My pain, your gain

I’ve been back to running for 3 weeks as of today, yippee!! I am still taking it easy, building up slooowly but really feel the worst is behind me. So this is the part of the movie where the main character sits at her computer, gets a dreamy look in her eyes and we hear a reflective song (some Kamikaze Hearts, perhaps?) while she thinks back over the past 2.5 months and what she should have done differently. You know how they say that failures are the best way to grow and learn lessons? That may well be true, but you know what I think is even better? Avoiding the whole failure thing in the first place by learning from other people’s goofball mistakes! So with that in mind, here are some failure-avoiding tips for you all 🙂

What I Did Wrong, Part 1: I woke up with a sharp pain in my groin the morning before the marathon. It felt a lot like a nasty pain I sometimes get in my upper back that can be resolved with a trip to the chiro. I chalked it up to race nerves and went about my day- which included driving all over the place buying last minute stuff for the race, even though shifting and getting in and out of the car made my leg howl. I walked all around the expo and then GD and I walked to dinner that night. As a long-distance runner, I have a well-honed  ability to block out pain – not so much in my regular life, where I am a grade A top choice wuss, but in my running life it comes very naturally to me. I blocked the pain out all day and hoped ignoring it would make it disappear. It did not.

What I Should Have Done: As soon as I woke up and felt that pain, I should have re-routed my whole day. Everything I did that day could have been avoided or I could have asked someone else to help me with it. When I recognized the pain as something I have felt in another part of my body where it has successfully been treated with an adjustment, I should have made an emergency visit to a chiro. I then should have completely stayed off it and determined if it was going to be runnable the next day.

What I Did Wrong, Part 2: I woke up with the pain better on race morning , but by no means gone. I should have seriously considered not running the race. This was not an option that I entertained for even one minute. I ran the race, plowing through even when the pain kicked in at Mile 13 despite many milligrams of a pain reliever.

What I Should Have Done: Seriously considered not running the race. I am not saying I would have been able to actually stop myself from toeing the line, but I should have at least had a frank discussion with stubborn me and really considered what running on it would mean – namely a long recovery period afterwards. Knowing now how hard it was not to run those 2 months, in the future I will certainly consider DNS as an actual option.

What I Did Wrong, Part 3: Crossed the finish line and let the adrenaline take over. I walked around, chatted with friends, walked to the hotel room, spent about 30 seconds on a foam roller, had lunch and got in a car to sit for 2 hours.

What I Should Have Done: Realized that I was intoxicated by a  runner’s high and immediately taken steps to reduce the damage I had just done to my body. I should have gone straight to the massage tent, iced, foam rolled and stayed off my feet as long as possible. I should have done some gentle stretching and gone for a short walk later that night and the next day.

What I Did, Part 4:  I went to work ( because we had a staff meeting in central Jersey) and sat in a truck for 4 hours and in a meeting for 6. I made no attempts to make a massage or doctor appointment on that day or any of the 30 after it (ie FOR ONE MONTH!!)  in part because I was in denial, in part because I was too worried about money (DUMB!!).

What I Should Have Done:I should have taken off work on Monday. I should have made an appointment for an ART massage, a sports massage, a chiropractor or even the ortho the very minute I woke up on Monday. I should have channeled Lil Sis’ attitude towards money, and I quote,  “it’s only little green pieces of paper floating around”.

What I Did, Part 5, in which the protagonist finally gets a clue: After much crying and pouting, I accepted that I would need a good long rest. I went to the ART therapist, chiro and sports doc multiple times. I swam. I baked. I foam rolled and used a heating pad (ice did not seem to do anything on this one, a first for me. It is usually a go-to miracle maker, but not this time). I visualized myself being ok and running footloose and fancy-free.

What I Should Have Done: Excatly that. Sheesh, took me long enough!

I’d like to think that this will help you make better decisions than I did if you are faced with the same dilemma race morning. Hell, I’d like to think it will help ME in the future if I ever find myself in the same place again. It’s a lot to ask of myself (and you) to learn from our own (and others) mistakes but, damn,  wouldn’t it be something if we could?

What are the biggest lessons you learned while recovering from an injury?

4 Comments

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4 responses to “My pain, your gain

  1. This post should be bookmarked by every runner out there. I’m so sorry that you had to go through this, but I agree, there’s a lot that we ALL can take away from your experience. Glad you are back running, Kashi!

    As far as my own lessons learned… knock on wood… I’ve been fairly “extended” injury free (save for a bout of ITBS that took me out of the game for about two weeks in 2010 and a very tight iliopsoas that removed me for another two weeks in 2011). I’ve been lucky, I suppose. I’m not sure how I would have handled your situation. Being that I experienced those decision making moments with you that morning, I probably would have done exactly what you did… toe the line. I DNSd one race in the past. The race that was supposed to be my first marathon. I was unprepared for it and felt that it was better just to eat the fee and not do it than attempt to complete it when I knew it would be a hot mess. MSL, as you know, chose not to run the Goofy Challenge marathon due to his equilibrium issues. A tough call for sure, but I believe he made the right one. It could have set him back another two months by impairing his immune system further.

    Hugs to you. Glad you are back. Lessons learned.

    • thanks sher. you and scott are my heroes for knowing when to call it! since i have never chosen to sit out when i prob should have, i wonder this – which is worse: bagging a race you know you should not do but feeling bitterly disappointed OR choosing to run it and dealing with the piper when he comes for his payment (which is often annoyingly asked for in rest days)?

  2. Linda Kisiel

    First of all, don’t beat yourself up. What’s done is done and you are now running again. Thanks for the tips. I’m sure they will help all of us, your readers. For me, it’s been patience, of which i have none. I just have to wait until my foot is okay and then make some decisions. It’s not easy. At least, I can run short distances. We’ll have to see about the long ones.

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