Last Friday, for the first time since I started running two months ago, I had to stop. I felt pain on the side of my knee from my session on Wednesday, and in my consultation with a seasoned runner friend, she identified the pain to be ITB related and advised against running until it subsided.
Running is hard (at least for me), but now that I’ve finally gained some momentum, not running is much harder. There is a drive in me to push myself to run faster, run harder, to just get out there to run. But when I can’t for a reason beyond my control, it’s frustrating. The spirit was strong, but the body was weak. And when it comes to running, I have learned that the body must win.
I spent much of Thursday on recovery mode, mainly following her advice: RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. I figured, since I’m Asian, that should be second nature to me. (“Rice” get it, get it?). While skipping Friday’s session with my running buddies was tough, I couldn’t wait to lace up and run, albeit on my own, on Saturday, after an entire day with no pain.
And you know what? It. Felt. Great.
I ran faster and stronger than I ever did. So elated to be out there again, feeling the cold November air in my lungs and the yellowed leaves that lined my path, as if to welcome me back. And, of course, who could tire of this view that greets me every morning at the beginning of every run?
I am thankful to have recovered because I fought my own need to be in control, listened to my own instincts, as well as the advice of a friend, to stop when I needed to. For someone with control and instant-gratification issues, heeding my body and slowing down was a tough lesson for me. But a necessary one. Apparently, the stopping is just as much a part of the discipline of running as it is the going.
I’m also glad I remembered an article I read on the plane, on my way home from our vacation in Puerto Rico, that made a big impact on my decision to allow myself the time to heal, especially this part:
The one thing that's absolutely, positively known about running injuries is that old injuries lead to future injuries. The key, then, is to avoid injury the first time around. Today you might have a tender spot on your shin. Keep running, and it could become a full-fledged injury that leads to chronic problems or to other counter-balance injuries. You could spend a lifetime regretting the days when you continued running; you'll never regret the three to seven days of rest.
So, rest I did.
I have run twice since missing my scheduled session. Today, for the first time, I ran five miles straight(!!!) - no walking intervals, and no pain either. It was amazing.
This, from a girl who used to say things like, “I hate running. I’m just not built for running. I will never be a runner.”
I have now debunked the first two nay statements. As for the last, I am determined to prove myself wrong; I will get there yet.
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What demons are you fighting and what have you learned about yourself in the process? Have you debunked your own theories about yourself? If you’re a runner, when did you start calling yourself a runner?