Injured runner: What I’m proud of

It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go the way you want them to, the way you think they should go. It’s easy to get annoyed when someone says or acts in a manner that is the complete opposite to what you view as correct or right.

It’s easy for those negative emotions to “turn on.”

I’d always run them off.

In my current state though — slowly returning to running  — I’m doing my very best to not get annoyed or frustrated or mad or sad.

Every run, even if it’s at three-minute intervals, is a victory. If my knee is not in pain, it’s a victory.

I’m currently at stage 5 (of 7) for my Return to Running program from my PT and I’m proud to say that every single run/walk I’ve done, I’ve done outside. I have not done a single one on the dreadmill. This has meant run-walking in complete darkness after work. This has meant run-walking in the cold and rain on the weekends.

I would never run on a treadmill when I was fully healthy so why would I run-walk on one?

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Life as a (temporary) spectator

In all my ~12 years of running half marathons and marathons, I had never spectated a race until last Sunday.

I’ve never spectated because I’ve aways been the runner. Or, there were some times when I “just ran the half” and cheered Bryce or other friends into the finish as they completed the full marathon of the same event.

Joanna was doing the Seattle Marathon and as my partner in marathon training and pain, I wasn’t going to miss cheering her on for the 26.2 miles of post-Thanksgiving festivities.

This was my very first time as a race spectator!

It was so heartwarming to see all the runners out there — well let’s be honest — suffering as the rain rolled in. Some managed to grimace as I cheered them on. (Even with a cowbell it was darn tiring!) Some just looked forward with blank stares as they ran on. Some even cheered for me, the spectator!

I identified with each and every one of these marathoners.

It made me wish I could just jump in and run alongside all of them.

Joanna fought hard and had a really strong finish. Friends like her motivate me to work hard at PT, to work hard at my “return-to-running” program, so that I can be back out there and cross many more finish lines.

I won’t allow myself to be a spectator forever.

Getting back to running, sort of

My “Return to Running Program” from my PT consists of seven stages. As the stages increase, so does your running time and overall time on your feet. For example, stage one you are active for a total of 20 minutes and only five of those minutes are running (and not even consecutively). By stage seven, you are at a total of 60 active minutes, with 40 of the minutes being running minutes.

I’m on stage three as of right now, where I am only running at two-minute consecutive increments. However, for Thanksgiving, my PT gave me a pass.

Earlier in the week at my appointment, we talked about the upcoming holiday and what we had planned. I told him that every year my high school cross country friends and I meet at 9 sharp at Discovery Park to run together. It’s a tradition we’ve continued for now 15 years! Last year, being injured, I walked with a few friends — one had just had a baby — and this year I figured I’d be walking again.

“If you want to run, you can run. And, then go back to your running program next week,” my PT said.

It was like music to my ears.

I know I’m my own person and I can do what I want. But, it was nice to hear from a professional that I was “allowed” to run (if I wanted to).

So, I did.

I managed one Discovery Park loop with no major incidents. It was a total of 29 minutes of running the 5K loop (with one quick break to take in the sights of Puget Sound from the bluffs).

It felt fantastic to run with my old friends. It felt fantastic to be on our old stomping grounds together, despite the rain.

My knee did not feel fantastic but it also was not in pain, per se. It just felt like it was maybe going to start being in pain. What was most painful was my breathing. I’ve just gotten so out of shape over the course of more than a year of being injured from running.

But, the victory in it all is I did it. I ran.

And, most importantly, I ran with friends.

Injured runner: An exciting week (but not for running)!

I don’t know why this has turned into the year Kristin became a bad blogger. You’d think that all the extra time I have from not being able to run, I’d be able to at least crank out one post a week. Nope.

But, I have exciting news!

Two-and-a-half weeks ago I got engaged! And then a day later I found out I received a promotion at work! And then a week after that, I was able to successfully purchase tickets to Hamilton (for the Seattle show next year!) And then a day after that, I fainted and fell in public!

So, I guess my attention has been elsewhere …

 

Not to get off topic, but I am fine (from the fainting). I tend to faint once or twice a year so I guess I was due for this year’s episode. I went to the doctor just to make sure everything was OK and all blood work returned normal.

