Tundra Trailblazer Ali: Not Running Sucks

I’ve been told that a minor setback paves the way for a major comeback.  It has been advice that I agreed with, but did not have a ton of use for being that I’ve been lucky in my running journey thus far. So, I filed away this sage wisdom and carried on with my life.  Flash forward to “Winter 2018” and I found myself in a place that I have not traversed before.  The murky waters of injury have challenged me in ways that I did not anticipate.  The physical was one thing, but the mental aspect totally knocked me for a loop.   I will be the first to admit I have a Type A personality and struggle to be patient in many areas of my life, running included. I’ve pushed hard for 3 years and keep searching for ways to challenge myself.  When I returned to distance running I plunged in full speed.  Don’t get me wrong I did my research, remember I’m a control freak. When my goals got more intense I hired an amazing coach (Nora Bird – Team Bird Training) to help guide me through the rigors of ultra running.  I nailed down my nutrition and explored new gear.  It was a wild, awesome ride and I loved every minute of my journey.  What was not on my radar was taking care of my body and it caught up with me in a game-changing big way!

I have taken tumbles in races and hurt myself, but I’ve never been out of a training cycle for long.  A few days of TLC and I was always back on track. When training for my first 50-mile event I struggled a little with aches and pains, but nothing that shut me down for very long.  Navigating all these years free from injury left me out of touch with the agony that can come from not running.  The mental clarity I get from running was overshadowed by the accomplishments that I was racking up.  Living in this dream world I lost perspective of how important running is to my life.  Sometimes when things are really good we take them for granted and don’t nurture what got us to that great place, dare I say that we become apathetic.  Brutally put, I got lazy.

All the miles without all the self-care is a recipe for a major catastrophe.  Initially, I ignored the symptoms my body was communicating that indicated I was headed towards disaster.  Spoiler alert the body will not be ignored and it me down in the form of noninfectious trochanteric bursitis.  I pushed off the pain until it was so intense that I could not sleep, let alone train.  Cue the violins and set the table…pity party table for one.  I had to face the reality of my situation was that I was injured and could not for the first time in my life do the things that I wanted to and train. I had strayed from taking care of myself…mind, body, and spirit.  Not good and the consequences were severe.

With a treatment plan in place (lots of rest, ice, and anti-inflammation medications) and guidance from Nora my Spring races may still be possible.  I’ll be honest I’m nervous in a way that I have not been in a really long time.  I don’t know where my fitness level is at or what my body can handle.  I have my fingers crossed and I don’t know if I will able to finish the races I  have planned…I have never DNF’d. There are days I go out and the pain stops me cold in my tracks.   This is a new headspace for me, I cannot just power through this like I have in the past. It has been years since I’ve been scared to step up to a start line.  I did not anticipate the lack of confidence and how it would feel.  Over the years I have entered challenging events and come out with a deeper understanding of my capabilities. The foundation I built gave me the assertiveness to be bold in ways I did not appreciate until now.  I’m shaken and I feel like I am starting over.  What. The. Heck.

I’m raw at this stage of my running journey. I am physically weak and mentally in a weird place. I wish I could sugar coat it and say all will be fine, but I don’t have a crystal ball to predict how things will work out.  What I can do is try to learn from this experience and salvage what I can from this crappy winter training cycle.  I rode the sob-story bandwagon for a long time and tried to downplay how bad I felt, but that didn’t get me anywhere.  My lackadaisicalness bit me in the butt (or should I say hip) and clarity is coming from this jolt to my life. I am learning to lean on others and be open about my insecurities.  I know that taking care of myself cannot be an afterthought or something I will get to eventually. As a mom, wife, and teacher that is easier said than done.  Being there for others feels comfortable and automatic and to slow down over winter has shifted my behavioral patterns and cognitive perspective.  Not running really does suck.  I’ve had to scrap my “old” approach and start new, but when life gives you lemons toss them back and ask for coffee! My goals may have evolved and I am still adjusting to the flexibility that I need to have in my training…don’t count me out just yet. I’m stubborn and armed with a great support system, plus a boatload of caffeine.

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