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The Patience to Heal

I’m not very good at slowing down. In case you haven’t noticed, I have a tendency to pack my days full of as many activities and commitments possible. I like to stick to a schedule and have a routine. And to be completely honest, I get a little anxious if something gets in the way of my normal routine.

I have been battling the flare up of an old hamstring injury for the past six weeks that has tested my ability to slow down and have a little patience. The pain reached its peak at the beginning of July. Despite my hamstring feeling really sore, I laced up my shoes and thought I could run through it. I took all of about five steps and felt terrible pain. At that moment, I had a choice to make. Half-ass my recovery and continue to run and do my normal activities when it “felt a little bit better” or completely back off and let it heal like it needed to. The best option seems obvious but it was difficult to come to terms with. I had just gotten back in the running groove, increased my mileage and was looking forward to getting back to racing.

I made the decision to completely stop running and cut way back on my yoga practice. I focused on rehabilitation and set an intention to do the right thing for my body and to do everything possible to help this injury heal. I iced, foam rolled, got massages and saw my chiropractor every week for adjustments and therapy.

Over the past six weeks there have been more than a few moments of frustration and sadness about not being able to run and do poses in my yoga practice that were once available to me. During these times I think about the future. This injury is right now and I can do something about it. If I don’t take care of it now, it will continue to negatively impact my life and hold me back from things I want to do.

I talked to my yoga class last night about having patience with your body. The patience to listen to it. The patience to let it rest when it sends clear signals that rest is what it needs. To take it new places slowly and not always push so hard.

Exercising this patience is what allowed me to run four pain-free miles on Saturday and three last night. I didn’t care that it was 95 degrees, I was just so happy to be on the road. I had a huge smile plastered on my face for the duration of the run.

I still have a long road to complete recovery ahead of me but I am so grateful to be heading in the right direction. Injuries suck but there are lessons to be learned from them.

Has your patience with your body been tested? How do you deal with it?

*I’m going to be posting a follow-up to this post in a few days with a look into running and my body.

And here is a quick look at what I ate yesterday.

Overnight oats at my desk after teaching an early morning yoga with weights class at Flex + Fit.

A delicious lunch at home. I finally restocked on Trader Joe’s veggie burgers so I had an open-faced sandwich with Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat, mashed avocado, a veggie burger, tomato, spinach and munster. Dipped in ketchup. A plum and a few Pringles stolen from Brandon on the side. I haven’t had a plum in months and months. It was tasty.

I taught hot vinyasa at Y2 last night. After my Wednesday class a group of us always go to a restaurant next door to the studio for half-priced bottles of wine. It’s always a fun evening of interesting conversation and lots of laughter…and usually the reason why I don’t post on Wednesday nights and have to get up early to write my posts or do them on my lunch break! Now you know! 😉

I had a tomato mozzarella flat bread for dinner during wine night.

Hope you guys are having a good day!

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Whitney August 4, 2011, 11:55 am

    Earlier this year I had to completely stop running for a month due to IT Band/Runner’s knee issues. It was absolutely miserable and I was jealous of everyone who was running!! I did low-impact cardio such as cycling and elliptical but it was not the same! I ended up going to a sports doctor to get some treatment (Carolina Sports Clinic in Dilworth-amazing) and exercises and have had zero issues since. I am now currently training for my first marathon and am so grateful for every run I complete because I remember how awful not running was.

    Side note- I foam roll like a crazy person to keep my IT band in check 🙂

  • 2
    Holly @ Pink Runner August 4, 2011, 11:57 am

    You’ll be feelin better in no time!

  • 3
    Holly @ RUST BELT RUNNER August 4, 2011, 12:04 pm

    I think… I’ve learned my lesson on this one. I had a nagging running ailment from October to February. Yeah! I kept trying to go for it and it would not go away.

    I had an ailment just recently and rested a full two weeks and now I am feeling so much better. It’s so hard to rest and be patient, but it often works.

    That flatbread looks amazing!

