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Rehabbing the Soul

My semester thus far is not turning out the way I had planned (and yes, I still measure time in semesters, even after I've graduated). I entered the new year with the major goal of running a marathon on February 28. This goal was hugely important to me as a testament to my physical and mental capabilities. It was so important, in fact, that running, and more specifically training, began to define me. I lived by my training schedule and centered all other life events around it when possible. I even made a marathon training schedule in Google calendar, printed it out, and crossed off the training days that I had completed; I relished in the visualization of my progress. I bought new running gear, subscribed to Runner's World Magazine, and refused any invitations for social events occurring on the nights before a big run. I felt exuberant having so much focus and dedication, and even success.

I had even managed to work in a social activity as one of my "free" training days. I joined a kickball team with a group of friends from work. I became giddy at practices and game nights (all of which, in total, equal four)--a feeling I missed out on as a kid, and I was happy to not just be a running recluse, which I was in danger of becoming. Things were going according to plan, which is necessary to my daily functioning. But suddenly, in the span of a five-mile "easy" run, plans changed, and I nearly quit functioning.

After an especially high-mileage and high-effort week (including a 20-mile and an eight-mile run, kickball practice and game), I was halfway through a five-miler when I felt a gradual pull in my groin area. I tried to run it off, as I do all minor pains, but the pain only increased until I could no longer run and had to walk the rest of the way home. I chalked it up to a minor muscle pull, sat on some ice for a while, and went to bed so I could wake up anew.

That would not be the case, however. Too debilitated to walk normally, I stayed home from work that day, a Friday, rested over the weekend, stayed home again Monday (though mostly out of sheer depression), and went to a sports medicine doctor on Tuesday. After having cried all morning at my near-certain inability to run the marathon just over a month away, the good doc gave me more hope than I'd expected. With that, and helpful advice on rehab, including a personal electric impulse machine, I was on my way to recovery, full speed ahead.

When I was feeling good (and bold) enough to try a run, I set out for a two-miler and, to my amazement, completed it. Not without significant pain, though, which, in the moment, I put aside in light of my new accomplishment. However, with decreased ability to even walk well the next day, I was feeling doubtful again, and disappointed.

After a weekend of more pain and more rehab, and with only two weeks until marathon day, I decided I had to let go of my blind determination to complete this one race. After all, there would be more marathons, and I still accomplished a lot in training, and I needed time to reflect on my life anyway, etc., etc. So they all said, and so I agreed.

With a heavy heart, I updated my ever-important facebook status with the news of doom, disguised in healthy mentality: "Lee Davidson decided she does not need a comeback story." Yet, she still desperately wanted one.

But pushing those thoughts aside, I looked for a new focus; something to help me reach peace once again. I'd already had yoga in my life; in fact, I'd been practicing it for years longer than I'd been running. So I armed myself with the latest issue of Yoga Magazine and looked up the yoga class schedule at my gym,which I would do in addition to my favorite Rodney Yee DVDs for home practice (okay, I can't stand the way he talks, but I find his programs effective). This was good; I had a new plan. I could function again. I would quell the anxieties of my mind while fulfilling my need for physical challenge. And if I was lucky, I just might find some spirituality. Omkara.

So then what happened? Then I met with my trainer, whom I'd hired specifically to help me train for this marathon. He trained me through my first half-marathon. He'd put me on his training schedule when I started out, as he was training for the same marathon I was. He's been my biggest advocate throughout my injury, advising me through rehab, assuring me through the lost training time, and making me laugh when I didn't think I wanted to. Even though I'd informed him of my plans not to plan on the marathon, he must have had selective hearing that day, as he just encouraged me further and reinforced my rehab strategies (as it turned out, I must have had selective hearing as well, because I'd [incorrectly] been stretching my already-pulled muscle daily since the injury). I left my session with renewed hope--which I hadn't wanted. Or had I?

In the words of Lindsey Vonn, who seriously injured her shin a week before her Olympic downhill ski competition, only to end up winning the gold medal, "Do whatever you can to fight back." Ugh. I guess I still have some fight in me yet.


Lee Davidson said…
As a follow-up to this post, I later learned that I had a pelvic stress fracture, and though the fracture itself was minor, the injury was much more significant than I'd thought. I obviously didn't run the marathon, and in fact didn't run again for another month at least. I am now able to run 3 to 4 miles, although with the heavy humidity and approaching summer heat, I am less enamored with running as my main activity, and have become more involved with yoga. Though, admittedly, I'm still seeking balance between the two, and in my life overall.

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