Dealing With Injuries

Having just finished a leisurely evening jog, I’m happy to say that my IT band injury is on the mend (fingers crossed; knock on wood).

The frustration of an injury during racing season has been quite a struggle. Here are some things I’ve learned that helped me recover from my type of injury:

Physical therapy

Physical therapy?

Go to physical therapy. After many sessions of deep tissue massage, therapeutic ultrasounds, and a few runs on the Alter-G treadmill, Chris at Hopkinton Physical Therapy helped me to get back on track. Follow-up exercises at home, such as using a foam roller, are also key for my IT band injury.

Adjust your race schedule. Last season, I did my first half ironman and was all set to do more this season. Like most triathletes, I sign up early for races and I did so before my injury. So, I did a bit of rearranging. A big thanks to Rev3 Quassy for your awesome deferment policy (see you in June 2014). And thanks also to Max Performance for letting me switch to the Aquabike at the Mass State Tri (my IT band injury only bothers me when I run).  One race I simply had to skip and lost my entry fee.

I'm always disillusioned -- or maybe delusional is more accurate!

I’m always disillusioned — or maybe delusional is more accurate!

Change your expectations. I’m very competitive and managing my race expectations is a problem for me under the best of circumstances. I’m always looking at the marking on back of women’s legs when they pass me to see if they are in my age group. I keep a running tally to determine how I’m going to place! When I did my Aquabike, I had to remind myself that the race was really a training exercise and that just finishing was a goal in itself.

Take time off from doing exercises that aggravate your injury, but don’t stop moving completely. It’s easy to get in a mental funk and lose interest in doing any kind of exercise. In other words, don’t forget Sir Isaac Newton’s law of inertia:

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Take it slow when you do return to the exercise that caused your injury. Build your distance gradually and remember:

Google your type of injury. Here are a few articles I found when I did just that:

    1. How to Prevent Running Injuries (Source: triradar.com)
    2. Chris McCormack’s Advice On Dealing With Injury (Source: Triathlete Magazine)
    3. Changes to Stride, Surface and Form to Avoid Injury  (Source: Runner’s World Magazine)

There are many other types of injuries that affect triathletes. If you’ve ever experienced one of them, please share your tips for coping with them by leaving a reply below.

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Coping with the Boston Marathon Bombings

When I lost my father 20 years ago from ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease), I experienced the “five stages of grief”: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

Many of us went through a similar roller coaster ride of emotions following the Boston Marathon Bombings. As an endurance athlete, a mom, a resident of the Boston area, and as someone who was supposed to run the Boston Marathon, I’d like to share some other emotions I experienced:

Courtesy of Bondiband

  • Gratitude, Part 1. As most of you know from my previous post,  I had planned on running the marathon to raise money for the ALS Champion Fund in memory of my father. Several weeks before the start, I suffered a knee/IT band injury. Despite much physical therapy and finger crossing, I had no choice but to drop out before the race started.

Of course, I was devastated. I felt that I had been destined to run the marathon in 2013 because:

  1. My father’s lucky number was 13,
  2. He pasted away from ALS exactly 20 years ago, and
  3. I live in Hopkinton, MA, where the race starts. I’ve witnessed the start many times and I felt it was my time to do more than just watch.

    Fundraising run for the victims. At the starting line in Hopkinton days after the tragedy.

    Fundraising run for the victims. At the starting line in Hopkinton days after the tragedy.

It was all in the cards. Or so I thought.

Why did this have to happen now when it seemed the perfect time? Now I know. Thanks for watching out for me Dad.

  • Guilt. How can I feel grateful when others were killed or seriously injured? How can I feel survivor’s guilt when I wasn’t even there? I keep thinking about the eight-year old boy who died, Martin William Richard, whose sibling and mother survived, but with serious injuries. That could have been my kids and my husband. I then feel grateful (again) that we weren’t there, which in turns makes me feel guilty for taking solace in someone else’s loss.
  • Protective. Between this and the Newtown tragedy, keeping my kids feeling safe is proving to be difficult. Kids are resilient so I know they’ll bounce back. But trying to explain the bombings even in simple terms had me in tears. To hear your 10-year-old say “I hope they kill the people who did this” makes me cringe, even though I relate to that feeling. I’m supposed to be teaching my daughter to love and accept all types of people, but now she’s learning about hate instead.
Courtesy of the B.A.A.

Courtesy of the B.A.A.

  • Proud. I’m originally a small town Maine girl. Growing up we used to curse at cars with Mass plates, referring to them as “Massholes”. These tourists would drive fast and cut us off in traffic. Now when I visit Maine I roll my eyes at how slow everyone drives. I’m proud to be a “Masshole” and by extension a Bostonian.

