Light at the End of the Tunnel: A Newfound Perspective
Forget about missing the marathon; it’s not being able to run with my beautiful Weims, Preston and Pele, above on one of our local trails, that’s the worst part of recovery from injury.
It’s a journey, no doubt, but I see the end is near, or rather, the next step as it truly is an ongoing process!
“You’ve really stayed positive during your injury, Nell”, a friend kindly told me this morning at swim.
If she only knew! Well, now she does, because I told her.
Told her what?
I told her the truth: that I’d been through all the emotions, first hoping beyond hope I didn’t have a fracture (and that was only hoping against hope I could still run my race!), then putting my stubborn mindset first and deciding I wouldn’t let any silly boot stand in my way.
I was still going about my day to day routine as normal; on my feet all day long, driving here and there, teaching my cooking classes, giving talks.
It wasn’t until almost a full week and a half into wearing the boot that I realized I still hadn’t begun to rest.
It took my husband and a few close friends to alert me to the fact that simply not running doesn’t automatically equal rest.
So I did something I never do: I took three rest days from training.
Not even a walk with the dogs (couldn’t do that even if I wanted to at the moment anyway!).
Sure, I’ll take it easy the week after a race but I’m not just talking about not working out, I’m talking about sitting with my feet up, icing, thawing, stretching, icing.
At first, I thought I’d be able to handle it pretty well, and I did, on Friday.
But on Saturday, when, as any endurance athlete knows, it’s typically time for some bigger volume or intensity or something (!), I watched my husband head out on a beautiful, warm sunny day for another hilly bike ride in the Santa Monicas while I stayed home to rest I felt like an absolute sick person.
And I never feel sick.
I felt weak, feeble and even broken.
And despite meditating, I couldn’t seem to get out of that mindset for a good few days.
I could distract myself here and there; get lost in a book or concentrate on working on a client’s plan or a phone call, but without the physical activity, I noticed my mind wandering into depths I despise going into.
The “what-ifs” began.
What if I developed an injury in my right foot because I’d been walking around with the boot on my left?
What if I’d somehow made the fracture on the left heel worse because I had done a couple of easy spin sessions on my bike on my trainer?
It was one thing to have this chatter going on in my mind, but it was the last straw when on the third night of funk-ness, I was very consciously verbally vomiting all over my husband and saying these nonsense things aloud.
All in all, this funk lasted about three days and fortunately, it culminated with a follow-up visit to the doctor’s office, who took an X-ray which showed…the fracture is beginning to heal and I may be out of the boot as soon as ten more days!
Oh, what a weight had been lifted!
I began to see and end in sight and I also began to feel the sense of calm I have been working so hard to keep with me over the last year or so since I began meditating.
I suddenly didn’t feel I HAD to get on my bike as soon as possible and if my workout routine for now was one day swim, and the second day water run, that was fine… for now.
I’ve been making a point not to book by day from dawn til midnight and have been pleasantly surprised with how productive I have been able to be working from home.
Add to that the support I’ve gotten from friends, those who have had a similar injury as well as those who stoically and courageously deal with significantly more than a temporary setback and my perspective became wiser still.
One friend in particular, a fellow athlete, reached out wth a kind email in which she mentioned how, when she had her eye removed 20-odd years ago (she has a condition called arteriovenous malformation (AVM), in which tangles of abnormal blood vessels. They can form wherever arteries and veins exist. In her case, the formed in her eye).
Her perspective is so inspiring, so honest just what I needed to hear from someone who genuinely just wanted to reach out and make sure I was ok).
This is not to say we should suppress our feelings immediately once we realize someone else has a different challenge, perhaps one which happens to be permanent, to deal with which we may or may not feel the need to compare ourselves to, but it must be factored in as part of the big picture.
I am sharing this now, rather than when I was in the middle of a pity party because I believe when we feel that way, we’re not really thinking clearly.
At least I’m not.
I needed to go within to figure out what and why I was feeling how I was feeling, and feel it. I had to break in order to start to rebuild.
I suppose we all have our own way to get though tough times, be it an injury, a loss or any other challenge that comes our way, but one thing I’ve always taken comfort in is knowing we’re all in it together.
Kind of beautiful in a way, isn’t it?
I’ll be running again, and racing, but it’s so nice to feel like if and when I decide that isn’t interesting anymore, I’ll be OK with it and know there is a lot more in my life I always have appreciated but do so all the more now.
Most importantly, I am looking forward to our first team run with the dog children and my hubbie!