The reluctant runner

Honestly, I’m getting tired of not being 100 percent while running.

I still don’t think I have had a single run where my knee felt completely normal. There is always slight pain, or a minor ache.

It’s been two years since I first got injured. Shouldn’t my pain be 100 percent gone by now?

With all this being said, I haven’t been running much lately. I’d rather not run than run and not feel like my normal self.

It just doesn’t feel the same. I just feel worried that I am doing more harm to my knee. It isn’t fun.

I’ll try to get out to the pool since I haven’t at all yet this summer. And, I’ll continue my PT exercises.

But, maybe in a month or two I should go back to the doctor? Or, PT? Or, both?

Just feeling like a reluctant runner these days.

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Injured runner: I’m “racing” tomorrow!

I’m signed up to do a trail 5K race tomorrow at Fort Ebey State Park on Whidbey Island.

My only goal is to finish. I don’t care about time. I don’t care about pace. I don’t care about place. (Well, actually, I wish I could say I don’t care about coming in dead last, I do care, but I’m going to try to not think about this).

Oh, also, no matter what — no crying!

I’ve never done a trail 5K so I guess whatever time I finish in, it’ll be an automatic PR.

The funny thing is, exactly five years ago, I ran this same race — although, I think at the time, they didn’t have a 5K option, so I did the 10K.

I remember being nervous and not knowing what the whole trail running craze was about. Five years ago, it was my first ever trail race. I had been a seasoned road runner but the trails were unknown to me.

I came out of it on the other side, loving the trail running scene. I wanted to improve on my road race times, but I also wanted to be out in the mountains. I tackled longer trail running distances. I even successfully trained and completed a trail ultra marathon! 

Yet, here we are.

Not starting over, but being nervous to run a trail race again. Heck, I’m just nervous to run any race! The last race I ran was nearly TWO YEARS AGO. Since then, I’ve dealt with multiple MRIs, a second opinion and lots of physical therapy — self reflection. Oh, and the knee pain, duh. I secretly registered for this first race post-injury to be on the trails instead of the roads because if I have to stop and walk, it won’t be as awkward or noticeable … hopefully.

Also, it’s just a 5K, right?

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.

Injured runner: The thing about PT

I don’t know if PT is going well or badly or if it’s just flat-out doing nothing.

I go weekly to my PT appointments. I do my PT exercises regularly at home. Yet, my knee pain still off and on/comes and goes. What’s your deal, knee??

What I do know is that every time I am at PT, I am literally the sweatiest person there. The other people there don’t look like they are even breaking a sweat. Meanwhile, I am dripping!

For the past few weeks, my PT has had me doing these hip/leg lifts using one of those big balls. I have to lie on my back and have the ball at my feet. Doing 2-3 reps of 15 has even my face sweating. Yes, my face!

Why am I so bad at PT?

My physical therapist and I agreed to give PT a few more weeks and if I wasn’t seeing significant improvements to my knee, I’d go back to the doctor and see what he says.

I really hope I start to see progress.

Injured runner: On really being hopeful

My second opinion went just about as good as I could have hoped it to have gone.

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The “TLDR” version is that this doctor has no concerns that my stress fracture hasn’t healed. That issue is basically no longer an issue we need to be worried about.

So, what’s with my off-and-on knee pain then?

He suspects I have “runner’s knee” — the clinical term being patellar femoral pain — which may be due to mechanics of leg strength and improper muscle activity. AKA, my body has not been running for nearly a year and now my muscles are all out of wack leading me to have this knee cap area pain.

“You’ll be running again. I’m not here to tell you, you will never run,” The doctor said, adding that my cartilage and meniscus look great.

 

Hearing this was such a relief. It sounds cliche, but it felt like a big weight was lifted off my shoulders. The unknowing-ness of what was going on with my knee for the past several months was making me annoyed and anxious and angry.

Now I do not need to get a third MRI (that the first doctor recommended).

I kind of wish I had gone for a second opinion sooner but c’est la vie. It is what it is.

I was lucky to snag a cancellation PT appointment tomorrow so at least my comeback journey can begin soon. And, this doctor I saw is a sports med doc so I got a referral to one of the “good physical therapists” who works with a lot of runners.

There’s no concrete timeline on when I can actually lace up the running shoes again. It all sort of depend on how PT goes.

But, that’s OK.

I’m so, so ready and really, really hopeful.

Injured runner: On being hopeful

For the past month, I have been holding onto a glimmer of hope.

I scheduled a second opinion and last month, the appointment was one month away.

My second opinion is now tomorrow.

I’ve been oddly looking forward to it because I’m hoping I will get concrete answers or a concrete plan for when I can return to running.

Maybe this doctor will tell me that I can start to ease back into running. Maybe this doctor will tell me to give walk-jogging a try. Maybe this doctor will say my two MRIs were mis-read and I do not have a stress fracture. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe I’m on the mend. Maybe it’s nothing at all. 

One can hope, right?

I haven’t run in 11 months.

I’ve been injured for a little over a year.

And, I’m still hopeful that things will turn around.

I’m running on hope — even when not running.

From injured to beyond angry

I skipped my swim today.

I was so mad, so angry about not being able to run that swimming — my “substitute” to running — just felt like a slap in the face.

When a family member suggests that you “not run any more marathons” in the future, how are you supposed to receive that? I’m injured. I have a stress fracture that is healing at a snail’s pace. Sure, I think about running all the time but I am in no manner thinking about when my next marathon will be. And, of course I have had flickering thoughts about whether or not I will even decide to run a marathon again.

I know I’m not the only injured runner in the world. I know there are people who have experienced far worse set-backs in their life.

But, in my little world, it’s all a big deal.

I have a second opinion scheduled for next month — the soonest I could be seen, of course — and this appointment is now my one glimmer of hope.

I still do have hope somewhere deep inside.

(Even if I feel broken, frustrated and beyond angry).