No one is going to take our marathon away from us. We will get through this.

The video below is one of the reasons why I know this.

  • Gratitude, Part 2. I am so humbled by the outpouring of support to Boston from all over the country. Here’s a just a small sample of what I’m talking about:

    The Yankees having a moment of silence followed later by the singing of "Sweet Caroline". Even rivals come together in tough times.

    The Yankees having a moment of silence followed later by the singing of “Sweet Caroline”. Even bitter rivals come together during tough times.

 And my personal favorite (click here if you cannot see the video below): 

 So how are you coping with this tragedy? Please leave a comment below.

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Help Me Run the Boston Marathon!

I’m altering the format of my usual blog to tell you about my off-season goal: to run the Boston Marathon.

Posing with my girls before the start of my first marathon, the Myles Standish Marathon, November 2012

Posing with my girls before the start of my first marathon, the Myles Standish Marathon, Plymouth, MA, November 2012

I am far from fast enough to qualify for this awesome race, but I have always wanted the opportunity to participate. The only other option to get me to the starting line is to run for  a charity. It didn’t take long to figure out what cause I wanted to run for.

als1-506d9f6313e22Twenty years ago, I lost my father, Vance Norton, Jr., to complications due to ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I decided to google, “Run the Boston Marathon for ALS.” The result lead me to  the UMass ALS Champion Fund, which drives awareness and funding for the ALS breakthroughs happening at UMass Medical School.

I look forward to getting to the starting line, but I need your help to raise the $6,000 I have pledged to this great cause. Whatever I don’t raise, I have to pay out of my own pocket, so please visit: 

 http://www.crowdrise.com/susanmarshall

to read more and make an online donation. No amount is too small!

dadnew

Thank you for your support!

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Why?

There will never be a right answer to that question.

Normally, Tri-Moms.com is for moms who love to swim, bike and run. Today, it is for ALL moms and all those affected by the tragedy in Newtown, CT.

Twenty Six candles surround my triathlon equipment in honor of the Sandy Hook Elementary victims.

No words of advice. Just thoughts and prayers to all.

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What Are Your Greatest Successes from This Year’s Tri Season?

As promised, here’s a follow-up to my last blog about mistakes. This time, let’s talk about what went right this season.

My greatest successes during this year’s tri season include:

  • Finishing my first Half Ironman. Such an awesome feeling!

  • Figuring out the right hydration/nutrition combination. For years, I’ve been finishing my races with a migraine. After each race, I’d spend the rest of the day in bed suffering. After much tinkering this year, I figured out the right mix of proper hydration and added Salt Stick Caps and Cliff Shot Blocks. I can’t tell you how great it is to finally feel good after a race or long bike ride/run.
  • Receiving medals in two races. I placed second in the New England Season Opener and first in the Ashland Olympic Tri in the Athena category. Nothing beats being on the podium!

    May 2012 New England Season Opener Sprint Tri (that’s me on the far left)

 So what are your biggest accomplishments this season?

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What Are Your Biggest Mistakes from This Year’s Tri Season?

There’s a great article in the August edition of Triathlete Magazine by Joel Friel called “Six Common Mistakes Triathletes Make”. While I’m definitely guilty of several of the mistakes in this article, I found myself thinking about other mistakes I’ve made this season.

My mistakes include:

  • Not planning out my entire season. My big race this year was the IRONMAN 70.3 Providence, which was the best experience ever! But because I hadn’t planned any other races, I felt a huge letdown afterwards (see last post). Side note: IRONMAN 70.3 Providence has been “discontinued”. Was it something I said?
  • Not writing in my blog more often. Technically, this is not tri-performance related, but the depression I felt because of the above point led me to stop writing. I apologize for that.
  • Not putting Body Glide in certain areas. I never knew my jersey would chafe under my arms until I did the Half Ironman. Thank you to the aid stations for having Vaseline!

So what are your biggest mistakes this season? Please send me your comments.

And because I also don’t like to dwell on the negative, I’ll be talking about my greatest successes this season in my next blog.

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Have You Ever Suffered from Post-Race Depression?

On Sunday July 8th, I finished my very first half-ironman, the Amica Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island in Providence.

With my Finisher Medal and Youngest Daughter

I had suffered a sprained ankle 9 days before the race, so I was just hoping to finish. I did just that, despite the bee sting on Mile 40 of the bike and the 90 degree heat during the run. Luckily, my ankle wasn’t a problem.

The problem I have now is lack of motivation. I can’t seem to get back into training. Every time I swim, bike or run I get tired and quit early. Has this ever happened to you after your big race of the season?

