Impatiently Awaiting Physical Therapy!!!

Brief post:

I am still on IR, and not doing anything more than teaching my GF classes at the YMCA (modified for me due to my injury). I’m riding my bike, instead of running, to get in some cardio and lower-body work.

My Dr. Appt. went as expected/hoped on Monday. Yes, I have an injured achilles. How bad is it? It’s not ruptured! So preventing that is key! I have an URGENT prescription for PT, but the soonest I could get in is 3/13/18. I promise to refrain from any excessive activity until then. I will continue to teach classes (modified for me), I will train my upper body, and I will utilize the bike as much as possible in order to maintain my aerobic capacity. But, in order to run well you have to run.

My marathon isn’t until the end of April, so there is hope. For now, here’s to hoping PT brings me to a finish for my marathon! But, more importantly, here’s to hoping they can help me heal my injury (whatever it takes) so that I can continue to run in the future.

I’m in it for the long run…

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The Running Gods have something to tell me…

…and I’m not liking it.

I started training for the Salisbury Marathon early this year. Things have been going well, considering most of my training runs have occurred on the treadmill because I am a fair-weather runner.  Then I decided to do incline/hill work during one of my interval training runs.  When I finished that run, I felt a minor strain in the back of my right ankle.  So I took it easy the next couple of runs.  I didn’t notice any problems.

One night, while sitting around at home recovering from the day, I was fiddling around with my training schedule and trying to coordinate local runs with my training plan.  I hopped online and registered for both the Tim Kennard 10 Mile River Run and The Run for the Animals half marathon.  I had myself pumped!  Very much looking forward to both runs preceding the marathon.  About a week later, I got sick.

When you’re training for something like a marathon, you just don’t have time to get sick!  It was a severe upper respiratory thing, and I had to take a break from running until my lungs cleared of all the mucus so I could breathe.  I ended up taking 8 days off.  During the first week after recovering from my URTI, I eased myself back into the runs.  I shortened my scheduled training runs by about 25%.  The next week I was pretty close to being back on track!  Then that pain in the back of my right ankle started to creep up again.  It wasn’t severe or debilitating, but I do know that when your body is eliciting pain, it’s telling you something is wrong.  When I lift weights, the next day or two afterward I feel pain, but there isn’t anything really wrong going on in this case, right?  I (foolishly) took the same approach to the pain I was feeling in the back of my ankle.

I had a 12 mile training run to complete this week.  The weather was gorgeous on Tuesday so I decided to get it in since I had the day off from work.  I did my usual 10 minute warm-up which consists of a lot of dynamic stretching through yoga techniques.  I took it nice and easy since I had that slight tinge of pain in the back of the ankle, and by mile 6 or 7 I started to feel more pain.  At that point I started to add in some walk breaks.  During the walk breaks my ankle felt fine.  Then, almost immediately as I started to run again the pain came right back.  I had to make my way back home so continued my run/walk intervals.  I finished my 12 miles.  I did my usual post-run stretching, foam rolled and took a hot shower.  I teach SoulBody Barre Unhitched at our local YMCA on Tuesday evenings, so I needed to clean up and I continued to stretch and move around so as not to tighten up prior to class.

I felt good, and my ankle seemed fine, but there was a very minor dull ache.  When I started teaching class that night, as soon as I had to do a toe-point, I felt the back of my right ankle.  Then, while performing a plié jump, OUCH!  Yikes.  That really hurt.  So I modified throughout the rest of class.

When I got home I started to panic a little, not gonna lie.  So I did what we are ALL guilty of when something like this happens…I jumped online and posted in my running groups on Facebook for advice, then googled ankle/achilles injuries and how to handle them.  The more I read, the more freaked out I became.  I even pulled out my Netter’s Musculoskeletal Flash Cards.  I self-diagnosed myself with Achilles Tendinitis.  I am not going to be able to run my marathon, I feared in my head.

The Achilles

Conditions of the Achilles Tendon

 

Before you go on to chastise me for consulting with “Dr. Google,” like so many did in one of my Facebook running groups, I work in the veterinary field (and blog myself) and I know better than to take the advice of any web-based recommendation without first consulting with my Physician.  I was merely seeking advice from others who have experienced similar injuries, and I appreciated all of those who shared their experiences.

