|One of my last runs. Today is a new day!|
It's with cautious optimism that I write this post. Both my sport med doctor and my physio have cleared me to start running again! After nearly 6 weeks of no running, the pain at the site of the stress fracture is gone. Without redoing the bone scan, we tested for pain on palpitation and pain when hopping on one foot, and I was pain free! I have also been successfully swimming and biking with no pain for several weeks (the first few weeks of no running still resulted in pain when kicking in the pool, so I wore a pull buoy, but am back to swimming normally as of about 2 weeks ago).
So, what have I learned and what is next?
Well, my initial meeting with the physio went well and helped to sort through the myriad reasons why I may have gotten the stress fracture in the first place. My right glute medius is really weak and the posterior chain of my right leg is really tight. Put those together and the result could be a stress fracture, as my IT band and all the way down the side of my leg and back of my leg had likely been working really hard on my runs, pulling the muscles away from the bone and potentially causing the stress fracture. The glute medius is really important for weight bearing activities like running! Since the first physio appointment, I've been diligently doing my strengthening exercises, stretching and foam rolling a lot. These are things that I should have been doing all along, but unfortunately, strength work and stretching had sort of fallen off as of about mid-March (ugh...).
Lesson number one is a huge reminder to me that strength work is SUPER important. Skipping it because I can't make the time is not an option anymore. And stretching and rolling are important as well. Thinking back to my most successful year of my swim career and the biggest thing that I was doing was about 30 minutes of stretching almost every single day.
The second lesson is to listen to my body more! I probably could have avoided a long period of rest if I had stopped running sooner. Running on a slightly inflamed leg at race weekend was probably the tipping point that took me from stress reaction to stress fracture. Things did not feel right or normal going into that 10k, and I should have sacrificed that race. At the time, I was so desperate for a race though and desperate to hopefully see how far my run had come, so I ran anyways. The PR probably wasn't worth it in the end.
The third lesson is that patience is a virtue. I will have to continue to exercise patience as I begin the journey back to running. It will be slow and I will have to ease my way back to a full run at full speed. I will probably have to miss another triathlon. But, I have to remember that patience is necessary to help me reach my goals and to be ready to race in Chicago in September!
There are many other lessons in staying positive, looking for opportunities to stay fit and keep moving forward, and being grateful, but I think I've touched on those before. A positive outlook has been key, and while difficult at times, it has made all the difference in my recovery!
I'm going to start running again today. I don't know how it will go, and I'm not sure when I will race next, but that is okay!
Thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement through this time!! It's been a huge source of motivation for me.