One year of being injured – and counting

I had my last injury-free run the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend of last year. Granted, I didn’t find out I had a stress fracture until three months later, I still have been injured for now a year.

I had scheduled an appointment with my ortho back in January/February for June 1 as a precaution. After all, he told me that he expected me to be pain-free and starting to run again come May/June. He added that if I was still experiencing knee pain, to come see him again in June.

Well, it’s June. And, I am still experiencing off and on knee pain.

What’s the verdict?

Still, it is to wait and see — a bit more. He was surprised I haven’t healed. He checked both of my MRIs again— the first from August and the second from the beginning of the year — and told me again that the fracture is just taking longer to heal than we expected. He said mid-July would be the furthest out it would take for the injury to heal so he wants to wait until then to do another MRI.

What if I continue to have pain after July though? What if the third MRI still shows that I still have a bit more healing left to go?

I feel like I am going through the longest marathon ever where every time I reach a mile mark, the finish line gets pushed further and further away from me. I keep thinking I will see that finish line banner off in the distance with each passing month of not running, but now I just don’t know.

I don’t know what to do. I mean, the doctor says to keep exercising so we can tell if my knee is healing. (Right now I still have off and on pain during and after exercise so the hope would be in the next month-and-a-half, that will go away completely).

Do I get a second opinion? I feel like a new doctor to me would just tell me to get another MRI as well.

I feel defeated because unlike running, where I am in control of everything, I currently have no control.

I can’t control time. I can’t control how much longer my fracture will take to heal. I can’t control my weight gain or that so many of my dresses are so tight or do not even fit me. I can’t control how sad it makes me feel that I haven’t had a healthy run in one year and that I haven’t been running at all in TEN WHOLE MONTHS.

Think about that one thing that brings you joy, that keeps you sane. Think about how you would feel if you could not do that.

It’s a frustrating, lonely, confusing place to be.

Injured runner: The best workout of my year

There are a lot of things I miss about running.

Alone time. Being able to take myself on my own two feet home for five miles after work rather than drive or take a (delayed again!) bus. Spending time with friends. The sound my feet make as they hit the pavement. The freeing feeling. The stillness when on the trails. Not being afraid of the rain.

The endorphins.

I can’t say I received that same runner’s high at my friend’s spin class on Sunday, but I sure had the best workout of the year (so far!)

I’ve been very good about going to the gym at least six days a week, if not daily. I alternate between spinning on the stationary bike and using the elliptical. I try to push myself to a good pace where I’m sweating. But, in all honestly, most times I don’t feel that tired after my workout. I do add on strength and core exercises after time on the cardio machines and always feel like doing multiple forms of plank is way more tiring than an hour on the elliptical!

What I’m trying to say is that the spin class was a nice change of pace. It really had me pushing myself. And, even though I couldn’t do everything that everyone else in the class was doing — like standing while on the bike while doing our “hill repeats” — I felt a sense of real exercise accomplishment at the end of the class.

I even felt like taking a nap in the afternoon, which felt akin to wanting to nap after a nice long run during my marathon training days.

It was good to have that familiar tired feeling again.

Status: Did Not Start

DNS.

Is it ironic that my second DNS (did-not-start) race was a 10K? (A 10K that was the same course even though a different race!)

I decided not to walk the Tenacious Ten 10K on Saturday. I decided not to volunteer at the race and cheer on my friends and teammates.

For me, being around runners who are pushing their limits, setting PRs and finishing races with smiles on their faces isn’t the sound of a fun morning for me in my current state.

I do support them. I just choose to do so from afar and through social media.

Because, I’ve been having a lot of ups and downs in terms of “being OK” being injured.

Instead of doing anything related to the race, I went with Phyllis to a journal meet-up at a coffee shop with other like-minded crafty people. Phyllis encouraged me to buy a Traveler’s notebook last fall and I have been using it as another hobby since I can’t currently run. She’s tried to convince me to go to these journal meet-ups with her in the past but I always (kindly) declined. This time I went though.

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It was fun seeing how other people use their journals and the different supplies — and washi tapes! — they own. It makes me want to focus more on getting the pages of my journal to be more aesthetically pleasing rather than focus on my bum knee.

My running budget (new kicks, clothes and race entries) may quickly all go towards purchasing expensive crafting materials.

We’ll see.

“To race” or not “to race”

When being overly optimistic fails you.

I signed up for this 10K six months ahead of race day. At the time, I was two months into a recovery of “somewhere between six weeks and six months” and figured that if anything, I would be able to walk-jog the course.

Not the case, at all.

I’m definitely nowhere near walk-jogging seeing that I still have knee pain every once in a while from doing whatever random task it may be (standing, sitting, walking or during exercise …)

The race is this weekend.

I’m not even upset about the wasted race entry money. About a month ago I came to terms that I would just walk the race since the 10K is open to both runners and walkers.

But, now I am reconsidering.

There will be a lot of friends and teammates and people I know at this race. I don’t really want to be walking 6 miles while designated “cheer stations” have to encourage me and keep me in high spirits. I really don’t want to have to tell my injury story again to folks I haven’t seen in a while.

Being injured makes you feel like the black sheep.

Am I being childish? Should I just get over it?

Talk to me when you’ve been a lifelong runner who has been sidelined from running for eight months and injured for almost a year.

