If you know me in real life or follow my other social media outlets, you know I am currently injured. Again. Running related injury this time- patellofemoral syndrome with a side order of a meniscus tear. Yaaaaaaay. And even if you don’t know me in real life, as a fellow runner, you can probably guess how I feel about all this: VERY sad and VERY pissed off.
Conservatively, I am looking at 8-12 long weeks of limitations, rehab, and physical therapy. This prognosis sent me into a deep pit of depression and while I’m sorta kinda snapping out of it and kinda sorta seeing a dim light at the end of this injury tunnel, I’m still having a really hard time getting my head straight while my heart continues to break over this loss (albeit temporary) of road running.
I know I must learn to respect the healing process. I’m trying hard to tell myself all the “right” things; but, in this case, respect is incredibly difficult to give as I feel so defeated in the face of injury. Learning how to respect my body, my mind, and my rehab is such a struggle right now… yet I know I must get it right if I want to get back to the road sooner than later.
This photo of burly men running trails makes it look sooooooo easy to just go ahead and respect all that your body can and can’t do. They obviously aren’t injured. It’s also really difficult to respect my body right now when all I want to do is eat my feelings with lots of cake- my injury really loves cake, my body does not. This injury keeps my body from doing day-to-day activities normally, like walking. It’s hard to respect something that gives nothing (except extra cake laden pounds) in return.
Yet, I know better. I know that while I am limited right now, I must find a way to respect my limitations and give my body the time it needs to heal. By respecting my body, I am convinced I can come back to running stronger than before. My body is forcing me to take stock of my physical weaknesses and use rehab as a way to get focused on the areas of my body that help propel the miles: knees, hip flexors, glutes, IT band, and quads.
Injury is the body’s way of warning you that something is going wrong. I didn’t listen at first (this pain began truly in January) and regret not backing off when I first felt the pain. The louder the injury yelled, the more I was forced to listen and I guess I have to be screamed at sometimes to finally wake up, listen to my body, stop running, and seek help. I’m learning the hard way that acceptance is just the first step toward respect.
Yes, that is my knee at physical therapy- after lots of rubbing, assisted bending, strengthening exercises, reformer work, and foam rolling, my knee is treated to a tape down (to put the knee cap back where it belongs) and some electrical muscle stimulation and icing in order to decrease pain while keeping the muscles strong. I get to do this twice a week for the next 4-6 weeks. Trying to remind myself that PT is a very important part of the healing equation and to respect this rehab process no matter how ouchy or boring it may be.
I’m doing good with PT and am doing all my at-home exercises as directed. I still go to my Body Pump class to work my upper body and while the class lunges and squats, I stretch and plank. At first, I was allowed to go on the stationary bike, but my physical therapist took that away from me last week so now I am only allowed to go on the elliptical to get my cardio on. I started with 10 minutes (which is NOTHING! didn’t even break a sweat!) and am up to 35 minutes on the elliptical and have added in lots of (flat) walking.
Seriously not at all the same as running. Not nearly as fun. I miss running. I want to run. When I’m walking, runners are flying by me and I think, “Show offs.” then feel really sorry for myself and my bad attitude and break down into tears. PT will help, I remind myself constantly. I am still dedicated to health and fitness (cake besides) so this is just a part of that. Respecting myself means respecting my rehab and all the work it will take to get back to where I was: happily Running4theReason.
In the face of injury, I’m also learning- in a totally new and different way- how to respect running. Not being able to run reminds me of all the reasons why I love it so much and rehabbing from this injury is teaching me how to give running the respect it deserves. Once I am recovered and able to hit the road again, I guarantee you that I will prepare for and recover from all the miles in all the right ways. I admit I got wishy washy with my strength training, my nutrition (yay cake), and my stretching/foam rolling routines. That lack of respect for all the mechanics of running earned me this injury- I doubt I will ever make the same mistakes again.
I have to give up some really important races these next few months and I am more than bummed about that. Running marathon #3 is also now one big question mark. There will be more races, there will always be more marathons, and as long as I respect myself, my rehab, and the act of running, I know I can pull it together and become stronger/better/faster when I finally earn that comeback race.
Respect is earned, never given. I am earning it, I am learning it, I am living it- all for the love of running.