7.10.2012

injuries sold separately.

i always thought that i was the exception.

i think every athlete (runners especially) goes through feeling that way at some point or another. feeling like they're invincible. that nothing can hurt them or take them away from doing what they love. because they are unbreakable. while training for my first marathon a few months ago, i experienced my first-ever running-related injury. so this is my little story/vent post/reflection on my running so far (which i realized really just spans the past two years) and what i need to do to ensure that i learn all that i can from what happened.

here goes nothing.

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i started running occasionally my senior year of high school, just once a month or so for fun. the second half of my freshman year of college i started to run more often, maybe a couple nights a week. i got really ambitious one night and wrote a post on my blog about how i wanted to run a marathon within the next year. i gradually built up to running one mile, two miles, three. when i got back to ohio after finishing my first year at byu, i ran/walked my first 5k in may (the lyndsey + kyle 5k at dshs), and then ran my first real 5k the next month, in june. i continued on running 5k's through the rest of that summer and on through my sophomore year of college (most of them with ruth!).
powell 5k, june 2010
christine wilson memorial 5k, august 2010
run for red 5k, february 2011
by the summer after my sophomore year, i was getting bored. i ran a 5k when i got home (to ohio) for the summer, and got 2nd place in my age group, and my thus my first real medal. i liked running, was really growing to love it, actually, and decided that i wanted to push myself further. so i signed up for my first marathon (i realize now that that yes, that was a little ambitious), the layton utah marathon, bought my first pair of "real" running shoes, and got to work.

powell 5k, 2nd place finish in 19-25 F group, june 2011; dk finished his first race ever: a one-miler!
brook's ravenna 3, my first real running shoes
training was easy to start with. i found a training plan and stuck to it religiously. 2 miles here, 4 miles there, long runs starting off with a 5-miler on that first saturday, and gradually increasing from there. we went on vacation and i enjoyed some of my first long runs running barefoot on the beach.
first 7-miler
first 8-miler...
...entirely barefoot!

collecting seashells after my last barefoot beach run at the end of vacation
i came back from vacation as strong as ever. on dk's birthday in july, i celebrated his 13th in the morning by running my first-ever double-digit run: 10 miles!

i trained. hard. and loved my long-distance runs at the parks around dublin or on my faithful treadmill at the gym. i even took ice(-cold water) baths to help me recover. i was on a roll!

fast-forward to returning back to school, where i wasn't taking an overwhelming amount of classes, but i was acting in byu's young company production of the hundred dresses, which was fairly time-consuming in and of itself. so i got lazy. and my training suffered. i don't even think i got past a 15-mile run during training. it was a week before what was supposed to be my first-ever marathon, and (because i'm stubborn) i justified that on my latest run my knee had started hurting, and that was the reason why i wouldn't be able to run the full marathon. i called the marathon people and they kindly switched my registration over from the full marathon to the half. i was still crazy nervous, but at least i knew going into the race that i had already run more than 13.1 miles before, during a "training run" a month or so before. so all i had to do was do it again. and the morning of the layton utah half marathon, i did just that!

i finished in 1:51:45, medaling with 2nd place in my age group (20-24 F)!



to say i was happy with my success was the biggest understatement of the century. if you read my race recap, it's completely obvious how much i absolutely loved the entire experience, from beginning to end. the half marathon distance (13.1 miles) became my new favorite distance. i was getting excited, realizing that this was something i was already excelling in (by my own standards) and enjoying. and that was with way less-than perfect training! i figured that if i really worked hard and was determined and focused, i could do even better. 
two medals: silver (blue) for my 2nd place age group finish; and generic silver (red) finisher's medal

after the half, i took a little break from running. i enjoyed the rest of my semester acting in dresses, being mega social by making lots of new friends and catching up with a lot of old friends, as well (which obviously involved many trips to yland). i ran sporadically and mostly just tried to enjoy running in the fall when i had the time (my favorite time of the year to run, especially in utah), but i never forced it. by december the semester was over, dresses had finished, and i was struggling finding motivation to run regularly. i went on a 5-mile run through the mud over winter break with ruth (it was unusually relatively warm out this past winter), and decided that now was the time to kick it into high gear again. i needed new motivation. so i searched and searched and found my next biggest goal...

