I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this. What next? Once the cast comes off and I’m cleared to run, what do I do? I read this article, “Lessons Learned From Ryan Hall’s NYC Marathon Withdrawal” last year. Poor Ryan. As frustrating and disappointing as this injury has been for me, at least I’m not making my living running. I can’t imagine finally reaching an elite level complete with sponsors and then having to deal with injury after injury. And all you want to do is run! It seems like it should be so simple: 1. Put shoes on. 2. Go run. But it really hasn’t been for me. This part of the article really resonates with me:
How You Can Learn From This
First, I think it’s important that you don’t set goal races after being injured.
I believe one of Hall’s mistakes is signing up for the next marathon before he’s even healthy. I work with too many runners who, after an injury, “need a goal race to stay motivated.” I understand the mental component to this, but what inevitably happens is they stop listening to their body and instead push towards that upcoming race. Maybe the best thing for their body is to back off a speed session or skip a few long runs, but because the race is coming up, they stubbornly force the training.
Remember, everything in the kinetic chain is connected.
After an injury, even when you’re fully healthy, your body and mind are going to try and protect it. As such, other parts of your kinetic chain are going work harder to compensate and this may lead to another injury. It’s even more important that after an injury you work on improving your form, lack of mobility, and strength of your entire kinetic chain.
I know I’m guilty of this. When I’m lacking motivation, signing up for a race really helps jump start things. And I’m not going to lie, I already picked a fall race (although I haven’t signed up yet, I’m going to wait until I’m at least back on my feet first.) But it’s not really a goal race per se. I don’t plan to train for a PR. It will all be about base training through the fall. But I do need to remember this even for easy runs. If an 8 miler run doesn’t feel right, I shouldn’t go out and run 10 miles the next time just because my schedule says too. This time around, I’ll be in PT and I’ll have my running supervised so I think it’ll be a little easier to not get too crazy.
But it really is amazing how much it helps to have a goal. It’s what keeps me going to the gym right now. I mean, the rope machine doesn’t exactly translate to running but I have to believe that any exercise is better than sitting in bed. When I’m at the gym glaring at all the people on the treadmills (I kid I kid… kind of) I remind myself that I’m putting in the work now to see the benefits later. It’ll be easier to run when I can start again. My lungs will hurt less. My aerobic base will be better. And most importantly, I’ll be closer to my goal if I get it done now. It’s important to have short term goals to keep you on track but much more important to know and focus on your long term goals. No race over the next year is important enough for me to risk re-injury. This year is about getting and staying healthy.
With that in mind, tomorrow I’m heading in to see my chiropractor. I know being on crutches is throwing things (like my hips) off and I also want to talk to him about my hamstring. It’s still hurting. I’m religiously rolling it and it’s definitely feeling better than it did. But I’m scared I’ll get to the end of my time on crutches, the foot will be all healed and my silly hamstring will still be an issue. I’ve only been 2 weeks off it, so maybe it just needs more time. Or maybe it needs something else. I’m not quite sure. Hopefully Dr. Wong will be able to point me in the right direction.
In general, I’m really happy with everything. Even though my podiatrist gave me the option to keep training, run Boston, and then have the surgery, I know I made the right decision to have it now. Boston will always be there and I didn’t want to just finish that race. I wanted to enjoy it, to take it all in. I feel really good that this was the best thing for me and there’s a lot of comfort in that. I know at the end of this, I’ll be better. Stronger. Healthy. Finally.