Imma just put this right here for later.
NOT FUNNY, UNIVERSE. NOT FUNNY.
Evidently the universe, which is usually quite good to me, thought it would be comical to have me run through all sorts of winter darkness and ice and grossness, and then, on the VERY FIRST gorgeous warm sunny day of Spring, tell me that I have a stress fracture in my calcaneous (heel bone). Pending MRI confirmation on Monday/Tuesday, but we’re 99% sure. Frustrating…check. Sad…oh yeah, big time. Not at all amusing…at least not yet.
I feel asinine even posting this, less than two weeks after Boston. Believe me, I am *fully* cognizant of the fact that there are people much, much more gravely injured than I. I particularly think about the dancer who lost her foot in the bombings, who has vowed to run next year’s marathon. Unbelievable resilience.
I just feel that the best way to process/deal with this at this point is to think about what I’ve learned in the *process* of training and getting injured, partially to comfort myself, in lieu of ice cream, and partially in hopes that it might help someone else at some point. There’s a lot I would do differently, knowing what I know now.
1. SCREW “SKINNY.” GET STRONG.
The fitness and beauty industries overall conspire in many ways to focus on our aspirations to be skinny, and much less so on our desire to KICK ASS AND TAKE NAMES. We owe it to ourselves to know better than that.
Through the first 10 weeks of my training this year, I was very focused on limiting my daily calories to drop some lbs. before the marathon. Yes, valid goal. Yes, I dropped 13 lbs and am at a healthier, happier weight. Yes, I feel less gross (except for this whole sitting-on-my-ass-all-Spring-now thing). BUT. Little did I know that somewhere along the way, while obsessing over tracking every calorie, I was developing a slight Vitamin D deficiency, even though I was taking a 1,000 IU Vitamin D supplement every day along with a multivitamin.
2. FOOD IS NOT THE ENEMY. HALLEFREAKINGLUJAH.
With the help of this experience and nutritionist-to-the-stars and rockstar runner and triathlete Amy Friese, from Fearless Nutrition, I’ve learned that food is FUEL, not something to be feared.
Wait. What?! I’ve spent my whole life trying to learn to eat LESS. The experience of NEEDING to eat MORE to fuel training and a LOT of it…*mind completely blown*.
3. DRINK YOUR MILK.
The thing about Vitamin D? It needs FAT to get absorbed. So if you’re using skim milk to stay skinny and think you are getting enough Vitamin D in your body, to ensure you can absorb calcium and keep your bones strong, you *might* be wrong. I’ll never know if my outcome would have been any different if I was enjoying a couple of glasses of 1%-2% (chocolate!) milk every day, but it’s entirely possible. In hindsight, I wish I had gotten my vitamin levels checked BEFORE I started training; I’d also suggest that to anyone training for something like a marathon…especially when you are rapidly heading over the hill like me. There are of course other ways to get calcium and Vitamin D for those who can’t do dairy…the milk thing works for me, not for everyone. I recommend it if you can.
4. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. THEN LISTEN HARDER.
For newbie runners like me (or for anyone I suppose), it’s hard sometimes to know when you are running through a little “ordinary” pain and when it’s time to STOP and get it checked out. We train ourselves to just keep running, and that can mean not listening well to the signs of an injury. Denial, as they say, is not just a river…
A stress fracture is weird in that the pain comes and goes, so it can trick you into thinking that you’re OK. My foot started hurting about 6 weeks ago. At first, I could get about 6 miles into a run before it would hurt. Then 3 or 4. Then 1. Then…crap…it hurts all the time. I’d better go to a doctor. I wish with all my heart that I had gotten checked when it first started hurting, instead of doing two 20-mile runs with a stress fracture. I’d be in a very different place right now that it’s FINALLY SPRING.
The moral of the story: be smarter than me. If something hurts, GO TO THE FREAKING DOCTOR. If it turns out to be nothing, that’s a bonus.
5. RELATED, ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE/THERAPIES SOMETIMES AREN’T ENOUGH.
Even once I admitted to myself that I am injured, I didn’t go to a “traditional” doctor / orthopedist right away as I should have, in hindsight. I went to a (terrific) physical therapist. I went to an orthotics-guy-acupuncturist. I finally went to the orthopedist seeking clearance to race and peace of mind. I really didn’t think he was going to find anything. HA. HAHAHA. BWAHAHAHAHA *cries*.
Seriously, stress fractures are sneaky little bastards. Don’t be fooled.
6. PEOPLE ARE GENERALLY AWESOME.
Everyone knows the community of runners is amaziballs and my experience during marathon training was no exception. There were people like Anne who offered to be there for support and early morning winter complaints. Like Deb, who offered to chat about nutrition and share her experience. Like Tracey from PowerUp Fitness, who whooped my ass (in a good way) in bootcamps and training sessions and was generally *beyond* awesome. And like COUNTLESS others who offered support and encouragement. Thank. You. All of you.
There were also more than 20 people who donated to Racers Against Childhood Cancer in sponsorship of my run. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT.
7.”EVERY SETBACK IS A SET FOR AN EVEN BIGGER COMEBACK.” ~THE ROCK
OK. So here’s the deal. I’ve cried a LOT yesterday and today. And while I can’t guarantee I won’t continue feeling a little sad over the next several weeks while I am sidelined (the absence of endorphins is a BITCH, yo) and watching people run by my window, what I can promise is that I am going to do everything I possibly can to stay motivated and strong and do what I can physically do during this period (which I don’t really know yet.) Yoga. Recumbent bike *woooohoooo (sarcasm)* Upper body weights. CORE. And I’m drinking my milk, and not obsessing over every single calorie…just eating healthy and trying like hell to not let food be my source of comfort…which is a real challenge for me at the moment.
So that, hopefully, 6-8 weeks from now, I can start running again, and maybe, just maybe, if people smarter than me say it’s semi-reasonable, build back up in time for a fall marathon.
‘Cause that Kelly Clarkson, you know, she may not *seem* like the sharpest knife in the drawer…but that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” shit? That’s the real deal.
So, while I can’t that Racers Against Childhood Cancer race shirt right now, it’s hanging where I can see it every single day. And know that someday I’m going to cross a marathon finish line in it, and it’s going to be EVEN. BETTER.
If you’ve dealt with a running injury, what advice would you add? And how do I not go crazy?