The next morning I called my Doctor’s office to get an appointment ASAP to get an official diagnosis and, hopefully, a prescription for Physical Therapy.  My appointment isn’t until Monday (I am writing this on the Saturday prior to my appointment).

In the meantime, I’m “on the bench” and not running at all until I get some answers.  I’m following the standard RICE procedure for injuries.  As I sit here writing this post, my right leg is elevated with a cold compress on the affected area.  I currently have zero pain, but I do have some swelling and a little “bump” in the middle of my Achilles.

If the running Gods do have it in for me, I’ll find out for sure next week.  If they’re just trying to challenge me, they’re doing a pretty damn good job of it!  I will (begrudgingly) take a DNS over a NRA.  Who knows, maybe I won’t have to worry about either!  Please feel free to share your running injury experiences in the comments, or whatever else you’d like share.  I’ll hopefully have some good news to report early next week.  Stay tuned…

Seriously…I Mean it…Retractable Leashes should be BANNED

WARNING:  This is a RANT post!  Proceed with caution!  But do not hesitate to comment for constructive conversation/debate.

I cannot stress just how much I abhor the retractable leash. To recap, here’s my original post.

All too often I see countless dog owners walking with their dog or showing up to the vet office with their dog on a retractable leash.  The dog is 99.99999% of the time tugging at the leash (because a retractable leash teaches them to do so).  This is not a habit you want your dog to think is OK.  Especially if you have a very large, muscular breed dog.  All dogs should be taught proper leash manners.

Not only do these leashes teach a dog poor leash manners, the mechanisms in these types of leashes are NOT foolproof!  They fail more often than not.  Of all of the clients I deal with that come in to the animal hospital with a dog on a retractable leash, more than 50% of the time the locking mechanism of the leash is not working.  That potentially puts 1) the dog on that leash, 2) the other animals in the area, 3) the pet owners in the area and 4) the staff of the animal hospital at risk of injury.  It doesn’t matter how friendly or social your dog is, retractable leashes that are failing or unmonitored are tripping hazards!  Also, your dog might love cats, but that cat waiting in the lobby isn’t necessarily fond of your dog.

If you think that you are exempt because you never let your dog wander, your dog is well-behaved on the retractable leash, and you always make sure your leash is in good working order…my recommendation is…then why not just get a real, reliable, SAFE-for-everyone leash?!!

Time to get back on track!

This recent bout of illness, whatever it was, has really thrown a wrench in my marathon training. I am a week off and my lung capacity is diminished some because they still contain crud. Also, my energy level and motivation level are both in need of help.

Today I did a slow, short bout of running followed by strength and balance training. I’m glad it was nice enough for me to run outdoors because once I got moving, the coughing started. I would hate to be in the gym hacking on everyone around me! I’m hoping that all the coughing got rid of a bunch of that lung crud so that I can go a little further tomorrow. Then further yet on Monday.

Part of my training has been to learn how to fuel my body most efficiently. I thought I had it figured out for my first marathon, but I obviously did not because I totally hit the wall at about mile 19! I know what I need to do, but want to be able to test it before race day. However, again with the illness, my diet got thrown way out of whack over the past week too. I am sure that has a lot to do with my energy level slump.

When you prepare your training for an endurance event, you prepare as though everything will be hunky-dory throughout the training period. When you are forced to halt your training for whatever reason, you have to spend time revamping your training schedule. I should probably go do that now!

I’ll let you all know how I fare in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you have any recommendations or would like to share your experiences with training for an endurance event, please do so! How do you fuel your body in preparation of the event? What do you do to maintain your energy level during the event? Have you ever had a hiccup in your training plan; and, if so, what did you do to get back on track?

Off to edit my training schedule for the coming weeks…

Living up to my Claim

I warned you all that I am the worst blogger in the universe. Sadly, it took me coming down with a severe cold to find time to sit here and write a post. The only problem I have is, where do I begin? There is so much to write about, a lot has gone on in my life in the last 7 months, and I have learned a lot of useful information that I would love to share with you all. I have decided to start with an explanation of my absence this time.

