Unfortunately I have enough experience with injury to truly understand the value of investing in prevention. Prevention, plus a bullpen of health professionals that not only know how to help you heal but who also support whatever it is that you love, even if it’s why you need them in the first place. If I had a nickel for every time someone has suggested that I Just stop running I’d be rich as well as really unpleasant to be around. I don’t know, why don’t you just stop breathing? Of course breathing is more important than running, be it life and death and I’d reconsider. But plantar fasciitis or tendonitis or a stress fracture is not the same thing as death. Why don’t you care about anything enough to work through a challenge? *end rant
After one of my first (unsuccessful) attempts at open water swimming this summer I couldn’t breathe. The water was rough, it was early in the season so it was cold and dark too, and I was with some expert swimmer friends so I was equal parts scared shitless and intimidated by greatness. I swam maybe 100 yards and stopped. I couldn’t get any air in. They stopped with me and tried to coax me back into it, breathe slow, take loooong strokes, they said. Yeah, no. They thought I was having a panic attack and choking on water. Water had nothing to do with it, rather my throat was swollen and phlegm was growing to spoil any hope at getting air to my lungs. At the time all I knew was that I was discouraged by my wimpyness. But hours later when I still couldn’t breathe I knew it was something else.
Fast forward to a doctor appointment that afternoon. Oh yeah, same day, baby, tell ‘em you can’t breathe and you become very important. I explained the situation to my doctor and told her I had experienced the same thing during previous swims to lesser extents, though the water had never been so rough. Her first response? Well, maybe you should take up a different sport. Well maybe you should take up a different profession if you don’t want to enable people to do things that keep them healthy! I had no research to back myself up, but I pressed the phlegm angle hoping she’d prescribe me something that would cut congestion to at the very least limit my choking. You know, the lesser of two evils.
Low and behold I walked out of the office with a prescription for an inhaler. Done, and done! My problem is an allergy that can be managed with an inhaler and Sudafed, and the occasional netti pot pour. And I’ve lived happily ever after never to hear from the choking phlegm or closing throat again.
My podiatrist is the complete opposite. Meaning, he is the best. With a serious injury he will by all means sideline activity with a boot. I speak from experience. Twice. But for something that can be worked through he wants to help you find a solution. He listens to my injury woes. Adjusts my orthotics ever so slightly to reduce pressure and alleviate soreness. Cuts restricting crap off my shoes to allow my feet to expand to the wide piggies they’re getting to be with all this running. Pieces together pads to make my feet stay better in place. And when you have a month ‘till Boston and have plantar fasciitis and a neuroma, he asks if you still want to run it and gives you cortisone shots. And when things are still rough the week before, he gives you two more. And before you leave he always reminds you that running is painful, you have to expect some aches and pains along the way, because without pain in the sport you won’t get very far. Dr., you are my people.
My physical therapist is also like-minded. No shock considering my podiatrist recommended her. Rinse and repeat everything that I just said but in a PT application, and there you have another hero of mine.
I need to find a primary physician and chiropractor that also get it. Seattle people, suggestions?
I’m making a point to get my care and injury prevention right this time, and just started massage therapy as a preventative measure to keep my body healthy, relaxed and ready to go. In the past I’ve only gone pre and post-race as a means to gear up and recover. If I have an ache I wait until it’s shrieking to visit the doctor. But yesterday I called and got in to my podiatrist today. I haven’t been 100% comfortable in my left foot since…??…but with a couple tiny adjustments in my shoes I have been without any discomfort or pain since 9am this morning. First time in a long time. And more than anything I feel like my brain can now rest. No more energy will be wasted on this, and I can sleep and run with a sound mind.
I’m turning over a new and healthy leaf, because if I want to be as good as I can be I’m going to need to be as healthy as I can be, too. In my gymnastics career I wasted too many days on the stationary bike mimicking my routine’s dance movements with my arms. As teammates trained to compete I struggled to gain strength and keep fitness while injured. Arm dancing won’t help me much with swimming, biking and running, so I need a new plan. Operation: Stay Healthy is now top priority. Goal: To stay in the game and make use of every training opportunity to build strength, get faster, and be better.