I started running when I was super young, just for fun. Around and around the park or in our backyard. This odd hamster habit continued throughout junior high and high school. I naturally signed up for track so I could continue enjoying hours and hours and miles upon miles on the road or the track. I was never a speedster, I was simply a long-distance finisher and I was completely happy that way.
Throughout college (Hook Em Horns!), I turned to running to keep my abs in check. But more importantly, it was the only time I could stop thinking about classes or what I was going to wear to the next party and simply “be.” It was my escape and even a form of meditation. I ran my first marathon in college and I wanted to keep going! So I did. No matter what city I had moved to or where I was vacationing, I would always lace up my shoes and run out the door to be able to soak in sights in a way no car ride would allow. Now that I’m older (not old, just older) I appreciate running for the freedom. It allows my body to let loose and just go wherever it wants to go. It allows my brain to stop, so it too, can go wherever it wants to go. I’m a journalist, so information, ideas, stories, phone calls, emails and tweets are constantly swirling around me from the moment I wake up until I go to bed. But when I’m running I don’t allow those thoughts to disrupt my path. It’s my sacred time and nothing can interfere with where I am, what I’m feeling, and the view in front of me.
Throughout my years of running in high school, college, and beyond, I always had a hands-off my calves policy so I didn’t massage or roll out ever. I also always wished I could add padding to my feet. I simply got used to my feet hurting and my calves tightening up. No biggie, right?
WRONG! Here is my timeline for my first big injury and the lessons I learned about running and life because of it.
I was running barefoot with the waves in La Jolla when I twisted my right ankle (my fault for not wearing my Brooks Running shoes!) I felt a bone crack instantly. I tried to blow it off and went to work the next day with crutches. It was the day we were launching our 4 p.m. newscast at San Diego 6. There was no way I was missing a show I had been anxious to anchor! I brought a bit of truth to the saying “break a leg.”
The next day, the doctor put me in a cast because I had a gnarly crack all the way through my fibula. Two days later, I was in a walking boot. At least that thing made getting around and to and from work easier. The boot became my false sense of security, and I walked miles and miles in it. How about some yoga? YES PLEASE! I felt so crooked because of my uneven footing so yoga was helping me feel somewhat limber.
I went to get another X-ray and there was no healing going on! The doctor blamed my walking and yoga and told me to stop. I cried in the car on the way home. I had a really lame, inactive month. But, when I got checked again… still nothing! He told me to wear an aircast and check again in two months. What are you talking about, doc?! Two more months stuck in another foot contraption?! I needed a second opinion.
I went to the Sheppard Spine and Sports Clinic and the doctor said my hips were 10 degrees off because of the time I spent in that darn walking boot. My neck was also so achey that I couldn’t look left! Yes, I was an ambi-turner (insert “Zoolander” jokes here.) She also said the tendons, ligaments and muscles around my ankle were so tight, they were not allowing my cracked bone to connect. Muscles and tendons should feel like Gumby, mine felt like concrete. She ran a laser along my right leg that she said would boost the mitochondria and speed up the healing process.
A different orthopedic doctor sent me to a physical therapist who also said I was tight… not in a cool way. She had me do calf, hamstring and groin stretches.
I dumped the aircast, was doing physical therapy twice a week and I went to a chiropractor every other week. None of this gets covered by my insurance so I was going broke! But I got the green light to sweat again with weight-training, pilates and spin class. Still, no running allowed.
It took half a freakin’ year to actually hear the most magical words “your fibula has healed and you can run.” I raced out of the orthopedics office in my Brooks Ghost’s and ran along San Diego’s beautiful coastline! To feel the breeze, whiz past the waves and put my legs to work again is a true gift. I cherish every single step more than I ever have. I have gained my freedom back after feeling chained down. I’m now fully aware that this freedom requires respect. My body does not deserve to be beat up and it demands proper self-care like massages, stretching and rest. I also just signed up with a trainer who is whipping me back into shape by building my core, cardio, and all the muscles I haven’t used in awhile. I fly out of bed with this newfound energy everyday because I can feel my body getting stronger by the minute. I have a few races lined up for the year (San Diego Half Marathon this July and Ragnar Relay in Tahoe this August) and I promise to stretch and foam roll every chance I get!
About the Author:
I’m an Emmy-winning news anchor in San Diego with a passion for writing and giving people a voice. I’m also a vegan athlete in constant pursuit of optimal health. I enjoy running marathons and half marathons around the country in my Brooks Running shoes, of course! Running has always been a part of my life. In fact, I was proposed to at the finish line of the Triple Tahoe (three marathons in three days around Lake Tahoe). I love adventure, ask a lot of questions, take on challenges and strive to do what’s right for body, mind, soul and community. Visit Lighten Up With Neda to read more.