My Current Swim Routine

I just finished Chrissie Wellington’s autobiography, A Life Without Limits: A World Champion’s Journey, and even she has experienced this. After winning the first of four Ironman World Championships, Wellington says in her book, “I had just become a world champion. The truth is, though, that the period following a triumph like that is often difficult. There’s always a different reason for any downturn, but a downturn there so often seems to be.”

Usually I post some advice in my blog dealing with the question I pose. This time, I’m fresh out of ideas. I’m hoping that you’ll offer some advice to help me and others get back on track.

Please post your comments below. Thank you.

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How to Push Through the Pain

Push through the Pain

We’ve all been there. You get to a point during a tough training session or triathlon and your body screams for you to stop. You don’t care about finishing anymore. You just want it to end.

Sometimes it’s nutritional—your body is depleted and you’ve hit the wall. Or your muscles are overworked and every move hurts. This usually happens to me during the run portion of a triathlon.

When I’m in this situation, here are some things I do to cope:

 

Focus on Form

Concentrate on form. I try to block out the pain and my negative thoughts by focusing on improving my form. Chances are, if you’re tired or in pain, your form isn’t at its best. There are a lot of adjustments to make for each discipline. Don’t know about proper form? Google “run form,” “swim form” or “bike form”. Or consult any beginner triathlon books.

Always Look on the Bright Side

 Think of an upbeat song. I’m not sure why, but when I’m having a tough swim, “Zippa Dee Doo Dah” pops into my head. And for tough runs, “Always look on the Bright Side of Life” by Monty Python enters my mind. Weird I know. For some reason, I’ve never had a bike song.

Think about someone who has battled an illness. This may sound a bit morbid, but I get inspiration from my father who lost his battle with ALS (i.e., Lou Gehrig’s disease) many years ago. He had to endure a lot of suffering, and I think if he could face that, the least I can do is finish this stupid race (or workout). We all seem to know at least one person who has faced a battle with an illness. Finish for them.

 

So what do you do to stay mentally tough and push through the pain? Please leave a comment.

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How Do You Cope with the Heat During Workouts or Races?

This is a question that I’m really hoping you’ll help me with because quite frankly, I suck at it. It seems that after every long run, bike or race in the heat, I get a migraine.

A Runner Dealing with the Heat at this Year's Boston Marathon

 

Here are some things I do when I know it’s going to be hot out—obviously they don’t work 100% for me, but they do help:

  • Work out in the early a.m.  I often have to get up at 4:30 to 5:00 just to fit my workouts in. Luckily, the temperature is relatively cool at that point in the morning. (It never gets easier to get up this early, but my latest trick is to set the alarm on my iPhone and put it across the room so I have no choice but to get out of bed.) You could alternatively, work out later in the day, but for me, I’m usually too tired after work and just want to relax.
  • Spray yourself with the garden hose when you’re done. My kids love to do this for me! Start with your head and neck. If you’re lucky enough to have a pool, then jump in (and please invite me over).
Spray yourself off after a workout in the heat
  • Combine long runs/bikes with an open water swim. I live relatively close to several lakes and ponds. I will ride to one of them, swim for a while and ride back home.
  • Drink more water than usual the days leading up to a race. This is tri 101 but I thought I’d put it out there.
  • Use Electrolyte Replacement capsules. I’ve use Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes in the past with success and I’ve heard good things about SaltStick.

Here are a couple of articles I’ve read on the topic that are worth checking out:

  1. How to Avoid the Dangers of Running in the Heat by Cassandra Corum
  2. 10 Tips for Hot Summer Runs by Thad McLaurin

So, now it’s your turn. Please share what works for you when running, biking or racing in the heat.

 

 
 

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What Do You Wish Someone Told You Before Doing Your First Triathlon?

Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all Tri-Moms! I hope you all had a great day. I celebrated mine by pariticpating in my first race of the season, the New England Season Opener.

Me and My Girls before the Race

I saw a lot of newcomers and it got me thinking about the advice I wished I received before participating in my first tri. For me, this would include:

  • Practice swimming in a wetsuit before you use one in a race. Also important, always do a swim warm-up before the race–even when the temperature is a chilly 58 degrees like it was for me! Some may not agree with this, but it will get you used to what you’re in for.
  • Rehearse your transitions at home.Put down a towel and add all the things you need on it (sneakers, helmet, etc.). Run towards it like you’re coming out of the swim and quickly put things on you will need for the bike. Then do the same for when you come off the bike. I know this sounds crazy but it’s good practice.

    Practice Transitions at Home

  • Buy a race belt for the run. You won’t have to worry about pinning your number to your shirt. For most races, you’ll only need it for the run, so you can just grab it and put it around your waist as you run out of transition. But again, practice this.

So, what you wish someone had told you before your first tri!?

 

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