Just stop breathing. Just stop doing it. Are you looking at me with an eyebrow raised now? Yeah? Good. Read on.
I haven't run for 4 weeks. Stress fracture. This is old news I realise but as far as my sanity goes, I'm seriously lacking because of it. Both physically, mentally and emotionally. I feel caged and trapped in a body that isn't working the way I need it to.
Today I woke up with a massive urge to hit the road and as I usually do when this happens, I hit the gym.
I walked in and seated myself on the lounges to rummage through my bag and get my shit together. The usual noises of clanging iron and cardio machines welcomed me however today, the thud of shoes and rotation of the conveyor belt of one of the treadmills were sounds that seemed louder to me today.
Looking up at the treadmills, I saw a guy around the same age as I racking up his KMs, headphones in, world off and I felt like an outsider to the only world I've ever wanted to be a real part of.
I sat and watched him for a few minutes, his eyes were focused, his stride was consistent and he had a fine layer of sweat building up, it was evident I was looking at a runner who was deeply submerged in the depths of the ever amazing "runners high"
Fuck I envied him. Being able to use his body for, what was once, such a basic movement for me and not give it any thought. A few weeks back, I literally could not even walk without pain. In my refusal to believe this was really happening to me, I kept running through the sharp shooting pain in my shin for too long and the condition ended up worsening. I ran 10km one day and then the following, I got out of bed and couldn't even put weight on that leg.
And the process with doctors has been even more of a nightmare than having the injury itself.
- Local GP: Refers me to Ultrasound. Finds nothing. Offers me drgs
- Refers me to CT scan. Finds nothing. Offers me drugs
- Refers me to Nuclear Bone Scan. Finds "evidence" of early stress fracture. Offers me drugs
- Refers me to Orthopeadic Surgeon for treatment. OS gives me an X-RAY (which should have been FIRST as they are least likely to see a stress fracture let alone a fucking early one) and THEN refers me to Sports Physician. Offers me drugs.
- I have waited three weeks for this SP to call me to make an appointment (I'm not even allowed to make my own appointment) as they prioritise patients on severity of injury. I'm gathering mine is low priority. Fuck off mate. Your face is low priority.
So in the first week I kicked around on crutches on the advise of the GP who technically wasn't even qualified to diagnose me (and had to call another doctor while I sat in his office. I quote, "How do I treat this patient?" Fuck you and your crutches.
Its been 4 weeks, the fracture is healing on its own, there's no all-day, every-day pain and I'm not limping anymore. And with no medical help.
So I'm sitting in my gym today, watching this man effortlessly glide his problems away on the treadmill and I realise my own leg doesn't hurt anymore. I call my brother who is a massage therapist and I ask him, "If the pain has stopped, I should be ok to do a cheeky sneaky 15 minute gentle jog yeah?"
He isn't fully qualified yet in this field yet but he tells me it should be ok if its gentle and the only one for a few more weeks.
So I do it. I start the treadmill up, adjust my arm band, start my Nike Run app and start walking, gradually heightening to a jog. And let me tell you, fuck it was amazing. Mentally and spiritually, I confirmed to myself this morning that I am still a runner, my mind settled instantly as soon as I started zoning out.
But at 1.80KM, I realised my injury is still prevalent, I still can't run. So I reluctantly bailed, I have learned better than to train through an injury.
I don't know why I thought it would be ok to try again at 4 weeks when the recommended healing time is 8 weeks (according to Google, no actual doctor I've seen has actually given me any instruction as to what I should be doing)
And just like that, mentally, I'm back at fucking square one, emotionally tormented that my wings have been clipped and just sensing that I've lost a part of myself that means so much to me.
People don't get it. "Just stop running" they say.
Running was THE thing that flipped my whole world upside down and changed the course of my life 5 years ago. It saw me through the greatest changes of my entire life. Anyone that knows me knows this story, for those that don't, one day over coffee, I promise.
It might sound silly to you but the biggest doors that ever opened in my life, opened at the time I started running.
This is why I am struggling to "just stop running"
You know what guys, just stop breathing. There. Now you fucking get it.