I Got Injured While Training For 13.1K… Here’s What Happened
I was never a huge runner for pleasure until my Freshman year at college. Don’t get me wrong, I was super active in high school but all of the running I did was while playing a sport or training for a specific sport. I never went on runs just because I wanted to. When I didn’t have lacrosse, swimming, or soccer to occupy my time in college anymore, I decided that I did enjoy running a lot more than I realized. So, I started going on more runs. A quick 2 miles around the res, a 5k with friends around campus, to accidentally running 8 miles to Fenway + back to campus. I fell in love with running all over again.
After my first taste of Marathon Monday, a holiday for Boston students, I knew that I wanted to run it someday. Instead of just jumping the gun to go straight to a marathon, I decided it would be best if I ran a few half-marathons beforehand. The summer before my Junior year, my best friend and I signed up to run the B.A.A Half Marathon in October! I was so excited that I went out for a long run right then + there. I spent my first training weeks doing 3 short runs on weekdays, 2 days of cross training, ++ went on my long runs on Saturday with Sunday being a rest day.
The weeks of training flew by and being my clumsy self, I tripped on one of those runs + ended up with a grade four high ankle sprain that left me in a boot for 3 weeks. One month before the race. One month. I was so upset but knew that I still wanted to at least try to complete this race. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to run the race and I knew that I probably wouldn’t get back to exactly where I was before the injury in my training, but I wanted to give it my all.
While I was in the boot for those 3 weeks, my workout routine primarily consisted of working on a stationary bike to keep cardio into my routine + doing upper body exercises. I would usually do about 30 minutes on the bike with very low resistance until I could work my way up + then about 20-30 minutes of upper body exercises. These exercises were mainly ab routines + toning for my arms. I remember feeling so bored doing the same thing everyday but knew that it was going to help me get better while keeping my strength up. As the race crept closer, all I wanted to do was go running but knew that I couldn’t rush it. My physical therapist + doctor kept telling me that I would be cutting it close with the race but that they thought I would be able to make it, only if I took it easy + didn’t jump into anything too soon. RICE [Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation ; ) ]was my best friend while I was in the boot + starting to workout again, still is to this day. After every workout I would go home, take my boot off while leaving the Ace bandage on, grab as many pillows as I could find to put my foot up above my heart, + plopped down on the couch with a bag of ice. I would do this for about 15-20 minutes a couple times a day to help the swelling to go down. I went to physical therapy about 2-3 times per week to help bring the strength back in my lower body ++ specifically my ankle. They would hook me up to a machine at the end of the session that was for electrical simulation which was supposed to help speed the recovery process along. It was the weirdest feeling making my foot feel like it had fallen asleep for about 10 minutes.
When I was able to start to ease back into my running I took it very slow. I ran only a couple times a week to make sure I didn’t re-injure my ankle on one of those runs. I kept up with physical therapy leading up to the race, which helped a lot with building my strength back up close to where it was before the injury. I didn’t follow the “traditional” training plan that I had originally put in place for myself, but I did what was best for my body. I knew that I had the ability to run 13.1 miles because of all the training I had done before the injury, so I wasn’t too concerned about getting those long runs in before the race. All I wanted to do was make sure that I could still run for an extended period of time. I wasn’t looking to get a specific time during this race, I just wanted to finish. Whether or not that meant I would be walking for most of it, all I wanted was to cross that finish line.
Race day came + I was so nervous. Nervous that I would re-injure my ankle ++ not be able to finish or nervous that I wouldn’t have the endurance to run for 13.1 miles. Luckily I had my best friend with me every step of the way. She kept encouraging me to keep going because she knew that I had it in me to finish the race. I wouldn’t have been able to cross that finish line if it weren’t for her pushing me at each mile every time I wanted to give up. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy but it was possible and so worth it. When I got to mile 11, I saw my parents looking at me with tears in their eyes + then I started crying. When I crossed the finish line, I was so proud of myself for accomplishing this goal I had set for myself. Through all the pain + training I endured, it was 100% worth it seeing the look on their faces of how proud they were of me.
While my training experience did not go exactly as I had planned, it all ended up working out in the end. It wasn’t easy + not necessarily fun all of the time, but finishing the race made it all worth it. Through this experience, I learned that training for a race will never go exactly as you plan, but those up + downs that you endure along the way are going to make you physically ++ mentally that much stronger when race day comes. While I was running my race, there were times that I wanted to stop + give up right there, but I kept thinking about all that I had gone through to get to that point. Then I knew that if I could do all of that, I could run a little bit longer to finish the race.
I still have recovery tools that I use before + after I go on a run. I make sure to always stretch out my ankles + do the routine that I was taught during physical therapy. This helps to take away any lingering pain + overall just make it feel better during a run! Making sure to keep up my strength, whether that be my ankles, knees, hips, or anything else, is something that has helped dramatically improve how I feel after a run. To this day, I love running more than anything. I use it as a way to cope with my anxiety ++ an outlet for my stress. Running is a way for me to clear my head + put a smile on my face, no matter the circumstance. It doesn’t matter how fast I go or how long I run, running always puts me in a good mood.
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PSA: Looking for a running-focused workout program + community this summer? Always wanted to run 13.1 miles without stopping? Join CHAARG Run Club! Registration is open until May 29 — see more details here!