I’ve been trying hard to stay positive and not get frustrated.
I have been in physical therapy since July. JULY. I haven’t had a steady bout of running that hasn’t been pain free since May. (If you’re trying to do the math, I’ll just tell you — it’s been since May 26th, 2013 and that is 215 days, or 5160 hours, or 309,600 minutes, or 18, 576, 000 seconds… or exactly SEVEN WHOLE MONTHS as of yesterday.)
It started with my left hip/groin. Simple solution: stop heel striking, stabilize that pelvis, and strengthen the hip flexors. I started to feel better, my hip pain went away.
Then I get ready to be discharged and all of a sudden my right ankle/shin is starting to be sore every time I run in October. It was an overuse injury; I ramped it up too quickly trying to prepare for the Dirt Cheap Stage Race, maybe even a stress fracture. We discover it isn’t via MRI and I’m cleared to start running again.
So I start running and my left ankle hurts now. Chris said don’t rush into it, just start with walk/run intervals but I’m still sore and we decide it’s my sneakers. Time to ditch the Newton Energy’s because they aren’t right for my feet. I switch to my 2014 Brooks stability sneakers. It starts to feel better to run in run/walk intervals or 15-20 minutes at a time. Then 30 minutes at a time felt good and finally 3 miles feels good.
So I put myself in a good mental state in all aspects of my life, along with the help of some other important people in my life. And I go out for an amazing run on on Christmas Eve in the cold, snowy Buffalo weather. I followed my movement prep and set myself up for a great run. I took it slow and while it took 15 minutes to loosen up, I ran 5 blissful, pretty much “abnormal pain”-free miles. Could this be the step in the right direction?
Uh, nope. I went to bed that night with a throbbing ankle and spent most of Christmas KT-Taped up, compressing, and self massaging my calves and ankle.
I was feeling so confident, positive, and amazing.
I bought a Believe I Am training journal for the upcoming year. I created a brand spankin’ new training plan to get me to the Buffalo Marathon and finish. I made a decision regarding my employment at the BAC/LA Fitness. I received many thoughtful gifts from family and J which encompass everything running means to me. I made a commitment to dedicating 110% of myself into physical therapy so I don’t get injured again.
Even with the soreness from my amazing run, I was feeling pretty good about everything. That is, until I went to physical therapy on Thursday. I told Chris, “I had a great run! But… my ankle hurts…still… two days later.” and he gave me a concerned look and in short, told me I have tendonitis and to get on the table.
Tendonitis isn’t really familiar to me, though I have plenty of friends who have had it in college (music majors tend to develop it pretty young) and I hear about athletes having it all the time. I suppose it seems logical that I would develop tendonitis… it seems common enough for a runner.
He spent about 20 minutes giving my calf and ankle the most painful aggressive tissue massage I’ve ever had. I was on my stomach with my face buried into my bent elbow because I couldn’t not make a weird, pained face. And as I’m yelling over my shoulder about how much I hate him and this isn’t a very nice Christmas present, he tells me that it’s really the only way to re-work the tissue and make some changes. But he doesn’t joke around about it like normal.
So here I am, instructed to not run for an entire week. Again.
And as we’re winding the appointment down, he tells me he rarely has patients on his radar — most progress through treatment and move on into whatever they were doing before, but I’m not where I want to be. I kind of felt bad, like what am I doing wrong? I’m doing everything I can besides practically living, eating, and breathing physical therapy. I’m following the 10% rule for the most part, I’m not rushing into 5 milers or 20 mile weeks. I haven’t even hit a double digit week since October. I don’t think I’ve even run two days in a row! Then he tells me it’s not what I’m doing, I have all the components that should be putting me back on the road — I’m doing well at my exercises, so there’s something that isn’t working and he has to figure out what because he takes it personally when patients aren’t where they want to be, especially when they should be. Sigh.
Next time I see him (in two weeks) we will be working on single leg plyometric drills, which we did a couple months ago but I haven’t added into my training. He said they focus on safe deceleration and something I was to incorporate with my track sessions and speed workouts, but not on easy or rest days. Since I haven’t even thought about adding in speed training yet because I have absolutely no running base, I haven’t added in these drills.
I feel bad because Chris feels bad. I’m so grateful and happy that I have a therapist who is so passionate about what he does and is determined to get me back to running. But it also makes me kind of nervous because he is a highly recommended physical therapist among amateur and professional athletes, especially runners… so why am I still in this perpetual cycle of “still injured” on all different parts of my lower body? What if I just can’t run?
I decided that for a couple days, I’m going to be okay with wallowing a bit, being sad about running, and wondering if I’ll ever be able to run again without pain. Then I’ll pick myself back up and get back into a positive, let’s kick ass training mindset.
I don’t like that Lake Effect is less than two months away and I’m still struggling to run, however. But I’ll just keep looking at my new training journal. I have three goals on there: (1) Stay in a positive mindset/peaceful, (2) Finish a marathon, and last but not least (3) go sub 1:40 in the half marathon. Not one of those says PR at Lake Effect, finish Lake Effect, or anything related to Lake Effect. So I will not worry. I will get where I am going, even if the path is a little different.