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Posts tagged ‘hip injuries’

Today I Ran

It’s been two months and 17 days since I last ran. Seventy days have passed since my hip surgery and I’ve had 17 physical therapy appointments since May 7th. Half of my birthday was spent in the hospital and the other half was spent on my couch. I have felt helpless, unable to do basic things such as shave my legs or tie my shoes. I have spent nights in pain, stuck on my back as my leg throbbed persistently. I’ve had to rely on others to help me up stairs and to bring me food. Small accomplishments have become huge victories and I don’t think I ever really stopped to internalize all of it until today, the day I ran again.

I have been looking forward to this day for a long time. Part of me has been looking forward to this day with excitement and the other part of me has been looking forward to it with fear. How bad would the pain be? Would I even be able to run? Would I fall and break my bone again? Or would it be way better than I ever expected? Would the pain disappear and the running return to me as if it had never left me? I had no idea but I did know, as I got ready for my PT appointment, I had better bring my running shoes.

When I walked out the door this morning, I thought to myself, maybe I should wait another week. Maybe the end of July would be safer and my hip would be more ready for the challenge.. Part of me was actually afraid to even try running. Shawn, my PT, and I had never actually discussed me running today. I just knew this week marked 3 weeks since my last doctor’s appointment and when he said I could try running again in three weeks. Shawn knew this and I’m glad I showed up prepared to run.

As I was warming up on the elliptical, Shawn walked by with a big grin on his face. “Tracie, we’re going to jog today!”

“Shit,” I told myself. “You can’t avoid it now. Just be ok with whatever happens.”

The majority of my PT session was spent doing leg strengthening. Walking lunges with weights, squats, single leg dead lifts, side lunges, etc. According to Shawn, my form and range of motion was great so I was ready. He said he couldn’t wait to see my face glow. I was certain it would be wincing in pain.

I hesitated to get on the treadmill. As crazy as it sounds, I knew this moment marked a new low for me. Up until this point, recovery has gone great. Everything has been smooth sailing for me but once I stepped on that treadmill, reality would set it. I was going to be starting from ground zero and there would be a long road ahead of me.

For some reason, I had in my mind that I would only be running for a few minutes. Test my hip out, see how it felt sort of jog. Shawn had a different idea. I got on the treadmill and he said he was setting the timer for 10 minutes. 10 freakin minutes!!! I was to run at whatever pace felt comfortable but it had to be fast enough to get that pounding motion of running. Sharp pain was bad but dull aches were okay. If at any point, I felt a sharp pain, I was to stop immediately.

Those first few steps felt actually very easy. Nothing hurt and it was like running had never left me. Then, at a pace of 4.6 mph on the treadmill, I felt exactly what I expected. Not a sharp pain but the dull ache of a screw in my hip and a rod in my leg. Some steps would be easier and some steps would be harder. I fidgeted with my form, focused on relaxation, anything that would help. But the reality was this was my new normal and I needed to accept it. Shawn had mentioned that my ability to run would also be attributed to my ability to tolerate pain. Again, not sharp pain but a pain that comes with a foreign object inside the body. I was trying to tolerate the pain as best I could.

After 8 minutes, Shawn came by and said he would save me from the 2 remaining minutes. I was relieved. According to the screen on on the treadmill, I ran .6 miles in 8 minutes. Shawn said I was cleared to start running again and although I held my emotions back inside the doctor’s office, I couldn’t help it when I got to my car.

I don’t know why I cried. Was it because I was so happy to run? Was it because I could only manage .6 miles at a 13:00 mph pace? I don’t know. And then I started thinking about the last two months. How much I had desperately been clinging to other forms of exercise, when all I really ever wanted to do was run again. How I had begrudgingly spent my mornings inside on an elliptical, swimming laps in a pool, or staring at a wall as I biked to nowhere. How I’ve tried so hard to not lose my aerobic capacity. As I sat in my car, feeling both proud and sad at the fact I just ran .6 miles, I realized just how much I want to run. It’s the place where I feel most like myself and it’s the place where I feel most present. It’s the place where I feel most alive and as tired as running can make me, it gives me the energy to do just about anything. Every mile brings a sense of accomplishment that spinning and the elliptical never will. The more I thought about these things, the more emotional I became. I just want to run.

A little over two months ago, I was told I wouldn’t run again for 6 months to a year. At the time, I was okay with it because I just wanted my hip to stop hurting. Now I know that I’m not okay with that. Even if I start out with half mile jogs, I realize it’s what I must do in order to get to where I want to be. I look forward to those mornings when I can watch the sun rise as I run along my favorite running routes. I don’t know when that will be exactly but today was the first big step to getting there.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

The Thing I Miss the Most (and it’s not Running)

Overall, I’ve been in a pretty positive disposition over this whole titanium rod with two screws in the hip thing. It is what it is. However, last night I started thinking about the thing I really miss the most since my surgery and the thing I want to do more than anything, but can’t. Nope, it’s not running. It actually doesn’t even have anything to do with working out. Shocking, I know. It’s actually quite simple. The thing I want to do so badly but can’t is…. bend my leg.

