I haven’t posted much lately. Other than two race reports, I haven’t written anything since June. Partly, it’s because I’ve been distracted. In July, I spent much of my free time watching Tour de France coverage. More recently, I’ve been following the Olympics. Still, there was another reason I wasn’t posting.
I often wanted to write an update on my PT or my training, but I waited. I’ve been making progress with both, but it was gradual progress. I think I was waiting for the next big breakthrough before writing anything. I never had a big breakthrough, but the small improvements have accumulated.
Earlier this week, I had a PT appointment. For the first time, I left without scheduling another appointment. I’m not done yet, but I’m close to being on my own. My therapist has said there’s still a lot I can do to strengthen my legs and core, but there’s no point scheduling another appointment until the exercises I’m doing now get easy, and I’m ready for some more advanced exercises.
My training is also improving. Summer heat has held me back a bit, but I get the sense that I’m starting to train at a faster pace. I’m also more confident in my form. I no longer have to ask myself if I’m using my hips. I also no longer have to ask myself if my upper body is aligned. Even running with a slight forward lean is starting to feel more natural.
Where I’ve had a big breakthrough is in my circulation. Last year, my injuries weren’t my only problem. As my training decreased, I started noticing stiffness in my legs. If I sat for too long, my legs would get stiff, and I had to do exercises to stimulate circulation before I could begin walking. After sleeping, I had to be careful not to move too quickly, or I would have severe cramps.
I eventually realized these symptoms were sensitive to both temperature and recent activity (or lack of activity). That’s when I suspected it was related to my Raynaud’s Syndrome. When I eventually saw my doctor about it, he came to the same conclusion. After running a raft of blood tests to rule out other possible causes, he prescribed a medication that’s helpful for Raynaud’s.
After a week or two, I noticed a difference in my legs. They still got stiff at night, but it wasn’t as bad. I no longer suffered from cramps. It wasn’t a total cure, but it made the problem manageable. I wasn’t running yet, but I was cautiously optimistic that the problem would go away completely when I resumed my previous activity level. Raynaud’s is a vascular condition. The more I run, the better my circulation seems to be.
That was seven months ago. I needed to heal before I could begin running. Then I had to ramp up gradually. I’m still not running as much as I used to, but I’m running enough to notice the difference. About a month ago, I realized I was no longer feeling stiff when I woke up during the night. More recently, I’ve noticed that I don’t always get stiff after sitting. I’m walking with more confidence. My hips move smoothly, my shoulders don’t wobble from side to side, and I’m walking at a quicker pace. I really noticed it today, walking through an airport with a backpack and suitcase.
The main symptom of Raynaud’s Syndrome is restricted blood flow in my hands when I get cold. This is what they looked like after my last race. I was fine while I was running, but got cold wearing damp running clothes in cool temperatures after finishing.
I used to experience this frequently, and my whole hand would turn white. Now it’s becoming rare. This was only the second or third time I noticed this since January.
At the start of the year, I knew I could heal, I knew I could strengthen the weak muscles, and I knew I could eventually get back in shape. I didn’t know for sure if my circulation would improve. Now I know. I’m starting to feel normal again. I’m not perfectly normal, but I’m feeling as good as I did before my injuries. I’m still not in peak shape yet, but I can get there from here.