My Kinda RICE!

If you have an injury (or even if you only have a niggle that might become an injury) one of the first things people will tell you to do is RICE. And if you don’t know what RICE means a quick LMGTFY search will give you this…

RICE - Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate - Best Method for Recovery
(yay for smart Wisconsin colleges…where I paid lots of money for a piece of paper I rarely use!)

…which is a pretty straight forward explanation of what you should be doing to recover from most running related injuries. Now, maybe I’m a little wrapped up in semantics but I am currently pretending that I am not injured…I just have a little niggle that is unexplained and will not go away, no matter how many bad words I call it!

And how do you treat an unwelcome niggle in your leg? With a slightly modified variation of RICE, of course!

First, you need to rest. No running. No hiking. No unnecessary walking. Become the person that obnoxiously waits for a parking spot close to the Target entrance. Make co-workers stop by your desk to work on a project. Take the entire bag of potato chips to the couch rather than make multiple trips to the kitchen. Be nice to your legs…make them do very little!

Get creative with your icing! When it’s just a niggle plain ol’ ice packs won’t do the trick. You’ll need to replace a bag of ice cubes with a cup of ice cream. Every day. Yes, you need to eat ice cream every single day, preferably a different flavor from a variety of ice cream shops.

Ice Cream -- the new ice in RICEIce Cream -- the new ice in RICEIce Cream -- the new ice in RICE
You can follow my crazy ice cream obsession on the run.around.aroo Facebook page! Then come eat ice cream with me!

You desperately need this ice cream when it comes to the compression step. Eating copious amounts of ice cream will lead to all of your clothing becoming slightly tighter, more compression-like, if you will. A standard pair of jeans will now double as compression leggings…and when you pair them with compression socks you’re doubling your recovery speed!

Lastly, live at elevation! If you’re not lucky enough to live somewhere high then make special trips to higher elevation areas – such as Leadville during the Leadville 100 mile race where you can get your elevation, mountain and running fix all in the same trip! You may also want to consider sitting around with your feet up while watching other people run for hours and call yourself a “stellar crew member” when your suffering runner crosses the finish line!

And how am I doing with this variation of RICE’ing? I am excelling at it! I haven’t ran a single step since last Saturday and barely ran in the two weeks prior. I am diligently eating ice cream every single day in an effort to ice my innards and get the most compression from all of my jeans! As for the elevation – well, I figure my body is used to living at elevation so I’m heading up to Leadville this weekend to crew a runner at the Leadville 100. Boom…recovery win!

View near Leadville, CO
The mountains around Leadville – where I’ll be playing this weekend!

Oh, it’s probably also a good idea to hang out with a deep tissue massage therapist and schedule an appointment with a physical therapist that understands the ultra runner mentality! I’ve also done both of those! I actually went through my first bout of dry needling on Thursday and am flaunting a leg decorated in bright colored kinesiology tape! There have been a lot of “firsts” leading up to my first 100…hello learning curve!

As of right this second the Run, Rabbit, Run 100 mile race is still on the table and I have all my fingers and toes crossed that my body will be able to pull it off. As I said before, I will not start the race unless I am going in uninjured and niggle-free – I need to be confident in my ability to finish before I even start running! I am also fully prepared for a very daunting race, but I’m okay with that – that just means my second 100 miler will be that much better!

Plans are Overrated, Apparently.

Exactly 0% of my weekend went as planned. Well, I guess I did make the drive to Steamboat and my car was momentarily parked in the Dry Lake Trailhead parking lot, so maybe 4% as planned? Everything else…was not at all what I had planned. Some of it was kind of expected, some of it was very unwelcome and none of this insanity is made up, trust me!

Before I even made it to Steamboat I managed to lose my headlamp in the bag I had packed to take with me and forget my wallet + credit cards + ID in the bag I usually bring but chose to leave behind this weekend. Of course I didn’t realize my wallet was chilling back home on my bed until I pulled up to a gas pump 70 miles from home with an empty tank. Oops. Lucky for me this happens more often than I care to admit and I had a backup plan in place – a rarely used credit card I had stashed in the Forester!

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Eventually I made it to Steamboat and met up with Paula. After spending half a paycheck on food for the trail we headed out to the Dry Lake trailhead to start our night off with a 10 mile run along an out/back on the RRR100 course. We set out fully confident in our abilities. Or at least in our goals for the night – I needed to keep my whiney leg in check, Paula needed to keep her night time trail imagination under control. Before we even got one mile from the car we were both failing miserably. My leg was pissed and Paula was busy convincing both of us we’d die on the trail. We turned around…

Yup, we definitely turned in about six “badass ultra runner” cards that night…although we like to think we played it smart! There was no way I was letting Paula run on dark trails alone and my leg wasn’t being receptive to any coaxing I was giving it so we headed back to town with a tentative plan to run from a trailhead that started right in town.

As we drove back to town I talked myself out of even starting the 100 mile race – how was I going to run 100 miles in just 5 weeks when I couldn’t even pull of a full mile on the course tonight? Why start a race you know your body can’t finish? Why not just bail on the race and rock at life as a crew member for someone else!? All of this reasoning meant I had no reason to run…but Paula didn’t have the same excuse so she had to get some miles in.

Once again we improvised, this time we gave up on trails and opted for mindless loops around an outdoor track. Well, Paula ran mindless loops while I kept tally marks from the comfort of a sleeping bag! I also made her do lunges every mile since the track was just too flat. We passed the miles with bits and pieces of conversation about our race weekend plans…by this time I had been talked out of officially DNS’ing until a later date. Instead I would spend two weeks avoiding running, eating lots of recovery ice cream and sleeping as many hours as possible.

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Proof I’m the world’s best runner friend – I nap while you run!

I eventually got bored of tally marks and fell asleep as Paula continued her laps. She called it a night at 13 miles after the pavement had done a number on her trail loving joints. Too lazy to actually set up a tent or pack ourselves back into the Forester we both crashed on the track under a full moon. It was actually a very peaceful night…until about 3:50am when I woke up to the sound of a fearless fox sniffing around my head. I thought he was after the beef jerky I had tucked in my sleeping bag but it turns out he was far more interested in my sweet potato chips, which he had already devoured.

He was probably harmless but since he had absolutely no fear of humans and was far more curious than either of us were comfortable with Paula and I gave up on a night of sleeping under the stars and relocated to the back of the Forester! Technically we could have started the drive home since we had already ruined all of our running plans for the weekend but Creekside didn’t open until 6am and we both thought we’d earned some thick, local bacon!

So, rather than a weekend full of mountain trail running I ran a grand total of 1.5 miles, slept on a football field in the middle of a track, got to meet a friendly fox [who had nothing to say, fwiw] and was back home more than 24 hours before I planned. And what did I do with all this extra time back in the city? I slept. I ate ice cream. I slept some more. I did laundry. I ate some more ice cream. I slept again. Oh, and I made some appointments to get my body abused by professionals in hopes that it’ll help get me to the finish line of the Run, Rabbit, Run 100 miler. Yup…I’m not giving up on the race, not quite yet. It won’t be a stellar performance by any means but if I can approach the start line without lingering pain I’m going to give it my best effort!