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Member's Musings

The Injury Cycle

I recently sustained a knee injury and followed a predictable Kubler-Ross progression of emotions. I passed through denial, anger, bargaining and depression with relative ease, but, like the last few miles of a marathon, fell short of acceptance. Given how often I’m injured, you’d think I’d handle this better by now. I don’t. Here’s pretty much how it goes every time…

Denial:

Hmm, that’s weird. My knee kind of hurts. I’m sure it’ll pass. Probably just a little sore. Few Advil and ice will do the trick. This is nothing. I’m fine. I’m totally fine.

Next run – Hmm, that’s weird. Still kind of hurts. Maybe I put on weight. (Just kidding, I haven’t put on weight since high school. Don’t blame me, it’s genetic.) Maybe I twisted it or need new shoes? I’ll rest it a day. That should do it. No biggie.

Next run – Hey, my knee feels better! I’ll just… Damn. Still really hurts. I better ask the guys for advice. They said take it easy – like they ever follow that advice. I go to Runners World and type in “knee injury.” Get 437 relevant articles and 1,407 rehab exercises. Maybe I can do them all if I quit my job.

I’d see a doctor, but my philosophy is if I can’t explain it, a doctor can’t fix it. If my leg snaps in two, I make an appointment right away. I say, hey, my leg’s in two pieces – that’s wrong. But when all I can say is my knee kinda hurts generally in the knee area, it’s a wasted co-pay. Things need to get worse before they can get better.

Eh, it’s probably only temporary. Just need a good night’s sleep. I can run through it.

Anger:

I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS FREAKIN’ HAPPENED TO ME… AGAIN! I JUST GOT HEALTHY. I DON’T ASK FOR MUCH – JUST TO RUN 30 MILES A WEEK WITHOUT FALLING APART. WHY CAN’T I EVER HAVE A TRAINING CYCLE WITHOUT THESE FREAKIN’ SETBACKS? WHY DOES MY LOG ALWAYS READ “INJURED” TWO WEEKS BEFORE IT SHOULD SAY “TAPERING?” I HAVE RACES COMING UP I ALREADY PAID FOR. I WASN’T HEALTHY FOR THEM LAST YEAR SO MY TIMES WILL SUCK… AGAIN. I CAN’T IMPROVE IF I CAN’T TRAIN. I HATE THIS BLOODY SPORT! I NEVER WANT TO RUN AGAIN! GRRRRRRRR!!!!!!

Bargaining:

Okay, I’ll see a doctor, but no operation. I’m too young for that. I’ll take some time off. But not till after the Lager Run. That’s a good one. Or Sunset Classic. I can’t disappoint Gigs. His whole self-image is based on my support of him as Race Director. THERE’S NO REASON I SHOULD BE IN THIS MUCH BLOODY PAIN!!! (Sorry, residual anger).

Okay, how’s this? I’ll run President’s Cup, Lager Run and Sunset Classic, but then rest a week and train only part time for River to Sea. The other guys can carry the load. My knees can’t be worse than Phil’s. Heck, my 83-year-old mom’s knees can’t be worse than Phil’s. I hope this isn’t how it started with him. He was probably running one day and thought, “Hmm, that’s weird.”

Seriously, here’s the deal. I’ll go easy for August if I can just have a 25 mile/week base going into fall marathon training. That’s fair, right? That’s not asking too much. Come on, I’ll be your best friend.

Depression:

I’ll never run again. I’m going to sit around, lose muscle tone and get fat. (Ha, just kidding again. Exercise or not, I can’t add pounds. Seriously. High metabolism. Don’t shoot the messenger!)

I’ll probably limp the rest of my life. I’ll be in a Stephen Hawking wheelchair moving a joystick around with my tongue, talking in that weird mechanized voice. Sure, I’ll solve incredibly hard differential equations about unseen gravitational forces that hold the universe’s very fabric together, but my PRs will never improve. What kind of trade off is that?

I’ll never again know the joy of getting up for a freezing cold 7:00 a.m. run from Grove on a Sunday. When I’m warm in my bed, lounging around on my 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, I’ll think of my friends with two good knees and have a tinge of sadness. An ever so slight tinge. Barely a feeling at all, but a tinge nonetheless. Mmm, toasty down comforter.

Ugh, I’m so depressed. Woe is knee. Great, I’m writing puns. Is this what happened to Phil, too? Did he start making puns only after his knee went bad? Shoot me now.

Acceptance:

Okay, so this is where I always cramp up. I understand I’m mourning a loss, coming to grips with an unavoidable part of our sport, but I know I’ll be injured multiple times a year so why not embrace the downtime? Why fight the inevitable?

Maybe it’s the belief in my mind that I’m still 18 and my future is limitless. All my PRs are ahead and my body is mine to bend at will. Any injury is outside the norm and at best a momentary disruption to the perfect medical specimen I am. (Did I mention I can’t gain weight? Really. It’s soooo amazing!) Maybe running itself is my attempt to deny aging and if I accept even one injury it’s tantamount to admitting I won’t actually live forever.

MAYBE I JUST NEED TO STOP WHINING AND RUN MORE TILL MY FREAKIN’ KNEE STOPS HURTING!!!!

Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I’m sure it’ll feel better in the morning.

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