So what happens when you’re told that something you love is also the same thing that’s hurting you? I know this could be applied to many things, but in my case, it’s running. After enduring a year of nagging hip pain, I finally bit the bullet and went to the doctor with my issues.
The news wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either.
“Do you have to run?”
“I don’t have to but I would like to…”
“Then no running on hills and paved roads” was my Physical Therapist’s advice. Which means I pretty much have to kiss neighborhood running goodbye, and that SUCKS because one of my favorite things about running is just lacing up and getting out the door. Plus I really do love my neighborhood and enjoy being able to spot the fall colors and spring blossoms all around me, so having to end this pains me even more than what I feel in my hips.
My PT also pointed out that I have no arches in my feet. Flat-footed? Me? How is it that I hadn’t known that all these years? She said it affects the way I run, which must have affected my hips. She hasn’t quite figured out what exactly is wrong with them - we’ve only had three sessions so far - but she warned against continuing as I have because it would mean surgery, and who wants to go down that road?
I took her advice seriously and started to cut down on running and looked to other cardio activities. I tried many group classes at my gym and settled on Zumba (I love dancing; it’s so fun!) and Cardio Combat (makes me feel like a badass!), but when I reported that to my PT, she shook her head: “Nope. These classes have too many repetitive motions that will continue to hurt your hips.”
What. The. Fuck.
How ironic that my quest for better health is actually detrimental to my health. Before I started running, I don’t even remember ever having to go to the doctor for any medical issues. However, I knew the risks of running before I started; it was just wishful thinking that I could avoid them.
I signed up for a 10-mile race back in October, and I informed my PT that it would be my last long-distance run for awhile. It was the Austin 10/20 - 10 miles, 20 bands - and I ran it with a fellow mom who’d been my Sunday morning running partner this past year. I knew I couldn’t push it, but it was also important to me that I finish this race.
I’m glad I did it because it was a really fun race, but that last mile was painful. Literally. My hips started to hurt, then my knees, and finally my ankles. Man did I feel broken. But there was only a mile to go, and I just couldn’t stop then. Having my partner there to cheer me on got me through the finish line (thank you!). You can imagine how fantastic that felt, especially since I wasn’t sure if there would be another like this in my future.
After 10 days of rest, I ran again yesterday, but I followed my PT’s instructions to find a flat gravel trail and attempted a few slow miles. I drove to a neighborhood park with a small wooded trail and aimed for three miles, but it felt so good that I easily reached four. My hips weren’t crying for help, so perhaps there’s hope yet for keeping running in my life.
This nagging pain may still be a mystery, but I’m wearing orthotics to fix my flat feet (and secretly thanking the stars that they’re looking more fashionable these days than the old-lady shoes of the past) and I’m (begrudgingly) avoiding hills and paved roads when I do run.
I haven’t given up on finding something to fill the running void for when I absolutely have to stop, but I’m hoping that that day wouldn’t come either. I can fathom taking a break, especially during the summer when it’s hot all day and night here, but I can’t imagine stopping altogether.
My girls are starting to show interest in running, and I’d like to continue for their sake. I don’t think it’s the only way to get healthy, but to me, running is more than just cardio. It’s the fresh air that fills my lungs, the scenery that both enthralls and surprises me, the solitude as an escape, and even the meditative effect of a long run that, apart from cycling, which isn’t my thing, I just can’t get from other activities.
And that’s why I’m doing what I can to preserve what little I can do because I hate to be told I can’t do something, and I love a challenge. So we’ll see.
I’m just not ready to give up on it yet. I just hope my body doesn’t give up on me first.