Injuries have a way of crippling more than just your body; not only are you literally hobbling around, your mental and emotional state turns south, and your running blog finds itself in an extremely long hiatus. Or maybe that’s just me. Writing a blog about your running adventures when you can’t run is pretty difficult, and nobody wants to read post after post from a bitter, sidelined runner complaining about every stitch, pinch and burn. So, while my love and I took a bit of a break, so, too, did the blog. And, while I’d love to say my return to the blog means my triumphant return to running, well…
After running my first marathon back in October and taking the necessary time off to recover, I was surprised at how easily I was able to jump back in to the running game. I was easing my way back in, but one 13 mile run on a new route through the city trashed my achilles. I rested and iced, but continued to try to run through it, which is where I really did some damage. From November to March I was able to run about two or three times, but besides that I’d been forced to shift gears to cross-training and weight lifting. For months, I’d jostled my brain to figure out what went wrong, besides the terrible decision to ‘just run through it’. It could have been the uneven city sidewalks, the constant road running, wearing shoes past their prime, not stretching, super tight calves…the possibilities were endless, and all applied. I think it was just a blend of everything that exploded and knocked me out.
My achilles eventually healed; that beloved crevice on the inside of my ankle returned as the perpetual swelling finally went down and I regained mobility there. I started to ease back into running, taking baby steps with the treadmill, dipping my toes in for SUPER slow 0.25 mile jogs before my workouts, then increased to 0.5 mile, then 1. Eventually I could run 4 or 5 miles comfortably, and it was the greatest feeling in the world. I’d been able to take it back outside the past month or so and redisovered myself and why I fell in love with running in the first place. I no longer felt lost or stuck; I was free as a bird.
All of this was leading up to a half marathon I signed up for back in January, the Le Chocolat Half Marathon on May 4th. When I signed up, I intended it to be the race I’d beat my previous half time. When I got injured, I’d decided to get better and just run it. Now, I’m wondering if I can even do that. For me it seems when one injury heals, another one pops up. After my achilles, the outside of my right ankle started to give me grief. I was able to baby it and run a few times a week, including a long run. I was up to 11 miles, and knew that if I could tackle that then I could handle 13.1 without really training for it. As my ankle is starting to feel better, I suddenly have IT Band issues on my left leg. Oh, Lefty, always the problem child!
So now I’m back on the rehab wagon. I’m rehabbing so hard, if there were an Olympics for this I’d for sure snag the gold! I just hope all this effort works and lets me run on Sunday. I don’t care how slow, as long as I can put one foot in front of the other. And then it’s back to the rehabbing before I start training for my second marathon. Oh yeah, did I mention I signed up for a second one? Yup! I’ll be running the Run For Heroes Marathon in September here in town. I’m so excited, it’s a flat course and the weather was just gorgeous last year, and I won’t have to worry about crossing the border/ travel issues since it’s right in my backyard, which gives me a chance to even to a practice run on the course itself. But before all of that, I need to get my body in check!
Aside from the physical therapy, I’ve been doing some mental therapy. I think everyone wrestles with being their own toughest critic, and just as much as I believe in myself more than anyone else, I’m also hardest on myself than anyone else. When I’m not running, screws turn loose and I go a little crazy. Having taken as much time off as I had, my fitness has decreased a bit and I’ve put on a little fluff, lots for Negative Nancy to dwell on. One of the things that’s helped pull me through is reading Running on Empty by Marshall Ulrich. His story is incredibly inspiring! I highly recommend it, and if you’re injured I recommend it even more. You’d think it a bit masochistic to read about running when not being able to run, but Marshall’s story gave me hope. Here is a man who, through hell and high water, through every over-use injury a runner could acquire, continued to put one foot in front of another in pursuit of a dream, and still founds the beauty in the run, even when it literally broke him down.
It reminded me of why I love running in the first place. My relationship with running has been a bit of a roller coaster ride, and one that is constantly redefined. What began as a weight loss strategy turned into a lifestyle, and running became a central part to my life and me as a person. We all have our reasons for running, and Marshall had his, but in the end running is just a beautiful thing, regardless of why or how you do it. There’s no ‘end-game’, you just keep moving, because life keeps moving. Whether you’re up for it or not, whether you’re at your best or your worst, there’s nothing else to do but keep going.
So, as I stare hopelessly hopeful towards next Sunday’s race, I know that no matter what happens I’ll be there. I made a commitment and I’m going to keep it. How I’ll be there is up in the air – maybe I can defer to the 10K or 5K, maybe I’ll walk it, or maybe I’ll finally fulfill another goal to be a really awesome, motivating spectator. Either way, I will get my wine and my chocolate, I’ll soak up the firefighters (maybe play up my injury and need some special, manly firefighter attention!) and the company of fellow runner friends and just have a good time.
I hope you’re all healthy, happy and injury-free. If you’re dealing with a fork in your road like I am, I wish you the speediest of recoveries and a friendly reminder that you are not alone. Wherever you are in your life, you can only move forward from here! As for me, I’m hoping to do a lot more reading, writing and blogging. Until next time, happy running! — Or cross-training, or…well… you know :)