Injury…the most dreaded word in an athlete’s vocabulary. There is nothing worse than being laid up with some nagging issue. What’s even worse is developing a hitch in your giddy up before a race. It literally feels like you’ve been robbed of something so very precious, and that you aren’t able to do much about it. Or are you?
About a month and a half ago I ran the Leona Divide 50 mile. It was my first race after taking a six month hiatus. I had run this race in 2015 and dropped at the 40 mile mark, thus I was determined to finish this go round.
Around mile 17 I felt a sharp pain in my left glute. I had no idea what I did, but was now in enough pain that I felt my race completion would be compromised. Being the stubborn runner that I am, I popped 3 ibuprofen and kept truckin. Sure enough the pain ceased and I was able to hold my 2nd place position till the finish.
20 minutes after the race, I couldn’t walk. I needed assistance to climb the 2 ft tall podium and did my best to smile without wincing in pain. Obviously something was wrong, but I expected to be back on the trails logging decent mileage in two weeks.
Well, two weeks came and went. I was feeling much better, but was far from perfect. With Western States Endurance Run approaching in 6 weeks, I needed to get some answers and serious help.
I visited a chiropractor and then a PT to cover my bases. Their diagnosis suggested a strained or possibly torn sacrotuberous ligament. So…what do I do? How can I get this sucker healed up? They told me lots of rest, some cross-training, and minimal miles once it was more healed.
With that prescription, I knew I wouldn’t be toeing the line at WSER this year.
Angry and depressed, I moped around my apartment looking for things to keep me busy. My activities consisted of cleaning, laundry, and stretching. Every day I would wake up hoping to be pain free when I’d do my “tester jog” down the hallway. No dice.
I was going stir crazy. Not being able to do the one thing that I felt defines me, was creating some seriously bad mojo for my well being, and within my relationship. I needed an outlet to release my pent up energy, and a way to get my endorphin fix.
With little enthusiasm, I renewed my gym pass and hopped on a spin bike. I didn’t have any idea what fit adjustments I needed to make, nor did I know how to stop the pedaling when I wanted to finish (spin people you know what I’m talking about). As you could have imagined, I was a sweaty awkward mess.
To my surprise, I actually enjoyed the spin workout. I was doing intervals, pedaling out of the saddle, and was just having fun mixing it up. Sure, it may have been the endorphins, but this activity actually wasn’t too bad. I thought if I can have fun with this…maybe I should try some other activities too.
I had always been so dedicated to just running, that I never allowed myself to experience other sports. I was always so fearful I wouldn’t get the same benefits or that no other sport could exhaust me like running did, thus, I wouldn’t be able to maintain fitness. I had no form of balance what so ever.
With a new and more positive outlook, I chalked up this injury as a twisted way for more opportunities.
I could either continue to be bummed out and sit around willing my butt to get better, or I could discover and experience other sports that help keep my fitness and trigger positive energy while it heals up.
So! I’m now purchasing a whitewater playboat and a gravel grinder style bike. Sure, maybe that’s overkill, but life shouldn’t be focused on just one experience, activity, or mindset. All this time I’ve been missing out on other great opportunities because I was too scared to stray from what I knew.
Though this injury has created a lot of mental and emotional stress, maybe it was supposed to happen. It has helped me realize there is more than just running, there is more to me, and to provide me with the balance I’ve never had.