Life on the Sidelines

“Running shouldn’t hurt.” With that one statement, my running life changed. I was sitting in my RRCA coaching certification course and our instructor, an exercise physiologist and noted running coach, told us that running isn’t supposed to hurt. In that room sat seasoned ultra-marathoners, Iron Man triathletes and others who have run myriad races and none of us could believe it. She went on to explain that if one trains PROPERLY, one should not feel more than typical muscle discomfort. “Say what, now?” I was always of the opinion that running was supposed to hurt, which is one of the reasons I ignored the nagging pain in my groin for so long. I don’t even know when my pain started or what caused it. I just assumed it was from over-training, but it could have also been due to my over-zealousness in spin class or the weight room. I had been near the end of training for the Richmond Half Marathon when I took the coaching class and I had come to accept “the limp” as part of my life. Confounded by her statement, I pulled her aside to discuss my pain. After she told me how wrong my training had been, we discussed the possible causes and implications of my pain and she strongly suggested that I not run the race and let my INJURY heal. Wait…injury? I never thought of it as an injury. Annoying pain, yes, but an injury…?

Let me be clear, I am hardly a “soldier.” I don’t often “suck it up and move on” when it comes to illness, aches and pains. I will run to urgent care if my nose runs for more than two days. I wasn’t toughing the pain out, I was in serious denial. I kept telling myself that the pain was normal and that it would eventually go away. Well, it didn’t, and after that discussion I could no longer deny it. So the following week, I made an appointment with an orthopedic specialist and prayed for the best. The problem was I couldn’t get an appointment until after the race. What to do? (Incidentally, my instructor knew I wouldn’t listen to her suggestion of cease and desist so we discussed an action plan to get me through the race that was just two weeks away. ) Rather foolishly, I completed the Richmond Half Marathon, limping by mile 7 and hobbling in agony through mile 11. It was the first time I seriously considered a DNF, if only the sweeper truck would have driven by. Adrenaline, a long downhill at the end of the course, and the prospect of pancakes got me to the finish line. It was a truly painful experience and I promised myself that I would do whatever I needed to do to heal properly. That meant I had to stop running cold turkey. And with that, I began my life on the sidelines.

Next up – diagnosis and recovery.


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