Guys, it’s time to talk.
Wow, that sounded serious, didn’t it? Whenever someone says some variation of “we need to talk,” it’s never going to be good. While this isn’t an exception, it isn’t as bad as it could be. Basically, it’s time to lay it all out there. And this post isn’t going to have pictures, so if you make it through, I applaud you.
Remember all of the problems I had been having with my knee? They were so bad that I was really nervous about not being able to run the marathon in April? But then I got great news because I saw a bunch of doctors and was told that I hadn’t torn anything. In fact, I found out that I have a case of tendonitis with built up scar tissue in my left knee, which happens to be the knee that has a repaired ACL and MCL, and still-torn meniscus. Doc told me I could continue training for the marathon and that I shouldn’t have to do much other than take an anti-inflammatory, ice and elevate after I run. I was ecstatic.
After every workout for the past month, I dutifully wrapped my knee in an ice brace, elevated and took naproxen. Sometimes I’d alternate ice and heat. Then I got compression socks to help with my varicose vein and I started wearing my knee brace during runs again, which helped with tendonitis back when I was originally coming back from my reconstruction surgery.
But it didn’t help.
My body felt great after my weekday workouts. Spinning: great. Yoga: great. Speed work: great. Lifting: great. I’d get so amped up for my long runs on the weekend, convinced that I was going to have a glorious run. I’d imagine myself running happily, kind of like Marshall does on HIMYM. The miles would tick by and I’d be that much closer to reaching the 26.2 distance. Sure, I was prepared for some tough times, but overall I was ready for some stellar doses of weekend sweat.
Yeah, that never happened.
Every single week, my knee would end up hurting like hell. So much that my knee would simply give out. Sometimes it would happen after I reached the assigned mileage, sometimes it was way before. But each time, I wouldn’t be able to walk for the rest of the day. My afternoons would be spent in bed watching TV because walking up and down the stairs to my third-floor apartment hurt like hell. The only time I did leave was when my family was in town and I wanted to show them around. Otherwise, my butt was firmly planted to the bed.
Last week, I was a wreck. Coach Abby assigned 15 miles and I was really excited because it was going to be my new PDR. Once again, my workouts all week were phenomenal. I set myself up for a great run. Killer playlist, perfect outfit, nice weather, favorite fuel, fresh running route, full water bottle, etc. Miles 1-5 were a little tight, but then I found my groove and it was amazing. Miles 5-10 ticked by and I finally thought this was going to be it. I hit mile 10 and thought, “Only 5 more miles? Psshh, I got this.”
And then the universe decided that I was being a bit too cocky. Around 10.5 miles, my knee decided to say, “Eff you, Sam. You’re done.”
I tried to fight it, I really did. I kept running, hoping it would fade like it’s done before. No dice. So I slowed my pace slightly. Still no change. I walked a little. Much better….until I tried to run again. That’s when my knee started giving out completely. I couldn’t run more than a few steps — and by that, I mean about 5 or 6 — before I had to walk again. I looked at my watch and saw just over 13 miles and knew it was time to call it quits.
I cried right there in Central Park.
I was so angry because I knew that I could do this. 15 miles was this small number, just slightly above 13.1, but I couldn’t reach it. My whole body felt great and it wanted to keep going, but my knee simply wouldn’t let me. So what did I do? What any logical person would do…I went home and drowned my sorrows in food. Duh.
The next day, I met up with Coach Abby and cried some more out of sheer frustration. She told me that was a good thing; it shows I care. That made me feel less like a chump. After a lot of talking me off a ledge, she convinced me to take this week off from exercise, to help reduce the inflammation in my knee. I thought I was going to go crazy a few times and had to email Abby for support, but it gave me a lot of time to think.
I started thinking about why I was so determined to run this marathon in the first place. Yes, I wanted to do it in Nashville because I wanted my dad to see it. But that was really my only reason. Sure, I signed up for the race last June, so the anticipation was definitely built high as the date kept inching closer. But is that a real reason? Not so much.
Then I started thinking about everything that I’ve gone through in the past few months. All of the doctors appointments (and expensive co-pays), non-musculature pain, frustration, anger, tears, doubt, shame, fear. I had been on such a downward spiral and was so stubborn to let my dream of running 26.2 go. Even though it was extremely painful and completely destroying any confidence I had in my running, I wanted to keep going. I thought that if I didn’t do this specific marathon, then I was a failure.
I started visualizing April 28, playing out the entire race. Not once did I see myself having a glorious race where I triumphantly crossed the finish line with my hands in the air. No, I saw myself limping, hours after I had planned on finishing, crying and begging for the race to be over. I saw my dad on the sidelines, his face creased with worry, asking me to stop doing this to myself. I saw Dustin trying his best to encourage me because he knew I wasn’t going to give up, but his eyes showed nothing but fear. And then a voice finally crept inside my head. Is it worth it?
In a word: no.
I don’t want to finish my first marathon like that. And I don’t want to ruin the rest of my running career because I’m being stupid and stubborn. I have more to talk about, and I need to explain how today’s run went, but I’m going to save that for tomorrow’s post because this one has gotten quite long. If you’ve read this whole thing, thanks so much for sticking around. Fingers crossed you’re coming back tomorrow. Until then…
Today, I ran 10 miles. Not only did I run those miles, but I owned those puppies completely pain-free! Wahoo!
