An Injured Relationship

July 12, 2008 at 6:55 pm | Posted in Injury, Life | Leave a comment

There’s an unpleasant irony in the fact that I am beginning my running blog on a day when I am worried that I might actually have to take a break from running. You may have noticed from my Daily Run post that I ran an hour today–a good run by most standards. However, whether I should have gone at all is up for debate.  There has been a slightly scary tightness in my left knee this week.  I’ve cut down on both volume and intensity, hoping that the pain is stemming from tight muscles and that a little rest and ART home therapy will take care of the problem. 

Soon I’ll blog about the reason for my fear–the 3+ months when I couldn’t run because of my knee.  I’ll also blog about returning to running and the Active Release Technique (ART) that allows me to run through sporadic reoccurrences of this pain. Today, however, I’m going to write out the thoughts I had during my run today…

Running is essentially a romantic relationship. Some runners begin in a frenzied burst that often ends just as quickly as interest in the sport soon wanes. Others, however, take it slow and let the relationship build, which often leads to a lifelong love. 

But, sometimes Running betrays us. You as the runner, of course, deny the problem.  If you ignore that nagging little ache, it will surely go away. You continue tying on the shoes every day and maybe stretching before you head out the door. But the problem doesn’t go away, and every day that you continue your affair with Running, the pain gets a little worse.  Soon, you and Running are forced to discontinue your relationship.

Your “break up” with Running is more painful than the actual injury. You spend time in the doctor’s office, more time doing therapy exercises.  You medicate.  You try seeing others, but that Elliptical just doesn’t hold the same appeal.  Your date with Pool was horrendous and left you craving Running even more.

And then finally your wounds heal enough for you to give Running another try.  You begin slowly, trying to build a foundation for your newfound relationship before committing to long runs or racing.  If small problems occur along the way, you give Running some space before things go badly again.  You’ve learned at least this much.

Gradually, you become more sure in your relationship with Running. It feels stable and you test some long runs, some hills. This is the makeup sex period and the runs feel wonderful, leaving you high, breathless, and ready for the next go. You begin researching races and considering the future. 

However, Running has betrayed you before and could betray you again. Each run is laced with a little dose of fear. Does my knee ache more than yesterday? Could this be a sign of a possible injury?  You’re more cautious this time around, making sure to ice and stretch daily. But is this good enough? If you have pain, what will your method be this time? Will you ignore it again and hope that it goes away? Or will you and Running take a little “break” and hope that the hurt mends quickly? Your relationship with Running isn’t the same as before it betrayed you. 

For those of you who have returned to running after injury, what are your new methods for dealing with pain?  How has your break from running changed how you view running in general?

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