“I'll have a full recovery - that's the utmost physically my body has the ability to heal. Then I will push about 20 percent further, through sheer mental tenacity. If you're not prepared for that, go elsewhere.” Posted on a Bethesda Naval Hospital door by a Navy Seal.
I am injured. This time it isn’t shin splints, a pulled muscle, over tired legs, black toenails, or blisters. It is a real injury, brought on by running real hills and up and down real stairs, by increasing my mileage and significantly increasing my intensity all at the same time. I know…I should know better. Part of my problem is I didn’t want to lose ground on my 1,000 miles for 2010 challenge, which reminds me why these kinds of goals of miles or streaks are dangerous. They push us to ignore our bodies and keep going. My body sent me a mild reminder with sore calves the first week. I ignored it and kept pushing. Thursday I broke down and went to see a doctor, who said, “Hmmm” and ordered x-rays. The doc called back at 8:30 Saturday morning to tell me he thinks I have a Lisfranc injury. Seriously? Who is Lis Franc and what did I ever do to her? A Google search later I am crossing my fingers, lighting candles, and praying in any way I can think of that this doesn’t require surgery to fix! First thing Monday morning I have to get more x-rays, this time weight bearing, to determine if putting weight on my foot makes the bones move apart (that would be a bad thing.) I will also see the orthopedic doc and am still on for an MRI.
I have never been so frustrated by not being able to run. There is a whole new world right out my front door and I can’t get to it! I would walk and go on a photo safari, but I can’t even walk right now. Only people that are used to a lot of exercise understand what this does to you mentally. I know I can regain any physical losses, but at this moment the mental stress of not having my number one form of relief taken away is making me crazy! I need to run.
After moping around and being terribly depressed because I can’t run my race next week, I decided to hit the gym. Last week I tried the recumbent bike, one of my favorites for easy cross training days, but even with an episode of Battlestar Galactica to watch, it was just too boring and not hard enough. Then I tried the elliptical trainer. I can put enough weight on the foot for that, but I just couldn’t get my heart rate up enough and again, SO BORING! Yesterday, however, I tried spin class for the first time.
I consider myself to be in pretty good shape. My race times are respectable. I can run 10 miles at the drop of a hat and I can run a 3:45x400 a few times in a row, so I’m no slacker. I also knew going in that cycling uses different muscles, but figured I wouldn’t be totally humiliated. Yeh, right. Let’s just say my new goal is to be able to get through this one hour class without having to take an unscheduled break! Not being able to stay up on the pedals because I cannot yet support that much weight on my foot was a lovely excuse, but I doubt I could have done it anyway.
This is my magic ticket. My heart rate was high, I was sweating and puffing, and I realized this must be a regular part of my routine even when I am back up to full mileage. As runners we know we should cross train, that our quads need building and our core needs to be pumped, but how many of us really take the time to do it right. I think about it, once in a while I poke at it, but I have never really taken the time to build myself up so that I feel as competent working my quads or core as I do running a race. So now is the time. I plan to come out the other end of this injury stronger than when I got hurt. I plan to run a better race, set new PRs, and improve my form; all while taking a forced break from running.
Injuries can take us down for a while. They can mess with our heads, chip away at our VO2 Max, and undermine our training plans, we can either roll over and take the loses or we can use this time to build strength in other areas. I still have a race on the docket for October. That gives me lots of time to heal, if not a lot of time left to train. However, if I can keep my cardio up and build strength in areas that need shoring up, AND I don’t need surgery, I should still be able to finish with a respectable time. Or, wait for the next race, there is always another around the corner…