Tunnel around mile 14.

Then we ran through a construction area and past Interstate 20 to get back onto the unfinished part of the beltline.

When we reached mile 15ish, our directions said that we would stay on this path until mile 18.9, so we could put the directions away for a bit.  We saw so many weird things along the trails of Atlanta.  There was always a little litter, but we also came upon a twin sized bed (I am sure that was a treasure to some of the homeless people we passed), tons of graffiti, and a few dead animals (watch where you step!).  It also felt like we were constantly running along the railroad tracks.  It was definitely a big workout to either trudge along the big rocks next to the tracks, or plan your steps along the railroad ties perfectly so as not to twist an ankle.  My calves were definitely sore after this run! The dark tunnel in the pictures below is called “Tetanus tunnel” and it was at least a foot deep with water.  Brandon and I both stopped cold in our tracks when we reached this tunnel to see if there was any way around it.  Nope!  Just got to get your feet wet (and very dirty) and go for it!

At around mile 19, we had our final course change, and turned right through a little side trail to “Angel’s back yard”.  This led us through a construction area and on to the finish!

I love meeting people through running, and trail people are just the best.  It was fun to hang out at the finish for a little while, but then I had to go home to feed my little baby.  It had been about 4.5 hours since I had pumped/fed Cadence, so we were both overdue to see each other. (Lots on breastfeeding here if you are a new mom trying to figure this out.)

Like I said earlier, I finished first female, which certainly made me feel good, but this wasn’t a goal race, and my effort was not a race effort.  Everyone received a railroad spike, and I also received a first female enormous, heavy, very thoughtful award.  I have no idea what to do with it, as it would probably rip a hole through any wall if I tried to hang it.  Haha. This race has definitely changed my perspective of trail running, and I am so grateful to the people who worked hard to put on such a fun experience around Atlanta!

What is the weirdest race you’ve ever run? Ever heard of the Barkley Marathon?  This reminded me of that, only not as brutal.

Do you run with a buddy if you think the area might be sketchy?

Race Report: AJC Peachtree Road Race 10k

I am a long distance, endurance kind of girl, but I have to admit that I like the opportunity to run fast.  Running fast is kind of new to me, and I am still learning my limits, especially as a post-partum runner.  For this Fourth of July, my husband and I signed up for our second AJC Peachtree Road Race 10k, which is held every Fourth of July on a hot, hilly, crowded course through Atlanta.  It’s a fun race, but not one to take too seriously.  With that said, this is a pseudo race report because this was a race for fun not a goal race by any stretch. I’m training for a 100 mile race in September, so my training has left my legs relatively tired, and I wasn’t sure what level of effort I wanted to put into this hot race.

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Props to the AJC for giving two free downloads of race pictures!!

My husband, baby, and I spent the night at my parents’ house 45 minutes north of Atlanta because what babysitter wants to show up for a job at 5:30 am on a holiday? 🙂  Cadence is still getting up in the night, and I like to be there to nurse her instead of pumping/giving a bottle.  It’s our new normal in this phase of life, and it also means that I live in a constant state of sleep deprivation.  Ha!  We are so thankful to have parents who love to babysit and support our activities.

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My race routine now involves pumping, and the car time was perfect for that.

I did not sleep well on Sunday night, finally getting up at 4:30 am.  Even that early, my phone said that the temperature was 75 degrees (it turns out that this year was the hottest year since 2005).  It was going to be a hot, muggy day!  We left the house by 5:45 am and headed to MARTA to take the train to the start of the race.  MARTA is an extremely inefficient transportation system, and that was once again confirmed as thousands of other suburban commuters converged on the same rails.

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When will Atlanta ever learn?!

We were really cutting it close on time when we got off the train, so Jon and I ran to the porta-potties and then ran to the start in order to make it in time.  I had a minute to spare before the gun went off, and I was already dripping with sweat. At the time of the start, I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to race or just run for fun.

My legs had been feeling like lead on all of my training runs leading up to this race, so my expectations were pretty low. At the start of the race, my legs felt fine, but there were so many people crowded at the start that no one could run too fast. I broke semi-free from the crowds by the second mile, and my legs felt fine. I was really comfortable with my pace, and realized that I could potentially PR if I continued to feel this good, despite the heat and crowds. I knew that my PR 10k was a 6:38 pace and I was easily clocking the 6:20s.

 

Then mile 3 happened and I started feeling like even the downhills were an effort. At that point, I decided to just enjoy the race and not trash my legs. I settled into an easier pace and just focused on feeling strong for the hills. When I reached mile 5.5, I looked at my overall average pace and it was 6:39. Now I had a decision: either push a little harder and go for a PR after all, or just keep cruising. I didn’t have any excuses not to try to PR, so I sped up just past uncomfortable and tried to sustain that for the rest of the race.

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When I finished, my watch said that my overall pace was 6:34 in 6.33 miles, but my time was 41:40. I had missed my 10k PR by 20 seconds, but my pace was faster than my PR race time (because of the extra 0.13 miles that I ran).

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For races this crowded, it’s hard to run the tangents, and sometimes, the course just gives you a little extra. (This also happened in Boston, which is a super crowded course.) I had a great time running, and I got the best of both worlds by racing part of the course and relaxing for part of the course.

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My husband finished shortly after me (he was in a different wave), and he also ran a really fast race. My favorite memory of the race is actually what happened after the race.  I loved walking around Piedmont Park with my handsome, sweaty husband talking about our impressions of the race.  Jon is just recently starting to run more races, and it makes me so happy to share this with him!

It turns out that I finished 30th female out of 28,677 and 521 overall out of 56,914. All finishers in the top 1000 get a free mug at the local running store, so that is a fun treat that I will pick up later this week.  In the meantime, I can’t help but wonder how fast I can run on a different course in cooler weather.  🙂

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My biggest takeaway from the race is to always maintain a positive attitude.  There will be surprises in any race, and heat, hills, and crowds are all part of the experience.  At the end of the day, running is a gift, and it is a way to praise our Creator with our legs.  We spent the rest of the day at my parents’ house at the lake, and then finished up the evening at our neighborhood pool party.  And that’s a wrap on the Fourth of July 2016!

Did anyone else run a summer race recently?

Does the heat discourage you from trying to give it your best?