I am not afraid to be afraid…

determinedInjuries suck!  I don’t have to tell anyone that.  Not only do they keep you from doing what you love to do, but sometimes…they just refuse to go away.

Five days from now will mark an entire year since the initial problem I was having with my hip.  I know this, because I log what I do every day, and I went back through last year’s runner’s journal and discovered my last run was on February 17…I complained that it hurt to get back into my boots (I was at the gym on the treadmill due to weather)…and on the way home, it hurt like a mother just moving my foot from the accelerator to the brake pedal.

I guess I never mentioned that, because last year was rough…and there wasn’t much that I felt like blogging about.  Now I wish I had…because I’ve kept a lot of anger, sadness and pain to myself, whereas this could have been a journey.

All that being said…here I sit…almost an entire year later and my hip still flairs up.  I can’t do my hill repeat nights without being in pain the next day.  Running on the treadmill at the gym sucks.  It is painful (more than running outside, believe it or not) and boring.  I don’t know how people log miles on a treadmill.  I can’t focus on anything but those numbers…and how slow each freakin’ second is ticking away.

All that being said…there are days I wish I had one…because being outside sucks…and being at the gym sucks.  At least at home I could put in a movie or watch a show and maybe it wouldn’t suck as hard.

I’ve been back in physical therapy for a couple of months now.  For awhile, it was twice a week.  Then once a week.  I had an initial running analysis done by my therapist, Katie (who is awesome…and a running specialist and runner herself), by having her film me at different angles on the treadmill and going through each frame…showing me exactly why my leg ended up fractured last year when I first came back.  You see…my hip hurts, sometimes to the point that it makes me limp…sometimes to the point that standing up is a problem.  It changes from day to day.  Sometimes, I am pain-free.  There is no rhyme or reason to how these days pan out or what kind of a day it will be (except for post-hill repeats…that night and the next day will always suck).  In the initial analysis, she showed me how I was not trusting my right leg because of the hip.  It is my “Bambi leg.”  While it took about 3 seconds to push off with my left foot, when my right foot came down…a second, if that.  I was limping while running, and didn’t even realize it.  Strength in my right leg…next to nothing.  My body was so imbalanced…it was crazy.  So, the primary focus was strengthening…and then…very slowly…ease back into putting some mileage in on these legs.

And that’s what I’ve been doing these last couple months.  Physical therapy, strengthening, then…running.  I’m not focused on speed or time right now.  It’s all about getting that mileage in…rebuilding that endurance.  It’s hard to tame the speed demon though.  Muscle memory and all…I put on those running shoes and I just want to fly.

I just can’t.  Usually around Mile 4-6 on a long-ish run, the hip will seize up or begin to hurt.  And then I’ll hurt for the rest of the day…if not too bad, I do the plyometric exercises that Katie assigned me.  If it’s bad…I skip them and opt for some rest.  This journey has been long, tedious, tiresome, and I’m still on it.  And I think that’s the most difficult thing for me.

When this all happened, I figured I’d be better…because everyone I know who has had a torn hip labrum has gotten a shot, had surgery, and just…gone back to what they were doing.  But my Cortisone shot didn’t work…and surgery…not an option…and the whole thing is just this really rocky road that I keep stumbling around on, catching my footing, and then stumbling again.  I am a big ball of emotions…anger, frustration, hope, sadness, pain, fear, redemption, courage…it’s all there.

I’m not better…but I am on the road to being better.  I don’t know if I will ever not have some sort of pain.  I admit, I panic anytime something else flairs up…and with this cold weather, you better believe I’ve had some moments.

The long of the short of it is…I’m not where I used to be, I may not ever be where I used to be.  But I am doing the best I can with what I’ve got.

On Wednesday, I saw Katie again and she reassessed my strength, finding that my right and left legs have equaled out.  Got that strength imbalance fixed.  In fact, the hip flexors and adductors are actually stronger than the outer muscles now.  Go figure.  With all that being said, and with my mileage continuing a slow climb…Katie will see me one more time at the end of the month.  After that…it will be on an “as needed” schedule.

It freaks me out…because a part of me likes having these sessions because I feel better coming out of them.  I feel more confident. But I also know…I can’t always have someone there holding my hand.  I have to do this on my own.  I have to once again find that strength, that courage, and that will…and I have to let go…of doubt, fear, and negativity.

It won’t be easy.  It never is.  But I know me…I’m determined.  Very few of my runs may ever be fast.  Very few may ever be pain-free.  I’ll take the good runs…and I’ll use the bad runs to focus on getting stronger…

But, yes…it is time to let go…it’s time to hit that pavement again…perhaps a little scared…perhaps a little doubtful…but stronger…and better.

…just not faster.  At least…not yet.

Face your fears…and you won’t fear them anymore.  You’ll learn from them.

Every run…every day…is a learning experience for me.

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