A big, huge runfession

Brooks Pure DriftI’m stealing the term runfession from Marcia because I love it and I don’t think she’ll mind. So with a  deep breath, here goes: I haven’t run in five weeks. I’ve kept it quiet for myriad reasons. For one, I just didn’t feel like sharing it publicly. Two, it really gets me down. Three, well, injuries are not what running blog readers really like, are they?

But it’s time to come clean, so here’s the deal: I was about eight weeks into my return from injuries and things were going ok. Not great, but ok. Nothing really returned to 100% on the injury front, but both the Achilles and high hamstring seemed manageable. I also had a persistent ache on my iliac crest (this is the foreshadowing) about which I was aware, but not overly concerned. I should have been. On a six-mile trail run, that pain ramped up big time. By the time I got home after the 10-minute drive from the trail, I knew it was pretty bad. I got into the doctor and some imaging right away and learned that I had partially ruptured my IT band at the insertion point on the iliac crest. Sounds ugly, no? It was quite painful at first, but the good news is that it has healed pretty quickly (I’m learning I prefer tears to tendonosis).

So obviously, with this cycle of injury, I would be a complete idiot not to drill down and figure out what the heck is causing all this in the first place. To look at my training, there’s nothing there. I don’t make stupid training errors or run excessive mileage. But I am definitely paying for some sins of the past.

I emailed Jay Dicharry, author of Anatomy for Running (a brilliant read by a brilliant PT) for help finding a PT in this general area who could help me really dig into what’s going on. Jay directed me to Robert Gillanders down in DC. His assessment style was completely different from any I’ve had in the past. Things we turned up included an incredibly immobile ankle, some low back stiffness and a few other things. Robert’s take is that your body will compensate for so long for shortcomings but that eventually, it will catch up to you.

So about the sin part. That stiff ankle joint that he found stems from two past sprains, one going back all the way to ’99 that I stupidly ran on as soon as I could even walk on it. There was also a lot of stiffness and scar tissue in the bottom of my foot, leftovers from a partial tear in my plantar fascia. I didn’t even know that was there or playing a part in my mobility. I ran far too long on my aching Achilles last summer. All of these things have added up to the train wreck that is now my body.

I’m going to admit to you that my biggest, deepest fear is that my running days could be over. I do think Robert is my best hope for that not to be the case. He has me doing a ton–and I mean a ton–of rehab work every day. Eccentric exercises are my middle name. Still, his recommendation is that I not return to running until I am done making compensations with my gait. I know this makes sense, but it is hard not knowing if and when I’ll get back.

I’ve mentioned losing my blogging mojo–this is clearly a big piece of that. I really do my best to keep positive and soldier on, but I quite often trip up. I’ll write when I can summon the enthusiasm but I’m not going to force it, so bear with me.

Someone tell me a Cinderella story about an injured runner–I need it! 

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  1. says

    Oh no! That just really, really stinks. Of course, with my history of injuries, I’m beginning to think this might be my future at some time. I’m glad you are getting help. It sounds like you are in good hands. Fingers and toes crossed that the rehab exercises do the trick. I have faith that they will. Thanks for the book recommendation too. Checking it out now!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..2014 Wallis Sands Half Marathon RecapMy Profile

  2. says

    You will absolutely, 100% run again! I have zero doubt about that. It sounds like you’re in great hands and, as long as you do all those boring exercises every.damn.day. they will fix you – well really, you will fix you. Just think, after all this, you will appreciate being out there like never before and will not make the same mistakes again :-) I’m sure it’s very hard right now, but you’ll get through it and run another day!
    Allie recently posted..The Countdown!My Profile

  3. says

    I’m really sorry to hear about that. I know in the deepest of all of my injuries I get so worried and nervous I will never be able to run again. I know you will be able too and I only wish you the best of luck.
    Hollie recently posted..Another Recovery WeekMy Profile

  4. says

    Amanda – it is tough to not come back too soon from an injury and we all do it to often. Then we pay for the sins of our past mistakes. You sound an awful lot like me. My PT last summer stated that she had seen boards that had more flexibility than my ankles do and many of the injuries/niggles that you have had over the past six months sound hauntingly familiar.

    As for the blogging, I have decided to to a break, too many years of doing it with not much time is making me stale and it seems that I have been doing more and more rehabbing lately, which is tiring to write about. I think that staying positive is important, but it can be mentally draining, especially when you just want to say f-it some days.

    You will be back to running and we will be cheering each other on, about how well we are running before we know it, we just have to get through the next few months.
    Harold L. Shaw recently posted..Time for a Blog VacationMy Profile

    • MissZippy says

      Thank you, Harold. It’s nice to hear from someone who knows the place I am in. Let’s make a date for a run sometime in the future!