Instead of “racing” the race, I’m considering volunteering at the race since I saw an email from the race director seeking additional volunteers. Or, maybe I’ll go to the March for Science. Or, a journal meet-up that a friend has invited me to. Or, maybe I’ll just keep my distance from people all together and enjoy a walk on my on time for Earth Day.

There’s a lot of possibilities and options for my Saturday morning plans.

Running is not one of them.

When you no longer feel like a runner

I’m realizing that it’s quite difficult to maintain a (mostly) running blog when you’re not running.

It’s tiring to write over and over again about how I still can’t run.

When I get together with friends who I haven’t seen in a while, their reactions are always the same: Wait, you are still injured? But, it’s been so long!

I had back-to-back activities during a recent weekend so I had planned to go straight to the gym after helping with a friend’s bridal shower hosted at my parents’ house. When my mom saw me in my running clothes, her reaction was: Oh, good! You’re going to go enjoy the sun and go for a run! 

For some reason she forgot that I’m still injured. Probably because I try not to talk about it anymore.

I’m tired of talking about how I am injured.

The other week I ran into a former Team In Training teammate who was training for the Alaska Half Marathon last year when I was training for the Alaska Full. She works at my organization but in a completely different department so our paths hardly ever cross. She was shocked to hear that my stress fracture is still healing — now eight months since I stopped running.

As I started telling her the story of how I got my first MRI and then the pain came back and then I got a second MRI (this time with contrast), I kept thinking, why am I sharing this story? I hate this story. I’m tired of telling this story.

It was memorial day weekend of last year when I first experienced pain in my left knee. Maybe at the one-year mark it will all be over?

I really hope my injury-story will end soon and that I’ll have a new story to share.

A comeback story.

Injured runner: I’m having a hard time with my weight

I wouldn’t say I was ever a person who had “body issues.” I ate whatever I wanted to when I was a teenager and in my early 20s. Because I exercised regularly — and let’s be real, I’ve always been a fairly healthy eater — I was pretty content with my weight and how I looked.

But, I’m having a hard time right now.

As an adult runner who is pretty in tune with her body, this is the third time I have had one of these “I’m having a hard time with my weight” moments.

Four-and-a-half years ago, I lost a noticeable amount of weight (without meaning to), and it freaked me out.

And then a year-and-a-half ago, I gained some weight and was having trouble accepting it. I eventually returned back to my “normal” weight but my issue now is that since I’ve stopped running in August, I have gained approximately ~8 pounds.

Being an injured runner is hard enough but now I have to deal with weight issues too??

When I went in for a doctor’s appointment at the beginning of the year, I stepped on the scale and when the nurse marked 136, my stomach sunk. It was validation for what I had been fearing for the past several months: I’ve gained a significant amount of weight.

My “normal” weight is typically around 127/128.

Some of my pants are tighter than they used to be. Some shirts are a little more fitted than I want them to be. The worst part is that I do not feel good about myself. 

My stomach area feels huge. And I have been exercising daily, but it’s all just not the same as running.

I’ve brought this up with a few friends and their responses are pretty similar: I’ll lose the weight when I start running again … I look the same, I have nothing to worry about …

But, I do not feel the same. 

And, I’m trying to take the steps to feel better. (It started with stopping calling myself fat). It’s also continuing with not stepping on a scale until I feel better with myself. 

Because really, the number on the scale isn’t so much what is bumming me out. It’s how I feel that is.

Injured runner: I’m having a hard time swimming

Things OK to do while on the mend:

  • Walking
  • Elliptical-ing
  • Biking/spinning
  • Core and strength training
  • Swimming

Things not OK to do well on the mend:

  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Bearing weight on my knee (so like, table top/cat/cow position in yoga would all be a big fat no!)

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of consistently doing all but the swimming on my first list. I stopped going to yoga altogether after I talked to my doctor about a month ago to get specifics on what I can and cannot do while I let my stress fracture heal. I know I can still go to yoga but that I wouldn’t be able to do all the moves everyone else is. (So far, I haven’t gotten the courage to go back).

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So, why is swimming so hard? I’ve done it before.

But, my doctor had also told me to avoid breast stroke when I swim — too much kicking of the leg/knee out that could cause aggravation to the injury. Um, as a runner where swimming is not my forte, breast stroke was my saving grace! Now that I have to do the crawl the entire time, swimming is way more stressful and tiring and time consuming.

Right now, I only have the lung capacity to do two laps (so out-and-back twice) of the crawl. After two laps I am winded. I am gasping for air and my heart is beating pretty quickly. I hate having to pause/take a break, especially if there are other swimmers in the lane — it just messes up with the whole flow!

So, what do I do? Just keep going to the pool and get better? The last two times I went to the pool, I spent a majority of my time using the kick board. I wouldn’t mind doing backstroke either, but this takes skill if you have to share the lane with others …

It’s also hard to get better at swimming when I only go once a week. But, the lap swim schedule and my work schedule and how crowded the pool gets on Saturdays leaves me with just Sunday swim days.

Maybe I’ll try aqua jogging. That doesn’t take being in the lap lane. I keep running into my old high school cross country coach at the pool and he’s been telling me to aqua jog instead of doing mindless laps back and forth if I hate it so much.

Maybe I don’t need to get any better at swimming. Maybe I’ll just stay in the slow lane and kick board the entire time.

But, it would be nice for my workout to not take an hour plus …