Y’all remember back in January when we had that freezing rain storm? I’m no meteorological-running expert, but it shouldn’t have taken one to know that deciding to go out for a quick jaunt less than thirty minutes before the weather system arrived was like a double dog dare to Mother Nature, and goodness did she deliver a triple dog don’t.
As I laid on the freezing pavement soaked and covered in leaves and other debris clutching my very swollen ankle, I thought to myself, “YOU FOOL! UGH!” Of course hindsight is 20/20; it’s 20/20, isn’t injured, and stands there pointing at you going, “Na na na na boo boo! I flippin’ told you!” While you’re stuck in the present with a $500 copay with an ice pack as lame as your limb.
I thought the injury was bad – what Mrs. Mahoney called, “a proper sprain,” which came with some gnarly-colored bruises and what seemed to be a new talent for smuggling grapefruit inside my ankle bone, but what was worse was the restlessness that accompanied me. Allowing my ankle the time it needed to heal was almost unbearable. I wanted to get back out there. My brain started to miss that feeling after a good run and I felt really down. Weeks and weeks went by and I could feel how hard it was going to be to catch back up to where I’d been. I’ve never been super fast (middle-back represent!), but I had been proud of the progress I’d made during the season.
After frequent check-ins over the course of about a month with Mrs. Mahoney, I asked if I could give running a try again. She said, “Imagine that the state championship is tomorrow, would you try to run in it?” My stubborn-and-secretly-super-competitive-self scoffed and was like well, guess I’m ready.
That weekend I walked down to the hike and bike trail and took off across the pedestrian bridge. I didn’t even make it to the other side before my ankle had some questions that I was not prepared to answer. The muscles around my left ankle felt super weak and my right calf cramped up almost immediately from the weeks of overcompensating.
When I asked Mrs. Mahoney about it on Monday she reminded me that in fact I wasn’t running in a state championship and needed to be a little kinder to myself. She suggested running at places with really soft ground, don’t make any turns, and maybe try an elliptical first. She also reminded me that I wouldn’t and shouldn’t run 3 miles out of the gate. Try running for 5 minutes and then walking 5 minutes, but above all listen to your body because it knows what it needs.
The process is still ongoing, but I can feel my running legs coming back. It feels a little like sea legs or a little baby giraffe but even less graceful, if you can imagine. I’m so thankful to Mrs. Mahoney and Ms. Welser who offered sound advice and support as I was getting back out there. For now, I’m pleased with my little victories post-injury, and I try to not beat myself up about what my times used to look like pre-injury. This is an ongoing journey and your progress and process shouldn’t be based on someone else’s progress; sometimes that someone else is even your own self. Keep running, keep listening to your body, and keep on keeping on.