  5. says

    Oh blech, sorry to hear about the latest news. I know you do your best to keep a positive mindset through it all but sometimes it just SUCKS… trust me, I get it.

    By the way, I love to hear your voice and thoughts no matter what the subject so whenever you want to write let those fingers move.

    Sending hugs.
    Cori @ olivetorun.com recently posted..Work For Your GoalsMy Profile

  6. says

    Oh no, I am so sorry Amanda. I know how much that sucks, and I am gonna do my best attempt here. A few years ago, I KEPT getting injured, I went through a year of thinking I was healed, before it all came crumbling down again. I honestly considered quitting, and I was a miserable mess (I do not blame you for being down on blogging, I was down on every single person, thing, thought in my life). My calf strain was the icing on the cake, but I knew I was strong, I went in the pool every single day, up to two hours a day, and I focused on racing at nationals, all day every day. Somehow after only a few weeks of running building up VERY slowly (Day 1 was 2×2 minutes), I ran the qualifier, and did it. At nationals the race went EXACTLY how I had envisioned it, and my rough patch was over.

    You are strong Amanda, the best thing I have learned is that listne to your gut feeling. I hope this is not out of place, but I remember that day you went too far/ran outside when you shouldnt have a few months ago. Those are the days you have to watch for, it is thinking long term, but trusting that things will work out. If in your heart you know you just do not want to run, then maybe it is time to find something new, but if not. It is surely worth fighting for? All the struggles, all the setbacks, WILL pay off for you, we just do not know how and when yet. If you want to talk more, I would be happy to! Thinking of you

    I have nominated you for a liebster award….take your time if you do not feel like it
    Tina Muir recently posted..Double Liebster AwardMy Profile

  7. says

    Put that big, black ‘never run again’ fear out of your mind because it’s not going to happen. Things just get a little more um, ‘interesting’ as the years go on. You’re doing ALL the right things and have found ALL the right people to help you. I know you’ll overcome this. And hey Runfess anytime. The more the merrier. LOVED running with your client yesterday–blame me for keeping her slow! Haha!
    Marcia recently posted..Foodie Friday RecipesMy Profile

  8. says

    Oh no. I’m so sorry this is happening. It sounds like you have a great PT working with you and I’m sure you’ll be running again. I can’t remember where but I read that your body will compensate for misalignment for only so long and then it catches up with you. The frustrating part is unless you have a gait analysis or something similar done you don’t even realize your gait is off. ugh!

    Sending you positive vibes and good wishes. Now go do your PT.
    jill conyers recently posted..Sweet Potato HummusMy Profile

  9. says

    Oh no!! That’s so incredibly frustrating… it makes me wonder what sins of my past running may come back to bite me. I definitely don’t have the perfect biomechanics. But in any case, I really hope you’ll be back to running at some point. It sounds like you’re in good hands!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..27 weeks pregnant updateMy Profile

  10. says

    Does it hurt to walk? It seems to me that as long as you can still get around OK doing everything other than running, then there’s hope that you’ll get the running sorted out. I think that if I were in your position, and I wanted to stay fit, I would just swim a lot. That’s the one other physical activity that I really enjoy, and would seem to be something that is only good for your body.
    bob recently posted..Natural running-It worksMy Profile

    • MissZippy says

      For the most part, walking is pain free for me and it’s something I do quite a bit b/c it gets me outside/onto trails, etc. And I am swimming also, which is my second favorite activity.

      • says

        I wish I had more time to swim and easy access to a pool. I would think that the fluid, flowing motion of the limbs in the water would be very therapeutic. Swimming is also obviously a very good workout and I bet would do wonders for conditioning. Since I’ll never do a triathlon, I’ll probably never incorporate it into my routine, unfortunately.
        bob recently posted..Natural running-It worksMy Profile

        • MissZippy says

          It really is a great complement to running and I do agree that it is great conditioning. I am fortunate to have 23 outdoor pools and 4 indoor pools in my town, the nearest about 1/2 mile away!

