"I" is for Injured & Introspection
The thing about being injured is that unless you actually are, you pretend it doesn’t exist. In fact, I’d argue that even when you are injured, you pretend it doesn’t exist.
It’s just a niggle.
I’m just working through something.
I’m tired and sick all the time, but it’s just bad luck.
I’ve said them all and I’ll probably say them again.
I spent most of this year working through niggles. What sucks the most is being positive about it when asked.
To myself “my [fill in the blank] is so frustrating. All I want to do is train and sweat in my community without pain or concern but I can’t and I can barely remember what it feels like to do so and it sucks. Of course, overall I’m great. I have a wonderful life filled with incredible people. Logically I know that getting to do sports exactly how I want to is just an added privilege but even so, not being able to right now is infuriating and slightly sad which is ridiculous to even say out loud considering how many people are actually suffering and I’m complaining because I can’t suffer to the extent that I’d like to in a controlled way wearing neon with my friends.”
Out loud, “its okay, my [fill in the blank] is acting up but it’s getting better and I’m getting back into it.”
The last post I shared was about the Eugene marathon. I set a goal. I achieved that goal. I felt very sore after and I went to a brewery. It was great day.
But like everyone, I wanted more and faster and stronger, so I registered for another marathon 8 months later (CIM). Wanting and striving is so meaningful to me and the people who want and strive are my very favourite kind – especially those that don’t have to. These pursuits add meaning, purpose and grit to their already full and important lives through sweating and trying.
That’s the place I’m coming from. I don’t need to run. I just really want to, though this year I wanted and strived for a lot of things I couldn’t do. In fact, I’d argue that my strength in striving for hard things was one of the reasons I’ve been out for so long.
I felt flat but I really wanted to get back at it. It took way more time than I thought to feel the sharpness and the mental drive after the marathon.
I also remember noticing that although I felt like a better runner having hung up my swim suit and bike and focused on running, I was starting to feel like a worse athlete – weaker, less coordinated, less agile and balanced.
In July last year, I had registered for the Summerfast 10km but that morning and the weeks leading up, I was so tired. I chose not to run. I did a hill workout that morning instead and it crushed me.
I spent the summer on shorter distances trying to get faster, but I had just started a job that required a lot of travel, which didn’t help. I certainly felt like a badass for flying in to some random city in North America, finding places to run and getting the work in on my own when it’d be so much easier not to. My energy started to come back in August.
By September I felt so fit, but a quick onset of sharp pain in my knee got in the way. Had it felt mildly sore before that? Yes. Did I ignore it? Yes. But now, it hurt running, walking, sitting, and sleeping. We had just moved to our townhouse that has 1 million stairs in it. Each of those was a wince-worthy reminder that my knee was not okay too. I kept trying to run on it, but favouring my knee meant I ran lopsided and threw out my back. Whoops. Back to the couch I went.
After spending more time swimming and biking and skipping the marathon (CIM), I was back to running. Soon enough, I climbed to 100km weeks and I felt invincible.
Invincible transformed itself to anemic which felt like being at altitude all the time. Every practice I’d try harder but every split was slower. Foot-strike hemolysis got to the better of me and iron supplements quickly became a main character in my routine and intestinal upset.
Back at it, I signed up for the Berlin marathon!
AND then I signed up for the Jack and Jill downhill marathon because Lee qualified for Boston and if I could just race J&J as a tempo run as part of the Berlin lead up, we could go together.
Speaking of stomach upset. I kept feeling like garbage on the insides and really low engery by the end of the day. I’ll spare you the details (Jokes. I won’t spare you. I had to poop like ALL the time and I lived with a constant stomachache). So I worked with a wonderful expert who told me not to eat gluten and dairy (among other things) and to see how I felt. I hoped her advice was unhelpful because that meant my desire to eat whole pizzas followed by buckets of ice cream had less legs to stand on. But she was right and I felt 1000% better in weeks.
I raced here and there - BMO half, the Sun Run, the Scotia Half and I kept feeling tightness (and admittedly sharpness) in my left hip. Years ago, I thought my hip was upset by biking in aero position, but it wasn’t just aero position. It took issue with running too. Actually it’s not about running, it’s about desk-sitting and tension and stress, but it was acting up while running.
I spent weeks running as fast and as far as I could when it felt good and I’d spend the rest of the time walking home from run practice of pushing a workout to the next day because it hurt so much.
The last workout I did was two weeks ago. I started the warm-up, my hip/lower back seized up. Maybe it’ll warm up if I keep running and do some mobility before the set? I did that. I started the set, the pain increased, I developed a hitch in my stride, I got slower and finally just stopped. In previous practices I might have kept going – to get the Kms in you know? (idiot) But I stopped. I hopped in second beach pool in my running clothes to try water running. The workout was in Stanley park and it was right there, maybe this is how I’ll get those marathons in? It hurt water running so I stopped. I tried to jog, it hurt, I stopped. I grabbed a mobi bike and biked back to where the car was. In the span of an hour I did all those things and it hurt almost too much to stand. It took all that and the months of it hurting prior to get it.
I got it. And now, it’s now.
I have DNSed as many races as I’ve completed for this year.
I didn’t do the Monterrey Half, CIM, or Take the Bridge, or race Chase the Pace or Summerfest (twice). I won’t do Jack and Jill next weekend.
One of my greatest strengths in sport is grit (passion and perseverance or “wanting and striving” as I like to say) but it also means that I’ll drive myself in to the ground and not see when it’s not working.
I learned this about myself. When I’m completely healthy again, I’ll probably forget and have to learn it again. Does it sound familiar?
It’s the same skill-set that leads to results and working within the quiet, yet audible nuances of your body and when misapplied it to leads to nagging injuries and forced time off.