Stages of [Injury] Grief

First of all, today is my husband’s birthday, so happy birthday to him! I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read this, but whatever. He’s caught up to me age-wise, so I’ve got a full 5 months free from cougar jokes, yay! ūüôā

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Us in Cabo last fall.

Anyway, back to what this blog is supposed to be about: running. Also, my own personal stages of grief as experienced this past weekend.

I was THRILLED that I was able to run 7 miles last Tuesday, and so after taking Wednesday off, I did 8 miles on Thursday. No pain, and I was feeling strong and healthy and ready to kick Santa Rosa’s ass. Or at least shuffle through it since I missed about a month of training.

Saturday I set out with the run club for a 12-14 mile run. My body felt great, though I could tell that I had lost a little running fitness- low/no-impact cardio is great for injuries but hitting the pavement again feels weird. I felt good at mile 5, and at mile 6, so I kept going to the 14 mile turnaround. Shortly after turning around, I felt my gait shift as my IT band started tightening up.

Shit. Not what I had expected or planned for. I immediately entered my first stage of injury grief:

1. Denial

“It’s just a little tightness, but there’s no pain yet. If I stretch I’ll be a-ok!”¬†I stopped to stretch and tried to massage it out a little bit. I was able to run another half mile or so before needing to repeat the process. This repeated a few times, each time my running distance getting shorter. At 9.5 miles, I just started walking. For those that aren’t good at math, I was still 5.5 miles from our starting point. And it takes a long time to walk 5.5 miles.

2. Anger

“WTF. I was fine all week,¬†great¬†even! This is so f*cking stupid. F*ck f*uck¬†f*uck¬†f*uck¬†f*uck.” My anger quickly morphed from anger about my injury to anger about… everything.¬†¬†I was unbelievably angry because I had¬†falsely¬†believed I was healed, because I didn’t have the foresight to take my damn phone with me, because I had to walk for close to 2 hours in the heat as happy runners passed me by, etc.¬†Out of desperation, I asked strangers to borrow their cell phones in attempt to call the husband. Of course, he didn’t hear his cell ring any of the 3 times I called him, which led to me having a mini-meltdown on the trail. All the sudden all of the world’s problems were his fault. Logical, I know.

3. Bargaining

“If I walk for another 1/4 mile, then you’ll let me run for awhile, right IT band? If I only run 3 times a week and am good about stretching and rolling, then I can still manage to run the marathon. After the marathon I’ll give my legs a nice long rest. Maybe I’ll even take up swimming! Anything so that I can run for just another month or so!” Obviously, I can’t make a deal with my body to cooperate with my plans and goals. But I’ve kept trying to worm my way out of serious time off with this injury.

4. Depression

“I’m never going to be able to run double digits again. My body is irreparable and all of my issues are¬†my own fault. I didn’t do the cross training I should have and now all my running hopes and dreams are down the toilet.” That sounds really¬†over-dramatic, but I really did think (do think?) those things. A few people I run with did the San Francisco Marathon this past weekend. When I saw a few of them got awesome PRs, instead of being happy for them, I got a sinking feeling in my chest. Like I’d never experience the feeling of a marathon PR again.¬†

I’m still waiting to get to stage 5: Acceptance. Every so often I have a glimmer of hope. Take yesterday, for example. I ran a solid 4 miles followed by an intense half hour on the elliptical, and I felt good. Hopeful that I was on the road to recovery, and somewhat at peace with my drastically altered training. A little later though I was upset that, barring an act from god, I won’t be running the full Santa Rosa Marathon. Sure, there will be other marathons, but I’m having a hard time accepting that I was training so well and on target to reach my goals and now… double digit runs seem like a distant memory.

One of these days I’ll get my brain sorted out. My “running depression” is a pain in the ass, but it’s nothing like the true, can’t-get-out-of-bed-in-the-morning, helpless-feeling depression I’ve felt in the past. Still, it sucks and I’m probably going to continue to complain and be illogical about it. But this is my blog, so I get to do what I want ūüôā

I’m looking at fall marathons as an alternative to Santa Rosa (Morgan Hill¬†or¬†Wine Country¬†marathon in¬†Healdsburg), which are 13 and 11 weeks out from now. At this point I really need to see how my recovery goes before committing to anything, though. I’d love to shoot for¬†CIM¬†in early December, but there’s about a 50% chance I’ll be living in Houston by then so that may not be feasible. Time will tell, I guess! ¬†¬†

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5 thoughts on “Stages of [Injury] Grief

  1. Oh man, what a bummer. I’m so sorry Mary. I don’t think there’s anything I can really say to make you feel better so I’ll just say that this sucks. Okay, I will also say that it will get better. You will run again. You will run a marathon. You will PR. Hang in there.

  2. I have been batteling an injury for 4 months now, ridiculous I know! At first I just wanted to get back to running. Yeah that didnt work so wel,l hence 4 months later I’m still Injured.
    Finally I realized what I really wanted was to know what the cause was so I could effectively treat it and be healthy again.
    It’s been a long frusterating journey but now that an MRI revealed a stress fracture I can finally take care of myself properly.
    Get help and get to the root cause!!! Hope you feel better soon!

    • I can’t even imagine dealing with a stress fracture, that sucks! I’m working with a physical therapist to try and fix my problem- luckily I have alignment/imbalance issues that I can run through to some extent… but it’s still going to be a pretty long road to recovery I think!

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