Thursday, 26 September 2013

running, round two: getting back into it after injury

runners a I checked when I last wrote about running and it was June. June! I knew it was a while ago but didn't want it to be quite that long. I'd just hit my first milestone of 5km and was really happy, and really amazed, to the point of confusion, that I could even do it.

And then I hurt my ankle and it all kind of fell apart.

What had just been a twinge for a while got bad enough to stop me running, and then even cycling and at one point walking became hard. It was so, so frustrating. I rested it for a week, and then two, and then a month, and each time I thought it was getting better and I'd go for a short run, I'd find that no, ankle was not finished resting, thank-you-very-much. It started to affect my right knee, and then my left, and I clearly just needed to let everything heal properly.

But back in August it finally felt better and I started running regularly again. It felt TERRIBLE! Dropping back from feeling good, if pushed, at running 5km non stop in about 30 minutes, I had to go way back to around halfway through the running program, and gasp my way through a slow 10 minute run. Run? I think lurch, stagger, or lug might be better words. I could feel the fitness I'd built up so quickly had vanished just as fast – which is fair, I suppose – and I felt like I was dragging my backside behind me like a wagon. Keep up, backside! The weight that had dropped off so quickly seemed to have returned, too, and I felt as though all that effort had been for nothing.

Still, if I could get to that high point the first time around, I decided I could definitely get back there again. The 10 minute runs were completed. They weren't fun anymore. There was no runner's high, no sense of reaching a new goal, no feeling of having had a good run, the kind where everything is working well and you're flying, the kind I'd got used to. I didn't feel strong afterwards, as I once had, and instead, after each one, was tired and a bit glum. I finally bought some new running shoes (I had to go and run on a treadmill and get analysed and all that, which seemed like a bore so I put it off for ages) which – touch wood – feel really good and have been keeping my ankle happy. A couple of weeks ago, I started to push a bit further than those awful 10 minute limps, and did two 10 minutes with 3 minutes walking in between. The second runs were hard, and I couldn't wait for them to be over... BUT!

Yesterday, it finally happened! After a month of sweat and effort and blah, it felt good. Really good! I was run-plodding my way through the second half and then got my second wind – something I hadn't had for aaaaaaages. I finished the run feeling really strong, beating my best pace and distance and finally, FINALLY, walked home buzzing with that high. Running is fun again!

I wanted to share this because I know that lots of runners go through a tedious injury process, and that getting back into it is hard. I found that reading about other people's experiences with it helped me to feel better about it – there is light at the end of the tunnel, eventually! And I know lots of you run, too. Have you been couch bound by injury? I'd love to hear about your running hurdles (pun NOT intended!) and how you overcame them.


MarieBayArea said...

Be careful out there.

Sew Brunswick said...

I hear you! I broke my foot at the end of last year running. It has been a slow recovery. I've just started running again but I need to take it really, really slow which is super hard. Good luck!

Sophie said...

Congrats on persevering! I started the couch to 5k plan a few months back and had a very similar experience - niggling pain in knee, ankle and achilles tendon that got worse before it got better. Very frustrating! I've been trying to get back into it slowly, and am currently lumbering occasionally... You've inspired me to try harder! I've also been putting off getting new running shoes, but perhaps they would help? I still can't imagine it ever being fun, but I would so love to get to that point. So glad you're enjoying it! xx

Anonymous said...

I had a really bad ankle sprain about a year and a half ago. I ran a 5k a couple of months after I thought it had healed. It turns out, it healed wrong and so now I still can't seem to run! Every time I try, my knees, hips, and neck, hurts. I don't know how to get past this. All this from an ankle spring?! So weird! I have such an urge to run all the time and have to refrain. I hope a doctor can figure this out soon! Sorry that this probably wasn't the breakthrough story you wanted to hear! Maybe it will be someday?! How did you get better?!

beate grigutsch said...

i know myself how good it feels to be fit again after injury. brave girl you are.

i´m not a runner but a hiker - and i have very bad knees. every now and then it is a huge step to not stay on the couch for the rest of my live. but this wouldn´t make it better. this legs need to be moved. and if i do it right i have a great day in the wilderness :-)

esme and the laneway said...

MarieBayArea : I will but not too careful or I'll miss all the fun :)

Sew Brunswick : Oh no! Ouch! Well that puts my grumbles into perspective. Good luck with the recovery, the patience needed will suck but it will of course be worth it x

Sophie: ugh, it's so annoying, isn't it! I think part of my problem was my first pair of running shoes were a bit old to begin with so maybe if yours need replacing, new shoes could help? And make sure you're better before running again :) Good luck!

