Just two days after my 1st place AG win and 6th woman overall placement at OR Coast 30K and I was feeling good. I felt ready to get even more serious about Deception Pass 50K training. Could I place in the top 10? What kind of PR would I be looking at? 6 years of running and training had led me to this point of feeling strong, motivated, and invincible.
An easy 6 mile, slow, flat recovery run was on my training schedule.
1 mile in, I stop to adjust my shoe laces…Must be just a little too tight around my ankle. Odd, but no big deal… 1.5 miles in… Seriously, what is going on with my ankle? Is my stride too short or is my foot turnover weird? Why does this hurt so bad? Is it just a cramp? I’ll just need to push through this.
2 miles in, I stop… Fuck, this is bad, this is not a normal pain… At this point my stride was more of a limp, and every time my left foot landed a dull and shooting pain went from my ankle up my calf muscle. After 3.6 miles I stopped running and limped the last half mile back to my office… And that is the beginning to my now 4 week journey into injury.
My ankle is swollen and I can barely walk. I definitely can’t run. I freak out but remain cautiously optimistic… Time heals all wounds, right?
A paranoid visit to my doctor and one x-ray later confirm I do not have a stress fracture!! That seems to be good news. Dr. Cynthia concludes it is a form of tendinitis but nothing ice, rest, and ibuprofen can’t fix. I’m skeptical.
Pt visit #1 – I see the PT for the first time. He is confident I will be up and running in the next week. Long story short, he thinks I have a lazy hip and glute that is not firing, which is changing my form and causing my ankle and shin to absorb the shock during downhill running… Remember how my plan was to attack the downhill during the 30K? That caused a lot of inflammation in my ankle, shin, and calf. The PT did some deep tissue massage, graston therapy, and I am sent on my way with a prescription to bike if I can. In the mean time, I book treatments for twice a week until we see improvement.
PT visit #2, more graston, deep tissue massage, no running, and add in clamshells + glute bridges with resistance bands.
PT visit #3 – HOLY SHIT graston hurts, laser therapy, add in single leg balancing and calf raises, NO RUNNING.
PT visit #4 – Graston + lower back adjustment + adding in side lunges with resistance band. Progress is looking good, so I am allowed to run 1-3 miles! The next evening I run 1.4 miles and cry tears of happiness but also pain. I have missed this moment but I know I wont be running long distance any time soon.
PT visit 5 – Graston + lower back adjustment #2 + prescribed to continue running every other day for the weekend. My PT would like to see if the issues that were present during the first run were just a fluke. I did 2.4 miles on Saturday and 2 miles yesterday. Both runs were pretty limpy, with dull pain the first mile, very noticeable pain in the last 1/2 mile, and severe swelling in the evenings.
PT visit #6 – Graston, cupping, laser therapy, adding in single leg glute bridges into the PT exercise rotation, and no running for at least 7-10 days. Pain is not as bad as 4wks ago and swelling is down overall, but today feels pretty confusing and disheartening.
Maybe it is just rest that I need to fix the problem at hand, and the exercises to prevent it in the future?
In between these dates there has been withdrawing from my goal race in December, therapy baking, biking, one hike, three runs (limpy jogs?), and a lot of daily PT work — up to 25-30 minutes now. Venting on twitter (see #diaryofaninjuredrunner) and a detox of all social media; deleting all apps and not looking at strava for a week. Many tears, a lot of anger, confusion, rare moments of acceptance… Somehow no regrets from going out too hard during my 30K race.
This has been a very devastating, isolating, and sad time for me. I know the journey will eventually make me stronger, but I feel lost and absent in the present. With this injury, it has not been the physical pain that bothers me, but the feeling of rejection from an activity I have invested so much in.
Thank you to the community of friends that have refused to let me run away (pun intended) and have reached out through email, text, phone calls, and handwritten letters. Your words and encouragement mean so much to me.
During this mending process, I am not sure what this blog will hold. Maybe some coping through baking and biking, or maybe just random information on PT exercises. Regardless, I know I will discover another part of myself during this time, and create a new and stronger person with these broken pieces.
Acceptance: It will be get better. I will be better.