Eight years ago I ran and ran and ran through pain. I ran until I could barely run. And then I ran some more. Until I could barely walk. After the long, grueling recovery from my fractures in 2010 I vowed I would never do this again. Those fractures wrecked me – not so much physically as mentally. And after taking 17 months off to fully heal I promised myself “never again.” Oops.
Towards the end of a disappointing 2017 season I ran through pain. I ran more than I should have but then I did the responsible thing – I stopped, saw the doc, took time off. I was so proud of myself – flaunting my responsible decision. Look at me – I’m a changed woman!
I started this year running with some pain (but seriously, have I ever run without pain since 2009? No.) I had it under control, so I thought. Typical me – I always have everything under control, even when I don’t. And so I kept running until suddenly the pain was drastically worse. I forced runs even though each step was painful. I could still “jog” and I was only walking with a slight limp. As long as I can mask the appearance of pain it doesn’t matter what’s going on under the surface. No one can see that I’m struggling. I had to run.
It got to the point where I had to physically lift my right leg with my hands from a seated position. Major red flag for me. So I spent more time at the gym instead of running to get those muscles firing again. It worked, so I was fine. Every day I made sure I could hold my weight on one leg, then I would do the hop test. I was
passing able to get a little clearance off the ground with some focus and effort, so I was fine. I’ve learned to look for red flags but then I find ways to take them down. Great.
Next up was my spring training trip – the trip I dream about each year until it’s over, and then I start dreaming about it again. I took 4 days off from running leading up to the trip thinking that would do the trick. Then I ran 11 painful and awkward miles in the mountains. The whole time trying to not focus on what my body was struggling to tell me – simply enjoying the opportunity to be out on those trails doing what fulfills me. Later that day the pain was really settling in. Luckily I had spent the past week preparing myself mentally for this outcome. After consulting with a trusted friend and coach I pulled the plug on my running. The next day I made some calls.
I have a stress fracture in my femoral neck. I’ve now had the 2 worst fractures for runners. If I fuck this up I could break my hip. Needless to say I am going to put all of my effort into not fucking this up. So if you see me doing something I shouldn’t – call me on it. Please. After 12 weeks of no running I will have imaging done again because the doc wants to make damn sure that there are zero signs of this fracture before I’m released to start running again. I will be able to start progressing with other activities over this time but for the next few weeks I have to shut it down entirely. Time to heal.
I’m clearing my race calendar and am hoping once I can slowly start to build again I can aim for some shorter late season racing. But I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself and focus on what I need to do right now. This will not be a 17 month affair like it was in 2010…
Since I’ve been down this road before I have set some goals for myself. Here are the main ones:
- Do not allow your injury to rob your sense of identity. This will be the toughest to tackle.
- Acknowledge and respond to pain. Don’t ignore it. This isn’t a race.
- Use the damn crutches. No matter how embarrassing or emotionally uncomfortable they make you feel .
- If there’s ever any doubt that something you want to do may be stupid, ask someone you trust. Then actually listen to them.
During my previous injury I had to do a lot of hard work on myself. One of many helping me through it was able to break down just enough of my wall to sneak in something that has stuck with me. He told me that I am grasping my running too tightly. He used the visual of holding a small pebble in the palm of my hand and I was clenching my fist around it so hard so I wouldn’t lose it. I had to hold the pebble in an outstretched hand. If I kept such a tight hold my running would ruin me. It’s time to revisit this concept.
There are many things I say in hopes of convincing myself they are true. This rarely works. There is currently one thing I’m telling myself which I know to be true – I will come back stronger.
Thank you to Dr. Parker for always looking out for me and understanding me.
Thank you to Dr. Goolsby for providing me with a recovery plan with which I can get behind.
Thank you to Elizabeth Azze for helping me pull the plug before things got incredibly worse, and for being that trusted friend I need.
Thank you to Unived for supplying me with the supplements that will be an integral part of the healing process.
THANK YOU to all of my friends who are showing me love and keeping me busy. It’s going to be a bumpy road for sure. I’m going to try my best to keep it together.
See you on the trails soon I hope!