Every runner has stories to tell about falling down. Sometimes they’re spectacular, like cracking a few ribs on a trail run in the Tetons, and sometimes they’re minor, like tripping over an uneven sidewalk. None of them are fun. Falling down as an adult, from a higher elevation than childhood, just plain hurts. In my own experience running with groups of friends, women seem to fall more than men. I don’t know why this is (and it has nothing to do with women talking more than men because I have several male friends who can out-talk any woman on a run, honest). Speaking for myself, my knees have seen many Bandaids, and they have since I was a kid.
Like the unstoppable (or is that stubborn?) woman that I am, we continued on and ran the 9 mile loop. I wore my tire-track shirt and bloody knee with pride around the lake, and got a few sympathetic looks from other runners. My head stopped hurting, I made sure to drink lots of water and monitor my jaw as I ran, and we finished our run. Poor Hari felt somehow responsible, and I toyed with the idea of guilting him into post-run dark chocolate reparations, but it was no one’s fault.
A few days later my back started to ache, just below the shoulder blade. It wasn’t severe, but enough to be irritating when I stood or sat for long periods of time. I did get quite a few sympathy back massages from Michael, who kept telling me a good massage would fix the problem, but I just couldn’t seem to shake the pain. I moved stiffly around my classroom, and after two weeks I felt like I was a million years old.
I finally went to the doctor, who took a few x-rays, told me no ribs were cracked, gave me a muscle relaxer and an anti-inflammatory, and told me to curtail all physical activity for the weekend. The pain moved down to my lower back and up to my neck so I decided to stop running completely until it went away. Not surprisingly, taking some time off was exactly what my back needed.
In the past, not running for three weeks would be cause for a total meltdown in my life. Maybe it’s a sign of running maturity, but I made my peace with the situation and didn’t fight taking time off. An injury coinciding with the last two weeks of school was actually perfect timing, since I was too tired at the end of the day anyway to do much more than stretch out on the couch and feel sorry for myself. I guess it was a blessing in disguise.