  11. says

    I’m sorry, this sounds so incredibly frustrating. It seems like you have a great PT working with you to get you back on the road! I wish you the best xo!
    Ashley recently posted..1.6 milesMy Profile

  12. says

    I have no Cinderella story but I did want to say that I’m thinking of you! I know running is such a big part of your life and anytime something like that is ‘taken away” it plain out sucks. But you’re doing the best you can do and being smart about it. Fingers and toes crossed it will all work out. Sending love and healing vibes. =)
    Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb recently posted..Life Of A Buzzbomb – Part 8My Profile

  13. says

    I’m sorry. I’m in the same boat – another injury, this time I can’t possibly blame my impeccable stretching, strengthening, and low mileage. I’ve definitely given up racing – it’s just too risky to do more than an occasional slow jog – and still don’t have a plan going forward or absolute diagnosis. But like you, I want to know the cause!
    I’m glad you have a good PT – I find they run the gamut, and I’ve had many who can’t look past the particular body part that hurts. Good luck! Keep strengthening!
    Gracie (Complicated Day) recently posted..Oh, the irony.My Profile

    • MissZippy says

      Yes–the fixation on fixing the obvious doesn’t work. It has to go way beyond that! I’m sorry you are in the same boat…I thought you were moving forward. : (

  14. says

    Good for you to dig to the bottom and find out what is wrong… and then DO what it takes to fix it. Wishing you the BEST (if not the speediest) recovery, Amanda.

  15. says

    So sorry to hear about the injury but so glad that you had the imaging and they figured out what it was! So often injuries can go undiagnosed so it’s good that you know. I hope that your running days are not over and that you can heall up and strengthen up. Glad you are able to walk and swim and at least stay active. Hang in there. Will be thinking of you.
    Robin recently posted..Pick Your Poison 25K Trail RunMy Profile

  16. says

    This is a very small ” Cinderella ” story, but I had a very bad scare on my right foot (my notorious “breakable leg” but turned out to be something that only sidelined me in a boot for a week-water running got me ready to ease back onto schedule without catastrophe. What really helped was my attitude this time.

    I like the term ‘Runfession” …..just not what it means! Heal quickly and keep focusing on what you CAN do!
    Adrienne recently posted..Sponsorship Update: Joining the Honey Stinger Hive!My Profile

  17. says

    Ouch! That sounds so painful! I totally understand where you are coming from! I spent last year nursing my foot, calf, peroneal tendon back to health. the running I did last summer and fall was UGLY! I felt frustrated and like it would never be better but then with the help of the right people and smarter training I was able to successfully run Boston in April. I am sending you healing vibes and positive thoughts. You will heal and be strong again! Hugs!

  18. says

    Gah, yes, I would definitely take that partial rupture over the tendonosis any day. I think that’s a secret fear any runner has; not being able to run anymore – and not by our own choosing. Everyday I feel like my body is paying me back for some poor habit earlier in life :)

    It sounds like you’re getting some great help from Robert, and I don’t doubt you’ll be back at it again. Sending hugs (and prayers for much patience along the way!)

  19. says

    Oh Amanda. I’m so so sorry to hear this. It’s so freaking frustrating. My PT was laughing at me the other day because there’s always something wrong with me but I told her that honestly, I would just like a month of being completely healthy. I kind of have the same feeling that I’m just piling injury and imbalance on top of another and that I need to take care of it all. I know how important running is and I hope that your new PT can help you get back there solidly. Thinking of you!! PS I want to read that book!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Ask a Yogini: What does Vinyasa Mean?My Profile

    • MissZippy says

      I”m sorry you feel my pain! I highly, highly recommend the book. I almost think it should be required reading for anyone before getting their “run card.” ; )

  20. says

    I’m very sorry to read this. Makes sense that your blogging mojo isn’t there right now- not fun to write about something you can’t do.
    I’m sure it’s especially frustrating (speaking from experience here) to not see any glaring errors in training.
    I love that you emailed Jay. I might do the same and ask if he could recommend someone up here for me. I was actually going to email you the other week about your high hamstring problem (one physio has ruled that out since then).
    I can’t see anything I’ve done wrong and yet I continue to be plagued by injury. I’ve recommitted myself to seeing a few physios to try and get to the bottom of it.
    I really hope your rehab and recovery is a successful one. I’ll be thinking about you when I’m doing my rehab.
    Abby recently posted..Spreading the love: Liebster AwardMy Profile

    • MissZippy says

      Thanks, Abby! Sounds like you could use the same kind of going over that I got from Robert. It’s not a fun place to be, but I will keep plugging along hoping to find the solution.

  21. says

    :( I’m so sorry to read your post … just know that you are still one of my main running resources and places to find inspiration! I’ve been battling niggle/injury/ache all Winter into Spring now myself. I know I’m not as strong of a runner as you are, but I do understand having a bad season and a body that just doesn’t want to cooperate. I too find nothing wrong with my training plan. It’s solid based on RRCA wisdom, prior coaching, what Hal Higdon would put together, etc.

