Sunday, December 13, 2009


I've been writing about my injury a lot, but with the benefit of time I have more perspective on it than I did when I first started rambling on about it earlier this fall.

In the time I've been running, this is only my second injury that has required any significant time to heal. The last one was five years ago, when I wrecked my foot during our Rideau Trail fastpack.

There were a few things that led to this injury (a degeneration of tendons in my hip and hamstring):

- I think I'm really good about recovery day-in and day-out, but taking any larger amount of longer, seasonally-based recovery is something I never seem to get around to.

- As runners we can develop a weird relationship with pain. It's sometimes hard to distinguish pain we should pay attention to as opposed to the type that is just a normal part of training.

- After R&I I just wanted to keep going and run a 50 miler. Why start over when I was already there? My aerobic base was my limiting factor for so long, and after a few years of solid mileage, it was seductive to think I could just keep going. My legs were suddenly the things holding me back, which was a strange thing for me, and in hindsight I didn't pay enough attention to what that was telling me. That led to compensating by recruiting other muscle groups, and before I knew it the whole house of cards was falling around me.

- Advil. I started to pop it during races. Never. Again. I can see it being helpful for really long races when used sparingly to relieve muscle soreness. Turns out I was actually masking signs I should have paid more attention to.

- Overstriding, especially on snowshoes.

- Yoga - doing too much too soon. I don't think yoga caused my injury, but I started getting really into it and doing more than I was ready for, which didn't help. I hope to get back to it next year as I really enjoyed it.

Some good things to come out of this injury:

- Huge renewal to my enthusiasm. Getting to the point of missing it deeply and appreciating it more.

- Not being hungry all the time. I can skip a meal and not want to eat my arm.

- Having more time, which is good timing because work has been busy. Change of pace in general. When I get back to harder training, I plan to keep a better balance.

- I always say that if running can't teach you patience, nothing will. Bingo. Again. Learning.

- Deep healing. For example my big toe joints aren't sore for the first time since I can even remember. Toenails are even growing back.

- Working on form. I don't believe in overhauling form, rather tweaking over time and getting in touch with what works for you. I've now been chopping my stride right down and working on turnover. Barefoot has helped me so much this year, because it helped me get in tune with my own natural form, and it feels right.

- Realizing I can live without running. It isn't my life, it's just part of my life.

I don't have time right now, but next time I'll post about the best advice I've received during my downtime.

I started typing all of the above on Sunday, before one of our beautiful dogs, Cody, died on Monday. None of that other stuff seems to matter as much now, and I still miss our golden boy terribly and feel a void in my heart. Last night driving home, the sunset was gorgeous, with a bit of a "sundog" effect shooting up into the sky. I took comfort in thinking that maybe Cody's energy had something to do with it. But still, I would prefer that we could sit on his house and watch it together, and I could give him a big furry hug and scratch his softest, dark ears. Then maybe one more time I could watch him trot across the snow and ice looking undeniably wolfish. We never got to say goodbye to our friend, but take comfort in many fond memories and knowing he lived a long and happy life. Derrick and I play a silly game where we pose questions like, "If all the dogs were rock stars, who would they be?" If Cody were a rockstar he would be Eddie Vedder, and he would have penned this wise and haunting song:


David said...

Hey Sara,
Again, I am so, so sorry about Cody - Loved the video, and I am sure you are right he does even look like Eddie :).

I think you would be hard pressed to find an athlete in the world, young or old, amateur or professional who has truly figured out the injury issue. It is such a fine line between sore muscles and injured muscles, and hard to know when to pull the plug. Looking back for me it is definitely not the training that really causes the injury - it is not taking time off. By this I mean taking 1,2,3 months off running, as you are doing now.

Enjoy the snow, and I hope we get together soon.

Hugs - David,

EJ said...

I love the way you(Derrick) are reflecting in Cody's eyes. I love the way dogs love us unconditionally. A-oooooo Cody, rest in peace.
I miss my dog Mac so much right now. He is staying with my Mom while I am in Florida. I can't wait to get home and give him a big hug.

Anonymous said...

We are so sorry. We know how much you and Rick love your dogs, they sure couldn't have a better family and you can take comfort in knowing that Cody had a great life with all of you. We will miss him also.


Kimberley said...

Dear Sara & Derrick,

I read this peom and thought of Cody and more tears spilled while reading. Whether or not we believe, it is a lovely image:


My best friend closed his eyes last night,
As his head was in my hand.
The Doctors said he was in pain,
And it was hard for him to stand.

The thoughts that scurried through my head,
As I cradled him in my arms.
Were of his younger, puppy years,
And OH...his many charms.

Today, there was no gentle nudge
With an intense "I love you gaze",
Only a heart thats filled with tears
Remembering our joy filled days.

But an Angel just appeared to me,
And he said, "You should cry no more,
GOD also loves our canine friends,
HE's installed a 'doggy-door"!

jan cooper '95

Thank you for posting your perspective Sara. You have taught me some important lessons.

Hugs & sloppy kisses from Strider,

Sara said...

David, you're right about Cody and Eddie! :) EJ, we hadn't noticed the reflection, thanks for pointing it out. Stonehaven, the pack just doesn't seem the same, who knew 6 dogs could seem so few. That's a very sweet poem, Kim, thanks for posting it.