This is a difficult post for me to write but it is something that has been on my mind recently.
I am not so sure that my body was made for running, especially distance running.
This is not something that is easy to admit, much less accept, but all signs clearly point in this direction. Let’s take a quick look at my history with running and injuries…
- It started back in college. I quit cheering and started running. I loved it so I ran more. The more I ran, the more I hurt. By my senior year (2005) I had a mean case of bursitis in my left knee. I rehabbed that injury and successfully trained for and finished my first half marathon the next year (2006).
- In 2009, I registered for my first marathon. At this point, I had added strength training to my fitness routine and felt confident that my new stronger body wouldn’t be as susceptible to injury. I started training and as I slowly upped my mileage, I developed Achilles tendonitis in my left leg. It took hundreds of dollars of physical therapy to get me to the starting line but I was determined to tackle 26.2.
- Later that year I was ready to run another marathon and registered for the Thunder Road Marathon in Charlotte. I kept up the weight training and started practicing yoga, focused on avoiding injury this time around. I was extremely frustrated to develop really bad pain behind my knee (this time on the RIGHT side!) that forced me to drop down to the half marathon.
- Fast forward to 2010 when I decided to make a second attempt at running a second marathon. Again, as soon as I began to approach 40 miles per week, I ended up injured. This time with the hamstring injury in my left leg. With aggressive treatment and a lot of willpower, I was able to finish the Marine Corps Marathon in October and then set a half marathon PR a month later at the Thunder Road Half Marathon but that was kind of the end of the road for me and distance running.
At the end of 2010, I was frustrated with running and needed some time away. Yoga teacher training was the perfect distraction. I hardly thought about running January-April. After teacher training ended, I was eager to jump back in and get some races on my calendar. I announced my plan to run a 15K trail race and half marathon and got to work building my mileage again. And then my hamstring injury flared up again. And my right hip began to bother me.
So here I am. Confused. A little sad. It seems that no amount of strength training, foam rolling or yoga can prevent these injuries. I know there are dysfunctions in my body that cause them. Lack of flexibility in my big toes (thus impacting my gate and causing a bad movement pattern and repetitive strain) is the culprit that my first physical therapist and yoga teacher blame. There are also issues in my lumbar spine that cause my hips to become misaligned (thus pulling the left hamstring attachment and causing the pain in the right hip).
Given all of my struggles, I really don’t understand how some people seem to be born to run. You know those runners who knock out multiple marathons a year while maintaining high-mileage training, setting PRs left and right and never get injured? I wonder what more I can do to make my body okay with running?
I try to be okay with running short distances – sticking to 3 or 5 milers. I should be happy with that, right? So why this urge to distance run? What is it about a long run that feels so good? Now that I know what it feels like to finish a 16 mile run, I crave the sense of accomplishment, the time on the road. I love being a part of the running community. I get chills thinking about attending race expos and lining up at the starting line. And tears in my eyes when I think about crossing the finish. I am NOT willing to accept that my days of distance running are over. Stubborn? Yes.
What do I do? The easy answer is “stop running.” Anyone I talk to about my history with running and injuries is always quick to ask, “and why do you keep running???” while looking at me like I’m completely crazy but it’s just not that simple.
And that’s where I am right now. There is no perfect answer but this is a post I needed to write for my own sanity. As always, I so appreciate your support and sticking with me through the ups and the downs.