    One thing I’ve been reading up on and you may have some good wisdom into that, is that some people do better with less mileage? I don’t know the answer, but after I read about Masters Runner Libby James’ typical training in RW a couple months ago, it really started resonating. Anyway … I digressed a little … what I mean is that maybe your body is changing and that you can’t not run ever again (I can’t imagine you could never run again!!! so don’t think that!!!) … but perhaps how you run needs to change? Meb seems to have shared that as well, that as he got older, he had to change how he did his training.

    Many thoughts, prayers, sympathy … and commiseration. But you WILL run again!!! I’m a believer in Miss Zippy!!! :)
    Christina recently posted..New running shoes, Fall marathon registration, new running topsMy Profile

    • MissZippy says

      Thank you! Yes, getting older certainly plays a role and I am completely willing to adjust as I go along. Good luck to you unlocking it all as well.

  22. says

    As someone who has gotten past quite a few injuries over the course of decades of running, I will say that the body is truly a mystery and not so easy to figure out. Usually, it heals in its own time and with no relationship to what we are doing to help it heal. I think I’m doing all sorts of things to help it along the way, and alas, when I collapse into a heap and just give up, it seems only then does the healing begin. It’s weird like that. Time is usually the best healer I think–and surrender–true surrender unfortunately. It’s not to be faked I don’t think–and it can’t be done without effort, which is the paradox. Still, I am so sorry. The frustration of it all is easy to remember. It’s scary to think about because I am on a running high now–after quitting a 15-year yoga practice that was intense–and left me pretty weak due to overstretching of a body that wasn’t made to be flexible. Even when I was young, it wasn’t flexible. I’ve always run–even while running–but my running’s been a lot slower and loose over the last 10 years trying to pair it with a 2-hour yoga practice and work and parenthood etc. However, now that I’ve dropped the yoga, I’m energized and actually feel firm in my bones. I don’t want to injure myself. We all have our own tangled webs when it comes to our relationship to running and to the body–this sweet old body that gets us around this life no matter what we put it through. Sending you ease and healing!
    Tara recently posted..Coming Soon: Writing TimeMy Profile

    • MissZippy says

      Very interesting, Tara. I’ve never heard of anyone getting messed up by yoga but I can understand how being too bendy/stretchy could work against a runner. We do need some stiffness to get the most out of our muscles when running. Thanks for the nice words!

  23. says

    OH, Amanda – I’m so sorry!!!
    I think I’ve told you before that injuries (series of them like you have had) are why I don’t race anymore. At first it was hard but I have found a way to still run and that is the main thing.
    I hope that you are able to get this under control and then find a running system that allows you to keep doing what you do!!!
    Hang in there!!!
    Kim recently posted..Sometimes Rocks CrackMy Profile

  24. says

    oh man. I feel like this could be me. I’ve sort of cleared up a high hamstring tendinosis but it still is sort of there. Sometimes I don’t feel it at all, sometimes I do. I feel like the PT exercises I do on a daily basis are just keeping the tide at bay and then it will eventually catch up to me. I’m sort of relying on the fact that I may have another baby in the near future as a way to rest and take care of things…I know I need to see a PT like the one you mentioned who really knows their stuff. Thanks for sharing and being so honest.
    Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted..Barrington Peeper 5K Race RecapMy Profile

  25. says

    I am so sorry to hear about your injury, but it sounds like you are being really smart about everything. I often worry that I have underlying limitations and would love to have someone do that sort of analysis. I actually just made an appointment with the chiro you recommend on your “run Howard county” page because I have felt stuck with my progress with my current provider…I wouldn’t say that I am injured but I am not 100% and I know if I start training again I will fall apart. Also, I love “Anatomy for Runners” and Jay seems to really know his stuff. Did he recommend anyone closer to Baltimore? I hope that you are able to get all of this sorted out and get back to running soon!
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted..Food Prep, Weekly Meal Plan, and Workout PlanMy Profile

  26. says

    Sorry to hear about your injury! Sending positive healing energy your way! Here’s my Cinderella story: I sprained my ankle in April last year (over)training for a spring marathon. I couldn’t run for 6 months! But in 2010, I’ve PR-ed in the half marathon, 15k and 5k! :) Good luck with you rehab!!

  27. says

    Oh man! I can only imagine how hard it was to write this….but thank you so much for your honesty and openness! I can only imagine the writing mojo is sapped out of you too. Hang in there and know there’s a lot of us rooting for you and sending positive vibes your way!
    sheila recently posted..Hit & Don’t RunMy Profile

  28. says

    Being injured really sucks and it is hard to not feel discouraged and worry about the future. While I’m not a doctor (duh!) I am pretty sure that a combination of modern science, hard work, and your own determination will bring you back to running. The question may be, as it was for me, will you be happy with running for a different goal?
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Stop the Negative Self Talk! 5 Tips to Turn It Around and Improve PerformanceMy Profile

    • MissZippy says

      I know! Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy! And if there was a leg replacement, I would line up, believe me!