  • 4
    Krista (kristastes) August 4, 2011, 12:08 pm

    I am glad your hamstring is feeling better!! I hear you on patience…I am going to need a ton of it over the next few months! I think wine will help 😉

  • 5
    Erin August 4, 2011, 12:29 pm

    I totally feel your pain and frustration. I have had so many instances where the second I got into a good routine and felt great working out something would go wrong: Achilles tendinitis from a vacation full of too much steep uphill hiking that then made me start marathon training later than I had wanted, a fall while running 5 days before the Army 10 miler that left me with scrapes on my hand and a fractured elbow (still ran the race and in the 4 days off from work I found all sorts of healthy living blogs including yours:), then recently I was feeling great about my weight training routine only to then lift my son the wrong way and pull a muscle in my back. I couldn’t do much for 6 weeks, but made it back to the gym this week and I am feeling great. In all those instances it was hard to slow down and let my body heal, but also so necessary. I think the time off also makes you appreciate the injury free times when your body performs how you want in to. Thanks for the reminder:)

  • 6
    Matt @ The Athlete's Plate August 4, 2011, 12:40 pm

    Yay for pain free running 🙂

  • 7
    Stephanie August 4, 2011, 12:57 pm

    I stumbled upon your blog recently and have enjoyed “getting to know you” through your posts. I can sympathize with you as I went through a similar dilemma last November. I was 8 miles into the City of Oaks Half Marathon here in Raleigh (I’m from Charlotte so shout-out to the Queen City!) when my right leg started hurting really bad. I finished jogging, but my time was affected (not to mention my body). I self-diagnosed – thanks, Dr. Google! – an ITB injury, most likely due to over-training because I was running at least 3 miles a day and half those runs were over hills. Believe me, I learned the hard way the value of a rest day or at least cross-training.

    It was late January before I ran again, and I took it very slowly, adding time and distance a little at a time. I turned my nighttime TV sessions into stretching sessions and I almost made a dent in my foam roller I was using it so much. My roller even went to Charlotte with me when we went there for the holidays.

    Anyway, I’m glad to hear you’re on the mend and were able to get some miles under your tennis shoes this weekend. I know the recovery wasn’t fun, but hopefully you’re looking back on it now and grateful that you made that choice.


  • 8
    lindsay August 4, 2011, 1:33 pm

    patience is a virtual, thats for sure. I am so glad you enjoyed those sweaty miles! a good run was worth the wait. And i cut back on lots of running but been aqua jogging. kinda therapeutic too. Maybe that would help as well??

  • 9
    Katy (The Singing Runner) August 4, 2011, 1:40 pm

    I’m currently training for my first marathon (Chicago) and I have been sidelined with a high ankle sprain for the past three weeks. It definitely did not fall at a great time in my training (when I am supposed to be peaking), and as much as I wanted to run through the pain, I knew that I needed to let it heal. Tomorrow I am allowed to try to run again, so *fingers crossed* that I will run pain free!

    Having dealt with a shin splint back in the spring (and taking 6 weeks off from running with intense PT), I can definitely feel your pain. It is so frustrating to deal with injury, especially when you finally rebuild mileage up after an existing injury.

    Good luck to you!

  • 10
    kat August 4, 2011, 1:45 pm

    I needed this right now! It’s been one full week since I’ve run or cycled and I’m going nuts. Thanks for the reminder…it is all about NOW and making the right choices so that in the FUTURE I’m not dealing with recurring, chronic issues. Here’s to your pain-free run! I hope to be sharing a similar experience within the next week! 🙂

  • 11
    Michelle August 4, 2011, 1:46 pm

    That smile on your face at the end of the run is worth all of the frustration you’ve endured over the past few months. I have a similar stubbornness that forces me through the pain thinking it’ll all be okay. It’s easy to lose sight of the long term when we’re so focused on getting through the day. Kudos to you for taking a step back and assessing what’s better for you. Your body thanks you for it!

  • 12
    ~Jessica~ August 4, 2011, 1:54 pm

    I’ve been through so many frustrations with my body and running. I have a high pain threshold, so can generally run through most things and ‘get away’ with it.

