Two months have passed since..actually, if I am being specific it has been nine weeks and three days since my last run. Which means that it has been nine weeks and two days since my first physical therapy session. (not that I am counting or anything)
One month ago I accepted my fate and deferred my Marine Corps Marathon race until 2014.
In that time, these two months of physical therapy, aka not running, my weeks have been cluttered with physical therapy sessions and a large dose of frustration and self sabotage. You see, I am not a good patient. I am not good at feeling like I “cannot do” something. I do not like giving up control. And yet- instead of focusing on what I could do- my attempts to cope with my running injuries fell flat. I spent these two months thinking about all the things I could not do. The things that hurt. The running that I longed for. The feeling of self-confidence that comes from knowing that your body is strong. Also? I ate. A lot. If I was already a fat runner, I became an even fatter non-runner.
I know that in the big picture, whether I run 26.2 miles this year or next does not really matter. I also know that not running so that my hip and IT band start to heal so that I can eventually move without pain is a worthwhile sacrifice. But also, I have learned a few other things.
What I have learned from physical therapy
In order to be successful in physical therapy, you must be patient. With yourself, with your body and with time.
You are actually supposed to do the exercises that the physical therapist gives you to do at home –every day- as opposed to never.
Working on one part of the body has a direct impact (and sometimes it is not for the better) on another part of the body.
You should not change shoes and orthotics without expecting your body to react.
Using your core and buttocks to make your body do things is not as easy as it looks–and even more importantly, your physical therapist will know when you are faking.
Moving beyond physical therapy
It sounds obvious of course, your body can only take so much. It can only take so much pain and injury. But it can also only take so much negative focus. At some point, the needle has to shift towards optimism and concrete actions that will help you achieve your long term goals.
At some point.
There are moments that I think I am there…like when I started planning to start Pilates private lessons and eventually group equipment and mat classes…and even signing up for a session of Barre classes at a new studio to be used “when I am better.” Or when I use a new cookbook to make a healthy soup or inquire with a nutritionist about a juice cleanse because well…something has to give.
But there are other moments where I know that I am not there yet. Like when I spend an entire day sitting at my desk, instead of getting up to stretch and move around. Or when I eat a healthy snack followed by a less healthy snack, followed by an even less healthy snack until suddenly, I am no longer even hungry for dinner. Or when I stomp my feet in my closet realizing that not a single pair of pants other than my yoga pants fit me (or at least- fit without creating a permanent cinch mark around my waist).
So yes, the lessons learned from physical therapy transcend more than just the treatment for the injury.
Two months of not running because of physical therapy, or not being able to sift through the stream of ideas in my head at any given time during a run…has an emotional toll as much as a physical one.
Instead of picking a new goal race to mark my return to health, I have learned from physical therapy that I cannot control the timeline of healing on my IT band or hip. And while I still have moments that are less than productive, hiking for 4.5 miles this past weekend- knowing how it felt to be active (even if I was winded at even the hint of a steepness on the trail) reminded me that I do still have power over my actions and choices.
What about you?
Are you patient with yourself?
How do you cope with a sports injury or physical therapy?