What To Do When You Can’t Run

Alternate titles: Dammit, I’m Injured

What to Expect From Your Physical Therapy

Navigating Race Deferral Policy

Do I Still Get to Buy Running Shoes If I’m Not Running?

As you probably picked up by my clever titles, I am not running right now.  I have mentioned a few times over the last 4 weeks that I’ve had ongoing hamstring pain after running 63 miles at O24.  After exhausting the usual treatment modalities, the pain persisted.  Things really got interesting when it turned out that the hamstring itself is not injured.  No folks, the hammie is good.  So what is causing my pain? Nerve pain.  It’s baaaack (no pun intended!)  The herniated discs of 2016 have made a reappearance for 2017. I always knew this was a possibility. For most people who experience a disc injury, the discs are now predisposed to herniation and it becomes a chronic condition.  I kind of lived in this magical world of “I’m fine, my body can handle excessive distances with no consequences” which led me to a degree of denial about the pain and other symptoms.  I continued to run until the end of last week when I began to experience some symptoms that are unmistakably related to my disc injury.  At that point, I spoke honestly with my Dr and decided to stop running completely for the time being and re start PT.

It felt very much like the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.  I’ve really spent some time in denial land over the last 4 weeks as I sooooo didn’t want to admit that this wasn’t in fact a strained hamstring, but that it was something more serious which required more treatment.  Occasionally, I would admit to my closest training partners what was going on.  I would acknowledge the significance but then add “I’m still going to run so just understand that for right now mmmkay” and because they loved me, my friends were like “ok Sara, that sounds like a great idea.”  Note the sarcasm in that. But when the symptoms worsened last week, I finally accepted the writing that’s been on the wall for some time and I made the difficult decision to stop running in an effort to avoid worsening the issue.

Having gone through this last year, I am acutely aware of the need to aggressively address the issue through PT and rest.  The idea of beginning that cycle of treatment again makes me feel wary and tired.  Appointments, ice, TENS, rest, meds, core work.  Could I do it again? Well, the answer is yes.  I can and will do it again.  Running has my heart.  If I need to take some time off so I can continue to run in the future, I will do just that.  I try to focus on the big picture.  Running isn’t just one season or one year.  Running, for me, is for a lifetime.  There will always be races.  In fact, there will probably be even MORE races next year thank you to the popularity of the sport.

After PT last year, I did heal.  I believe that I attained a complete recovery which then allowed me to achieve the goals that I had set forth for myself. I’m a really goal driven person and when I had a few races hanging out there, it motivated me to be extra diligent and extra optimistic during my temporary time out. I even got the little bit of extra icing on the cake by achieving a random sub goal of becoming a Marathon Maniac.  I felt really strong after the injury and had a wonderful Fall, Winter, and Spring.  I freaking ran 63 miles!! If that’s not going out with a bang, I don’t know what is!

I just added my miles up for May and totaled about 64.  It’s 7 times as many miles as I ran in May of 2016 which was the last 4 weeks of my first foray into disc issues, so that’s something to celebrate! On the other hand, it’s unlikely that June will be much higher.  In looking at the course of my previous recovery, I took 8 full weeks off and although I started to feel better quickly, I needed to be about 90% recovered before attempting to run again.  That puts me around the end of July.  Definitely long enough to train for some amazing late fall and early winter events.

In looking back at this post, it’s gotten quite long!! I want to do a pretty conprehensive post about what I’ve been doing to stay in shape so stay tuned as I’ll write about it in the next day or two!

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3 thoughts on “What To Do When You Can’t Run

  1. Ss sorry to hear you are struggling with this again 😦 Sounds like you have a good healing plan in place. I have similar issues with the hamstring pain that is actually nerve pain from my back so can definitely relate.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Injury Update | My life as an aspiring ultrarunner

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