The king of the road, Bart Yasso, recently asked runners on Twitter what their goals were for 2012. Mine was simple. I replied that I wanted to run injury-free. He said train smartly.
If it were so easy.
During the past 23 months, I’ve battled two significant injuries, which I’ve detailed here on this blog and used to chronicle at Loving the Run. I was sidelined for more than four months — spread out over almost two years. I’ve gone to physical therapy for about eight months and continue to log more appointments. I’ve spent thousands of dollars. And as my husband reminds me too often, I’ve suffered mentally, physically and financially from those injuries.
My mom has suggested I quit running more than once. At least give it up for a year, she says. She worries about me and the toll running takes on my body, all for the love of the sport.
I won’t quit. But I began wondering last month whether running had lost its charm. It’s not fun to run hurt. It’s not fun to run when you’re worried about getting hurt. And for 23 months, I’ve run hurt or worried about getting injured.
My body survived running without injury for almost six years. Can I be injury-free this year? I hope so. I want to reach the start line of a marathon after not making it to three of the last four marathons.
Nine days into the new year, I’m nervous. I’m running the Big Sur International Marathon in April for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. I will be crushed if I get hurt. I won’t feel badly for myself. I’m getting used to the disappointment of logging a “Did Not Start.” I’ll feel like a major letdown to those who donated to my cause and supported me with their kindness and positive words. I don’t want to fail them, or my charity.
What am I doing to prevent injury?
A lot of things. I continue going to physical therapy. My therapist is as determined as I am to get to the bottom of my injuries. I won’t be released from his care until we eradicate the root problem.
In November 2009, I developed severe out-of-the-blue pain in my left hip. At first, I didn’t think it was a running injury because it only hurt when I sit. Still, I made an appointment with a sports medicine physician. Three months later — the same week I had an appointment for my hip — I fractured my heel. My therapist blames my injuries on that weak hip. He’s also addressing my weak, tight back, which has never been addressed. After being a hunch all my life, I’m focusing on my posture. Starting today, I sit at work with lumbar support.
When I saw my therapist today, I confessed my tibia was sensitive after yesterday’s 10-miler — my longest run since getting hurt while training for the Twin Cities Marathon. I wasn’t very worried. My heel still hurts two years later, especially during the winter. Don’t all bone injuries hurt forever?
He won’t accept a sore tibia, just like he won’t accept continued hip pain. So this week, my long run won’t be as long. And, my therapist plans to consult with a sports medicine physician who specializes in treating female athletes. Seeing a nutritionist might be in my future, he says.
I also joined a running club called Minnesota RED (running, eating, drinking). I have a coach. He acts more like a babysitter, at least for now. His mission is to make sure I get a finisher’s medal on April 29. I hope it’s not Mission Impossible.
And then there’s hot yoga. It’s my cross-training. It’s the only thing besides running that brings me peace.
Finally, there’s you. Be my injury prevention. Hold me accountable. If you see my @dailymile posts and I seem to be running too hard, tell me to slow my ass down, that I can go “balls to the wall” when I’m good and strong. Remind me of the big picture. Even now, I’m tempted to push it in training — despite what I know. Consider donating to my charity. The higher the stakes, the less prone I am to do something stupid on the road. (Also, it’s for a good cause. I’m running in memory of my dad, and in honor of my Pioneer Press colleague — both affected by multiple myeloma.)
Will I be injury-free in 2012? Time will tell.