Hopefully, a positive running update will soon follow all this other happy personal and professional news!

Injured runner: Return to “running”

At the end of my last physical therapy appointment, my PT asked me if I had any questions.

“Sooooo … can I start running a little bit?” I asked.

His response was yes followed by him away from me — to get me a Return to Running Program handout.

It’s happening! Er, well, it has happened!

I went on my first “run” last Friday. It was a warm, crisp, sunny day so of course I wasn’t going to have my first “run” be on the treadmill.

I considered it a “run” because this is the current regimen:

5 minute walk
1 min. run, 1 min. walk (5 x)
5 minute walk

So, really only five minutes of running was involved. And, really, it was a slow jog.

I broke out my fancy Suunto that I received as a Christmas gift last year. My pace ranged from 9:30 to upwards 11+. For someone who typically runs comfortably around 8 to 9-min/mile range, it was painful.

My body felt so heavy. (I guess justified since I have gained weight in the more-than-one-year-long hiatus from running). I was also just being overly cautious because while my knee did not outright hurt, it didn’t feel completely strong either.

The workout was exciting and sad all at the same time.

It’s exciting because this is progress.

It’s sad because I can only “run” at 60-second intervals.

My schedule has been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to go out on another test run, but I’m hoping to get a few more in before my next PT appointment next week so I can report back that all is well.

I’d cringe to call myself a runner now, but maybe soon I don’t have to call myself an injured runner?

Stronger than you think

I looked up from the TV monitor attached to the elliptical, tired of another “Chopped” rerun on the Food Network, and saw a wall full of motivational phrases and words painted across from me.

It was a Saturday morning of PT exercises followed by some form of cardio at the gym.

I was over it. I’ve been over it. I am over it.

Who knew that August of last year when the doctor diagnosed me with a stress fracture of the knee after my first MRI, that I would still not be running today. (For the record, he told me I’d be running anywhere from six weeks to six months).

It’s been 14 months since then.

I’ve had a new doctor since then.

I’ve done a lot of walking, swimming, PT exercises, stationary biking and elliptical-ing. I’ve talked a lot about not running. I’ve written a lot about not running.

But, back to that Saturday morning at the gym.

One phrase on the wall stood out to me the most: You are stronger than you think.

I kept repeating the sentence over and over in my head as I continued using the elliptical. It was kind of cathartic.

In all 10, 15+ years of being a runner*, not running has been the biggest challenge.

But, I am stronger than I think. And so are you.

 

*I ran cross-country in high school as a freshman but didn’t even like running then. I did it for the social aspects of being on a team. By no means did I consider myself a runner back then. But, I stuck with the team throughout high school and running became my lifelong friend. As you can see, I’m not good at letting go of friendships. 

Injured runner: Hiking it out

I have a new goal.

If I’m not going to get any running miles in this year, well, I’m going to get some hiking miles in!

My doctor and physical therapist both have no objections to hiking. Doc said maybe wear a brace just so it will mentally make me feel stronger, if nothing else. So, for the past several weekends, I’ve been going on a hike nearly every week.

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My goal? To hike at least 30 times during my 30th year.

My birthday was in June and I have already gone on 10 hikes. (I didn’t officially start this goal until like September with my first hike of the season being in August). Seeing that I have eight more months until my next birthday, I’m pretty confident that I will be able to surpass my goal of 30.

Maybe this is the “silver lining” of being injured from running.

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I get to hike.

When I’m marathon training, my whole schedule revolves around running. Since there’s always a long run that needs to “get done” on weekends, there is never time — or energy — for a hike to fit into my training plans. My priority has always been running.

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I got some great hikes in during the summer with friends and family. Now that it’s cooler — and snowy — Bryce and I have done a few “winter hikes” already. I’m pretty lucky that even though I’m injured from running, I am still able to climb to the tops of mountains, see water falls and witness the Cascades in all of its glory.

Of course, I still miss running every day.

At least now I can have my weekly hike to look forward to.