My Non-Racing Year (Part 2)

If you’ve reached Part 2 of this story, I’m quite impressed that you came back for more! You either love me, know me, have experienced something similar, or are just wanting to know if there is a happy ending! Well, the ending is yours to decide.

If you’re a mom like me, then you know the pure freedom of sending kids back to school in August…it is magical! I laced up my shoes and went for a 5 mile run on a super hot day because I finally could. I started running two days that week and planned a slow, gradual buildup of mileage. I’m not new at this running/training game. For 10 years I’ve trained for fall/winter races…sometimes even carelessly trained…so nothing could really go wrong at this point. My body was a bit over weight from summertime snacking and vacationing, but my legs were healthy and ready.

Three weeks into training, I knew something was wrong. My left hip had dull pain, I couldn’t sit or stand or walk. I couldn’t bend halfway down to touch my toes. The pain worsened after my runs. I called my massage therapist and went in twice a week for the next 5 weeks…attempting to continue short mileage here and there. I iced; I took Ibuprofen; I rested. I finally took one last attempt at running. I got on my treadmill and ran as fast as my legs would go. I increased my speed every 30 seconds for half a mile–until my left leg thought it would literally fall off. At that point, I knew running was over for me–at least for awhile. I was referred to an orthopedic doctor–maybe it’s a tear, maybe it’s just “dead butt syndrome”, maybe it’s something worse.

Literally as I write this, I don’t know the outcome. I know the pain is in my Gluteus medius and where my hamstring connects to the pelvis (?). I know that I’ve rested, and I haven’t over-trained…because I barely even started. So why?

Why an injury now? Why pain in the same hip that attaches to the same IT band and the same knee?

If you know me well, or even just a little, you know that I struggle with self-esteem. Running helped me to cope with esteem, anxiety, depression, and a host of other issues that haven’t really resolved themselves since February.

Let me side-track for one minute and say that sometimes it takes good friends to listen, to advise, and to speak truth to you when you need it most. And for that I am thankful!.

My friends urged me to call a lady who owns a local workout facility–Step4ward Fitness. I had a near panic attack in my car before going in for our meeting, but after an hour of easy conversation and discussion of my injury and my running and my expectations, I decided to focus on my whole body. I spent so much time focusing on rehabilitating such specific places that I let other areas fall to pieces. She helped me to see not what was wrong with my body, but how to make new goals and start working toward them–with running being an end goal.

So THIS WEEK, for the first time in 18 years…I woke up every morning at 5am. I was at workout at 5:20 and finished by 6:20 and home to wake up my kids by 6:30. Yes, IN THE MORNING!

And let me tell you, in 5 days I have learned A LOT...

  1. There are 20+ other people who get up and workout EVERY DAY! I had no clue this was really something people did anymore.
  2. It was motivating! I was encouraged by seeing other people, and I have had more energy in the mornings with my girls. I get some “me” time before my morning coffee, and it feels great!
  3. My lower body is weaker than I truly knew. That has been the most eye-opening. Though I have to modify some because I’m working on my hip, I am still so tight in my IT bands and other areas which I thought were strong and loose and healed. Maybe I don’t know my body like I thought I did.
  4. I don’t have to rely on running for anxiety/stress/depression reduction. Just sweating and working hard for 1 hour every morning is enough.
  5. I haven’t lost any weight yet, but I feel better. I looked at myself today, and for the first time in 6 months I thought, “Hey, I look okay in this.” That’s a huge step!
  6. I’ll survive if I don’t ever run again. That, folks, is ground breaking. 6 months ago, I was crying because I thought I would never run again, and now, I can live and function without it…but hopefully I don’t have to!

So, I don’t know if I’ll run a race in 2017. In fact, at this point, I’m looking at 6 weeks of physical therapy, so it doesn’t seem likely that a race will happen for me. Maybe through the trial and hardship of injuries, we learn more about ourselves and what we are capable of doing. The story I thought I would be writing in March is now a totally different story in October–one that has more depth, more honesty, more struggle, and more determination than what I had originally planned.

Keep pursuing in the middle of whatever trial you are facing.

–Ashley

 

 

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