My Injury History
I have had more than my fair share of injury experience. If you have a question about a running injury, I might have an answer about it. Not because I have studied anatomy, but because I think I have had just about every one of them.
You might think it is a recent occurrence for me to be injured often, but it is not.
I spent most of my JV Soccer season in my freshman year of high school dealing with sprained ankles…left and right. Then there was a slide tackle that probably should have torn my patellar tendon (but just bruised it instead). Even having my hand stepped on once. I spent most of my senior cross-country season struggling with Achilles Tendinitis and a minor ankle sprain. Then I broke and dislocated my collar bone which ended my indoor track season and caused me to miss the entire outdoor season.
Things didn’t get much better in college as that is when I blew my knee out the first time, broke my foot, strained my elbow, and a few sprained ankles. While in grad school I had an ACL reconstruction after crashing my bike.
After school, the injuries calmed down for a bit, but I also wasn’t very active. I would often have flare-ups of shin splints or bouts with plantar fasciitis. The worst was when I had unexplained pain and swelling in my reconstructed knee, only to find out the graft I had in my knee was loose and so I didn’t have a fully functioning ACL in my left leg.
Even in the past four years as I have reinvigorated my running journey I have had ups and downs. I will start doing really well and then turn my ankle, or strain something. Then the big injury, I crashed my bike (really should stay off bikes) and fractured a bone near my elbow.
My Current Injury Situation:
As I was walking up some steps at Annual Conference, my knee buckled. Within a few hours, it was swollen beyond belief, painful to walk on, and I could not bend it. The next morning it was even worse, and I left the Conference before some of the final proceedings because of the pain.
Queue all the negative thoughts about what it could be.
Luckily I have stayed off WebMD, but only because I know the usual suspects of diagnosis. I was able to get an appointment with an orthopedic doctor, and he diagnosed it as a hyper-extended knee. Honestly, this was the best diagnosis I could have asked for. However, this still meant I would be without running while I rehabbed my knee.
I hate being injured!
Now I don’t know anybody who likes to be injured, but at this point, I am over it. It has been 10 months since I broke my arm. 8.5 months since I started running again.
I have had an amazing 8.5 months on the run. It has been up and down at times, but I have done things I never thought I could do. Even the times when I am down, I remind myself how I am still in a better place than I was.
I set a personal record (PR) in the half marathon. I got really close to my PR in the 10k, and had I run a 5k my PR would have definitely gone down there too. I have been using running to connect with my community. I even started writing and creating content for J&A Racing (link here) and was invited to be an ambassador for them for 2023-24. All things seemed to be awesome!
Then my stupid knee buckled (maybe I should be nicer to my joints, but really knees are the worst haha).
All this has me thinking about my proneness to injury…why am I always injured (or at least feel like it)?
Really “WOE IS ME!” Why is this happening to me?
It can be very easy to go down this rabbit hole, especially when it feels like a constant reality in life. I really want to be upset (read angry) about being injured again, but then I ponder what good does it for me to be angry.
Anger does have its place in my processing. Just like it does in any processing of grief. Anger is one of the “stages” associated with grief, and is often born out of our fight or flight response when it comes to emotional processing. While anger is healthy though we do need to be careful with it. Our anger should not and cannot affect relationships with others or even our relationship with ourselves.
To be clear I am angry at myself for getting hurt again. Though since hurting myself I have also had to ask, “How am I caring for myself in this liminal time?”
Self Care and Adjusting
While I have a diagnosis, I am still developing a plan for healing my knee. That means that in this time when I cannot run, I need to consider what self-care looks like. I have often been accused of solely using running for my mental and emotional self-care. However, I often retort back that that would be ridiculous, especially knowing my injury history.
Would I love to be able to run every day for the rest of my life as a way to just mentally unwind? Yes, but will I actually be able to? The honest answer there is no. Whether running grows old to me and goes away from it, or I have injuries that take me out of the activity for certain seasons, I know that there will be times I cannot run.
This is where it has become vital to not center our entire self-care regimen around one single activity. The totality of self-care teaches us that no matter our present situation we can still care for ourselves. Yes, it can be more difficult sometimes than others. However, we must continue to care. This is the difficult part of this immediate emotional response, but it is also the blessing that lies within it.
My anger, or the emotional response of anger within me, has become a self-care measure for me. I must control it because I do not want to harm others with it, but I do really good processing at that time.
We will get angry at ourselves, and our responses to ourselves will rest in the rituals we have built around ourselves. I spent four hours on my drive home from Roanoke just being angry. Being angry with myself, and my situation, grieving the loss of running for a little bit, upset I had to leave for my favorite worship service of all time (the Ordination Service), and just generally not mentally healthy.
However, I knew where the line was. My family and friends didn’t deserve that anger. They didn’t deserve any parts of it.
I confess that I have had moments where my emotions have spilled over, and I am thankful for a family that loves me nonetheless and in spite of my flaws. Self-care is about our whole selves. It involves every aspect of our lives, and if we do not understand how we cope or our abilities to process it will make it significantly harder to continue caring for ourselves in these times when things shift.
It may be a move (like I have talked about in the pastoral transition series), an emotional life-changing moment, an injury, a new job, or any number of things. We must be prepared to continue caring for ourselves, even when our external realities shift. We have our rituals, but can they be adapted for different seasons?