  29. says

    That sucks big time! But in a way it’s also very interesting: what happens to a runner who can’t run? How does it affect you?

    I hope you’ll be able to start running again soon. If not, I would greatly recommend finding another sport to get the fix that running offers somewhere else.

    Best wishes!
    Momshomerun recently posted..Can you run and talk?My Profile

  30. says

    I’m really sorry about this. I was actually thinking about you a few days ago while running, wondering if I’ve been missing your posts or do not know about something… Well now I know. At least you can know that some runner in South Africa missed your running posts and stories. Hang in there, you will get over this.
    Johann recently posted..Born to run, forced to workMy Profile

  31. says

    Damn Amanda I’m really sorry to hear this. For what it’s worth I do believe you’ll be running again – it sounds like you’ve found yourself a great PT and I know you’ll work hard to get back. I totally get taking a break from blogging…just know I will miss your writing and insights. Sending lots of positive healing vibes your way!!
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..Training Check-in Week 9My Profile

  32. KellyM says

    What a bummer, I’ve been reading your blog for a bit and I truly enjoy it, write when you want!! It’s a blog and it’s yours do your thing. I have to thank you, because when I read about your pain I thought ruh roh. I’ve been complaining my butt hurts for the last several weeks….I think you may have given me thoughts on where it’s coming from and to pay attention to it seriously. I hope all your PT is helping and you’ll be back on your feet soon. You have so much good information to share…..

  33. says

    Man, I think I suck at the whole motivational thing because I got nothing. Perhaps you are at a crossroads and it’s time to get healthy and rethink running – not about giving it up but how you can manage it. On the one hand, the body is an amazing thing, you can push it to levels that you never thought possible. But understanding what are body is best at is another proposition entirely. If you don’t know where I am going with this, during your downtime, read The Sports Gene. It’s eye-opening.
    Jamoosh recently posted..What The FridayMy Profile

  34. says

    So sorry to read this Amanda … I was definitely getting the ‘get away from it all’ a bit in recent posts, and since Harold has been doing something similar (and a couple of others I follow), in terms of stepping back – and also dealing with recurring injuries – I was not overly surprised. But it is still awful.

    Thank you so much for sharing …

  35. says

    I’m so sorry to read about this! I can understand why you don’t want to blog much…since you’re not running. Sounds like you found the right person to help you rehab from your injuries. Last summer, after struggling with lots of foot issues, I started working with a crossfit coach who is a certified correctional exercise specialist. She diagnosed me with a hip imbalance and we are continuing to work on strengthening those weak spots. I have to say that I am running the best of my life. Still struggling with the foot pain on and off tho…Hang in there, hopefully you’ll be back on the road. Just take your time and let your body heal!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted..HappyMy Profile

  36. says

    i’m so sorry – this has to be frustrating. keep your chin up and think positive.

    i’m sure you are in amazing hands – a referral from dicharry himself?! dicharry is amazing and i’m sure this PT is too. hang in there.
    kristy recently posted..Big Plans {revised}My Profile

  37. says

    Oh, Zipster, so sorry to be reading this! Wishing the news were better – but glad you’ve (hopefully) connected with someone who can really, truly get to the root of your problem.

    The good news, I suppose, is that there’s a whole world of sports out there – and since you already have a pretty good handle on the running thing, the more you learn about them, the better a coach you’ll become. I know that’s a lemons/lemonade kind of comment, but I think that’s the best this situation has to offer right now.

    I’ll be rooting for rehab. And I hope you’ve found an engaging TV show to distract you while you do your exercises (once you learn them and can execute properly, of course!).
    Coach Holly @ Run With Holly recently posted..What’s it like to run in *insert country here*? Cathryn’s on the caper!My Profile

  38. says

    So sorry to hear about another set back. But think of it as just that. You are so active and competitive in other areas. Maybe you prefer running but you’re pretty lucky to be such a strong swimmer and cyclist. Not sure what your injury rehab will allow but maybe a year or two focusing on other events might be a blessing in disguise.
    Joanne recently posted..Tacoma to Seattle and BackMy Profile

  39. says

    Hmmm….well maybe this is a good time to branch out and try some other exercises. You can’t just sit around. Would hiking be too much stress on it? Maybe take it slow and not go crazy on distance? At least it gets you outside…
    Randy recently posted..Flat FeetMy Profile