My friend Danielle is training for the big race, 26.2 miles. Over the past few years she has run a few 10 milers and half marathons. Before we met she never considered herself a distance runner but now she has embraced the runner lifestyle.
After one of her training runs Danielle made a post on Facebook saying that she dedicated the run to me. Reading her words really moved me; she said that I had helped to encourage her to do her first half marathon. It never occurred to me that I helped to inspire anyone to run.
As I read her post I was moved to the point of wanting to go out for a run. And that is when I had my other epiphany, running is hurting me.
One of the things an athlete has to learn is the difference between good pain and bad pain. Good pain is when muscles get sore and ache, the burn. Bad pain is when you risk agitating and re-injuring yourself.
When I read Danielle’s post it clicked, I would be running right now if my body would let me. I’ve battled with and overcome the mental issues associated with returning from an injury but now it is the physical issues that I need to deal with. My peroneal tendon gets aggravated every time I run and sometimes when I walk.
With 2014 closing and a new year a few days away I realize it is time to rethink my relationship with running. I can’t say that I will never be able to run again, but I have to be realistic, running right now does more harm than good. It is time to focus on the things I can do and not the things I can’t do. So that means more yoga and surfing. Maybe one day I will be able to lace up my shoes and hit the pavement, but today is not that day.
Thank you Danielle for your kind words. Even though I can’t be out there with you, I will gladly cheer you on and help you celebrate your running accomplishments.
With all that pain I still somehow manage to walk, sort of run, and surf.
Until you get the creeping pain you don’t always realize just how connected your whole body really is. Injuries are a great reminder of the connection because once you get one boo boo it manages to knock everything else out of what.
It is pretty impressive how your body will compensate and use other parts as you heal. Unfortunately this compensation can mean problems down the line. The worst part is you don’t even know you are compensating. It just feels normal to you. You find out later when the pain in your ankle turns into pain into your knee which turns into something in your hip and finally it lands in your lower back.
In the end you have to answer a few questions. What is the price of playing? Is it just a little bit of pain or something more?
For some reason when I find out the name of my injury it makes the injury less scary.
This week my knee pain got a name, Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome. After countless MRIs, poking, prodding, and x-rays we finally have a diagnosis. It makes the pain less scary because now it is not just something in my head, with a diagnosis it makes it real. (Not that the pain wasn’t real before it’s just frustrating when your tests come back normal, people begin to wonder if you might be a little loopy.)
So now that we have a diagnosis that means we can move forward to treatment. Unfortunately I found out there really isn’t much we can do except strengthen and stretch. Which I’m good with, I also have to make sure I use solid form when I run and no deep knee bends for me.
The other unfortunate piece of information is this injury can be pretty debilitating. The doctor told me there are a number of Marines who get medically separated because of this type of knee pain.
So while I am super stoked with a diagnosis I have to be mindful and respect this type of pain. It sounds like it can impact my favorite things to do list. At least with a name, now we know what we are fixing.
I can start a plan for pain management and therapy. But I also have to be mindful that this type of injury has the potential to wreak havoc on the activities I love. But now that we have a name for the pain, we can stop diagnosing and start fixing.
The other day I was driving to work and saw some people running. As I watched the runners I imagined them all falling down with injuries. I had visions of each of them rolling their ankle.
This last week of physical therapy we’ve made major progress. I’ve been able to do several exercises that a few weeks ago brought pain, the bad pain. This is good news. This means the tear is healing and my ankle is getting stronger.
I realize while my leg is getting stronger my mind has a ways to go. Part of me feels satisfied not running again (ever) because I have this fear of injuring myself. What if….what if I do it again?
Once I’m fully healed the demons in my mind will be the biggest hurdle.
Fear is such a powerful thing. It is even more powerful when you imagine the injury and can still feel the pain. The pain in my leg but also the pain of not being able to do the things I love.
After several weeks of visiting the physical therapist I now have an aversion to a deep tissue massage. I rarely go out and pay someone to manually loosen my muscles and on the occasion that I have it has been a relatively pleasant experience. But after getting my calf worked on I now cringe when I hear the word massage.
The latest massage resulted in immense pain, hitting a nerve (literally), and bruising.
Fun, right? So where I sign up for another one?
I can’t complain too much because if we don’t work out the knots and tightness it puts extra strain on the tendon that has a partial tear.
However, the next time someone suggest a massage, I might have to pass because I don’t want to have physical therapy flashbacks when I am supposed to be relaxing.
George Patton once said, “Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You must make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”
During my training for the Marine Corps Marathon I discovered just how accurate George was. I haven’t been able to put my finger on why but my training runs have been hard, really hard. Up until now running has been fun and my training has been challenging but I still found joy. This time something is vastly different. The only thing I can attribute it to is my mind. My body is fine, I am physically able to accomplish each run, but my mind is another story.
I spent the past few weeks trying to diagnose my issue with this race. There is one common thing on all my bad runs, after I pass 10 miles I get in a funk. My mind shifts focus and I begin to wonder why on earth I am still running and what is the point of all the running. As soon as I drift into this type of thinking there is a change in my body. I go from being light and airy to having legs to heavy a crane would have difficulty lifting them. I shift from having no pain to having everything hurt.
During my last 20 mile run I had another discovery. Your body will only go as far as your mind will take it. My plan was to do a 20-mile run. Unfortunately I was a little off when I mapped my mileage. I finished 20 and still had another 1.5 or so to go. I intended to keep going but shortly after my watch beeped indicating I finished my last mile, my body shut down.
This training has me terrified about the race. I wonder how I am going to finish 26.2 miles when I barely get 20 in before I quit. But I guess it’s time to shift my thinking. I know I am capable of finishing the race. I know my body has the capacity to go even further. I just have to get my mind to believe this. So on race day I know it might hurt like hell, but if my mind doesn’t hurt my body won’t. And if my mind doesn’t quit, neither will my legs.