Last year was a tough year for us on several levels. My husband lost his father in May, his job in August, and his mother in September. Much of our time for the second half of 2017 was spent traveling and reassessing our near future. It’s no wonder I didn’t have time to sit down to blog about anything.  I haven’t been on social media channels either, so it’s not just the blogosphere I’ve disappeared from.

However, the last year also brought some positive things our way.  We finally sold our house in California, and I started teaching SoulBody classes at our local YMCA. That house had been a thorn in our sides for 9 years, and I’ve been trying to convince the local chapter of the YMCA to consider the classes I had to offer for over 6 months.  Patience and persistence certainly paid off in these efforts.

In reflection of the events of 2017, I have been overwhelmed with emotion.  Sadness and grief for my husband and the loss of his parents, and his job; joy and gratefulness for the sale of that house, and my welcome to the Y; and overall humility in knowing that so many others are going through much harder times than I am, and still coming out stronger and with a more positive attitude than me!  I want to be that latter population.

Today, I am sick in the literal sense.  I have a cold.  I am to the point of a productive cough, but it feels like I have razor blades in my lungs.  I am 5 weeks into training for a marathon and this illness is throwing a wrench into my training plan.  It is also keeping me from performing at my real job and leading group fitness classes at the Y.  However, I am not going to let that get me down.  I will take the time needed to recover from this illness in such a way as to expose as few other people as possible (so they don’t have to suffer through this), and to ensure a complete recovery for myself so that I may get back to work, teaching and training as quickly as possible.  While I am indisposed, I will make good use of my time as best I can by updating my blog and working from home.

Life is what you make of it.  You can choose to focus on the positive, the negative, or realize that we all have equal ups and downs and it all evens out in the end.  Your situation is what you make of it.  I hope you choose what makes you feel best.

Hold me accountable!  Next post will happen within the next 30 days!  I’ve got a lot going on in the coming months.

Dealing With Thunderstorm Anxiety in Dogs

Over the past few years my dog, CJ, has gradually developed thunderstorm anxiety. I can’t pinpoint exactly when it all started, but one day I happened to notice him slinking off into the bathroom.  He just went in there and calmly laid on the floor.  I figured maybe he was hot and the cool, tile floor in the bathroom felt good.  Then, about 10 minutes later it started to storm. Once the storm was over, CJ came out of the bathroom and acted completely normal. Since I first noticed this behavior, I started to pay very close attention to him when I knew thunderstorms were approaching.  Sure enough, about 10 minutes before the storm was overhead, CJ would make his way into the bathroom.

His behavior continued to change as time progressed.  CJ would still slink off into the bathroom, but occasionally would start to pant and quiver.  One night he made his way into the bathtub and was frantically digging at the bottom of the basin.

There was no doubt about it, CJ was suffering from thunderstorm anxiety.

When I finally realized CJ’s anxiety, I made it apparent to the other human member of the household to not make a big deal about a thunderstorm.  Just carry on like it’s a normal, run-of-the-mill day.  This other human member of the household is a weather professional and inadvertently gets excited about weather phenomena.  Since learning about CJ’s behavior changes he has kept his excitement about weather happenings to himself as best he can.

I have made many attempts to distract CJ when I knew a thunderstorm was approaching.  I’d try to get him to do some Nose Work, or play “clean up” or some other game we enjoy regularly.  Playing seemed to work a little bit, but nothing could distract him once the storm was sitting right on top of us.  Not even food or treats.

What causes thunderstorm anxiety?  Could it be the loud thunderclaps that scare the dogs?  Perhaps.  (C.J. does not react to other loud noises, such as fireworks or gunshots.)  Could it be the lightning flashes?  Perhaps the electromagnetic charge of the lightning is stimulating his skin or hair in a way that is uncomfortable.  Maybe it has something to do with the change in pressure of the atmosphere, or the changes in air flow.  Could that be affecting his ears or sinus cavities?  Perhaps the sound of debris rustling with the changes in wind speed and direction is making him nervous.

There are so many variables to consider when it come to thunderstorms that it is nearly impossible to detect the exact trigger for your pet.  Chances are that it is not one single variable, but a combination of any or all of those mentioned, and more.  And one fact about thunderstorm anxiety is that it tends to worsen with age.  So, what to do?

