Back in September, I decided to become a runner. I’ve always watched the skinny girls at the Y running on the treadmill and wanted to join them, but never had the guts. Mostly, I was sure I would be “that person” who biffed it big time while attempting to pick up speed. I had horrible visions of myself flying thru the air after bouncing off the moving belt. Ultimately however, I decided that the plateau I’d reached in my weight loss wasn’t going to budge unless I got on the machine and attempted running. Not walking fast, not climbing up with the ramp hiked up at an obscene angle – actual running.
So, I began. But, being the person I am, I couldn’t just try to run. No, I had to set a goal. What did I choose? A half marathon. Simple enough right? But, to add additional motivation – I actually signed up for one…scheduled at the end of November. I thought surely 12 weeks was plenty of time to transition from 60 minutes of cardio daily to running 13 miles in one shot. No problem. Everything went fantastically well the first few weeks. Actually, in hindsight, I sure was icing my shins a lot…and making good use of my heating pad. But at the time, I thought that was totally normal and I was progressing just fine. I ran a 10K as a training run in the middle of October – halfway thru my 12 week schedule. I felt exhilarated afterward. I was sure that if I could conquer the never-running-to-6-miles portion of my prep, the 6-miles-to-12-miles would be just more of the same. WRONG. A week after my success at the 10K, I ran 10 miles. At the end, I could not walk. The next day I still couldn’t move unassisted. By the fourth day of crawling up my stairs I realized I’d seriously hurt myself. Yes, I know what you’re thinking “It took you four whole days of inability to walk for you to figure you were injured?”. What can I say – I’m really quick on the draw. It took 5 weeks, several doctor visits, many conversations with nurse friends, x-rays and then bone scans to finally get the diagnosis I’d assumed from the beginning. I had tibial stress fractures in both legs. No wonder I’d been in pain. Two broken legs! The treatment was even more devastating than the injury. No running. No elliptical machine. No weight-bearing exercise of any kind for at least 6 weeks. I figured I should get credit for time served since I hadn’t been to the gym since my disastrous 10 mile run. But no dice. The orthopedic surgeon I visited said I was banned from putting any unnecessary pressure on my legs – the more time I could spend on the couch, the better, and if I over-did it, he was going to put me on crutches. My three-year old would have loved that.
For the past 4 weeks I have been anxiously awaiting my follow-up scans. After being away from the gym for two months, in the past two weeks I’ve slowly built back up to a full cardio workout. Still nothing on the treadmill though. Today, at last I thought I would get the all clear to start running again. But I was sorely disappointed. My doctor recommended an additional 4 weeks away from my friend, the treadmill. My legs are healing fine, “great” in fact was the word he used. But, I’ve only been pain free about three weeks and that’s not long enough to start with major stress to the bones again.
I’ve been in a funk all evening at this news. I didn’t really expect to just pick right back up where I left off and go run a few miles tomorrow morning, but being at the gym and not running is torture. I’ve never experienced an exercise that I loved so much. There is something incredibly freeing about getting on a treadmill, cranking up the speed and just letting yourself run. A friend of my husband’s (who is a marathon runner) said it best I think, “Running is what our bodies were designed to do”. I fell in love with that feeling – that my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to do. I sure never had that sense of appropriate function while doing squats or lunges.
I’m sure there’s a lesson (or two) I’m supposed to be learning with all this waiting around for something I desire so much. Patience has never been my strong suit, and although I know it’s virtue and all that, it’s no fun figuring it out. So, for right now, I guess I have to stand firm on the knowledge that God knows what he’s doing with me – which is something I should always do, but is pretty much required right now. Cause I can’t stand on my own legs…they’re still broken.