The grass is always greener on the other side right? For the last four and a half months I have been pining over running. There were times when I wondered if I would ever be fixed, if I would ever pound the pavement again. Due to tearing my plantar fascia (a ligament in your foot) in late August I spent 6 weeks in a moonboot then for months have been unable to ride, run or even push off wall in the pool with 2 feet… Not to mention being in pain throughout the day, every single day. If you’ve had plantar fasciitis I’m sure you can sympathise, add a tear to that and I’m sure I’ve gone up a notch in the pain tolerance standards, because there was no other choice then just to deal with it.
Gradually my body decided to heal, the pain subsided, riding was allowed back in, and during in the last 2 weeks along with lots of strength and gym work I have begun to run again. In the grand scheme of things I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal not to be able to run. But for me it was. I haven’t been so “obsessed” with training or triathlon my whole life, I really only fell in love with it over the last 3 years. I went from not being able to run 1km around the block, to genuinely loving running, riding and swimming.
For the first time in my life I felt like I had found my passion, I loved training, racing and everything about triathlons. I didn’t blink an eye at being asked by a friend to join her on a 24km training run for fun. Riding for 5-6 hours every Sunday was the usual and most weeks my bike travelled way more kilometres than my car. But then, just as I was feeling faster and stronger than ever before I was struck down. At first I thought it was just a niggle, but as it turned out it was a tear, something that needed rest. No racing, no training, not even any walking!
Fast forward 4 months involving lots of patience and lessons (read about them here) and FINALLY I am back in the game. A few little test run/walks proved non problematic so I have increased my runs to solid half hour blocks and beyond.
The first solid run I did I expected to be awesome. I planned it to be along my favourite track (Noosa National Park) nice and early on a Saturday morning so I could see the sun rise and enjoy a coffee afterwards before work. What I didn’t expect was the rest of my body to be non compliant. Not just my muscles but my head too!
Every single step was a struggle, between my legs, hips, lungs, heart and brain I am sure they all battled for my attention and all failed miserably. What’s so good about running anyway? Why have I just waited over 4 months to do this again? Did I really LOVE this before?
I’m a sucker for reflection and if you were to read my reflection from the run you would think I just conquered the Kokoda Trail or something equally challenging. And my body, I reckon that felt sorer than post-Ironman the next day. But the good news is that that run was 2 weeks ago, since then I have run 4 more times and they have been drastically better.
To give credit where credit is due, I must give deep water running some kudos. Throughout the injury period I water ran a considerable amount, and definitely think it’s helped keep the muscles firing, I don’t even want to know what I would have been like if I spent 4 months sitting on the couch.
I’m definitely not where I was 6 months ago in regards to pace or distance, but the love is back. That other stuff will come with time, I am trying not to beat myself up about it (even though in the back of my head I still think I’m slow).
There’s nothing like the feeling of achieving something you set out to do (especially if you doubted you could do it). The feeling of chasing the dream is why I do it, why I am so in love with triathlon. The challenge to beat myself and find out just how far I can go.
Yes running hurts, it challenges me physically just as much as mentally. But I think the feeling of having no goals, no purpose in life challenged me more. I spent ages wondering what would be a fun hobby to take up, something to do other than eat, sleep, work, repeat. Finding that purpose in triathlon was amazing, then having it taken away from me was pretty tough.
Whilst I was broken the number of people who have said I will come back stronger than ever was huge, I wanted to roll my eyes at every single one of them. But now that I am back, and implementing ways to make sure I literally am stronger than ever I think maybe they were right… I sure hope so.
If you are injured and feeling helpless, lost and like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, trust me when I say there is. The last thing you want to hear is one more person say be patient, or that you’ll come back stronger than before. But if you do all the right things, then it is true. Trust the process, rest, recover, keep your stress levels low and your positivity high, and before you know it you’ll be back doing what you love.
If you’re considering taking up running or triathlon I strongly urge you to give it a go, stick with it just a little bit longer than you want to… You will want to quit right before the magic happens, don’t. The runs will get easier and more enjoyable, try park run even if you think you’re not a runner… Doesn’t mean you’ll never be.
Until next time remember every thing happens for a reason… Someday you’ll look back and know exactly why it had to happen.