Run Long Run Strong Endurance Coaching, LLC

Wise words are sometimes the best medicine….

29 Jun

So, a little math lesson.  Runner + broken ankle = meltdown.  Several in fact.  Over the next few days, my brain came up with the most hideous scenarios imaginable.  I was certain that my running days were over because let’s face it – getting into shape the first time was hard enough; having to do it a second time was just unthinkable.  And there was no way my ankle would ever be stable enough again to withstand the rigors of running, let alone doing 26.2 miles of it.  As far as I was concerned, my life was over.  Isn’t it amazing what we put ourselves through when faced with the unexpected?

During one of my feeling sorry for myself conversations with another runner friend, she said something that explained what I was feeling and why I was feeling it.  She said, “Runners characterize themselves by their running.  Take that away, and you take away their identity.  And once you realize that this is only temporary, and that you are, in fact, more than `just a runner,’ you’ll be on your way to recovery.’’  She had hit the nail right on the head – I absolutely didn’t know who I was without running, even though I’d only been a runner for a couple of years.

Waiting to see the orthopedic surgeon was the longest four days of my life.  I still hadn’t seen the x-ray so I had no visual of how good or bad the break really was, and I was terrified of being in a cast for six weeks.  I drove a standard; so did Joe.  A cast meant that I would be housebound for the duration, and that was too much for my already fragile mental state to handle.  I am a graduate student working in a marine science lab, so a cast would mean no work either.  Strike two.  And considering that I’d had a broken wrist last year (also a running accident, by the way) I knew that a cast meant a serious loss of my range of motion.  Strike three.  Mind = blown; enter yet another meltdown.

The trip to the orthopedic surgeon wound up being the turning point in this whole icky scenario.  Joe took me to see his specialist, a former team doctor who is very progressive and likes to see his patients up and moving.  Finally getting a look at the x-ray provided some peace of mind, as the non-weight bearing bone was broken below the joint and was pretty much still sitting right where it belonged.  The doctor was very positive and felt that I was a good candidate for a boot.  Wait – no cast?  Bullet dodged??  And I can take it off when I’m not walking around???  Color me about the most relieved person you’ve ever seen!!  Maybe all is not lost yet…..

When things don’t go as planned….

26 Jun

I decided to start this blog after a serious injury derailed my training for an important race.  This first entry gives some of my background and my account of the day I got hurt, and successive entries will follow my rehab.  Hopefully some of you who read this may be able to relate to my thoughts and feelings, and some of you may have words of wisdom to share.

June 15, 2013.  It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and I was starting my second week of training for the Hartford Marathon.  I’d been running for about two years now, completing numerous 5k’s, a few trail races, and three half-marathons, and was ready for the next challenge.  This run was supposed to be a five mile pace run, and my friend Jamie and I were planning a 10:30 pace.  Normally I’m reliably an 11 minute miler, though I’ve surprised myself with two very good finishes: a 10 mile race at a 9:44 pace, and a half-marathon at a 10:15 pace.  Being optimistic, I was shooting to run Hartford at a 10:30 pace; following Hal Higdon’s training plan meant running one day at week at that pace, and today was it.

Prior to becoming a runner, I rode endurance races on my horse.  The training that came along with riding for 50 miles  taught me about conditioning and nutrition, both for my horse and for myself.  Luckily, it also taught me mental fortitude and to expect the unexpected – both of which would come in handy after this day.

The run started off perfectly.  We did the first half-mile at an easy pace, then increased to our targeted 10:30 pace.  I checked my watch often, making sure that we were in good shape.  We were doing a moderately hilly out and back route on some great dirt roads in a local state forest, turning around at about 2 ½ miles.  At roughly three miles I checked my watch again and noticed that we were going along at a 10:15 pace.  Taking my mind off my feet briefly to enjoy the moment, the unexpected happened.

In an otherwise fairly level dirt road, my left foot had found a divot.  My ankle rolled under (as it had a hundred times on trail runs) and I took a nasty digger.  As I got to my feet, road rash on my hands and knees, I became aware that something wasn’t right.  An unfamiliar tingling in my left ankle became a throbbing pain when I attempted to walk off the fall.  “Dammit it,’’ I thought, “I’ve sprained it this time.’’  We were 2 miles from the car and Jamie decided to run ahead to get the car and come back for me.  I tried to wait where I was, but the bugs were so bad that I hobbled about a mile before meeting up with Jamie.

By this time, it was becoming all too clear that this was not a sprain.  My boyfriend Joe (also a runner) insisted on going to the emergency room and as much as I didn’t want to go, I agreed that it was probably a good idea.  By the time we got to the ER, I couldn’t even bear weight on my left leg anymore.  Rut roh, I thought – that ain’t good.  Still convinced it was a bad sprain or ligament tear, I wasn’t prepared for the x-ray results.  A fracture of the lower fibula with slight displacement.  Two words came to mind, and I said them both: an incredulous “What?????’’ and a heartbreaking “Fuck!!!!!’’  My first thought was, “There goes Hartford…’’ (less than 16 weeks away).

Next installment – the aftermath and acceptance.