I’m not going to jump to conclusions, and I’m certainly not one to live life in a “worst-case-scenario” kind of mind set. However, I am starting to internalize the fact that there will not be any running in my immediate future.
I am trying to live this day-by-day, mostly because I get too depressed if I think too far out, but also because I really don’t know how long this IT band issue is going to be, well, an issue. So, without a medically-officiated recovery timeline or any actual doctor advice whatsoever, I am deciding to do two things: take it one day at a time and find the silver lining.
I will never, ever, be completely comfortable knowing that I’m unable to run. I am a runner, it’s so much a part of who I am, and when I’m unable to partake in my favorite activity, I feel scared and a little lost. I have come back from injuries before, I know I can and will get through them, but there is a stubborn seed planted deeply in my brain that cannot help but long for nothing more than a run. I know I am not alone in this type of thinking, and in fact I think most runners—once the sport gets under their skin—feel exactly the same way. I love running all the time, but nothing makes me really crave a run like being told that I can’t do it.
So while the yearning and sadness is definitely there, I am finding that instead of drowning in a pit of “I’ll never run again” despair, I’m trying to take this as an opportunity instead of a set back. I think one of the biggest things we feel as injured runners is that all our fitness will evaporate if we take some time off, and we’ll have to start over as slow, wheezing couch potatoes.
This is not true. Sure, you probably won’t be able to come back to running in marathon shape, maybe not even half-marathon shape, but it is absolutely possible to maintain your fitness and strength when you can’t run. I did not run a single step for three months last year…and four months after I was healed, I was running my first marathon. Please note that three of these months were spent training for the race.
I was certainly intent on keeping up my endurance during my injury period, which made the return to running much quicker, and I think it’s important for runners to remember that while the alternatives may not be as freeing or fun as a long, sweaty run in the sunrise—they will ultimately help you get back in your running shoes. And in fact—they can make your running better.
Which brings me to my current state of affairs. While I’m not sure how long I’m going to be out, and obviously I’m hoping for a short-term recovery as opposed to an extended period of time, I’m deciding to use this time to work on all the things I typically neglect.
I’ve been finding myself doing things out of my regular routine recently, particularly exercise wise. And by “recently,” I’m being quite literal…as in, the last few days, seeing as I ran a marathon 9 days ago and only felt fully recovered this past weekend. The most effective “lemons into lemonade” mode of operation at this point is to do all the things I normally don’t do/can’t do when I’m logging heavy mileage.
Although, Paul Rudd does give a viable option as well…
Anyways, bailing isn’t necessarily an option. I’ve invested too much money on running shoes, gear, and race registrations. Plus, I couldn’t give up even if I wanted to. So instead I’m focusing on these types of things:
I think the last time I did anything close to a lunge was in high school track. Seriously. I never ever do any kind of weights regimen for my legs because I never want them to be sore for my runs. I always figured that I was getting enough leg strengthening through running, so I totally short-changed myself in the weights room department. NOTE TO ROBYN: Running targets certain leg muscles, but ignores others, leaving you SUSCEPTIBLE TO INJURY.
Okay, I did know this…I just figured spinning was making up for my lack of any hip/leg/glutes strengthening. And maybe it was helping, but nothing beats to power of honest-to-goodness lunges, squats, clams, etc. Give ’em to me baby, and please find someone to lift me out of bed when my legs don’t work afterward.
I’m going to address this in an upcoming post, but my interest in taking up biking is reaching a peak. I currently have a nice little hybrid cruiser, which is fine for riding to the grocery store or around the neighborhood, but as for real-deal Lance Armstrong riding? No can do. I need to get a real bike if I want to be serious about this, and it’s something I’m committing to doing before summer really starts.
(This is your cue to keep me accountable!)
(I never ride my bike to the grocery store, or around the neighborhood. It sits by the side of my house 24/7. That previous statement was me pretending like my $300 Craigslist purchase was being used.)
– Arm, core, etc. things
I always like feeling strong, and although I definitely do arm and core strengthening work, my routine is somewhat hum-drum, and honestly…it’s probably becoming ineffective. Essentially, every other day I’ll do the same repetitions of the same exercises, with the same weight used, and I am fairly certain my body has become immune to it. I always loved the idea of really pushing my muscles to their potential and maybe achieving a bit more definition, however when all my exercise time is devoted to running—these things fall to the way-side.
Look out Muscle Beach, I’m coming for you. Well, no, you’re in California, but you get the point.
I love yoga. I haven’t always loved yoga, and there was a period of time when I scoffed at all the asana-namaste-om-om-om-om-warrior 8 loving people out there. But a few good classes and magical instructors later, I was a born-again yogi, and I would really like to devote some energy into developing both the habit of going regularly and my skills on the mat.
Yoga is one of the reasons I think I’ve been somewhat injury-free for the past year, with the exception of these past two or so months (INTERESTING how the three weeks I didn’t go to yoga were directly followed by my knee bursitis). Frankly, yoga is normally done as a supplement to my other forms of exercise, and it’s really unappealing to go to a class after work when I’ve already spent two hours of my morning sweating.
However, when I’m there, I love it, and not just for the sweet planks and stretching that happens. If you haven’t already taken notice (and if not I’m assuming this is your first time here—so HI!) I am a wee bit intense and competitive. Yoga takes me out of my “Must plan and get excited for everything that will ever happen ever!” brain for an hour and helps me focus on being in one place. I know this is the very basic level of yoga—being in the moment—but for someone like me, it takes a lot of effort and concentration to really get to that kind of present state of mind. When I do, though, I feel more grounded, centered, and calm—all good things.
Upping the yoga. Also, I stick mainly to level one classes…which is honestly due to laziness. I know I can keep up with a higher level, and THANKS TO NOT RUNNING<—-did you see me say that??? I’m going to try and focus more energy on being hopped up on Zen.
What am I trying to say? Well, truthfully, I’m warning you that many of my upcoming posts are probably going to be complaining about being sore. That was the whole point of this post—warning you about my up-and-coming whine fest.
…also a wine fest is something I don’t normally do that I think should happen asap.
Okay, that’s not really my point. Ultimately, I’m trying to spin this running-leave-of-absence into a positive. I know I am not always going to see it that way, and I am certain there will be some complaining along the way, but I’m trying. And for now, that’s really the best I can hope for.
On one final note, if there were ever a time to focus on all the other great things to do besides running, I think it’s right now. After catapulting myself into the ground during the Tacoma Marathon, I think this IT band rubbish may be a blessing in disguise. An opportunity to reconnect with the world outside of running, and to reestablish a healthier, less-medical-tent filled relationship with the sport I love so very much.
So running, you can sit on the shelf for now. And although I am going to stare at you longingly and lovingly, I want you to sit back and relax while I make acquaintances with things like heavy weights, side crow, and drenching every spin bike in my gym with glorious sweat. We’ll be back together at some point, and it’s going to be sweeter than ever.
If you weren’t running (or perhaps you’re not?) what would YOU decide to focus more energy on? Rock-climbing? Zumba? Channel-surfing? Knitting? Having calves that actually fit into boots? Tell me!