I’ve been killing it in my workouts this week, dominating my eats, halting the unnecessary snacking, and tuning in to my body. I am on top of my game. I have felt really good all week and any time a scary, negative thought started to creep into my head, I squashed that little bugger.
Squashed it with my new kicks.
Because brighter is better
I fully believe in the power of positive thinking. Whenever I get down on myself, it becomes so obvious in the rest of my life. I start eating like crap, I’m tired all of the time and I lack productivity. Oh yeah, and it doesn’t solve anything. I’ve been dealing with this pesky little pain problem for the last month and dutifully going to doctor’s appointments to figure out why my body decided to go psycho right as marathon training is about to begin.
I don’t have a full answer yet (MRI is Monday!), but I’m almost there. I’ve ruled out all of the scary stuff, like blood clots and ACL tears, so now I’m waiting for a final diagnosis. In the meantime, I’ve been cautiously pushing myself through my workouts. And as I’ve done more, the pain has decreased. Especially as I lift more weights and stretch out in yoga. Cross- and strength-training, you are a beautiful thing.
Even though my body has felt pretty baller all week (can you tell I’m on a runner’s high yet?), I went into today’s scheduled 10-miler optimistic but knowing that I was going to call it quits once the pain kicked in. I kept running along in this gorgeous 45-degree weather, smiling my little face off like a doofus…and no pain came. I was shocked. I was ecstatic.
I’m sure all of my positive thoughts and 11:11 wishes didn’t heal me, but they definitely have made this process a lot easier. So I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, and we’ll see what happens on Monday. Fingers crossed for a good outcome, and if you see the clock at 11:11, make a wish for me
Now you tell me: How do you stay positive through a rough patch?
It’s just like a pain in the butt, except it renders me helpless when a flare-up decides to occur. Which has been happening more frequently these days.
After I ran my half-marathon back in April, the right side of my lower back started giving me some trouble. Nothing major, but just a little more pain than I was used to. I told myself to toughen up and ignored it. No need to miss a workout when it doesn’t hurt that bad. Most of the time it would only bother me when I woke up in the morning or when I was relaxing to go to sleep, anyway.
Unfortunately, the pain has gotten worse. Last week I did a 30-minute treadmill interval program, then followed it up with Jillian Michaels’ “No More Trouble Zones” DVD.
Later that night, and for the next two days, my back hurt so bad that I couldn’t even bend over to flip my hair upside down and tie it in a ponytail. When I can’t bend so that my body is at a 90-degree angle, you know there’s a problem.
I finally started analyzing everything that I was doing and paid attention to when the flare-ups occurred. Then I called my older brother, Justin, who’s currently in medical school in Philadelphia. Although he obviously can’t diagnose me on the phone, he provided more insight than I had when I dialed his number.
Basically, he thinks that my pelvis is overcompensating for my left knee, which is the knee that had a torn ACL and meniscus back in 2009. The reasons for his diagnosis (from what I understand):
- The right side of my lower back hurts, less than a finger-length away from my spine.
- The pain is centralized and always in one location, rather than spread throughout my whole back or radiating up and down my spine.
- It hurts the most after strength-training, especially when squatting.
I’m sure there are other reasons that I simply don’t understand, but those seem to be the big three. Everything he said to me makes sense, so I’m going to listen to his advice until he gets home on Sunday (yay!) and can actually take a look at me. I must say, it definitely is nice to have a doctor in the family. Beats paying a chiropractor to tell me the same thing!
So for now, I have to take it easy on the strength training. No more squats or lunges (I love squats!) and all upper body work needs to be done while I’m sitting in order to stabilize my back.
He didn’t take running away from me though, so today I headed out for a three-mile hill workout. Whenever I’m running back home, I don’t intend for it to be a hill workout, but it always ends up that way because they are everywhere. Sometimes I wish I was in Florida where it’s always flat. The only thing that gets me through is constantly telling myself I’ll be grateful for it later.
I finished the run a little slower than I would’ve liked, but I think it’s because I was paying close attention to my form. Admittedly, my posture sucked. I could feel my shoulders slumping and my chest leaning forward too far. I tried to push back my shoulders, but whenever I did I felt like I was exerting ten times more energy and quickly released it. Needless to say, it was not my best run.
My back doesn’t usually hurt after a run, so I avoided anything else for the day. Instead, I decided to soak up some vitamin D while breezing through Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks on my Kindle.
The book was pretty good! The ending was cheesy, but you kind of have to expect that when you pick up a Nicholas Sparks novel. However, his writing was much different this time because he went into an in-depth viewpoint — one of the main characters was physically abused by her husband, who was a Boston police officer. Sparks delved into the husband’s point of view and really brought out the constantly changing mindset that these people go through (I’m assuming Sparks did his research). It was an intriguing read and the reason I finished the book in less than 24 hours.
Then I settled down for a nice summer meal with my family.
Not much beats grilled chicken, pasta and potato salads. Yum!
Have you ever trained through an injury? How did you get past it? And how did you spend your holiday weekend?