Forced Recovery.

At first it’s easy to ignore. To explain away. There’s surely some innocuous reason for that twinge or that pain. Just keep going.

But it doesn’t really get better. Maybe the pain is just there at the start. Maybe the body just needs more of a warmup before starting. An extra day off, a different workout or cross training or yoga will “fix” it.

Maybe that strategy sort of works. Until it doesn’t.

And so it’s been 22 days since I’ve been on a run.

I’d been experiencing some hamstring tightness and shin pain for a bit, but it’d dissipate after a mile or so. I’d feel a twinge going down stairs or stepping funny or getting out of the saddle to climb a hill on the bike. When we ran the Carkeek Warmer 10K on July 10, my shin was twinging for much of the race. I took a few days off running, catching some time in the yoga. On July 14 we went out for a run, 7 miles on relatively easy trails. Again the shin was improved but bugging me a bit throughout the run.

Two days later I couldn’t run for even a few seconds without intense pain. The fear that had been haranguing me was reality. This was an injury—and not one I could just run through.

I let myself sulk for a day or so…

Then I got to work.

I had a good lead on a physical therapist. One had done 20 minute injury assessments at our gym in the spring. I went about a wrist issue I was having and really liked her. She was friendly, knowledgable, and committed to helping active people make progress toward their goals while caring for injuries. And she’s covered under my insurance.

Turns out she also has the best assistant.

Black and white dog with brown eyes

The assessment: medial tibial stress syndrome. A fancy term (or really, a more precise one) for shin splints.

For 2 weeks, I’ve been diligently doing exercises assigned by the PT, yoga a couple of days a week, some cross training. One goal was to maintain cardio with cross training, but I have a relatively low tolerance for stationary machines. So I’ll have some work to build back.

But overall I’m happy about the progress I’ve made. The first week or so was frustrating. And I’ve definitely had the occasional pang of longing to be out on the trails on a beautiful day.

Yet I also have accepted the importance of taking the time to actually address the injury. To give my body time to recover and heal. And to work on correcting the imbalances that contributed to the stress.

I studied anatomy and physiology some in high school and college. But the interconnectedness of the human body continues to amaze me. My physical therapist concluded it’s likely that I don’t quite reaching a full extension in the right hip as a I push off, so the left leg was taking more force as it had to engage sooner. It also seems a bit like magic when she gets into my back to release tightness in a hamstring, and yet it works.

Physical therapy has been, in part, learning how my body is meant to move, and strengthening and stretching and practicing essentially to retrain my body how to run.

I got the OK to try a run this weekend, if I stick to trails (no concrete). Gene is dealing with his own injury that’s keeping him from running now too. Even though I’m eager to get back to running, I’m a little nervous too.

What’s your experience with injury & recovery?