    But twice this past year I’ve had injuries that have been just too much: two months off with ITB syndrome in October 2010, and now two pubic ramus stress fractures. I have an appointment tomorrow to figure out what the prognosis is but I’ve made the situation worse by running on them a couple of times, even though it’s a month since they happened. I literally have no patience at all and am not the most charitable of injured runners: I get terrible runners’ envy and lose a lot of condition through stress and comfort overeating. It’s left me in such a low place, so hearing about your story and those already in the comments is a little reasurring. It’s just that it seems this injury is a long-term one, and I’m heartbroken that not only will I not get to run the races I had lined up, but may well be looking at never running more than a 5K ever again (and even that could be months away).


  • 13
    Emily@RunningPerspective August 4, 2011, 2:23 pm

    I LOVE THIS! i am recently battling injuries too right now and am taking a break from my running! ugh it sucks and its depressing and demotivating but in the end it really is all about patience in order to get back to a healthy ME that i will be again in the future

  • 14
    jennyv August 4, 2011, 3:07 pm

    So far, I can say I’ve never been plagued with any lasting/nagging injury. I would like to say that it’s because I listen to my body, know when to say when, etc… BUT that’s not the truth. I’ve simply been blessed and lucky to be at the ripe old age of 27, work out at least 5 days a week, and haven’t incurred any injury to date.

    That said, your blog has been great to read as I see you are working through your injury by giving it time and taking the right measures for your hamstring to heal. This is a lesson for all athletes.

  • 15
    Lauri August 4, 2011, 3:40 pm

    Jen, I am so glad you wrote that post because for the last 3 weeks I have been going through the same thing. I am training for my first marathon in October (yet to be determined if I can run it or not) and strained a muscle. The muscle strain is healing, but since I have prior injuries the Chiro is not sure if it is muscular or if there is more structural damage. I took a week off and have been icing like crazy and only biking. It has been very hard for me not to run. I love running and it does so much for me physically and emotionally. I keep telling myself that if I do not run this marathon I have plently of years to run others, however it is hard. Sometimes I feel so frustrated or mad at my husband because he is able to run, while other times I am blessed that I was able to bike for 40 min. It has made me realize how important running and exercise are to me. I am just trying to stay positive and take it one day at a time.

  • 16
    Kelly@foodiefresh August 4, 2011, 4:40 pm

    Yay for being able to run again! That must have been extremely hard to lay off of running completely. But I’m so glad you’re recovery was exactly what you needed and now you’re back to running again.

  • 17
    Alaina August 4, 2011, 4:42 pm

    I applaud you for being able to listen to your body and taking the rest that it needs. I would either be too naive or too stubborn to ever really listen to my body when it needed rest. I hurt my knees when I was marathon training and it took me awhile to suck it up and see a doctor about it. I’m glad I did though, because I didn’t end up injuring myself too much. Just a weeks worth of rest and I was good as new. 🙂

    Hope your runs continue to get better!

  • 18
    Kamaile August 4, 2011, 4:45 pm

    I literally feel your pain as I’ve had the dreaded hamstring injury twice both while training for marathons. I’m fine now but when I run higher mileage I start to wonder if it will come back. Glad to hear your on the way to healing!

  • 19
    Trish August 4, 2011, 5:23 pm

    I was doing really well this spring and early summer, with mainly crossfit (with a trainer) and running. I stay in shape for the sake of it, but it also allows me to perform better with my horses, who are young and can be difficult to ride. It takes lots of core strength to be effective. So I was at a really good place, when I tore my meniscus. It’s been 3 weeks since surgery – turns out I had a tear on the inside and outside of my knee. It’s going pretty well, but I still can’t ride, and of course not much crossfit is happening either. I am about 20 yrs older than you, and for the first time in my life I have this sense of life passing me by. I feel wicked out-of -shape, and it will take lots of work before I feel good on the horses again.

  • 20
    Kristy@RunTheLongRoad August 4, 2011, 6:41 pm

    Amen Jen! If you listen and allow yourself time to heal, you can nip it in the bud (hopefully for good). So easy to say but so hard to follow! I’m so happy you are running pain free!

