I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but here it is: I think my injury is back AGAIN. And I’m furious this time because I really didn’t see this coming! I’ve been doing everything right the last few months, so I’m really upset, confused, and frustrated.
In case you’ve missed my whole injury saga, here’s the short version: for the past 3 years I just ran with no cross training or strength training. After a few years of shorter races, I ran 7 half marathons in about a year and a half with very minimal recovery time in between. Last year I began having some hip and sciatic nerve pain (literally, a pain in my butt) but after taking a few days off running it went away. In October I trained for my 7th half marathon and began to feel extreme pain whenever I ran. As soon as I finished the race (which was strangely pain free), I immediately stopped running and began physical therapy. After a month of weekly PT appointments and no running, I was able to ease back into running in December. Things were going well until February, when I thought I was back to normal and that I could handle fast speeds and lots of strength training at the gym, and the pain came back. I decided to take another month or so off running and start the PT exercises again from the beginning, and I thought it was going really well. I had no more pain, and was able to run pain free a few times after a month and a half off. But after this weekend, I’m realizing something is seriously wrong. I think the combo of disc golf for hours on Saturday (lots of twisting and lots of walking) plus the six mile hike on Sunday up and down along the Turnagain Arm Trail really irritated my sciatic nerve. And to make matters worse, the pain is up into my lower back now too. I’m currently typing this with a heating pad on my back to relax my muscles.
I’ve been kind of avoiding the blog all week because I just don’t want to deal with the truth. But last night I had a little breakdown because I realized that this injury is NOT going away. I can’t avoid dealing with it because I’m in some pretty real pain right now. So even though it killed me to do so, I called my PT today and made an appointment for Monday. I know that he’ll be able to take a look at what’s going on and possibly refer me to any additional doctors that I might need. I’m really hoping I won’t need another MRI since I’m almost done paying off the one from last year, but I’ll do whatever tests are necessary at this point. Now that I know that just taking a break and doing my exercises isn’t going to cut it, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to feel better and get back to “normal”.
The bad news is that clearly I’m not ready to run, even though the few runs I’ve done since February actually didn’t hurt at all. And I’m also not ready to hike those big Alaskan mountains that I love. I’m worried that something might be seriously wrong, because after resting these muscles for months I should not be in this much pain. The good news is that unlike last November, the no running rule is not such a hard blow for me. I don’t have pain when I bike or swim (which were both suggested by my PT), and the fact that I’m putting all of my energy into those two forms of exercise and into my triathlon training is helping this setback feel more bearable. Plus, walking in the tri will be no problem at all. But if I can be honest, I’m starting to feel like I’ll never run again. And even if/once I get back to running again, I’m sure I’ll ever be able to do it without worrying about this injury coming back. I’m starting to realize that this injury is making a bigger impact on my life than I ever thought possible, and it’s so heartbreaking. It’s been over 6 months since this whole mess started, and I’m so ready for it to be over.
So my plan is to take it easy until I see my PT. I’m so grateful that I started swimming because it’s fun, distracting, and pain free! I’m also picking up my brand new road bike tomorrow and can’t wait to (carefully) try it out this weekend. I’ll be fine with all of my non-running activities, but please wish me luck at my appointment on Monday!
Have you ever had trouble kicking a persistent injury? How do you handle big setbacks? What is your favorite non-running activity?