Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A fate worse than death

I am hurt. It has been 8 days since I last ran. I am suffering from posterior tibialis tendon inflammation and some inflammation in my Achilles attachment. I have seen doctors, chiros/ART therapists, PT's, massage therapists and acupuncturists. In that time, I have felt nothing but only temporary and partial relief. Most mornings, I wake up and my foot hurts so badly, I can barely limp to the bathroom.

I have been sad, depressed, manic even. Frustrated, anxious and hopeless. I have in just one week felt my world crumble around me. And that, not the injury, is a fate worse than death to me. I know that (hopefully really) soon, with all the work and proactive healing I have been doing, I will be better and I will look back on this and think "I can't believe I got so worked up, I can't believe I didn't have more faith". I feel that way now and just yesterday the pain was so extreme that I burst into tears just trying to walk across the floor to get my PT work done. But today, something changed. I realized that I am attacking my treatment and healing the same way I train for my races. I am "all in" and my mind should not, CANNOT be working in the opposite direction. I need to be sending all my positive hopes, thoughts and prayers to my healing. Deep breathe, it will be ok.

The night splint

Today was a big day not only mentally, but I think it may also be a step (perhaps a hobbly one) in the right direction. After a good weekend of massage with the magnificent Alison Hanks, then intensive PT and then acupuncture yesterday, I hit it hard again today. I saw the doctor first thing and he prescribed me a different drug for the inflammation, gave me a night splint and a heel lift since after doing a torso xray to investigate my circulatory issues that cause my legs to fall asleep, he saw a 1/2 inch discrepancy in my left (not hurt) leg. Then I went to Northwest CrossFit and got worked over by the crew over there. They are a new sponsor and are working hard to get my strong and healthy in a way that is specifically tailored to my running. It was awesome! I went to Essential Chiropractic to have my second session of Active Release Therapy. ART was recommended to me by Howard. He had been hurt for 4 months before going on the recommendation of some of the top ladies in ultrarunning and after 2 session of ART he was back to running. Same goes for another friend of mine who has the same condition as I. She went to 6 sessions in 2 1/2 weeks and found relief after 2 months of pain and other failing remedies! I am blessed to have started immediately after my injury. But let me tell you, the treatment is no cake walk. It is a specialized soft tissue massage and the breaking up of scar tissues, etc. For instance, today I had to do a standing Achilles stretch while Dr. Hammon essentially scraped my leg with a special plastic tool. It does not feel spectacular, but it definitely works. I didn't go running and skipping out of the office, but slowly but surely I can feel relief. I am doing a good deal of crosstraining to keep my fitness up and decided to do back to back 1hr and a quarter spinning sessions at my gym and felt no pain during the intensive sessions (6 hill repeats @ an 8 on the difficulty scale per class!). I got off the bike thinking my leg would be tight and hobbly like it usually is when I walk after doing pretty much anything. It felt good, the pain very manageable. I came home and put my feet up and did my icing. Again, I stood up and expected the cold to cause me to be hobbly and I wasn't. Small steps, small progress, small victories. I never thought such a small thing could put my head back on straight.

As I rode the bike this evening, working hard and focusing on keeping my eye on the prize (keeping up my fitness as well as healing my leg), I realized that, heaven forbid, I couldn't ever run again, that I would be ok. A few days ago, I didn't feel that way. I was a mess. I don't like feeling that way, even when it is warranted. I realized today that while it still may be hard to watch someone bound up the stairs ahead of me, or wave as friends head off for a fun run in the mountains, things will get better, at some point. I look forward to that day, I look forward to a long healthy running career and now I actually have the faith to help make it happen. I have learned through training, racing and recovering that the mind can push you things that you could never believe you could make it through, I am taking all those miles of learning and wisdom and now applying it towards the most important steps I will ever take, the steps to health and healing.

A common position this week, usually accompanied by ice. Yeah for RICE!


  1. Hello Devon,
    You don't know me but I've been a reader of your blog off and on ever since you finished ahead of me in the 2006 Napa marathon. I am so sorry to hear about your setback. You WILL recover and you're doing the right thing by being as serious about your recovery as you are about your training. Remember, a lot of elite runners have marathon PRs after a layoff forced by injury because it gives their body a true taper. I'm checking in with your blog b/c I'm working on an article for Trail Runner about trail running blogs and plan to mention yours. I find your running career and fast-foodie posts quite inspiring, and I particularly appreciated your Josh Cox/ultra-vs-marathon commentary a few posts ago. I'm planning to do Napa too so if I see you there March 1, I'll introduce myself and say hi. You can find out more about me and check out my relatively new blog at www.sarahlavendersmith.com. Good luck and take care!

  2. Stay positive, Devon. You'll come back and be stronger and more hungry than ever. Think of it as down time. Do some great cooking and get your mind and body ready to run again.

  3. Sounds like the shift in attitude about this injury is working. And, as usual, this post is pretty inspiring and helpful! Setbacks (aka injuries) really enhance my gratitude when I can run, and teach me a lot about my body when I can't. Keep it up - you're doing awesome!

  4. Just getting to this and am so sorry that you were hurt.


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