No Pain, No Gain

How many of you have had an injury related to working out? I’d need 8 arms to count all of the times this has happened to me and they are all 100% my fault.  I have had stress fractures in my feet, hips, pelvis, and femurs (not all at once), but needless to say, I’m the queen of over doing it. 

PSA: After reading this you will question my sanity. 

I remember the first time I dealt with my left foot hurting.  The outside of my foot hurt at the beginning of my runs and then about an hour after, it was a throbbing pain.  But, I kept going, running 6-7 days a week.  Constant pain was then a normal part of my day, until one morning I got out of bed and fell because my foot couldn’t handle my body weight.  So, what did I do?  I went and bought an ace bandage, wrapped my foot tightly, put on my running shoes and tied my shoe extra tight for support and went for a run.   A week later I finally caved and got an x-ray.   I had a stress fracture of the Navicular Bone.  Running stopped for 6 weeks I felt mentally unstable, so I swam and boxed and I really only quit for 4 weeks.... 

Two years later I was living in my cousins basement, running 7 days a week, logging 40-50 miles a week when I started having “achy legs.”  I blamed it on the combination of running and spinning and that my muscles were sore-that I need a rest day.  So I built in a rest day, and only did 6 days of running, but my mileage stayed the same. The pain continued, got better after the first mile or so but was so bad at night that I could hardly sleep.  Next came, hip pain, a limp and my cousin asked me if I had hurt myself (she is a physical therapist).  I told her about a the pain I was having, described how it got better after I ran for a bit.  Her face wrinkled and she said she wanted to try something.  So she had me sit on the edge of the bed, rolled up a towel, stuck it under my thigh just below my butt cheek and pressed down on my knee.  I came flying off the bed with pain searing through me!  What had she done?! She looked at me and said, I think you have a stress fracture.  I called my doctor and told him I needed an x-ray.  Two days later it was confirmed, I had two stress fractures in my right femur, one in my right hip, my pelvis and one in my left femur.  Five fractures! I was referred to an orthopedic specialist at Washington University (Dr. Halstead).  I met with Dr. Halstead on a Monday and he went through my results, letting me know that if I was out of running for 16 weeks and that if I didn’t rest, I’d end up with surgery because he would have to pin my hip.  I the said to him, “I have a Warrior Dash 5mile race this Saturday, can I do it and then not run 16 weeks after it?”  He looked at me and said, “Even Olympic athletes have rest days.  If you’re going to continue to be stupid about it and run every day, then you’re going to break.”  

I ran the Warrior Dash (sorry doc) but I completely stopped running for 16 weeks.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. 

But it was during this 16 weeks that I realized my body needed rest.  That maybe I had an addiction to working out; that maybe this was God's way of saying, "slow down, stop and smell the flowers."  So during that 16 weeks, I did just that, I rested, I hung out with friends, family, slept in on weekends and  I healed my body, my mind and my soul.  I found that during 16 weeks, I didn't gain any weight and I didn't get "soft."  I found peace in rest days and that they are needed!  

I am now very conscious about pain when working out.  When I feel an ache or a pull, I think, "is this injury pain? Is this just sore muscles? Am I over-doing it?" I have read a lot about the correlation between rest and recovery and how our bodies heal, get stronger, become better versions of their selves when we give them a rest.   But, how do we recognize the difference between real pain and being sore from a good workout? How do we recognize when we need rest?

In the last year and half, I’ve really become in-tune with my body and what it’s saying.  How is my energy? How well am I sleeping? What does my pee look like? Is my pain lasting longer than a day? Am I struggling through my workouts? If I answer  yes to 2 or more of these I write myself a prescription for Netflix and chill. 

You know your body better than anyone, start listening to what it is saying.  We all only get one body, so we better start giving it the best care possible.   

What has your body been saying to you?

Stay Awesome!
HB