I want to sit on the floor, cross my legs, do pigeon pose, tie my own shoes, cross my left leg over my right leg, or anything else that involves bending my leg. But I can’t. My hip rotates about 10 degrees out and 10 degrees in. Far from what I’m use to. I’ve always thought of myself as having pretty flexible hips. I could easily do pigeon pose, sit however I wanted, and bend and rotate in whatever direction I pleased. You know that quad stretch that runners always do where they grab their ankles?  Yea, I can’t even do that. My days of doing dancer pose are just a memory and the thought of doing it once again is in the very, very far future. It makes me so sad.

The days of sitting like this again are in the far, far future

The days of sitting like this again are in the far, far future

This morning, as I was getting ready for my first strength training workout since Boston, I sat and looked at my left shoe contemplating how I was going to put it on. After five minutes of trying many awkward (and somewhat painful) positions to get the shoe on, I gave up. I finally asked Mario for help. I never realized how much hip flexibility mattered. Every night when I sleep, I have to sleep flat on my back with my feet elevated on a pillow. Before, I liked to curl up to fall asleep. Sadly, that’s not happening anytime soon. With a range of motion of about 10 degrees, I basically have to keep my legs straight at all times. I wake up at least once a night trying to get comfortable and it’s quite frustrating. Then I spend about 30 minutes every morning doing my physical therapy exercises, and the effort to get from point A to point B is always taxing. Just a month ago, I was doing handstands, backbends, stretching, getting up and down on the floor without requiring any type of assistance, and now I can’t do any of those things. Yes, I realize the past is the past and that doesn’t really matter now. But when I think about what I was able to do 30 short days ago and what I can’t do now, it bums me out.

Yesterday I wrote about the awesomeness of the human body. I know my body will adapt and it will change. It just needs time. I know I will have to work pretty damn hard to get to the point of where I once was. Even then, I don’t know if I’ll have the flexibility I once possessed. My problem is patience. I have never been a patient soul and I want to see big results now. In my head I keep thinking If I can just go to yoga, this process will move along a lot more quickly.  But I know I must wait. It hasn’t even been two weeks and my body is still healing. I just miss bending my leg and tying my own shoes. Is that wrong? I don’t think I’ll ever take my flexibility for granted ever again, because right night, I sure do miss it.

 

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

(PS: On a more positive note, I got to drive for the first time in over three weeks today. It was so liberating!)

The Human Body

Every time I think about my surgery, I get a little freaked out. When I think about the doctor cutting through muscle and then drilling a titanium rod and two crews into my bones, my stomach gets a little queazy. I’m so glad I was knocked out during those two hours and I never want to know exactly how the surgery was performed. But the one thing that surprises me is the only evidence of my surgery is three small incisions and bruising, which is slowly disappearing. Pretty soon, the only evidence will be three small scars. I find that fascinating.

Today I went for my post-op appointment. My surgery was 12 days ago and I can’t believe how my body has improved in just those 12 days. My stitches are out, I can walk on my own (although with an awkward limp), and my once overly swollen hip (which made me feel 1/2 Kim Kardashian) is now back to a normal size. It’s incredible.

After my appointment today, I started thinking about how incredible the human body is. Before the nurse took my stitches out, I asked her about the skin healing. How was my skin already back together after just 12 days? She told me that yes, it was all healed and it actually heals itself from the inside. She took the stitches out and my skin kept itself together. No bleeding. No pain. Nothing. How awesome is that? (I’ve never had stitches before so this was a new experience for me.) Then I had an X-ray to make sure everything was healing as it should. The X-ray came back and all is well. I have a rod and two screws inside my bones and my bones are working just fine with them. How is it that my body knows to accept this foreign object and make it part of itself? It just blows my mind.

X-ray from today. Doc says all is well!

X-ray from today. Doc says all is well!

Last week this time, I was stuck on the couch. I was using a walker and only walking up and down the hall three times before I needed a break. I hurt, I couldn’t sleep. And my leg sounded squishy when you touched it because of all the fluid. Today I walked to lunch with my best friend, I took the stairs, and most of my walking takes place without the crutch. Last Friday at physical therapy, I was given an exercise that I could not do at all. I was to stand on my left leg (my bionic leg) and raise my right leg without shifting weight. I couldn’t get my toes off the ground. Today I completed three sets of 10 where I actually did raise my leg. Although I couldn’t hold that position long, I still did it. Just a few days earlier, it was impossible. Today it happened. Yes, I practiced during the weekend but I realized how, with enough hard work and patience, the body will adapt. It learns. It heals itself. And when you treat it right, it will help you.

