Sometimes runners require a break. It might be because you’re in a place you can’t run like a fishing trip on a small boat, or maybe you’re burnt out and need the break. Worst case of course is you need a time out because you went and injured yourself.
I’ve done this before. I did this again at Fargo (you read my race report right?) and now I’m on a self imposed time out. You know what? It sucks. A lot. Everywhere I look I see someone running. All I hear is people talking about running. My dreams are filled with running. I wake up before my alarm and reach for my running shoes.
I wallowed for a bit while at Fargo, more about the time I got than the actual injury. I’ve actually learned that injuries heal and that I’ll run again. The first injury I got while running didn’t work this way. I thought my life was over. I tore my achilles insertion. I bawled. Not silent crying. I CRIED LOUD. I cursed the world. I was sure that I would never run again. I tried to run anyways. I limped through the pain. I got angry with anyone and everyone. I blamed the “Trader Joes Hill” for injuring my insertion point because this was NOT MY FAULT. I went to the Dr who said to lower my mileage and do strengthening exercises…and wear heel inserts. I was a barefoot runner. Heel inserts? I got some. I walked in them. I no longer felt like I was getting shot with every step I took. I couldn’t figure out how to run in them though. I bought an achilles strap. I ran. It worked. I was cured! The other insertion went out. I got another heel lift. I cried. I wasn’t meant to be a runner. I strengthened. I strapped. I healed. I ran again. I removed the straps. I ran.
You know what? That was all a matter of 4 weeks. A blink of an eye. I got a hamstring tear about a year after that. I went straight to a PT. I was able to adjust and heal within a matter of weeks. IT Band…again, fixed within a a matter of weeks. I learned that backing off a bit and strengthening stuff around the injury was key to healing it and getting back out there. That I was doing something wrong and that needed to be taken care of. That the injury was caused by either the way I was running or an imbalance in my muscles…something was being neglected.
My longest and hardest lay off was very recent. Last Winter I was running quite awesomely, enjoying the mild weather and picking up speed something fierce (for me anyways) finally hitting consistent 8:00-8:15min/mi for distance and dropping into the upper 7’s for short bursts of 3 miles and lower. I knew if I kept training I was headed for a great race season. I started to get a pinching feeling in my left foot. It was off and on and I figured that the increase in mileage was doing it so I backed off a bit. The pain waxed and waned so I didn’t think much of it. I ignored it and ran.
Then I had a seizure. If you don’t know, I have epilepsy and have those once and awhile. They’re in my sleep so they don’t affect me really at all barring a headache and some stupidity the next day. Well, apparently I kicked the wall with the foot that was already in tough shape. I’m usually a bright person, so I’m going to blame the post-seizure haze for the decision I made next. I went for a run. On a sore foot. And ignored the pain.
I ended up going to TRIA Urgent care that evening. X-Rays showed a fracture in my foot and I was booted on Jan. 31 effectively taking me out of the running game for quite the lay off.
Did I cry? Yes. I went on a pity pot for a bit. I looked at the calender to figure out what was going to be affected. I lamented the work I had done and what would be lost. I cursed.
The next day I checked into facilities to get to work on pool running. I found a partner to go to the gym with so I wouldn’t stop and I started a routine. I got a waterproof holder for my MP3 player, an aquajogger, and hit the aquatic center at the U. Pool running sucks, it’s monotonous and holy wow do people swim by at fast speeds while you chug along in your funky jogger but at least you’re doing SOMETHING! I did intervals, I did ‘long runs’, I pictured the road, the trail, the track. I ran.
On March 14 my TRIA Dr. deemed my bone healed enough for the boot to come off. I right away took pictures of my feet…without the boot and posted it on facebook. I was excited. I wanted to go running RIGHT THEN. I had to wait though. I was warned. I could rebreak it if I didn’t start slow. Walk before I ran, then run on soft surfaces, then build up and then roads. So I did. I WALKED a 7K race on March 17- that was really not fun. Seeing everyone run and walking a race. Not to mention I was so slow at walking with my foot getting so tired I was last! I actually got tears and called my husband wanting to quit. My super cool daughter ran the 7k, looped back and walked the rest with me. Without her, I would have quit. With her, I finished and felt OK. I also learned I’ll never walk a race course again. Ever. Kudo’s to those who do as there is no one there cheering and they were packing stuff up as I walked by as if I was an annoying bug on the course. It made me feel even worse.
I did get back to running. I’m still not back to speed (again have you been reading the race reports or not??) I actually appreciate it MORE now, even if I’m slower. I’m also obviously on another layoff. Luckily this one is going to be very short. For all the pain I was feeling in Fargo, I woke up this A.M. and stepped out of bed with zero pain and no more swelling. I’m still on my time out due to being able to trace the irritation on the tendon but I’m optimistic that I’ll be on the road and trails again in just a few days.
I’m hoping that this gives some other runners hope– If you’re laid off right now, or (hopefully not) running when you SHOULD be on a time out, please know that even though it’s a sucky place to be, you will run again and that in the scope of our long running lives this really is just a blip in the radar unless you make it something that turns chronic. Take the week(s) off, strengthen, and then RUN.
This message has been brought to you by my retired boot:
To those who are running– HAPPY RUNNING!
To those on a Lay off– TAKE CARE!!