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What I Learned from Being Injured

Posted by randeebergen@msn.com on March 31, 2015 at 1:15 PM

What I Learned from Being Injured by Andy Winnifeld

I have been running now for 30 years! I still remember that cold day in 1985 when I decided to run for the Rootstown Middle School Track Team. I never thought the run would last this long, in fact, I wanted to quit after the first week. A coach told me to stay with it, even though I was the last kid on the track. I am so grateful to that coach. (He is still a facebook friend.) Anyway, I have had many great running moments since then, and some not so great. December 16, 2014 falls into the not so great category. One moment I was running as hard as I could, and the next moment I was limping to the car. Life happens fast sometimes.

It was a Tuesday morning in December. I was running with my usual Tuesday morning friends. Tuesday morning is when we run fartleks. I remember feeling a slight pull in my thigh just before it happened. My thought was to run harder to get rid of it. For a few feet it was great and then there was this sudden, ripping, tearing sensation between my upper leg and buttocks. It was followed with intense pain. This was something that never happened to me while running before. I knew that running was immediately out of the question. Walking was a challenge and sitting was almost intolerable. You never realize how much you sit, until it hurts to sit. (You can use this phrase for any body part that hurts. For example, you don't realize how much you use your finger, until it is broken.)

I did not even consider running for a week, and then I thought I could go back as fast as ever. I had never really been seriously injured before, so I did not know what to expect. (Oh sure, I had bumps, bruises, stitches, strains, sprains, sore muscles, etc., but all of these things never stopped me running for more than a few days.) When I started running again, every left foot step hurt. It felt like someone was stabbing me in the upper leg/buttocks area. I decided I could outrun the pain. I had run marathons, and I was not going to let a stabbing pain stop me. Well, I could run a mile or 2 with that philosophy and that was about it.

Finally, after 3 or 4 weeks of this, I went to see a Sports Medicine doctor. He told me that I had a torn hamstring tendon. It had severe inflammation. I needed therapy, ice and rest. Rest meant NO RUNNING! What? No, I can't stop running. That goes against my lifestyle! Anyway, for 2 weeks I didn't run. The elliptical machine became my friend, along with ibuprofen and ice.

During this time, I became incredibly jealous of everyone who was running. Whether it was a running story of an elite, or someone jogging down the road on my way to work, it bothered me. I couldn't even look at my running shoes. Stress bothered me like it never did before. My kids and wife told me I was crabby. Life was no longer exciting, and I was tired all the time. Also, I gained weight.

Then, finally, I was able to start running again. Not a lot of miles at first, and I was very slow. Also the hamstring still hurt a little, but it was manageable pain. I gradually increased the distance and continued to ice and stretch. Now, 9 weeks after the injury, I have resumed my normal miles. The hamstring still lets me know when it hasn't been stretched before running, and there is an occasional tweak, but mostly I run without pain. This is an amazing experience!

Now back to running, although a little slower than usual, I feel alive again. The sun is brighter. The flowers smell better, and life is no longer as stressful. Also, I haven't been told I was crabby by my family lately. Yesterday, I ran 12 miles and couldn't help but smile most of the way.

I learned never to take the ability to run for granted! This is truly a magical gift that we are given. Even runners with 30 years of experience without ever being injured, can become injured. Also, major injuries do not heal in 1 week, even if you think you are tough. I am not completely back to my usual speed, but I think that will take awhile. The day may come again when I can't run, but the day will never come where I don't want to run. Happy trails my friends!

 

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2 Comments

Reply Mark
10:44 PM on March 31, 2015 
Thanks for writing this Andy. I'm currently fighting PF and not enjoying not running. Might I ask if you have any recommendations for PT or sports med doc?
Reply awinnefeld
10:22 PM on April 6, 2015 
Mark, I hate to answer a question with more questions, but I don't feel as though I know enough about your condition to answer properly. By PF, I assume you mean plantar fasciitis? This is a very common running condition and can be quite severe and certainly hinder your running. First, I wonder what you have done already for this? My recommendations start with ice, NSAIDs, stretching, shoe inserts, injections, and as very last resort surgery. Usually a family physician should be able to help you recover. However, if they are unsuccessful, Podiatry or any Orthopedic doctor could help you. I don't believe physical therapy is very helpful with this condition, but they are very helpful with other sports injuries. Good luck!