Hi! It’s been about 10 weeks or so since I’ve posted, and surprise! I’m still not running because of my stress fracture.
“Typical” healing from a stress fracture is approximately 6-8 weeks depending on severity, speed of healing, etc. I spent the first six weeks in the air cast and the next three without running or weight-bearing exercise of any type, with the exception of the occasional recumbent bike ride– total snooze fest. I also popped calcium and vitamin D like it was candy, mmm.
I got a follow-up MRI around 8 weeks to determine whether the bone had healed and get clearance from my doctor to run again. In the days leading up to the results, I set out for a much-needed run or two (or three…) to clear my head. I started with a very easy, very slow mile, and felt no pain!
The morning of my doctor’s appointment, I reunited with my old running buds on the bridle path for a good 20 minutes. It was glorious, even with the 30-something degree temperatures and snowflakes. There was no pain, no tenderness, no iffy-ness (except in my lungs because I’m so ridiculously out of shape, but that’s a different story) so I felt pretty confident about getting the results that evening. Just like I had expected the last two months, I’d ease back into running right before Thanksgiving to get a solid base through December, ready to kick off Boston training strong in January.
False. The MRI results still show a slight stress fracture, so my doctor wants me to take an additional 3-4 weeks completely off.
Insert heartbreak. And more calcium.
I know I was a bad patient and I would probably never advise anyone else to run before getting cleared post-stress fracture, but 9 loooong weeks had passed, my shin didn’t hurt, and I craved fresh air and QT with my running sneakers more than ever.
There have been some pretty big changes in my life lately. Many emotions, but mostly excitement! These changes leave me craving that one thing that makes me feel most like myself and provides routine and structure in my life: running. (And, wine. Lots of it.)
So since I probably won’t be lacing up my sneaks until around Christmas time, I wanted to share the things I’ve kept in mind the last 2+ months. While I’m sharing these mostly as a personal reminder to keep my sanity, hopefully they can help anyone dealing with a similar injury or extended time off running.
- Respect your body. Your body is smart and pretty amazing at telling you what it needs. Unfortunately, sometimes injuries are a form of communication. Injuries are no fun, and I’ve sustained my fair share this past year (knee/IT? cab accident? stress fracture? 2013 was not my year..) However, I try to view injuries as your body’s way of telling you to slow down. When injuries strike, you suddenly become far more in tune with your body and start being nicer to it (icing, taking supplements, foam rolling, resting, etc.) Sometimes, we just need a break. Since I want my shin to get stronger than ever, I’m respecting this rest time and taking the full four weeks off again.
- Less time running = more time for other things you love! For me, that’s sleep and time with friends. For you, maybe it’s a new hobby or picking up another project at work! Remember all of those early mornings during training when your alarm goes off way too early and you curse it and long for a day to just sleep in? Well, when you can’t run, that day is every day! I’ve totally soaked this time up and try to get 9+ hours a night when I can, to make up for the nights of too little sleep. Instead of Thursday night team workouts, I spent most Thursday nights out with friends. Without a Saturday morning long run to wake up for, Fridays were suddenly wide open! And I felt zero guilt about staying on my couch all day if I wanted to. Don’t get me wrong, there were (are?) plenty of days I craved the feeling of accomplishment after a long run or feeling energized to start my day after a few miles on the bridle. But life is all about balance, and I’d like to think I do a pretty good job at this even when I’m seriously training. Spending even more time being able to say ‘YES’ to friends and new things helps take your mind off running, a bit.
- Cross-train or pick up something new. Depending on your injury, this is a great way to stay in shape and get your endorphin fix. Admittedly, I didn’t do this but would advocate it to most. I was told I could do non-weight bearing activities like swimming, core & upper body strength, and very easy recumbent biking. Honestly, I can count the times I cross-trained on one or two hands. Personally, if I can’t run— I’d rather do nothing and sleep in (see above.) I found the time suck of walking to and from the gym way too annoying and I just can’t get down with the recumbent bike or the miniature-sized pool at NYSC. However, I did try to go for hikes while traveling or long walks around the city, and have recently started lifting 5 lb. weights at the gym. Watch out for these guns.
- Keep it in perspective. During my junior year of high school, I was unlucky enough to get not one, but two, stress back-to-back fractures in my tibia (which is, apparently, the bone that still hates me ten years later.) At the time, it was devastating and I’m pretty sure I cried in my coach’s office every single day until I could run again. Dramatic much? I remember my coach telling me that I can run for as long as I choose to. Back then, I didn’t appreciate that simple advice and brushed it off. While not being able to run these last few months (or much this year) has been quite frustrating, I haven’t been too upset about it because it’s just a blip in my 12+ year running career— and hopefully decades more to come. Perspective. One injury or period off does not ruin your running goals and dreams; if anything, it reinvigorates you to come at them stronger than ever once you’re healthy.
Simple thoughts in my non-expert, personal opinion. Everyone has their own way of mentally and physically dealing with injuries and that’s okay.
To help cope with the lack of mileage in my life over the next few weeks, I’ll be jetsetting around the globe! I’m currently writing this from a coffeeshop in LA where I’m spending the week hanging with my sister before driving down to Palm Springs with her and my mom for Thanksgiving. Then, I’ll leave straight from LA on December 2nd to spend about 18 days traveling Thailand (!!) and Cambodia (!!) with two friends, Karen and Kara.
I simply can’t contain my excitement for this trip, which I hope will look something like ‘Eat Pray Love’ with a lot of thai red curry, elephant riding, Full Moon Party-ing, and sleeping on beautiful beaches. I also feel incredibly fortunate to have the time and resources to pursue a trip like this– sometimes I still have to pinch myself that it’s really happening.
Life has a funny way of working out, and while I can’t predict what the next month or year might bring, I’ll be heading back home to NJ for Christmas and diving into 2014 with a smile (and hopefully, a tan.) Vitamin D from the sun is good for healing bones, right?