When your body tells you no

I was hoping I’d never have to write this.  That I’d never have to finally admit that my knees are broken.  I wish I could be saying here that after months of physical therapy, MRI’s, orthopedic surgeons, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, foam rolling, ASTYM, endless ice packs, iontophoresis, and hours of strength training I was cured.  And that come the end of August, I would be telling you stories about the time I ran Hood to Coast for the 5th time.  But that’s not going to happen and it sucks.

I think I’ve mentioned my knees enough on here for you to know that I don’t have good ones…I have an extremely tight IT band in my left leg and arthritis in my right knee.  That I love running but my knees don’t.  That I’ve run Hood to Coast 4 times and I’ve been doing everything I could to get one more year in.  That I planned to end my HTC reign after 5 years.  But yesterday I had to call it.  HTC is August 24th and I still can’t run more than 4 miles without serious pain.   And even though I think I could make it through the pain during my runs, my IT band gets so tight afterwards that I can barely walk.  I ran 2.5 miles yesterday morning and for the rest of the day (and even this morning) I was dreading every time I had to get up from my desk and walk to the break room because it hurt so bad.

And so I officially told Chris I was out.  And I guess I didn’t realize how much it affected me until I started writing this and tears welled up in my eyes.  It’s like I didn’t actually have to face it until I wrote it down.  And maybe you don’t get why I’m getting so upset about a race but it’s almost like the race signifies something more.  I have never been an athlete.  Growing up I was the girl who was picked last for a team, who’s mom wrote her notes to get out of PE, who never broke a sweat unless I was blow drying my hair.  But all of that changed when I started running the summer before my Jr. year of college.  I realized that while I was never a fast runner, running gave me a sport; it was my connection into the world of athletes.  It made me an athlete.

Even though I ran I still didn’t consider myself a “good” runner.  And Hood to Coast was for runners.  People had asked me to run on teams before but I turned them down until my step-mom asked me to join her on her team in 2008.  So I trained.  And on the day before the race started she dropped out due to injury and I ran my 1st Hood to Coast with a team full of strangers.  Not ideal.  While I was so proud of myself for completing the race I didn’t have a great experience on the team side.  In order to have a great HTC experience you need a good team.  That’s what makes it.  Luckily I met up with Chris’ team after the race and l was able to see what it might have been like to run on a team with friends.  And so I decided to run it again in 2009 with his team.  And I loved it.  And I was hooked.

And so I ran again in 2010 and 2011.  And even though I cried through some of my legs last year from my knee pain I still signed up again this year.  HTC is like some crazy drug that makes you an addict.  And I still can’t tell you if it’s the team bonding, the 3 am runs in the dark, something I do with my husband, or the fact that when you cross that finish line you feel like the best athlete in the world. For me, crossing that line was my superbowl, my 1st place.  And for the little girl inside of me who was laughed at in PE, it was my one shining moment. And it’s hard to realize I won’t get that feeling this year.

I feel like I’m letting people down – my team, my husband, myself.   That maybe if I focused a little more on my stretching exercises or if I went through another round of physical therapy I could do it.  But I finally decided I had to listen to my body.  I’m 30 years old.  I have years and years of fitness ahead of me and I cannot put myself through another one of these races.    That I can run 3 miles right now is kind of a miracle.  After HTC last year I thought I was done with running forever but 9 months later, here I am, squeaking out a couple runs.  What’s going to happen if I run HTC again this year?  Is it going to be another 9 months of pain, another round of crazy doctor’s bills, another summer of disappointment as I try to push myself to do it again?  Or is it going to be worse?  Am I going to permanently damage my knees?  Am I going to come out of the race with more arthritis?  Would I actually have to start getting the steroid shots into my knee that my doctor keeps pushing?

My body is telling me to take a break.  Maybe it’s just a year off.  Maybe it’s forever.  Only time is going to tell.  Unfortunately no matter how much I wanted this, how much I reached for it, how much I put my mind to it, I have to accept that it’s not going to happen.  That for now, my Hood to Coast running shoes is getting sidelined.

So now the only thing left to do is find a new goal right?


15 thoughts on “When your body tells you no

  1. I can soooo sympathize- being shafted by an injury blows. After not being able to run for a year and a half I resorted to bikram yoga. I can’t say it “cured” me but it made running with an injury manageable. So much so that I ran a hilly 15k with zero problems. Hang in there!

