Best Laid Plans: when injuries happen – The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans LLC


Hi, my name is Bari and I’m a broken runner.

I wonder how many times I can drop the f-bomb in this post before it gets blocked by most filters.  If I was going to make this a movie and rate it PG-13, I’d get 4 according to the Motion Picture Association of America film rating system.  Somehow that doesn’t seem to be enough, but I’ll do my best to keep this to PG.

Here’s the deal.  After a really incredible come-back this year from the Tibial Stress Reaction of 2012, I find myself back on the disabled list.  I’m frustrated, hurt, scared, sad, depressed, and *insert negative feeling* that I’m going through this again.  I’ve been crying. I’ve been quiet.  I’ve complained to my friends (I love you all so much for putting up with me).  The best laid plans, when injuries happen, go right out the freaking window.

What happened?  I’ve had some pain in my right heel since before the Fred 200 Mile Relay back at the beginning of August.  I did the Fred and then a few weeks later hobbled my way through a hilly half in Michigan wine country.  Then I stopped running in the hopes that a week or so off would help.  It didn’t.  The pain just moved from my heel to my hip. I finally went to my sports med doctor about 2 weeks ago and I’ve been diagnosed with a couple different things.  An MRI with contrast as in they injected the dye right into my hip showed bursitis in my right hip as well as tendinitis in a couple of my butt muscles (glute medius and glute minimus).  I saw PT and he gave me some exercises to do – jump training that really only aggravated everything – and told me to keep running but no more than 2 miles at a time.  I followed his advice and ended up hurting more.  I asked if a cortisone injection might help.  My PT and doctor agreed to inject my hip and heel, only when I went in the doctor said ‘absolutely not” to injecting my heel without trying “conservative therapies” first.  What does that mean?  It means I got an X-ray of my foot and found out in addition to the hip issues, I also have 2 small bone spurs  – one where my Achilles attaches at the back of the heel and another where the planar fascia attaches underneath the heel. I saw my PT on Tuesday for treatment of this and holy cow did the therapy hurt!

Why/How? To the best of my knowledge, I think this happened because I pushed too hard. Race after race after race, all spring and summer.  PR after PR after PR.  When I started having pain before the Fred, I went to the sports chiro, I worked on stretching and rolling, but nothing quite helped.  I couldn’t fix it but I also didn’t quit.  I couldn’t do that to my team – we were already down 2 runners.  No way was I going to make my teammates run 200 miles with 9 people.  I needed to pull my weight.  The wine half was a girl’s weekend and  I wasn’t willing to back out of that either.  (Do you see a trend here?) Sure, I could’ve gone and done the social part and not run, but I would’ve felt like a 5th wheel.  Now I’m feeling like a loser sitting on the sidelines.

Feelings?  This is going to be really raw and if you don’t like people talking badly about themselves, you should probably stop reading now.  I’ve been feeling sorry for myself for a couple weeks now.  I thought I was starting to become a good runner.  I had finally broken through some time goals I’d had for myself.  I was consistently running better than a 10 minute mile (and if you are slower than this, don’t send me hate mail for being mad at myself that I can’t run this pace now).  I know there are tons of other things I could be doing – swimming or biking – but I make excuse after excuse why I can’t do them.  I’m a terrible swimmer.  I keep falling off my bike.  I’m afraid to step foot in the meathead side of the gym to lift.  You get the picture.

I’m supposed to be mentoring new runners through the c25k program right now and I feel completely ill-equipped.  How can I get people to step outside of their comfort zones when I won’t step out of mine?  How can I give advice about running when obviously I’m doing something very wrong or I wouldn’t be in this situation.

I feel very lost.  I miss my friends – no weekend group runs, no races.  My training plan has gone completely out the window.  I like to have some control and right now I have none.

It sucks out loud.

What’s Next? I still have goals.  I’m running the Ghostly Gallup 10k with Shrinking Jeans at the end of October – and I WILL RUN the whole race.  I probably won’t PR it and that’s ok.  If I can get healthy, I have my eyes on another race as well.  It will be a great motivator to treat rehab as phase 1 of my training plan.  Tuesday’s appointment with my PT and beginning to feel better from the cortisone has given me some hope.  I realized about half way through the day on Tuesday that I was hopping up out of my chair and climbing stairs.  My hip wasn’t hurting, so maybe the cortisone is beginning to kick in.   I was able to escape a little bit after my PT appointment on Tuesday as well.  There was a beer run with my local running store and one of our brewpubs.  Even though I couldn’t run, I still went and my girlfriend’s husband walked with me while our other friends ran.  I sat and enjoyed their company afterwards.  Isolating myself and avoiding my friends just because I couldn’t run was doing me no favors.  I’m learning that I’m not invincible and as I get older I’m going to need to take better care of myself.  This is the only body I have.  Next year’s training plan will not include runs as “training races”.  I’ve learned I am incapable of not racing.  I’m putting on my big girl panties and learning about rehab.  Seriously, I probably know way too much about human anatomy at this point and I knew I had bone spurs before the doctor did because I saw the X-rays first.

I’m learning I will get strong again.  It majorly sucks to be sidelined but I will get better and move on.  I need to tell myself to HTFU – and if I forget, feel free to remind me that I’ve done this before and I’ll be able to do it again.

If you find yourself injured, there are a few things you can do.

  • If something doesn’t feel right, for Pete’s sake, go get it checked out.  Don’t pull a Bari, run 2 long races and wait 2 months to figure out what’s really going on.
  • Recognized that *this* is what happened to you. Have a pity party – those feelings are totally validated – but then figure out a way to move on.
  • Educate yourself.  Find out all you can about the injury – the muscles/bones/ligaments involved, how it happened, what you can do to prevent it from happening again.  Treat rehab as your new normal and your new training plan.
  • Stay active and eat right.  Being injured doesn’t give you carte blanc to sit on your butt while eating homemade cream cheese frosting by the spoonful not that I’ve done that.  Ask your PT or doctor what activities you CAN do.  They might not be your favorites but they’ll help prevent you from losing as much of your cardio fitness and keep you from gaining a ton of weight.
  • Don’t isolate yourself.  Continue to meet up with your running friends.  They understand – chances are they’ve been there themselves.  Moping about isn’t the answer.  Your friends love you and want to see you happy.  Let them help you find your happy place again.
  • Volunteer at a race your friends are running.  This will be my fall to see the other side of racing.

Talk to me.  Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation?  What did you do to find the mental strength to keep fighting and get back to the activities you love?

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