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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The 5 Stages of Coping with a Marathon Training Injury



Running a marathon is the epitome of today’s gluten-free, protein-shake, active lifestyle zeitgeist. In Duluth, marathon culture seems magnified. Anyone remotely active cannot escape the excitement and phenomenon that is Grandma’s. Common conversations include:

“Are you running Grandma’s? How’s training going? What time are you targeting? Want to get together for a long run?”

It’s nearly impossible to escape this hype. It’s addicting. It provides community, pride and identity. I may not be fast, but gosh darn-it-all, I’m going to run Grandma’s! I am a Duluthian! Hear me roar!

If you aren’t running the full marathon, there are many alternatives: the half-marathon, the 5k, working a water station, or talking about your loved one that is running. If you’ve completed a half or full Grandma’s, you are in the club for life and can join these training conversations guilt free.

All of this preamble is just to explain- I was really, really, really excited about running Grandma’s. It took several months to build up the courage to commit to signing up, but once I did I was all in.

Run club? Check.
Diet plan? Check.
Training regimen? Check.
Accountability partners to train with? Check.

And then it happened- a knee injury. It was sudden and oddly inexplicable.

DENIAL, knee injury? WHAT knee injury?
I repeated mantras while running like “lighter footfalls” and “DO NOT LIMP, DO NOT LIMP.” I refused to let my knee interfere with my training plan. I was going to train through this! I bought a foam roller! RICE was LIFE! I did all the exercises you are supposed to do when you have runners knee. I discussed possible reasons and solutions for said knee injury with all my friends in training. I was painfully positive, as in high-school-cheerleader slash Elle Woods level POSITIVE. I WOULD BE FINE!  

ANGER- i.e. the I HATE MY FITBIT phase!
I am generally not an angry person…but I was pretty annoyed. I asked my friends to stop inviting me to fit bit challenges. Then I stopped wearing my fitbit altogether. All those steps were coming at a painful price and the fitbit no longer tallied my good days, but rather it seemed to tally up the bad. I emailed my accountability partners and asked them to stop emailing me about their running plans because I just couldn’t cope with their progress while my progress stymied. I looked at their fun-run pictures and snarled. I didn’t respond to any of their training snap chats. Oh ya? You just ran 7 miles ‘like a boss’? and I bet it felt great too, didn’t it!?!

Next up- BARGAINING. I came up with a BRILLIANT solution! I would just get a cortisone shot so I could train pain free! Whatever was wrong could wait until June 21st, TAKE THAT KNEE INJURY!

Current status- the pity party.  
Guys, this is not a pretty phase. I cried when the Dr. explained to me that a cortisone shot is not a great option for a 29 year old, particularly when said 29 year old has already been putting off an inevitable (and pretty crucial) ankle surgery. I pulled it together in the exam room and went out to schedule my MRI. “Wow, double MRI?” the polite woman said with a raised brow, “Do you need a hug?” The tears came unabashed. I tried to cheer myself up with a fancy coffee from the fancy co-op, I made it out the doors and into my car where I broke down again.  

I cried while watching Fixer Upper last night.... Fixer. Upper.

Oh for crying out loud, now I’m crying as I type this up.

Arguably, receiving bad news the Monday morning after daylight savings time and a very long trek into the wilderness on an injured ankle and knee may not have been the best timing. The frustrated tears were just a little too close to the surface.

Waiting for it- ACCEPTANCE.
I know that acceptance will come. I keep telling myself things like, “Amanda, GET IT TOGETHER! YOU DON’T HAVE A BRAIN EATING AMOEBA! DONALD TRUMP DIDN’T EAT YOUR BABY!” but so far, these pep-talks have done little to propel me out of my pity wallowing existence.

Last night I taught yoga. One of the cool-down songs was “Everybody Hurts Sometimes” by R.E.M. Even I had to giggle at the self-indulgence. Maybe that was step one toward acceptance.

So why am I posting this? I guess mainly just to get everyone in Duluth on board with my current training hiatus. I am probably not going to be able to run this year. I am not dealing with it particularly well and I am feeling like a capital L Loser.  If you see me at Evolve or the grocery store, now you know. I guess also to say that I am normally a pretty positive person and I’m kind of in the dumps right now, and I think that is okay to acknowledge.

For all the people with very real problems like chronic illness, sick little ones, lost loved ones, cancer,  etc- I am really sorry for posting about this menial problem. I can only hope that my stupid little experience may  help me be a better friend to you in the future.

In the meantime, I am going to be sure to enjoy the days I can run- carefree and pain-free. And on the days I cannot run, days like today, and many days I am bound to face in the future, I will try to find alternative conduits to joy... like Michael Jackson dance parties, coffee brewed in a percolator, page-turners, and funny people.

Before you ask: I don’t know much more than what I posted here. I will learn more after MRIs. I will fill you in when I learn more. 

P.S. A pic after Grandma’s half last year. This will be my reminder that, at least by my own standards, I’m technically part of the club for life. 



1 comment:

  1. Aw, poor baby! It'll get better. You're allowed to have a little pity party. It won't last long as nothing ever keeps you down for too long. There will always be next year. So get your surgery done and rehab so you'll be ready to roll next year.

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