Making lemonade from lemons

Serious food for thought

When I started running again last year, I knew the risks. I also stuck my head in the sand about the extent of my existing leg injuries: shin splints and ITB in my left leg, sharp pains in the arch of my right foot and a spot on my back that no one could touch. I’ve battled through this far (15 months) with my head buried in those tiny grains you find on the beach.

When I decided on the 12-in-12 Challenge my first stop was the physiotherapist. I knew that I couldn’t get through it without getting some attention on my legs.

What I didn’t expect was for my shin and ITB injuries to respond so well to treatment. They responded so well that I forgot about them long enough to overdo it in the garden last weekend. The physio strapped the calf this morning to help it rest and recover more quickly. I’m confident it will respond well to the ongoing physiotherapy and my homework.

I remembered to tell the physio about the pain in my foot this morning. It’s the first time I’ve remembered to mention it (I actually marked the painful spot with a pen before I went in this morning). After poking and prodding my foot, the physio told me he suspects a stress fracture. That’s pretty bad news for me. At the end of our session today, the physio also strapped my foot to help it rest. He’s going to have another look at it on Monday to see how it responds to a week of rest. MRIs are expensive here in Australia so he said he’d prefer to wait to see whether I need to shell out for the test.

So here’s my lemons: best case scenario I have a serious soft-tissue injury in my left foot and worst case scenario is that I have a stress fracture. Either way, I’ll be unable to run for 4-12 weeks.

Here’s my lemonade: these are chronic injuries I’ve had for years and I know I’ve found a physio who can help me fix them. Even if my 12-in-12 Challenge is off, I have gained so much confidence in the past two months and know that I have what it takes to run ultra marathons. The injuries are long-standing problems, they haven’t been caused by the ultra running. In fact, if it weren’t for the ultra running I probably wouldn’t have gone to see someone about getting them fixed.

I’m going mountain biking with friends this afternoon. I’m allowed to cycle so long as I take it easy. Tomorrow I will go swimming for the first time in months. I’m still doing Tough Mudder next weekend but will just be doing it for a laugh and will be walking up the hills. It will probably be my final event for the year. That means I have three months to work on endurance by swimming and cycling, strength in the gym and flexibility if I can find an affordable yoga class.

When I can run again I’m probably going to focus on either the Northface 100km trail run in May (solo run) or the Oxfam Trailwalker 100km trail run in June (team event). And this time I’m going to do it right rather than just jumping in. I’m enjoying reading two blogs by runners training for ultras (Run Nature and Run Bike Race) and am inspired by their systematic approaches to increasing mileage and running well, rather than just bumbling through.

I hope the news on Monday is good. But I am preparing for the worst. Either way, I can only grow from the experience.

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6 responses to “Making lemonade from lemons

  1. Wow. It is good you are having a positive attitude about it. Plus you have other avenues by which you can stay “connected” to your goals. Injuries, especially chronic, are irritating in the least. Hopefully recovery is nearer the 4 weeks than the 12. Positive thoughts and well wishes are given in your direction. Keep pushing!

    • Thanks Mac. While it’s frustrating to be out injured, the reality is I’m lucky because I can still go to the gym, swim and cycle (well, I’ll be able to cycle in a few weeks once the initial pain in my foot eases).

      I hope it’s closer to 4 weeks too but am preparing for 12 weeks. Besides, it’s almost summer here in Brisbane and it’s going to be a hot one. Swimming will be fabulous πŸ™‚

  2. Sending positive thoughts your way and a speedy recovery!

  3. Great attitude. No matter what the doctor says on Monday, look how much you’ve grown and how far you’ve come. It will all work out as it should in the end.

    • That’s how I’m seeing it too πŸ™‚ A year ago I would have just given in. Now I am seeing it as an opportunity to develop other aspects of my fitness.

      Life’s about rolling with the punches, isn’t it πŸ™‚ . Like that line from Rocky that Banzai Adventurer shared in a comment: It’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and still get up.

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