Anonymous : oh no, that's horrible :( Mine was nothing serious so I just rested it and after a month of total no-running rest it was good to go. I'm sure a doctor will help – but do see one! And thanks for sharing – I think it's important to talk about these things when they are in the middle of the bad times, and not just the happy endings bit. It's encouraging for others still in the tunnel! x

beate grigutsch : isn't it amazng how good moving, and being in the fresh air, can make you feel so good! Hiking sounds amazing, I should do some here in Aus. really! And haha I hear you about the couch! x

Kym Piez said...

I love running. Actually, that's not true. I hate running, but do it every second day. But the feeling I get afterwards is worth every minute, every kilometer. One day I'm going to finish stronger than I started. One day. Well done on persisting! X

alittlevintagestory said...

I've had knee and hip issues for a couple of years now that have impacted on my training. Decent shoes have been one of the most important investments that I've made. They made such a big difference to my running technique and also my recovery. Good luck with getting back up to speed, you'll be there in no time. xx

scientician said...

My big hurdle was getting pregnant when training for a 10km, 3 years ago. My hips went horribly wrong during pregnancy and I could barely walk. It took just over a year before I was able to start thinking about running again and even then my hips hurt.

My daughter turned 2 in March this year and I just started running again with some kind of purpose. What helped was having a running buddy. One who had never run before.

We ended up running the couch to 5km program together and then the bridge to 10km and ran our first 10km race together this August.

I love it when the endorphins kick in.

Vanessa said...

Yay! Congratulations! I hurt my ankle at the beginning of the year, and I can't run at all anymore. It was the final injury in a long line of ankle injuries that prompted my doctor to tell me that running just isn't something I can do anymore. That's o.k though, because there are plenty of other sweat-inducing activities that I like. I'm so glad that you're all healed and back on track though.

Bea W. said...

I'm so glad you recovered from your injury and got back into running. It's hard to get back into your routine and training after a break as you know what you once been capable of but the have to start way back again. But once you get back into the swing of things you will soon be back where you left and get even better. You will see.
Great that you got proper fitting shoes now. They are so important and the only thing (apart from maybe a good sports bra) that you should not scrimp on. Everything else is optional but the wrong shoes will cause injury sooner or later. Also make sure to replace them when neccessary. I always go through the whole foot/stride/running analysis again every time I buy a new pair as your feet/running style can change over time.
I am lucky that I have not had an injury in my 5 1/2 years of running (knock on wood, I hope I haven't jinxed it) but I have phases of more or less intense training as you can't just progress continuesly (otherwise we'd all be Olympians breaking records all the time....) every time I get back on a new focused training plan after some months of less intense running I need a few weeks to really enjoy it again. I think it's because I'm frustrated that I'm not as good as I used to be before. It's hard to be patient until I pick up speed and distance again so I know exactly what you feel like. But believe me you will get there and you will exceed if you keep working at it. Just don't give up. It's such a wonderful feeling when you get into that zone again and it all feels effortless and natural again.
I hope you will enjoy it all again very soon. Happy running!!!

Christine said...

totally understand, I ran the marathon last year, then badly injured my foot, i'm still in the process of getting my foot back to not even sure I could run 1mile right now! I know it's going to be a tough battle to get back to enjoying running again...your story gave me hope!! xx

esme and the laneway said...

‪Kym Piez‬ : hehe I'm with you, I don't love running so much when I'm halfway through..! ;D But yes to doing it!

‪alittlevintagestory‬ : thanks, same to you. The right shoes are soooo important!

‪scientician‬ : wow that's fantastic! Congratulations! That's really inspiring. :) I can't imagine getting to 10km but maybe there is hope...

‪Vanessa‬: Oh no! I'm glad there are other activities you can do and like though. Oh, joints, hey!

‪Bea W.‬ : thank you! It's so good to learn that from someone that knows running so well – it's all still so new to me. Knowing that there are peaks and troughs but that the good stuff returns each time is a relief :) And so true re. sports bras and shoes! SO important :)

‪Christine‬ : congratulations on the marathon! That's so amazing! :D Good luck with your foot. I'm sure you'll be back before you know it – if you can do a marathon you can do anything!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on getting back into it!

In March I got a stress fracture in my ankle from running, and after that healed I took up skating because I was still finding it difficult to go running (probably the worst decision I ever made) and wanted to find an activity which would help me build back up my fitness. And then my I broke my pelvis. It's been six months and I still can't run or even go for long walks, but the doctor recommended me to take up riding a bike. This post just made me so excited for when I can get back to running though x

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