Every now and then, even when you're doing everything right, something can happen that tweaks a hip, a knee, an ankle. Even with training going well and being very consistent, sometimes you wake up and something just isn't right. Last Tuesday, this was my ankle. I woke up and it was very stiff. I thought "no big deal... I can run through stiffness, no problem." I laced up my shoes and set out for a 10-mile trail run. About halfway into it, "no big deal" turned into "HUGE deal" as the stiffness quickly turned to pain. Unfortunately, I still had to run 5 miles to get home. I iced the heck out of it and went to bed, hoping that it was just a fleeting incident and I'd be fine in the morning.
I wasn't fine. The pain was so bad on Wednesday morning that I knew there was no way I could run on it. Because I could point to a very specific spot that hurt, I was greatly concerned that it could be a stress fracture. Luckily for me, the people at Northern Arizona Orthopedics were able to get me in for x-rays just a few hours later and the doctor determined that I do not have a stress fracture. Instead, the sheath of one of the tendons in my ankle is inflamed. The prescription? Get your butt in the pool and aqua-jog your heart out.
I spent 5 boring days in the pool (including a 2-hour long "run') and during that time I made up my mind that I want to be the aqua-jogging world champion. I don't care that there isn't such a thing. Don't argue with a delirious injured runner-turned-aquajogger. My friend Erin is going to be the elliptical world champ. Don't judge us.
Once walking was no longer painful, I was allowed to graduate to the bike. I have no aspirations to become an elite cyclist. It's too mainstream, it hurts my butt, and I'd just look silly in those padded shorts (I have enough of a butt already). And it may have taken quite a bit of begging but, after beginning physical therapy yesterday, I was given the go ahead to try a short, easy run when I felt my ankle could handle it. Of course, that meant I laced up my trail shoes just a few short hours later. I tend to be very impatient. Although I probably could have stood to be a bit more cautious, I completed a slow 4-miler without any pain (and supplemented with 45 minutes on my bike). Hooray! And today I ran another 3 miles, still pain-free! I still have more anti-inflammatory medication, ice, and strengthening exercises in my future, but I'm on the mend.
I've gotten a lot better about listening to my body and taking care of myself over the past year, but one of my faults is that I LOVE racing and I have a really hard time knowing when my body can handle a race and when it can't. It's especially hard to resist the lure of prize money. So, Shayla and I still need to sit down and talk about whether I am going to run the Phoenix 5k on Sunday. Stubborn Amanda says she needs to race for the money and the PR. But Sensible Amanda realizes it's risky because the hard effort and fast pace could cause further damage to the tendon and necessitate more down-time from running and cancel the trip to USATF Club Nationals in Seattle in December. Stay tuned for our decision in the next few days...