Injury as a Learning Opportunity…

Mentally, this post-race/post-Scotland has been a strange time for me. Post-race blues are not unusual in the least, and it’s even somewhat expected. As I am a very goal-oriented person, not having a big hairy goal way out in the future is unsettling for me. (But… but… I need to plan!) I need something concrete to aim for – it keeps me grounded and gives my activities purpose.

I had been flirting with a few big race registrations, but nothing really stuck with me. Then this mysterious injury cropped up (which appears to be stemming from my hip somehow), and now I’m not able to run without pain. At all. I haven’t gone this long without running (over a month) in a few years at least. And I don’t like it one bit. I keep telling myself it shouldn’t be a big deal because I’m not THAT broken. It’s not like I tore or broke anything like some of my friends have. Right now, we’re still trying to figure out what the problem is, and as I’m not an overly patient person to begin with, I’m struggling with the not knowing. Of course, I know I will heal, it will just take time. <sigh> (Yes, I know, boo-hoo that I can’t run ridiculous miles right now.)

One could argue that the break is a good thing. I would agree… if it were my idea. It is not. Right now the weather is beautiful, the mountains are calling, and I want nothing more than to be out there enjoying them! I’m losing all of my hard-earned fitness and even my running calluses are coming off (TMI). In addition to this ‘natural’ but unappealing pedicure, not running also means I’m beginning to lose a little of the self-confidence that comes with successful high-mileage training/racing. Whining about it hasn’t helped, of course, so I’ve been walking around the neighborhood when I can and oogling glorious landscape Instagram photos the rest of the time.

Even though I can’t go run on the trails right now, I wanted to trying hiking them. So today we went up to Kendall’s Katwalk.

Overall, it went pretty well. Hiking up was no problem at all! It felt good, and I was so happy to be out in the mountains. As sappy as it sounds, it was a balm to my soul. The weather was a bit chilly, but with a lovely blue sky and pretty good views, I didn’t mind in the least.

After 3.4 miles, we got to my favorite little waterfall, which was running a bit high. I took this photo…

…and 5 seconds later my foot slipped and I found myself sitting in the creek. Oops. We knew we wouldn’t make it to the Katwalk anyway, so we decided to turn around and let me squish my way back to the parking lot. On the way down is when my leg started to hurt, but I took careful mental notes to tell my physical therapist about what hurt and exactly when. So it was somewhat successful, and at the very least, it got me out to the mountains.

I may be grasping at straws a bit, but I am attempting to use this injury as a learning experience, to give it some meaning to me. (It may be silly, but I’ll rationalize this how I want in order to keep me from getting grumpier, thanks, lol.) I have had a few little revelations, so it hasn’t been a complete waste.

  1. Running appears to be rather important for my mental health. It’s meditative and stress-reducing, obviously, but I didn’t realize how much it meant to me. Not being able to do it is making me exceedingly grumpy. Not helpful when it’s a rather busy and stressful few weeks at work. (Sorry, work peeps, ❤ you!)
  2. Running is more integral to my identity than I had thought. When folks ask me, “What’s the next big event?” or even “What big run did you this weekend?” I have nothing to respond with besides a shrug and a grimace, and “I’m injured, but later I have a few half-marathons…nothing big, though.” While half marathons are obviously events, and ones I really enjoy, they aren’t the mind and body challenges that really drive me. I’m really feeling a gap in my identity right now.
  3. However, had I not gotten injured, I likely would have signed up for another very big event and been in the middle of hardcore training. I enjoy the training (sometimes more than the events), but I do tend to stress out about the race and it can take away the enjoyment of it. Right now I just want to run for enjoyment. I’m hoping I can take this lesson with me into my future training!

Of course, this too shall pass, and I’m very grateful for all of the healthy miles I have been able to run in the past. I’m really looking forward to the future miles! For now, it’s back to the Instagram oogling… with a dram in hand!


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