They made me wear these lovely shorts for my x-ray. I couldn't stop laughing.

They made me wear these lovely shorts for my x-ray. I couldn’t stop laughing.

I feel so fortunate to have a healthy body. Yes, my hip did fracture but it was my own doing. I did a lot of road running and ignored the aches and pains along the way. It was my fault. Now I’m witnessing my body heal itself in a way I’ve never known. I have a new found appreciation for what the body can do and I am grateful for the surgery that put me back together. It makes me realize that  I really can do the things I want to. I may not be good swimmer now, but I can learn to be a good swimmer. I may not be as strong as I want to be now, but with enough hard work, I can get there. When I do get back to running, with the right plan and right approach, I can be the runner I want to be. It just takes time, patience, hard work, and a whole lot of love for yourself and your body.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Surgery

In one hour I will be heading to the hospital. Apparently I have a displaced fractured that needs surgery ASAP. The doctor is going to put in two rods to push the bones together and then I’ll have a new, stronger hip. I like to think of it as I’ll have a bionic hip. Oh, I can see the race potential now…

I’ve never had surgery before so I’m a little nervous. Perhaps Mario will take a video of me waking up from anesthesia and I”ll have something funny to say. Some have asked if my running days are over. Absolutely not! If anything, I think this will put me on the road to finally achieving my goals. Maybe my injury streak will come to an end.

I’ll be in the hospital for a day or two. Hopefully I can make it home tomorrow because Friday is my birthday!! Celebrating my 31st birthday in the hospital isn’t really how I imagined the day to start.

When I get back home, I’ll post an update. Until then… here’s to my bionic hip! 🙂

 

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

See that gap... it shouldn't be there.

See that gap… it shouldn’t be there.

Posture

Back in May, I turned the ripe running age of 30. For my birthday, Mario gave me a beautiful necklace. That necklace has since done more to tell me about my posture than any doctor or yoga class ever has.

Maybe a few of these pictures will explain:

Birthday Festivities

Birthday Festivities

 

Celebrating my grandmother's 91st birthday

Celebrating my grandmother’s 91st birthday

 

With two of my fabulous students

With two of my fabulous students

 

My necklace is always to my right side. Mario was the first person to point it out to me and I told him it was gravity. He reminded me gravity pulled straight down. I added “and slightly to the right.”

Why does this even matter? Well what this little necklace tells me is that something is going on with the right side of my body. And as luck would have it, my right ankle has started to bother me. From my past medical experience, I say it’s tendonitis. At first I was pretty distraught and ran through the pain. Then I decided that was a bad idea.

After spending some time thinking about my body mechanics and my necklace always pulling to the right, I decided something was “wrong” with the right side of my body. My ankle was bothering me because my  hip was off, not because it was off. Therefore, I have been doing more painful hip opening exercises than I care to think about. In particular, staying in pigeon pose for a really, really long time. The end result: a straight necklace, a hip that feels like it’s moving correctly, and an ankle that is almost pain free. Two more days off and I think I’ll be ready for my 17 miler on Saturday.

My point is this… runners get injured. In my case, they get injured a lot. However, from my experience, I would say that the pain  in one area of the body is because another area in the body is off. Our bodies are incredibly amazing and if we listen closely enough, we might just understand what’s going on. I’m pretty sure Mario didn’t realize his gift was going to be so functional.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

 

Running Update: Running has been going okay this past week and a half. I took one day off last week and still got in my 15 miler on Saturday. But thanks to the heat, humidity, and lack on fluids, I was pretty sure I might pass out on the side of the trail. This week is my low mileage week, thankfully. I ran 8 on Monday but have been cross-training  the other days. I’ve decided to take today and tomorrow off, to give my ankle enough time to fully heal. Thankfully I still have a little over two months to go before Chicago and I feel that I have a very solid base and fitness level.

Tara Stiles and Yoga for Athletes

This past weekend if I learned anything, it would be that I want to be the Tara Stiles of running. If you don’t know who Tara Stiles is and are remotely interested in yoga as an athlete, you should definitely check out her website. She is a model turned yoga instructor and her stuff is amazing. Basically Tara Stiles makes yoga easily accessible to all of us through awesome videos, podcasts, and her blog. And what is great about her yoga videos is that they are short and easy to follow.

Being that today is Sunday and my day of rest, I wanted to share one of my favorite yoga videos from Mrs. Stiles. It’s simple, doesn’t require a lot of time, and is great for stretching me out after a long run the day before. Granted, I do not look anywhere near as graceful as she does, it is still an awesome stretch and worth my 10 minutes.

 

 

My favorite thing about this yoga sequence: it makes my hips feel normal and back in alignment. As someone who has struggled with hip injuries for many years, this is exactly what I need. She has a great website and I highly recommend checking it out. She also has great cooking videos too 🙂  Check her out and let me know what you think.

Happy trails and happy running,

Tracie

 

Tara Stiles