Thursday, September 10, 2009

Knee Injury, Missing Races, and the Five Stages of Grief

Having a knee injury is one of the most disappointing injuries one can have. It's one of those injuries that could sideline you for a while, and well, if you have already fronted money out for registration fees and made hotel reservations, and made plans with friends to some races you were looking forward to, then life just seems to "suck."

I trained harder for El Scorcho 50k summer ultra run, than I did for the 50 miler at Sunmart, and was determined to run well in the heat. I had undergone extensive heat acclimation workouts, took long runs in the country, performed core training, mountain training, running at altitude, and a strength and weight training program, as well as two-a-day workouts,and was looking forward to the race with gusto!

Then, it happened...the knee injury. It happened on the very first day of my two-a-day workouts. I had run an easy 4 miler in the morning, and in the afternoon, I did a long tempo speed workout, and it felt great. Later, while walking through the grocery store, my knee froze up and I thought I was going to faint dead away. I struggled through a few more workouts before realizing it was not going to go away. All I could think about was not being able to run the Summer Solstice run at Redbud...and in my own perverted thinking, I figured I would be fine for El Scorcho, but it was not to be.

Finally, after I realized things were not going to heal in a few days, I started going through the five stages of grief: Denial was first, as I kept trying to work out on it...icing it down every two hours, massaging it, wearing protective braces, etc...but finally, I began to: Be angry! I was really mad that I was missing my races, and then, to make matters worse, I started feeling alienated, as I couldn't workout on Saturday mornings with my friends. Then along came Bargaining...making deals with God, promising to be a better person if only he would heal my injury, kept hurting.

Then depression set in...I refused to show up at the Summer solstice run because I was depressed, and I couldn't stand to watch all my friends run the race I wanted to run...and I knew I was not going to run El Scorcho. I was wallowing in my pity.

Then, after some time passed, I entered the acceptance phase. I finally realized my goals were cancelled for some time, and the only thing that was going to help me was time off. So, I started working on a recovery and rehab program, and I pulled out my schedule book.

I designed a workout program
I started swimming at the McMurry pool every day, and I was feeling much better about myself. Eventually, I began to workout on the Elliptical trainer. It was a great workout that simulated running without putting pressure on my knee. And strength training was available, so I began to lift weights every other day, and before I knew it, 6 weeks had gone by, and I was desperate to try the knee out. I knew that I would not be able to return to all out running, so it was almost like starting all over again. I began walking and then walk/running, and before I knew it, I was back into running two and three miles.

Saturday, I went out to Steamboat Mountain with friends, and was able to run the half marathon course out there. So, I'm back, now, and I even think the rest and break from running was a good thing. In fact, next summer, instead of running so many miles, I am planning to cut back, run shorter races, and conserve my strength for the next big push.

I think I learned the hard way about injuries, but it was a long hard pull to get back to full strength. I am running the Crossroads Half Marathon in October, and I can't wait.