Diagnosis and “Getting It”

The best news of all: my ankle is not falling off.

And, according to my X-Rays and my highly optimistic Ortho-doc, I have no signs of stress fracture, and my bone structure is “ideal.” Essentially, this was equivalent to hearing, “Robyn, you have perfect hair, teeth, and generally perfect everything in life.”

Good bones=happy runner.

To bring you up to speed, after many days in a row of running, peak marathon training mileage, and a very unhappy 20-miler-turned-17-miler, my ankle was in a lot of pain for no obvious reason. I was limping, I went to Urgent Care (fail), and I panicked about how I could actually pull off a marathon in a month.

Obviously, I wanted to call in a pro ASAP.

The diagnosis I received at my 9 am appointment yesterday morning went something like this:

“Suck it up. Load up on Aleve. Keep running. You’re a huge wimp and don’t understand that running is painful sometimes. Why are you here?”

Okay, it was *actually* closer to this (although the above is in essence what I heard):

“I think you’ll be fine. Get back out there, keep up the pain killers, heavy on the icing, and tell me if it gets worse.”

If you’re thinking, “Wow Robyn, that’s pretty much what every runner would want to hear in your scenario…so did you jump up and down in excitement and make out with the dude while lacing up your Brooks?”

No kissing or lacing up, but yes—you’re right. This is an ideal diagnosis. Particularly for someone like me, who would be grumpy with even the mention of “toning it down” or “taking it easy.”

However, while I am relieved—I’m also going to be a little more careful than Dr. “All Runners Love Me” told me to be.

You see, the reason I went to the doctor was to determine what this pain is not as opposed to what it is. Hopefully, the diagnosis was right and this isn’t something serious (i.e. stress fracture, etc.) BUT, that doesn’t mean that it’s not something to take care of.

With every little ache and pain, we runners spend so much time agonizing over, “What is this?” “When will it go away?” “Can I run through it?” I’m a HUGE culprit of doing this (perhaps THE culprit), no thanks to the magical powers of the interwebs, but here’s the fact of the matter:

If something hurts, you shouldn’t run on it.

I realize my circumstances are a bit different, considering I have 26.2 miles of running to do on October 7, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to try and be bigger than the pain. I’m fortunate enough to have done enough training that waiting out this issue a little while longer (yes, longer than even the “professional” said to do) won’t do much damage. In fact, continuing to run on my questionable ankle would probably undo the strides I’ve made so far in my training.

So I’m sitting it out for a little while longer. I’m definitely not going to pretend that I’m completely calm and collected about this, or that not running is anything but easy.

I’m back-and-forth between being sensible and being irrational. But, I’ve been here before—and I know that the truest test of an athlete’s will and determination are the times that set them back. So yesterday, when I was at work going back and forth as to what I would do for my workout later on, I stopped myself right in my tracks.

And here’s what I asked myself: Is delaying the healing process, which will ultimately get me to the start line in Chicago, for a random Tuesday sweat session worth it?

Absolutely not.

So, I defied my habitual inclination of working out my stress away, and here I am today—no less in shape, in tact, nor capable of living. I am, however, with a more rested and better-feeling ankle.

{See Mommy, I’m growing up.}

I’m realizing that the way we handle injury corresponds directly to the reasons we run in the first place.

The fact of the matter is this: I don’t run to hide my feelings. I don’t run to justify the things I like to eat. I don’t run to prove anything to anyone.

I run because it’s what I love to do more than anything else, and sometimes that love needs to be shown in the bad times and not just the good.

Run love is not just about logging miles, clocking lower times, and registering for races. Run love is also about give and take. We take a lot from this sport—the endorphins, the pride, the toned legs, and the runner’s highs. But how much do we give to it? We give our early mornings and cash in shoe replacment…but I’m realizing that giving back to this sport should be about respecting it—and our bodies—more than anything else.

Running is tough, running is hard, and running wears us down. In order to give to running as much as we get from it—sometimes we need to back off. We don’t prove anything by running through pain or by exercising when we know we should be resting. All those things do is show that we’d rather let this sport abuse us rather than build us up.

If you hadn’t guessed, the “we” pronoun I’ve been using is a lot of me talking to myself. You, dear reader, just got to come along for the ride.

So what is this very long-winded explanation of my injury trying to say? Well, I think for the first time—I’m getting it. I’m getting the give-and-take of running, I’m getting the “rest” thing, and I’m getting that the truest test of myself as a runner comes from how I handle the lower points.

So I’m taking it easy, I’m hoping for the best, and I’m thankful that I’ve *mostly* been able to learn something from my former habits that resulted in mistakes.

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6 thoughts on “Diagnosis and “Getting It”

  1. Ricole Runs

    You are so smart and wise. And your ankle WILL get better. And once more because it’s a fun saying to say: “the hay is in the barn”. You’ve already done the training. Running more isn’t going to make you faster or increase your endurance. So you might as well rest extra. It’s better to be under-trained than over-trained! And more things I’ve read in magazines and on the internet. 🙂

    Reply
  2. runfundone

    I love your give-and-take of running. Also, FYI, they made me get xrays too to rule out a stress fracture…I found out later that xrays only show about 30% of stress fractures…so most likely, even if there was a stress fracture, you wouldn’t be able to see it on an xray. Sooo….I hope it’s not a stress fracture, but it’s not totally ruled out just because on xray was clean. (Hopefully your doc told you that though).

    Reply
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