Passion for the sport seems to pour from the pores of runners, like a jet stream flying behind in endless color for the world to view. Our days are built around training. When to wake, eat, hydrate, and divide our energy resources for optimal performance are ingrained and so much a part of our lives we hardly even notice them. So when an injury stops us it can be debilitating. It hurts -- not in physical pain, but mental anguish.
Injuries suck, if I tell you otherwise I would be lying. Not unlike a breakup, where you pray you get back together. Each day a testing ground to see if you are healed, often to find you are unable to be with the one you love. It’s a mental battle not to think about running and try to test your injury with a calf raise, a poke to the affected area, a hop, a jog. Then the fear sets in. “What if my lover never takes me back into their arms again?” Running and I have had our fair share of on-again, off-again as I have had many injuries. In testing, I have hopped, jumped, done drills, poked on my body parts endlessly to see if the injury is still lingering. If you have had an injury you know the awkward dance I speak of, you have done it. I’ve run down my driveway, dropped my chin in despair, cried, screamed into a pillow, begged God to heal me, been pissed, scared, and downright sad. Injuries suck.
Through all of the injuries and setbacks I have learned that my body does heal: sometimes in days, and others in agonizing months, or years. When my achilles started to hurt in January, I didn’t think too much of it. I continued to train because it loosened up as I ran. After the USA 15k in March I took a week down, sure it would clear up the Achilles pain and I would be fine. I was wrong. The week off actually made it worse. I was unable to train through this. So I began to cross train, and race. I was fine racing, and no worse for the wear, but it was not fully healing. In April I had an MRI that showed Achilles tendinopathy, bursitis, and plantar fasciitis. My doctor said I should be in a boot for 2 weeks, wean out and I should be fine. Another roadblock. I jogged a 1k with my kids for a fun run and I was in more pain than before the boot. So I continued with treatments (night splint, graston, dry needling, massage, heat, ice, and physical therapy). Nothing was helping. I sought a new physician and found one with the help of a local Volée member. Finally in July I had Tenjet surgery to remove the diseased tissue and while injecting a local anesthetic the doctor found the problem: I had a split tear through the middle of my achilles. He believes the surgery should help to repair the tear as well.
Over the past 6 months I have been worried. I desperately wanted to be healthy, but if I have learned one thing from injury it is to listen to my body and find mental ways to be positive. I continue to do what my body will allow, which for now is core work since I am non weight bearing. For me, finding ways to strengthen my body to come back as ready as I can be when it will allow gives me peace. It allows me to focus on the controllable aspect of my current situation. Yes, I am longing to run and feel the self-created breeze on my cheeks, but I believe that day will come. Through this I have continued to believe that the athlete I want to be is being shaped, even in rest. I know it is true, as I have come back stronger from every injury I have endured over the years. Right now I am strengthening my mental game, reading ways to deal with adversity more effectively, and applying it to the tough days through this injury and knowing it will come in handy in racing and training in the future. I will be a little more grateful to work hard, a little more resilient to handle pain, and a little more passionate because of the rest I was forced to take. I know it’s a corny cliché, but I believe some things happen for a reason. When I think of all the uncontrollable things in my life that have not gone the way I wanted but worked to make me who I am. I know this will too. So I rest in the knowledge that this can make me stronger and more resilient. Today is one day closer to literally chasing after my dreams as an athlete, so I will work with resolve to use today as a step forward. I am proud of what I have done, but I can feel in my heart my best days of running lie ahead of me.