Over the past year, I have had to persevere through many injuries. And by persevere, I mean stubbornly continuing to work out with injuries when I shouldn’t have been…
It all started in December 2013, around the time that thingsstarted to click for me. I had always been slightly envious of runners in that they could do their exercise whenever, wherever, and that they had entire events (races) centered around their exercise. On top of that, how freeing would it be to run around, wind blowing through your hair, finally having a chance to be alone with your thoughts? With these thoughts in mind (and partly because my roommate was doing it and had seen success), I decided to start doing the Couch to 5k program.
At first, I wasn’t even in good enough shape to do week 1 of the program, so I started out by running certain parts of my route in order to work my way up to starting week 1. This was a wonderful plan, until I decided Maya, my dog, should join me so she could get some exercise as well. I love my dog, she needs exercise, and lots of cool people run with their dogs… so why not? I don’t think most of these dogs have Rottweiler bodies and Basset Hound legs though… which equals super awkward running.
Maya is a very hyper dog, and at around two years old at the time, was still in her puppy phase (to tell you the truth, she kind of still is) and, if dogs could be diagnosed, had a definite case of ADHD. I had to be very careful when running with Maya, because she would suddenly try to dart off in a different direction and her 50 pound body would drag me with her. I tried to be good about holding her leash well and tugging a little when she needed a reminder, but one day I just got really into the run and forgot. Maya caught a whiff of something, darted off to the left, and my body overcorrected and my right ankle twisted. I figured it was just something that happens and continued on.
I tried running a few more times on it (by this time, I had gone home for Christmas and was trying to run there, where there are a lot more hills than the very flat area I live in) but the inside of my leg, near my calf, was in excruciating pain. At first, I attributed it to being a normal pain, but eventually it became obvious that something was wrong. My soon-to-be doctor roomie diagnosed it as being a high ankle sprain.
Me being new to the running scene and never having had an injury like this before, I figured if I just took a week or two off, I’d be good, right? WRONG. A bad high ankle sprain can take months to heal and I had worsened the injury by continuing to run on it.
So here I was, not even a month into my new fitness routine and had all the motivation in the world, but my body was not cooperating. But I am stubborn and figured I’d still be alright exercising. I did stop running on it for the most part (except when I would do 5Ks—don’t do a 5K when a sprained ankle like me, people!) and instead would speed-walk almost daily. Maya was much easier to control on these walks and we were still getting some exercise. I went back to the gym and started using the elliptical and weights and was making good progress without hurting my ankle too much (I still would recommend taking a better break than I did). I also started getting really into Les Mills’ Body Flow, which was nice because there was no impact.
As I started walking with Maya more, I decided to start doing our walks in different places so that we could see some new scenery. We were walking on a trail one day, when I stepped on a stick wrong and twisted my left ankle. Luckily, this time it was the lower part of the ankle, which heals a little bit faster. But now I had TWO sprained ankles. Did I stop working out? No. Because I’m stubborn (or just not the brightest crayon in the box haha).
I finally decided to go to the doctor about my legs in March because my original sprain wasn’t healing (because I was still working out on it, duh) and now I had a new sprain. His advice was the same as I had seen all over the internet:
That was not exactly the miracle cure I was looking for, but okay. I was to stop working out like I was and come back in three months to see if I had made any progress. I continued to work out but did try to stay off the ankle a smidge more than I had before.
Shortly before I had to go back for my three month appointment, I noticed a sharp pain that ran from just to the right of my knee and around the back of my right leg, into my hamstring. If you look up those symptoms, you will see that I probably had hamstring tendonitis. It didn’t seem to bother me too much while I was working out, but daily walking around at work killed it. When I went to the doctor for my checkup, she finally recommended physical therapy.
I spent basically the whole summer going to physical therapy twice a week and only doing low impact workouts that my physical therapist recommended. My ankles seemed to have healed but my hamstring tendonitis wasn’t getting better. My therapist and I decided that what my body needed most was time and to continue resting it, so I stopped going to therapy.
Around this time, school started up again (I’m a teacher), and I was really worried about having to walk around at work again and ruining any progress I may have made. I sat down while teaching a lot more and had to buy some more supportive shoes and over time it seemed to help a lot. I also started taking ibuprofen regularly and this helped even more.
By December 2014, I hadn’t had much of any pain in a couple of months so I decided I should start running again. This time, I was actually in decent enough shape to start on week 1 of the Couch to 5K program! I worked on it for about 2 ½ weeks and was feeling good about everything, when my left leg started bothering me. I’m not positive if I twisted anything, but I’m pretty sure I had a stress fracture in the lower part of my leg. I have completely stopped running because of it this time.
Having all of these injuries over the last year have been one of the biggest frustrations I’ve ever dealt with. The biggest battle people face when starting a fitness routine is a lack of motivation, but I was motivated to work out every day! But my body stepped in and told me it was not ready for that. With my current injuries (my hamstring has randomly started flaring up on certain days and my fracture is still healing), I am taking things slow. I am not allowing myself any impact exercising for 6 weeks (so that would be in another two weeks from now), and even then I am going to SLOWLY build to doing more impact. I have started taking calcium, vitamin D, and glucosamine to try to see if that can help make my bones stronger. I do work out 6 days a week with Piyo, but I modify when I need to and the program is low-impact anyway. I am doing what works for my body!
My advice if you get injuries? DO NOT do what I did and continue to work out on it. You have to learn to read your body and determine the difference between the good kinds of pains (like when you’ve been doing squats for a couple seconds and your thighs are screaming) and the bad kinds (you have a shooting pain up your hamstring any time you move it). Listen to your body and take things slow! Remember—it’s not about “dieting” and losing weight fast, it’s about making a LIFEstyle change. You’ve got the rest of your life to make your goals. No one else is putting an expiration date on when you have to have lost a certain amount of weight, so you shouldn’t either. I’m not saying don’t have goals, but don’t overdo it trying to make impossible to reach goals!
If you would like to talk to me about certain workouts and injuries, please feel free to contact me! There is a contact form at the bottom of this page.