That’s how I defined myself. Running was my outlet, my stress-reliever. I ran for hours so I could prove to myself that I was mentally strong and disciplined.
But there was a downside. I was constantly facing overuse injuries like shin splints, runner’s knee, IT band syndrome, you name it. I would figure out a band-aid fix and then just run through the pain. I was too addicted to running to take a day off.
July 2013 was my reality check. All of the damage I did from over-training caused a stress fracture in my femoral neck, which is a teeny tiny piece of bone that connects the main part of the femur to the ball-shaped end that goes into the hip joint. The doctor told me to stay completely off my leg for a few months or I would risk a full break in the bone and need hip surgery.
um…WHAT?! Hip surgery at 25?
On top of that, my MRIs showed that I had impingements and torn labrums (cartilage that surrounds the hip joint) in both hips.
After getting opinions from a few different sports doctors, I learned that my injury was the straw that broke the camel’s back, not just an isolated occurrence. I had a lot of issues I had been ignoring and I was not taking care of my body. According to the docs, I had two options if I wanted to avoid further injuries to my hip:
1) Get arthroscopic surgery in both hips
2) Minimize exercises that aggravate my hips, ie. no more running
I did a lot of research on the surgery option and eventually realized that is was not worth it to try. This type of surgery is still relatively new and hadn’t show much success for people like me.
So I had to go with option 2. No more running…at least not like before.
After a few years and a lot less running, I can now look back on this experience and pull some good from it.
So, what did I learn?
I’m getting older and so is my body. This doesn’t mean I’m falling apart, but it does mean I need to take good care of myself if I want to stay healthy and active later in life.
Listen to the warning signs. I felt pain and I ignored it. Remember that your body is smart and if it’s telling you to stop, then stop. There’s probably a good reason.
Injuries are a blessing and a curse. Unfortunately, my injury and hip condition have forever changed my ability to run long distances. Being a runner with a love for marathons, that was very hard at first. But I found a new appreciation for my body and have learned to take better care of it. I put my extra energy into trying new workouts and finding new outlets.
Mindset is everything. If you get injured, remember that it’s not the end of the world. There are always options. Get your mind right, move on, and you’ll be okay.
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