First and foremost, discuss your pet’s behavior with your veterinarian.  Let your vet know when your pet seems to show signs of anxiety (is it well before a storm, in the midst of the storm, only when there is loud thunder, etc.) and how long it persists (does your pet return to normal after the lightning ceases, the next day, etc.).  You and your veterinarian can then come up with a plan for your dog, which may include counterconditioning techniques with or without the aid of anti-anxiety medications or sedatives.

What seems to be working for C.J. is the combination of a Thundershirt, distraction with games, and a mild sedative called Sileo.  The Thundershirt applies constant, comfortable pressure to your dog’s body which seems to have a calming effect (think about swaddling an infant).  I have had good results with the Thundershirt alone only during very mild storms of short duration.  Sileo is an oromucousal gel that contains a minute amount of a sedative medication that helps calm your dog.  It has never made C.J. drowsy or sedate in any way.  It just seems to reduce his reactivity to storms.  I have used it with and without the Thundershirt with excellent results!

This is what has worked for C.J.  It does not mean it will work for your dog.  Talk to your veterinarian to find the right product or combination of products to help curb your dog’s thunderstorm phobia.  Your dog with thank you for it!

JUST SAY NO! to the Retractable Leash

Having worked in the animal care field for over 20 years now, I have learned a great much about animals and their health and well-being.  I am fairly well acquainted with most pet toys and gadgets too.  Some are great, while others make me think “what in the heck were they thinking when they developed this thing?”  Retractable leashes are one of those gadgets that make me cringe.  I truly hope they, along with chain leashes, go the way of the dinosaur.

Retractable leashes are leads with plastic handles that contain a reel system.  As a pet advances, the leash unreels and the pet is able to move farther from the handler.  If the handler wishes to stop the pet from being able to advance, the handler typically has to push a button that “locks” the leash to prevent it from unreeling.  The only way that the leash can shorten is if there is some slack between the leash handle and the pet.  The first 12 to 24 inches of most retractable leashes is a flat nylon-type material.  The rest of the length of these leashes is typically a thin cord.  In some cases the entire length is a thin cord.

I can understand only one benefit of the retractable leash.  Oh.  Wait.  I lied.

Why am I so down on these ever-so-popular gadgets?  Let me tell you!

  1.  They teach your dog to pull.  If you have a tiny little teacup chihuahua at the end of a leash, the pulling isn’t usually a big deal.  However, if you have a 75 pound lab or a 120 pound mastiff pulling at the other end of a leash, you’re going to have some pretty serious control issues there!  Teaching your dog leash manners is crucial in any case, but especially when it comes to muscular breeds or large and giant breed dogs.
  2. The locking mechanisms are not trustworthy.  As your pet pulls at the retractable leash to check out the flattened squirrel in the street while a car is approaching, are you going to trust that little plastic latch to save your dog from being struck by that oncoming vehicle?  I sure wouldn’t.  And for good reason.  I’ve seen what happens in such a case far too often.
  3. The thin rope cord is dangerous to you and your dog.  Imagine, if you would, the following scenario:  A woman is taking her 60 pound pointer for a walk in the park when a squirrel crosses the dog’s path.  The dog begins to chase the squirrel so the woman attempts to press the “lock” button, but the momentum created by the dog is able to overcome the lock!  In a panic the owner reaches and grabs for the leash.  BIG MISTAKE!  There are cases of dog owners losing fingers in cases similar to this.
  4. At the vet clinic:  All too often I see pet owners come into our office with a dog on a retractable leash and that dog begins to explore the entire waiting area!  We see both healthy and sick patients at the office.  I don’t want your healthy dog fraternizing with another waiting sick dog, or otherwise.  Also, your dog’s roaming creates a snag-line to other patrons or staff members!

These are my top 4 reasons for banning retractable leashes, but I could easily come up with 20 more reasons to ditch them.  Folks, if you have a dog, you need to properly leash train that dog.  If the dog pulls or is too “strong” for you, please talk with your veterinary staff about head halters or no-pull harnesses.