I guess there is no time like the present to write a new post. Although, be warned that this may be one with a more pessimistic tune. I’m injured, I’m sad, and I’m getting fat. That’s right folks. This is what happens when you take running 70 miles a week away from a girl. Cranky pants.
It all started back in December with some aches and pains and a really shot pair of shoes. Do not, I repeat, do NOT keep running in shoes that feel like they’re past their prime. It was the first time I had ever felt pain in my achilles. It seemed manageable, just an annoying little ache that would warm up after a couple miles, and I thought nothing of it. I iced it after my runs and it wouldn’t bother me for a week until it flared up again. It seemed to get sore after track workouts, and even got to the point where a nodule formed on the back of my achilles. It hurt just to put my shoes on and walk, so I started getting Graston treatments and calf massages, and the Chiro advised me to cut back my mileage by 20% for the next 3 weeks. Why is it so hard to listen? I dropped my mileage the first week until I realized that it was friction from my shoes that was causing the pain, so I cut out the backs of all my shoes and continued running my usual mileage.
Things were going so well, as you might have read in my previous post. I had a new training partner, I was running workouts that I didn’t even think we’re possible, and I felt like I was in the best shape of my life. I had just finished my last tough week of training before the US 15k Championships’ Gate River Run in Jacksonville, FL, one of the most prestigious road races in the country, and couldn’t wait to test my fitness.
It was the Monday before the race, and I had put on my shoes to go to school, but there was a strange soreness in my achilles that I hadn’t felt before. The more I walked around, the worse it felt, so I took the day off to see if it was just a little freak thing that would go away. It felt a little better the next day for my last tune-up workout on the track, but after the adrenaline wore off in the last interval or two, it got so sore, I couldn’t even finish a mile cool down.
I saw the Chiro again the next day (the same night that i was supposed to head to LA for my trip to Jax), who said that it was really inflamed but thought I would be fine to race on Saturday. I tried to go for an easy 8 that evening, and couldn’t even get past 2.5 miles. I broke down and started crying, I was so broken and frustrated! I slowly jogged/limped/walked back to my car.
The 15k Champs were going to be the first opportunity to race nationally with my Nike RunLA team. I really didn’t want to let them down, so I did everything I could to race. I stayed off my feet, iced every hour, massaged my calf, and just took it easy for two days leading up to race day. Nike RunLA, has been so supportive and is the reason I am am able to travel all over the country and compete. They believe in my ability, and I am forever grateful for all the gear that I receive and all the financial support they have given me. They were so understanding about my injury and left it up to me to race or not.
I really, REALLY wanted to run this race. The atmosphere was incredible, the very best runners in the country were racing, the race director, hotel, and everyone involved really pampered us and treated us like celebrities, and for the first time, I had a bib with my name on it! It wasn’t until Friday afternoon, when I tried to run an easy 4, that I decided it wasn’t going to happen. Every step was a painful burning sensation that felt like the tendon was just going to give at any moment. A bummer indeed. On a positive note, I met and chatted with one of the best American runners of all time, Craig Virgin, the night before the race, and the incredible race director, Richard Fannin, let me ride on the press truck to watch the race!
My last real run was the morning of that last workout on March 5. Since then, I’ve been aqua jogging, biking, and using the elliptical every day. I’ve gone to PT and the Chiro twice a week and have scoured the internet for answers and tried every exercise in the book. I’ve tried to run twice since then but couldn’t get past 400 meters without that burning sensation coming back. It really hasn’t improved much at all, so I went to see a Sports Doctor who finally told me to just shut it down for 3 weeks and wear a boot every step of the way. Crap.
It’s a pretty anti-climactic story, but one that many runners go through and hopefully one that people can learn from; listen to your body and your doctors!! There are so many things I could have done differently. I should not have kept running in those old shoes. I should have taken it easy back in December when this whole thing started. I should have listened to the doc when he told me to cut back by 20% for those three weeks, and I probably wouldn’t be in this mess.
It’s been an emotional roller coaster. I cannot tell you how much I despise the pool, and no matter how many different little workouts I come up with, I am bored to death and can’t bring myself to get in there again. It’s been so long since I’ve gotten the endorphins that I get from running which has caused me to sink into a bit of a depression. I feel tired, lethargic, and I’m taking more naps than I did when I was at the peak of my training. I can’t stop eating (I will also always have a runner’s appetite) and have turned to chocolate and sweets to fill the void. I haven’t stepped on a scale in over 3 weeks. I know I’m burning calories in my cross training workouts, but I can feel myself putting on the pounds. I would do anything to feel that exhaustion after a solid 15 miler or hard track workout again!!
As much as I hate to admit this, one of the hardest things for me during an injury is to see others’ successes. Isn’t that awful!? I just know where I should be, and when I see other people running huge PR’s, I can’t help but feel envious. I have this huge well of potential, and I have yet to tap into it. In the 3.5 years I’ve been running, I have never had a healthy season, each year has been plagued by something different; thyroid trouble, anemia, celiac, last year’s tendinitis in my knee, and now this. Some other stories of professionals coming off of injuries are so inspirational and encouraging, like Amy Yoder-Begley coming back to win the 2009 US Championships in the 10k. The difference and fear that I feel is that these runners have such a bigger base under their belts, I worry I won’t be able to come back the way they did.
This past month has been so difficult already, taking 3 weeks to completely rest is going to be torture. The last time I took this much time off was for my wedding and honeymoon last July. It took me about 2 months to come back and feel like myself again. It’s such a scary thing, not knowing how or when I’m finally going to heal. What if it comes back when I finally start running again? What if I’m never able to run again? I feel like the only thing I can do is trust that the Lord has a solid plan for me. It really sucks right now, but I’m sure I’ll be back in no time. Until then, I want to take part in other runner’s successes and enjoy this sport as a spectator. It will just fuel my desire to come back better and stronger and completely healed! I’d love to hear your comments and stories of injuries that you’ve had and how you’ve overcome them!