    • That’s great to hear about yoga. My physical therapist really encouraged me to try it. I went to a beginning yoga class a couple of weeks ago and it was too beginner. I’ve done so much pilates that I think that crosses over a bit into yoga. I think not doing HTC might just be the push I need to give it another shot. Thanks for letting me know you’ve had success with it :)

  2. I’m so sorry. A few years ago, I had to sit out of a half marathon due to a stress fracture I got THE WEEK BEFORE. I can empathize with you in that regard. Finding a new goal for yourself is a great idea…you’ll have to let us know what you decide!

    • Oh man, the week before! Hopefully everything is feeling better for you and you’re back to running. I’ll keep you posted on my new goal. I’m thinking yoga or maybe finally renewing my personal training certification…we’ll see :)

  3. I hate to read this because I have experienced the same pain, literally. I had major ITB issues at the end of last year (2011). Typical too much, too soon, too fast. I convinced my running partner, Sara, that we should PR in our next 1/2 marathon. My knee pain was intense after our first 14 miler. I rehabbed it on my own and slowly it felt better. In January, I read “Born to Run.” As a result, I switched to Vibrams and running on the ball of my foot. My ITB issues went away quickly & my calves adjusted to the Vibs in about 4 weeks. I ran the half pain free which I learned is better than a PR! In April, on a long run I strained my Acilles Tendon. I didn’t run for 3 weeks. Six weeks later, I could final run under a 10 minute mile. I felt FAST!

    I completely understand your frustration. I had to get rid of my EGO and desire to be fast. I just wanted to be able to run. Fortunately, I have an amazing running partner that is willing to adjust to my injuries & is way better than a stupid EGO. I have no doubt you are doing “all the right things”. Just give yourself time to heal. Trust me, I know it sucks. You will get through it and you will be a better athlete because of it. Good luck!!

    • That’s awesome that you’ve overcome your injuries and have kept running! Gives me encouragement. I started Born to Run a while ago but found it hard to get into. Now I’m thinking I should give it another shot. Thanks so much!

  4. I completely get why you’re upset, and I’m so sorry :(

    I think you’re incredibly smart to listen to your body and realize that running right now isn’t worth not being able to exercise at all in the future. I hope that you find a few other goals (strength training? new workout classes? swimming?) that you can focus on and enjoy while letting your knees heal a bit!

    • Thanks :) That’s exactly what I plan to do… I’m thinking yoga. My physical therapist said it could really help. Maybe instead of crossing the HTC finish line I’ll become a yogi :)

  5. Friendship! I almost started crying in my office right now, I know how much HTC means to you :( I wish I was there to give you a hug. I think you will always be a runner. Because who defines how many miles you have to run in order to call yourself a runner? You are an athlete, runner, best friend and overall amazing person. And I agree with other’s thought about yoga, it can be quite challenging if you get in the right class. Totally worth another shot :) P.S. I love your blog.

    • Ohhh friend, I wish I could get a hug from you. I miss you! I’m definitely feeling better about the whole thing today. I think the hardest is just going to be watching Chris train for the whole thing and hear about his experience with it and then not getting to do it too. Hopefully giving my body a break this summer will really let myself heal up and then I can run it again next year. Or maybe I’ll become some crazy yoga fanatic and not care about running as much. Who knows?

  6. Whit this makes me so sad. I’m sorry. I love the way you wrote the post about how running can make a non athletic girl an athlete. that’s me too. We are so much alike. I just emailed you about going to Group Centergy, a great yoga class at Lance!

  7. Wow, how amazing of you to share this personal story with us! I’m a new reader, so I don’t know too much about you – but hopefully you’ll be able to find something fitness-related that you’ll be able to love just as much as you loved running.

    As sad as this post was, it felt good reading it because I can completely relate. I was diagnosed with a disability called Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome seven months ago and have barely been able to walk since. After finally falling in love with fitness for the first time in my life, not being able to participate anymore killed me. I’ve been working really hard to find exercises I like that I can actually do, like strength training on machines at the gym and swimming.

    Having an injury is a really tough thing to go through. If you ever need to talk, I’m here! The good thing is that there are a lot of people out there who are going through similar situations – it’s really nice to have that support from people who understand.

    • Hi! Glad you found my blog and thanks so much for sharing our story and your openness to chat. I might have to take you up on that! I’m so sorry that you’re also dealing with injuries but I’m glad that you’re looking around for other options. I guess the good way to look at being injured is that it forces us to try new things right? The whole – whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger applies here I think :) Swimming is definitely something I need to look into.

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