running my first real marathon: the utah valley marathon (seriously this time)!! i paid my early registration fee (something like $75 i think), and created a plan to help me get and stay focused.

i didn't start training until february 20th (president's day!) because it was a 16-week training plan, so until then i just ran when i had the time. training started out great, but i quickly grew overwhelmed with my 18-credit full course load at school, 20-hour work weeks at the testing center, and trying to fit in long runs on what turned into my busiest day of the week (saturdays). however, i kept at it. even if i missed a workout here or there, i would try to make up the missed mileage by the end of the week.

however, everything caught up with me just around the beginning of may...just over a month away from the big day (june 9th). i had recently run my longest run to date, my 17-miler, and i was getting so excited for my entire family to be out here for the marathon, cheering me on. i knew i wanted to spend a lot of time with them while they would be here, so i was therefore studying hard, working as many hours as possible at the testing center, and staying mega busy...on top of trying to stay afloat in my training. i had gotten lazier in my training, and at the beginning of may i found that when i went out for a run longer than 5 miles (which was the case in 5 out of 6 of my weekly runs by this point) i started feeling pain on the right side of my right ankle. it got to the point that i couldn't even run once it started hurting, it was so painful. kind of a like a mix of searing, throbbing, stinging pain that would spread around my foot and up my ankle. i started getting worried, wondering what could be the problem. was all my training on the treadmill (what i usually had to resort to, because by the time i had time to run in the evenings it was already dark) catching up with me? did i somehow twist my ankle and completely forget about it? did i need new running shoes?
what i thought would solve my problems: brand new saucony guide 5's

i chose to believe the latter (obviously because that meant it wasn't really my fault that i was feeling pain), and convinced my parents of the same. i ended up trying out a handful of different running shoes, having to return and exchange them after trying them out, because with each new pair of shoes i still was feeling the pain on now just any run, no matter the distance. in fact, by this point, even just on my walks up to campus for class i was feeling some serious pain. i took a week off of running, hoping that that would solve my problems, and the pain subsided somewhat. the next week i was feeling good and decided to head out for a nice and easy run, but the pain came rushing back as soon as i started jogging, and then lasted throughout the rest of the next few days. i talked to my parents again and they told me to get my ankle checked out, asap.

fast forward one visit to a byu sports medicine doctor and a referral to a wonderful marathon-running physical therapist later, i found out that i had peroneus tertius tendonitis. which basically meant that this is what was happening when i was running:
via

in case you didn't know, that's not normal. while my left foot was fine, the way my right foot was running just wasn't natural. i naturally pronate (aka both of my feet actually turn inside a little bit while i'm running), which isn't all that unusual. i wear running shoes that offer a little extra support to balance that out, but (probably due to my laziness in training), i had entirely stopped focusing on paying attention to my form while i was running, and it had clearly gotten out of control.

i spent the next few weeks leading up to my marathon learning a lot about trust. i had to trust my sports medicine doctor that physical therapy would help me to be able to run again. i had to trust my crazy (awesome) physical therapist when he told me to take another week off of running (?!?!) and just bike the equivalent instead (even though this was supposed to be the week of my 20-mile long run). i had to trust him again when he told me that i would indeed still be able to run the marathon and finish, pain-free. finally, i had to trust (and have a lot of faith in) myself, that if i stayed true to the rest of my training (as per my physical therapist's guidelines), then i could get through this injury and go on running the marathon and many more races after it.
running the layton utah half marathon, october 2011

