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Coming back after surgery - or what do I do now???

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Alex Kubacki
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Post  Tim C Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:34 pm

So long story short, I had back surgery on October 1.  Ran an excellent (for me) marathon in March in 4:08, averaged over 30 miles/week up thru July, then started to have some serious sciatica issues.  Tried everything in the book, including acupuncture, and finally cut way back on mileage as I figured it couldn't be doing me any good to run - even though it didn't hurt when I ran.  Only ran 10-15 miles / week in August and September with my last run on 9/29, which coincidentally was by 57th birthday.

Doc told me I should expect to feel better after surgery, although no guarantees.  Well, I feel extremely lucky as ALL of the pain I was experiencing is gone and I feel fabulous.  I have my last office visit next week, at which point I expect to be turned loose to run again.  (I've been on the elliptical - god, somebody help me - and walking a LOT). 

I'm curious who else has had to shut it down this much for this long and how did you come back?  I want to run LA again in March but that is only 16 weeks after I start back running.  With as long as I've been off, I'm pretty certain that this is just out of the question.  I know I should be patient, although not my strong suit, but have to expect that I would need several weeks of base-building before I could even think about starting back into marathon training.  The schedule for LA that my friends are using would put me back into double digit distance runs within the first 2 weeks.  I feel like I could probably run a 10 miler within a week or 2, but suspect that may not be the smartest thing in the world for me to do.

So, after just re-reading what I wrote, I think I'll write off running an early March marathon.  Maybe I'll look for another one to run a couple of months later.  Or race a half or 2…..
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Post  Alex Kubacki Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:08 am

I missed most of the late spring, summer, and early fall with injuries.  When I first tried to come back I was stupid and that caused another injury.  When I've come back again I've been a tad smarter and followed a run/walk protocol I found online.  It's not about fitness level, its about getting the soft tissues used to running again.  You have to resist the urge to try and do more before the the body is ready.  You can continue to cross train to make up the rest of the time you would normally have worked out for.
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Post  ounce Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:35 am

I would work on strengthening your stabilizer muscles for balance and flexibility.  Balancing, lunges, core work and yoga will allow your running muscles to be better at running.
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:29 am

Tim - I had surgery last November (Monday after Thanksgiving) and although it wasn't the best marathon, I did run Boston in April.  I was off for about 6 wks and my longest run in January was 8 miles towards the end of the month.  I also had to contend with winter and we had a bit of snow last year.  I did get in two 20 mile runs although they were very slow.  I got caught at the 26 mile mark at Boston, but I still ran and recovered well.  I then ran Cleveland in May, Steamboat Springs in June, and paced the Leading Ladies marathon in August.  All of those races were in the 4:15-4:20 range.  I then ran Indianapolis Monumental this past weekend in 3:50.  So I guess I'm saying that I took it slow and steady and it really took me almost a year to get back to race shape.  

Every surgery is different though and I would just go as you feel.  I second the strengthening aspects as once I was able to get into the gym and really begin weight and core work again, it really helped.  That was not until early April however.
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Post  Julie Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:44 am

I also had surgery last Nov and my surgeon warned me that it would take awhile for my site to regain tensile strength and I had to take it easy for a few months. But I think if I hadn't had twins this summer I could have easily run a marathon this fall as long as training had started about 6 weeks or so after my surgery. Just be cautious because you don't want to make things worse but I think as long as you listen to your body it is possible to get back into marathon shape before too awfully long but just be careful and take off the needed time, start out walking, etc.
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Post  Tim C Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:07 pm

Thanks for the replies.  I feel so good right now I just know I could go out and bust a 10 miler - and seriously pay for it.  I'm going to go easy, maybe no back to back days running for a couple of weeks, take it easy, run with my dog and just enjoy being outside.  Then I'll see how things feel in a few weeks.

Running LA in early March isn't going to happen.  My only real incentive to run it was that I enjoyed it so much last year and truly feel I could break 4 hours.  But with no fitness or base right now, I know that if I trained as much as i would need to accomplish that, I'd wind up getting hurt.

As they say, there's always another race to run….

I sure am looking forward to that first run next week  Very Happy
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Post  nkrichards Sat Nov 09, 2013 9:42 am

Enjoy that first run but take it easy...
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Post  Tim C Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:40 pm

Checking in - doc gave me the full green light today.  Anything I want to do, except golf will have to wait another few weeks.  Came home, laced up my shoes and went out for a VERY easy 2.5 miles.  Wanted to go further but I'm getting wiser in my old age….

It sure felt good to work up a little sweat.  Geez, it's mid-November and it was over 80 degrees here in SoCal today.

Don't know what my pace was and don't care…  it was just nice to be out there with no aches or pains!
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Post  John Kilpatrick Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:28 am

I know you could gut through a marathon but maybe a half first and then a full would give your body some extra time to adjust?  I've been through this a couple times now where I probably came back too fast from a layoff and ended up hurting something - aerobically I felt good but I guess my body wasn't ready for it.  In any case, congrats on a successful surgery and whatever you decide I bet it will feel great to race again!

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