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).

A runner who isn’t running

It’s been 11 months since my last injury-free run.

It’s been nine months since my last run.

As each day passes, I feel less and less like a runner. I try not to think about running or not running since it just puts me in a bad/sad mood.

But, it has been nice when others make comments to me, treating me like the runner they knew before I got my stress fracture.

One friend who is currently training for an IRONMAN, recently messaged me on Facebook asking for running advice. She asked me for any nearby hilly running route recommendations because she needs to do more hill training in preparation for her race.

I was touched that she reached out to me and responded with a few of my go-to routes. (Yes, Discovery Park, you obviously made the list!)

And then I was chatting with a colleague who used to work on my team and she asked me if I was running again yet. When I told her that I wasn’t and that I have still been experiencing off-and-on knee pain, her response was something along the lines of, “Wow, that must be really hard for you. After all, several of us on the team ran but you were the only real runner among us.”

I was beaming on the inside that she called me a real runner.

We’ve been having a few sun breaks in Seattle in the midst of all the dumping-rain spells. I do still gauge the temperature based on whether it would be running-shorts-weather or not.

So, some runner instincts still cannot be erased.

 

Knowing your strengths

I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs personality test a few times but always took it with a grain of salt. After all, depending on my mood, I swing between getting an “I” or “E” (so, introverted or extroverted).

Recently at work we took the Clifton Strengths assessment. I’d never heard of the test before but it was pretty eye-opening. Based on many questions answered, it assesses your greatest strengths. (They call them “themes” and there are more than 30 themes to be placed into!)

In a workplace, knowing one another’s strengths helps with building better teams and thus producing better, timely work.

My top five strengths include: responsibility, individualization, analytical, strategic and achiever.

The “individualization” one first caught me by surprise because I thought it meant that I preferred to work as an individual and (essentially didn’t want to be around other people). It’s actually not that at all. When it comes to Clifton Strengths, individualization means you are intrigued by the unique qualities each person has. You don’t like to group people into “types” but would rather know how each person is special and different.

I definitely have a “get it done” attitude which is where the “responsibility” and “achiever” themes come from. I don’t always associate myself as a super analytical and strategic person but I guess those must come from my journalistic upbringing. I learned that you need facts to prove things. You need to write/report based off of known knowledge, not just what people may say.

Knowing these strengths goes beyond being helpful in a work setting. They can be applied to your personal life and goals as well.

We don’t always know exactly what our strengths are. Or, is everyone just way more self-aware than I am?

Something non-running and non-not running-related to talk about for once 🙂

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: Pretending I belong at the gym

The gym is an interesting place. And, I picked the most un-“gym-y” gym to go to. I joined the YMCA at the end of January and while it’s been great, it definitely has been awkward and uncomfortable at times.

I’m just not used to being around a lot of other people while I exercise. When you’re a runner, it’s the norm to run away from strangers as you get your workout done. In a gym though, I feel like everyone is starring at you and judging you.

How many times have I been on the elliptical and if someone is on the machine next to me, they will look over to glance at my screen? Pretty much every time.

Why do you care how long I’ve been on the elliptical or what number I have the resistance on? I have a freaking stress fracture that’s healing so leave me alone and mind your own business!

Maybe it’s just newbie gym goer paranoia. Maybe nobody else really cares what I’m doing.

I do have to admit that when I’m at the gym and on the elliptical, I do spend time observing other gym goers. I mainly do this to help pass the time because I cannot use headphones while I workout so I’m not listening to any music or podcasts or anything. (Back when I was running, I rarely listened to music because my running time was time spent with my thoughts).

So, what have I noticed? Not everyone wipes down their machine after using it. Some people wipe down the machine before and after using it though! A lot of people use the treadmills, which I just can’t wrap my head around on days when the weather is so nice outside. I just want to yell at them and tell them to take their run outside!

It’s also interesting to see how people use the treadmill. Because I’ve been going to the gym on a regular basis, I’m starting to recognize the same people. There’s this one girl who uses the treadmill at a way-too-fast-speed because she will sprint for less than a minute, and then literally hop to the side of the treadmill while the belt is still running, catch her breath, and then go back to sprinting. She repeats this pattern a few times and clearly spends more time resting than running. But, who am I to judge? I’m the one who got injured from running, after all …

Along with being a slave to the elliptical, I have gone to several group classes. So far I have learned that I like flow yoga the best, because I feel like I’m getting a better workout. The jury is still out on Pilates. I have only gone to one class so I will try again another week. I haven’t done a spin class yet and am kind of afraid to, but will hopefully get my butt to one soon. (The reason I’m afraid is because I’ve done a spin class outside of the Y before and it was pretty difficult! But, a great workout!) And the pool? I actually haven’t done any swimming since becoming a member of the Y. I’m still trying to figure out not-so-crowded times to use their pool.

 

Do I love the gym? No.

But, it’s definitely keeping me sane and moving during my sabbatical from running.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

(Blog) check – 1, 2, 3 … Is this thing on?

What can I say, I’ve been so busy not running that I haven’t had time to write!

Let me provide an update on those new year resolutions I talked about last month.

  1. Do at least 20 minutes of strength and core each day – I’ve altered this goal. Because, see below.
  2. Join the YMCA before February – YES! I am now an official member which has become so convenient because I live right in the middle between two Y locations so I feel like I have a lot of options. I’ve become a slave to the elliptical and have gone to quite a few yoga classes. Today I went to my first Pilates class and hopefully I will make my way back to the pool again. (The pool has been so crowded so I haven’t quite figured out an ideal time to workout there). So, on days when I go to the gym, I do not adhere to my “20 minutes of strength/core” rule. If I don’t go to the gym, I definitely do a workout at home for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Continue journaling – Check!
  4. Read one book a month – Shocking but (so far) I am on top of this goal. What am I reading? January’s book was Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I can and currently I am reading Hidden Figures. Yes, so far I am only reading books that have been a movie or has been written by someone who stars in movies and TV … but, books are books are books, right??

So, a month-and-a-half into the year and things are going well! (Or, as well as they can be while you are sidelined from running).