A few months ago Louise and I excitedly announced we would both be running the Chicago Marathon in the fall of 2017. A couple months later, my hard work and constant training paid off when I finally achieved my goal of going sub 1:50 in a half marathon. I felt strong, fast, and I couldn’t wait to kick of marathon training two weeks later. However, I also had a nagging pain in my lower back that I had been ignoring. It started after I decided I wanted to learn Olympic lifts and I took a class on a Saturday afternoon in April. At first, my back only hurt me during weighted flexion activities and sometimes if I had to move something at work. I was hoping it would go away. Then, post half marathon I took a couple yoga classes and my favorite HIIT class. It was on that Wednesday that I finally admitted to myself that my back was serious and I needed to get it checked out. My back was now extremely painful if I had to sit down or stand up, change positions while sleeping, and worst of all working with my clients. That was also the day my knees gave out with pain when I sneezed and frightened me enough for help.
Since I’m lucky enough to work at the highest ranked hospital for orthopedics – I enlisted the help of my colleagues. The Spine Center does direct access care which means you can do 10 visits or 30 days of PT without a prescription. Since I knew the moment it started and I am fully confident in our PTs differential diagnosis skills – I booked an appointment for 2 days later.
I’ll be honest – I cried during my evaluation. I love to exercise – I do it usually 6 days a week – sometimes 2 or 3 different activities. I love to sweat and feel my heart race. And here I was sitting across from my PT pretty much telling me not to run, lift, or yoga (my 3 favorite activities!). I had a likely disc herniation at my L5-S1 joint and I needed to stop and reset.
Luckily I was traveling for the next two weeks and I was hoping I would be distracted as much as possible. I tried to use this as an opportunity to spend more time hanging out with others. I spent some extra time doing puzzles, going for bike rides, and sleeping!
I have been following orders and I am so grateful to say that I am almost completely pain free. I unfortunately haven’t resumed all of my activities like weight lifting, yoga, beach volleyball but I am RUNNING. The others will come. So today I officially kick off my marathon training with a 16 week plan. This is shorter than I like but I am ready to give it my all. I am lucky to have my coach Jess by my side thru all of this to help guide me.
It was extremely difficult to take such a huge step back – I felt like I was falling further and further before training even started. I didn’t feel like I was able to clear my mind or de-stress. I was struggling with food because my body was used to a higher demand. And – I was dealing with feelings of embarrassment. But what I learned is that I need to treat myself with more compassion. That maybe it was time for me to take a step back before diving head first into marathon training. That as much as I have let exercise intertwine with my identity – that it doesn’t define who I am.
So yes – I’ve gained a few pounds, lost a little speed, enjoyed life with girlfriends with a few too many glasses of rosè – but maybe all of that was a reset. Maybe now my head is clearer than it was and maybe now my body is actually more prepared that ever. So I’m sorry I haven’t been around posting workout recaps or training ideas – I’ve been allowing myself to heal. But I’m ready to kick off Day 1 of marathon training towards shattering my goals come October.
PS in no way does this mean I won’t try to learn again – but I’ll save it for the winter 😉