while initially i had planned to run the marathon in less than four hours, i now recognized that i needed to change my goals to be more realistic, taking my injury into account. my physical therapist advised me that my one goal should be to finish the marathon, pain-free. and so it was, in addition to one other goal i had from the beginning - to keep running the entire time (unless i had to stop to go to the bathroom, obviously). this injury was the most frustrating part of my entire running career thus far (which, in regards to racing, has only really been two years, from my first 5k in june 2010 to present, but still!). things just didn't go according to plan. and it was frustrating. beyond frustrating.
thankfully, i had a beyond stellar support system that helped me get through that last month/huge rough and frustrating patch of my training. my sisters gave me running advice. the rest of my family sent words of encouragement and how proud they were of me getting this far already. my friends listened to me vent my frustrations and worries about the big day (and whether or not i'd be able to finish). my roommate catherine (above) accompanied me on many a late-night tempo run. i had such a great support system, and (to be completely honest), i don't think i could have gotten through the last month of my training without them.

and, wouldn't you know, come june 9th, this happened:


my amazing family supporting me all the way through my marathon, especially cheering me across the finish line!
so what have i learned?

well, to start, during my injury i learned (from my physical therapist who frequently does marathons and iron mans) that getting a specific amount of mileage in is not as important as getting in the same level of carido as i would have if i had been able to run. for example, if i missed a 3-mile run, it wouldn't be as beneficial for me to just bike 3 miles, because that would only take like 5 minutes as opposed to 25 minutes. my physical therapist assured me that so long as i was getting in the equivalent to my run in another form of cardio (i.e. biking hard for 25 minutes, if my assigned 3-miler would have taken me 25 minutes), then that is what really counted. that is something that will definitely stick with me in my future training and running in general.

take the time to stretch. although i didn't mention it earlier, my stretching is undoubtedly something that suffered the deeper i got into my training. as i got lazier or busier (probably a combination of the two), i would find myself with just barely enough time in my day to fit in my run...with no real time for weights/stretching at all, before or after. for future reference, i am definitely going to remember to take into account the stretching and weight lifting that is so necessary to keep my body loose, comfortable, and (hopefully!) not as tight or prone to injury. also, foam rolling is a must, and i am determined to buy a foam roller once i get back out to school. (:

and finally, balance is key. when i talked to my parents initially to tell them how my training had been suffering, or that i was stressing over not having time to get my runs in, my dad e-mailed me the following (click to enlarge):

i needed to find that balance by getting my priorities straight. this was something i really struggled with (and still do, to an extent) because i like to fill my time with a lot of things, like running, church activities and callings, schoolwork, theatre, socializing, and the list goes on and on. but sleep, nutrition, scripture study, and my education should always come first...even if training for a marathon would be a fun thing to do. wise words from a wise father (with some assistance from a certain page-a-day calendar :)!

ultimately i have to admit that, while i wish i could say that i never would have gotten hurt if i had been more disciplined with my training and more balanced in my life in general, the truth is that i don't really know that any specific change would have prevented my injury. no one knows that. but it certainly doesn't hurt to get your priorities in order and be disciplined about the things that matter most. and to be smart about it along the way!

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so yes, it happened. i got a running-related injury. it affected my training and almost jeopardized my chance of running my first marathon ever, at probably the only time i would be able to have my entire family there to support me (due to travel costs and planning that had gone into this months and months before). but you know what? i realize that now (probably a bit later than i should have, but i realize it nonetheless) that i'm not invincible. no one is. and everything worked out in the end (thank goodness for that), i learned a lot, and now i'm healed, pain-free, and a marathoner!!!


aaaand because i finished slower than i had initially planned (due to my desire to run pain-free and listen to my body the entire race instead of hitting a certain time goal), now PR-ing in my next marathon will be that much easier, right? (:
via.

2 comments:

  1. Love all of this. Also that's where I sprained my ankle too small world huh? Haven't run in two weeks but I've been biking like its my job... Hope to be back to running with you via blog soon enough!!!ove the reflection slash recap!

    ReplyDelete
  2. so proud to have you guys as my sisters. best ever <3

    ReplyDelete

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