  • 21
    Anne August 4, 2011, 7:39 pm

    I’ve definitely had my patience tested numerous times, in regards to running! First, in college, I tried to run through a small pain I felt in my left toe (next to my big toe). Two weeks after the initial pain, I went to the doctor, got an x-ray and found out I had actually sprained it and had to stop running for almost 2 months! Another example: I started to drastically increase my running mileage and did too much too soon. Instead of taking days off when I felt shin splints, I decided to push through and ended up giving myself a mini stress-fracture in my right shin. It’s hard for me to be patient about a lot of things, but I’ve learned my lessons from these injuries, and now I listen to my body when it’s talking!

  • 22
    Mary Allison August 4, 2011, 8:33 pm

    I’ve had a knee injury for the past 4 weeks (I get my MRI results back tomorrow), and I totally understand how it feels to completely stop. I’m anxious to start rehabbing and getting back to doing what I love…running and working out!

  • 23
    Nikki August 4, 2011, 9:48 pm

    I tore my rotator cuff my senior year in high school, and since I had planned on swimming in college, didn’t let it heal properly. It got to the point that I didn’t swim for an entire summer, and though that was over 4 years ago, I still have side effects from it. I had to take two weeks off swimming in January because the pain was coming back. If I would have let it heal before, I would have been much better off in the long run! I am proud of you for doing what is best for yourself regardless of the downfalls!

  • 24
    Jeannette August 5, 2011, 8:24 am

    This post is just what I needed. I slipped a disc in my lower back two weeks ago while lifting weights at the gym. It’s the first sports injury I’ve ever experienced and it’s scary and painful. It kills me to not be able to move around, take the dog for a walk, or even just get off the couch without pain. I don’t fell like myself and I can’t wait to start feeling better. I’ve started physical therapy this week so hopefully I’ll start feeling better soon. I’m starting to think the whole ordeal is my body’s way of telling me to slow down, stop trying to do too much, and try to relax.

  • 25
    erin August 5, 2011, 10:24 am

    My patience with my body has definitely been tested–not with injuries but with weight loss. I have about 15-20 lbs to lose, and of course I want it off immediately. I have to remind myself that the body doesn’t work that way, and even though the pounds aren’t dropping off as quickly as I’d like, I’m doing great things for myself by lifting weights, doing yoga, and running. The rest will come. Being so hard on myself doesn’t do me or my body any favors. Sometimes that’s a difficult thing to remember.

  • 26
    Yin August 5, 2011, 10:55 am

    Congrats on being able to run again 🙂 I’ve been dealing with a knee injury for the past month. Back in October I had a foot injury and couldn’t run either, but I was really impatient then. This time around, I’m just listening to what my body needs and telling myself that if I take it too fast, there’s a chance I may never run again.

  • 27
    Gina August 5, 2011, 3:16 pm

    I have to say that seeing this post today was exactly what I needed. I’m honestly not a big blog commenter but I have to say thanks for this one 🙂 I am new to running and have recently gotten shin splints. I was a dancer for 10 years and, as dance requires strange and often harmful things from the body, I had to stop and find something else to stay in shape. It started as a hate-hate relationship but quickly started to love the way I felt after seeing what my body could do. Then came shin splints. I’ve been feeling really stressed and bummed out since they’ve come on and I have no clue what else I can do – it’s like my body is cheating on me! Your post today was definitely helpful in easing the stress! Thanks!

  • 28
    Eva July 1, 2012, 3:16 pm

    In October, I had back surgery on my low back and suffered a lot of muscle atrophy because of the nerve being pinched for so long, and me not realizing that was the problem. Now in May, neck surgery to fuse two vertebrata together because of a ruptured disc that was effecting the muscles in my right arm, neck and upper back.

    Recovery I realize will take a while, and I need to be patient. Patients has never really been a strong suit of mine.
    I’m going to do a little whining here, I’m sore. All I can really do for rehab right now is walking, and my left leg muscles are weaker than the right, so they are sore, and the left foot is sore from doing a lot of extra work. My back is sore from building the muscles back in the right side from the ruptured disc in the neck.

    Ah, I just need a day to rest, and I’ll be fine. Get out there people and take advantage of the beautiful day, and don’t take your mobility for granted!! Get walking, running, biking, or swimming, just be moving!!

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