I am officially healed from the pelvic and hip joint stress fractures that plagued me suddenly at the Sporting Life 10km on May 11. The X-ray I had last Tuesday was clear. Left looked like right. With each appointment I went to I went in with high hopes. And came out disappointed. This time I went in with an open mind and came out feeling like a weight had been lifted from me. I had been feeling quite at peace with everything I had been through and how I had altered my exercise regime. However after leaving and getting the green light to begin my ultraconservative walk/run plan I knew that something had been missing. I really did miss running and being a part of that community.
I’ve been thinking a lot through this whole rehab process about what I have learned along the way about myself and what I want to do athletically going forwards. Here is a bit of a summary :
1. I need a break from being a “triathlete”. This has been the biggest hurdle for me to overcome. As I have stated in past I have been doing tri’s for 18 yrs. In the last half dozen years I have placed in the top 3 of my age category in almost every race I entered. In the last year or two I have placed many times at the top of the podium. The allure of this dragged me in and sunk me down. I overtrained, I used this as a big part of who I was and how I felt about myself. It became toxic I think. In the last 4 months I came to realize that I don’t think I can stay a triathlete and stay healthy and grounded at the same time. It’s part of my all or nothing personality. So I am stepping away at least for another year from the 3 sport madness. I may do one casual all women’s race on little actual tri training, but just for fun and not for competition. Otherwise, I am not going to plan out a training season around tri’s. It can always be there in the future.
2. It’s okay to take breaks and try new things. One of the things this time away from running and racing has provided is a way to try things I would never have had time for. Let me re-phrase that….things I never made time for. I said I would never do hot yoga. I am now addicted to hot yoga! It has brought a sense of calm to my life. It has helped my chronic mechanical foot issue. It has helped to strengthen my weakened pelvis post injury. Mostly though, I feel the calming effect on my whole being. I also returned to the gym and got back into weights and started to really like my elliptical workouts. Next year I want to try trail running. It seems like a great way to be nicer to the body and a fun race scene.
3. As much as everyone tells you “everything happens for a reason” it’s still hard to accept. A few of my twitter friends and others I know have recently been on the shelf with injuries. These same people along with many others all said “be patient”, you’ll come back stronger etc etc. It’s so hard to accept that when you are in it but so much easier to dish out. We all need to remember that things do happen for a reason. It’s looking past our frustration and emotions in order to see it. I learned eventually to focus on what I could do not on what I could not. I learned to find the silver lining in injuries and having extra time to spend with family, friends, reading, etc. Things I did not give enough time for when I was in the thick of training.
4. My sport does not define who I am. I wear many hats in my life as most of us do. Mom, wife, Physiotherapist, friend, daughter, sister. Triathlete is not one of those definitions or provide me with a sense of self-worth but I let it for so long. It’s my hobby not my job. I can still be all of those things and be happy without needing to be labeled as a triathlete. It did set me apart from many of the other people I came in contact with and it made me feel different or special. But I can still be a great human being without it.
5. Listening to my body is key. Especially as I entered the 2nd half of my 40’s this is so important. My mind thinks I am in my 20’s but my body says pay more attention. I also love to be active and in order to do this I need to stay healthy. Listen to when I am tired, (or try not to get into that in the first place). Listen when something hurts beyond the every day aches and pains of exercise, rest more, and enjoy it. I don’t ever want to get back to where I was this spring. It really opened my eyes.
6. Take the time to smile more, enjoy life and those around me. This winter I was so serious about my training, trying to make sure I got in every workout, let some other things in my life go etc. I was so tired all the time, I was grumpy, short tempered and always rushing around. I now find myself smiling at the store clerks, strangers and overall just far more relaxed. I’m calmer as a mother, less reactive and making better contact with extended family too. We only get one life to live and I want to make sure from here on in that I enjoy all these things more.
So these are a few things I have learned along the way. Four months ago I sent myself into a tailspin. I was despondent at my situation and all I thought about was when I could return to my sport. I do eventually plan to start to think about entering races again. I am thinking more along the lines of short run events (5-10km’s), trail runs, and maybe the odd tri, or duathlon. I have not been enjoying swimming lately and thinking why must I force myself because this is what triathlon demands? I have to do things because I want to, not because it’s all I’ve known. This winter I am going to continue to stay healthy in both body and mind. I’ll be okay if I don’t get in every workout I want to. I won’t plan a schedule as then I won’t need to stick to one. I am disciplined enough to stay active on a regular basis. I need to set a healthy example for my 11 yr old daughter. She’s far more observant than I know.
For anyone else who is going through injuries, try to think about why you got there in the first place. Sometimes it’s biomechanics in which case doing some exercises to change that can help. But so many of us get injured because we get ahead of ourselves in our training and neglect some of the things that are telling us we need to slow down.
Here’s to a new chapter in my life and one that I am more than excited to begin.