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Tales from the Grateful Runner...

Running: A real pain in the butt

When I wrote my last blog, I was coming off a triumphant return to racing. Having just completed the Boston Run to Remember Half-Marathon, I was eager to find my next race. Well, one week after running that race, I went out for my typical Sunday long run and returned with an atypical pain in my upper glute/lower back. Like many runners, I assumed that 2 days off would heal all wounds and I’d be back at it. Well, 2 days turned into 4 days, then a week, then 2 weeks, then 3 weeks, and then a trip to Physical Therapy. I’ve had my fair share of running-related injuries over the years, but this may have been the most painful yet. Simple tasks such as standing on one leg to put on shorts, rolling over in bed, and just walking around became nearly impossible physical challenges. This injury presented me with an awkwardly painful limp and prevented me from running for nearly 6 weeks. In the mind of a runner, 6 weeks is beyond eternity. But it was during this time that I actually made significant gains, both mentally and physically.

Injuries can put your patience to the test. Dwelling on how many days it had been since I was able to run or feeling jealous of other people enjoying a run on a beautiful summer day (while perfectly normal to think about) wasn’t going to be helpful – it will only add to frustration. So, although I was unable to run, I was able to ride the bike. This was all I needed to “stay in the game”. Every bike ride was a mental challenge. I knew I was working complimentary leg muscles and improving my leg turnover. This may not sound like much, but when faced with a negative situation (like not being able to run), it’s imperative to grasp onto any positive factor you can. Through the suggestions of my physical therapist, I focused my workouts on strengthening my lower back, glutes, core, and legs – once again, reminding myself that these workouts would make me stronger once I could run again. Lastly, I made a commitment to cleaner eating by cutting out some simple staples from my diet such as bread and rice, and developing a better awareness of my portions – dropping a few lbs would make me feel “lighter” when running. What I did was put myself in a “training” situation – I was training to get back into training. And this was the key to getting me through the rehab. Always looking forward – reminding myself that every day of rehab was getting me one day closer to running. Sure, there were a few setbacks – my first attempt at running ended roughly 1/10th of a mile after I began…. but it was all part of the process.

Through the exceptional work of my physical therapist, I’ve been back on the roads (pain-free) since mid-July, back to double-digit mileage on the weekends, and all signed up for the “Chilly Half-Marathon” in Newton, MA on Sunday November 10th. Who knew running could be such a pain in the butt? But once again, I’m Grateful to be running…..

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