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).

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 …

Injured runner: What’s next?

OK OK, so I’ve been really bad at blogging while injured. But, let’s be real. Who wants to read about a runner who whines about not being able to run? I guess my fellow injured runners?

I haven’t been feeling well the past few days — caught a darn head cold — so I don’t really want to delve too much into things right now since I don’t think I can concentrate for much longer but here are a few notable things:

  • I spent more days in February at the gym than not at the gym.
  • I’m having a hard time swimming (more on this in detail later).
  • I’m having a hard time with my weight (more on this later).

As I type this my knee is hurting … which is frustrating since I haven’t exercised in four days (due to the cold!) **insert crying emoji**

For now, I’m going to focus on recovering from this cold. Then, I’ll get back to all those IOU blog posts I mentioned above.

Let’s hope March blogging is more frequent than January and February combined!

For the love of running

You’ve been with me during my highest of highs. You’ve been with me during my lowest of lows. You’ve caused me heart ache time and time again.

You’ve taught me to work hard. You’ve taught me that I can reach above what I think I’m capable of achieving. You’ve taught me to eat properly and get at least eight hours of sleep a night. You’ve taught me patience.

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And, above all, you’ve brought me to some of my most valuable people in life and have helped strengthen our relationships. You introduced me to my BFF. You helped bring a childhood friend and I closer together as adults. You’ve kept my high school (cross-country) friends together after all these years. You have given B and I some of the most greatest adventures together.

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All because of my love for running.

But, the love story’s a little different now.

I haven’t been running for now six-and-a-half months. (Darn you, stress fracture of the knee!) Since I wasn’t diagnosed right away, my last good, pain-free run was the last weekend of May. That seems like forever ago.

I’ve always thought that the hardest part about running was back when I ran the Chicago Marathon with an IT band injury. Or, when I missed breaking 4 hours at the Eugene Marathon by one minute and 19 seconds.

Nope.

The hardest part about running is now, when I’m physically unable to run.

I know I’ll eventually be back at it again. But, it’s hard to be sidelined for so long. Running makes me feel strong and calm and happy and alive all at the same time.

Will it remember me when I’m healed? Will it give me that same feeling? Will I want to achieve the same running goals again?

I don’t know.

But, I do know that my love for running goes deep — we have 15 years of history — so I’m not giving up on you now.