Sunday, December 15, 2013

Running Out of Patience: Waiting Out Injuries

"If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire—then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. Learn to separate the inconveniences from the real problems. You will live longer." ~Sigmund Wollman

I've incurred many minor running injuries over the eight years that I've been training and running races. Most of those injuries are common and easily handled. You run less, you stop running for a short period, you get treatment... no biggie. In fact, minor aches and pains incurred by runners are a large part of what runners rap about. Shop talk amongst runners involves liberal amounts of advice and anecdotes that revolve around these issues.

I broke my big toe on August 28th, about six weeks before the Scotia Toronto Waterfront Marathon which I was registered to run. A big toe is a critical part of your running anatomy. And when it's broke, it hurts. My doctor said it would take six to eight weeks to heal. So I figured, during the early days after my injury, and whilst medicated with my own Prescription (light on the Coke, a bit more generous on the Rum), that my triumphant Return to Running would see me crossing the STWM Finish Line somewhat more slowly than originally planned, but nevertheless finishing. After all, I ran a 30 km race six weeks after having my appendix removed, so it couldn't be worse than that, right? Wrong.

Everyone who had broken a big toe knew I was deluded, but didn't slap me in the face with that knowledge. They let me come to that realization myself. I also came to realize that the discipline I had developed in my running regime served me well in this recovery period. I quickly adopted a daily routine at the gym that saw me paying attention to all of those upper body muscles I had neglected as a runner. I could still use the Elliptical Trainer as well after a couple of weeks. In short, I adapted, and it wasn't so bad. The gym made my Runner's Cold Turkey far more manageable.

I practiced patience. We aren't a patient society, and I am not a patient person by nature, so this was an extremely useful exercise. I also came to fully appreciate the supportive nature of the running community of which I am a part; they helped me through it with their inclusiveness and attention. Special mention must be made of the Digital Champion group and the CRS folks from STWM who helped me get through the unhappy experience of not being able to run STWM.

I'm back running now; it took over two months before my first attempt to hobble, and it's been improving slowly. The toe - and entire foot - continues to be painful. And yes, I know the day will inevitably come when I can no longer run. That day comes for everyone eventually. But for me, that day is not today. I plan to have an excellent run on April 13, 2014, at the Toronto Yonge Street 10k, the run that will have me back at full speed, in defiance of the slings and arrows that befall runners.