I used to get a fair few running injuries, the number of races I've entered in the past and then haven't managed to race is too painful (and too expensive) to think about.
As I see it there are five, solid steps involved with a running injury:
1. There's the denial that you have to stop running at all, while you successfully make your injury infinitely worse - that was an important step for me.
2. Then there's working out what you've done and, sometimes, trying more than one physio in your manic quest for answers.
3. The monotonous stretches and exercises, that you promise to do diligently three times a day, and really intend to...but give up after three days when there's no magical progress.
4. The utter wrap - nonchalantly throw your toys out the pram, stop doing any exercise at all, and eat butter.
And 5. The return to running!
My first run after a running related injury used to be so tentative. I'd stop every five minutes or so to have a little feel and try to assess any damage. I'd spend every moment of the run fretting, thinking about the injury, how it felt, if this was a bad idea, when I should stop, being so careful to keep my form, to land properly on every step. FML it was mentally exhausting. I can't remember if I even used to enjoy those runs, from what I remember it was just stressful. Plus I'd always gained an extra block of butter on each thigh so I can't imagine it was all that uplifting.
Coming back to running from serious Illness seemed a whole lot more heartening when I look back.
My last run before my transplant was a Christmas Day parkrun 2016, although my last proper run had been back in mid November, out in Uganda. My first run post-op, was around the end of Feb 2017. On paper that doesn't seem like that long, but in reality it felt like I hadn't run for years, I couldn't remember what feeling strong felt like. My muscles had wasted away during weeks of inactivity and lying in a hospital bed (it was so nice pulling skinny jeans on and not having to force them over my, usually solid, calves though).
I'd built up to my first run with lots of walking. In between my impressive napping schedule I'd walk in the two little parks near my house. One was flat and one was hilly, so I had some pretty wild variation there. I'd also started going to a spin class, I couldn't finish the sessions or anything crazy, but I got to turn my legs without straining my recently carved-in-half stomach, and there was a very kind instructor that would keep an eye on how pale I got.
My First Run
Ten seconds slow jog, followed by a two minute walk, times ten. Although I could be hugely showing off and it was actually times six.
Just like with a running injury, I was thinking about whether my wound was hurting, conscious of taking it slow and listening to my body. Unlike with a running injury, I had tears rolling down my face in unbridled, unembarrassed, pure, raw joy.
I'd spent two months feeling tired, not wanting to run and not knowing what was wrong with me. I'd spent three weeks in a hospital bed. I'd spent three days at the top of the super urgent liver transplant list and I'd spent 24 hours thinking my life was over.
And there I was, running again.
I have had running injuries since my op, but in comparison to being properly poorly, a running injury is just a small inconvenience really. So now, rather than getting in a huff, I'll find another way to exercise instead, if I can. And I'll listen to my body, knowing that it needs me to be a little kinder to it than I was before, eat a little better, sleep a little more. We only get one of these bodies, make yours strong :)
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