fitness · injury · rest · running

Tracy’s turn for a sad story

“OUCH!” in red block letters written in marker on a white background.

As I write this I am in bed with a cold pack on my right lower back and just got a text message from a friend who used to be a nurse. It said, “do you think maybe you should see your doctor? It’s not getting better over time?” She was talking about my lower back.

Ever since a couple of days after my Around the Bay 30K two Sundays ago I’ve had almost no sustained relief from a pain in my lower back unless I’m lying down. And even then, to get into a lying down position is a slow and careful process that sometimes leaves me weeping. Getting up from it (or from a chair, or into / out of the car) is similarly difficult.

If I move wrong when sitting, standing, or lying down, I get a searing pain and my back and leg go weak, such that it feels as if they are about to give way. Needless to say, I have not run since Around the Bay. I also cancelled my personal training last week. I made it to one actual yoga class, and it felt good, but again I had to scale to my capacity, which meant forward bends and anything that involved getting up or lowering myself down required a modified approach.

I asked Sam whether I should blog about this because I was so pumped after Around the Bay and felt so strong in every way possible, that this back situation feels like an enormous disappointment. Quite the come down, actually. Sam said it’s real and an okay thing to blog about.

Damn right it’s real. I don’t think I’ve experienced physical pain this real in years. The kind that makes me cry. I’ve got great pain tolerance. I didn’t even cry when the dentist drilled into a raw unfrozen nerve during a root canal.

But I tend to be a bit private about pain. Not that I don’t share setbacks and difficulties with my friends. And not that I never blog about challenging times. And not that the people I work with aren’t aware of my delicate back situation this week (because otherwise they would be wondering why I’m walking so slowly and wincing from time to time for no apparent reason). I’m not one to suffer in silence. But it would never occur to me to tell my Facebook friends that I am in excruciating back pain this week. So blogging about it is a bit uncomfortable.

And yet as Sam said, it’s real. And we all have setbacks sometimes. Sam blogged about her much more serious difficulties just the other day. And Catherine talked about getting realistic in April. We all have things that come up, some temporary and others more permanent.

Truth be told, I’m not “rolling with it” particularly well. I mean, I thought and expected that it would resolve in time for me to go for an easy run on Sunday morning. But that was not realistic. I probably shouldn’t have walked home from work on Wednesday. And now, I just can’t even imagine running or walking any distance, or going to the weight room, or even doing a yoga class without taking it super slow and easy.

I’m seeing an osteopath after work today and I went for a massage focusing on that part of my back at the end of the day yesterday. And yes, I’m lying on an ice pack right now and I think I will pop a couple of ibuprofen caplets. I hope, as Susan said, that the osteopath will “gently wiggle” me “back to health.”

Meanwhile, I think this has helped me decide that perhaps, as much as I love running, distances like 30K are too taxing on my 54-year old body. When I do get back to running, I’m sticking with a 10K max for awhile (until Anita talks me into another half marathon or something).

How well do you cope with injuries that interfere with what you’d ideally like to be doing?

23 thoughts on “Tracy’s turn for a sad story

  1. Tracyyyyy!!! This sucks so bad. You are strong! You are! But you are hurt and you need to heal. I’m excited for the osteo result and next steps. Be good to you.

  2. Yikes! Your description of this reminded me of the first time my lower back got really out of whack. The thing that turned it around for me was realizing that bending over at the waist while sitting to tie my shoes didn’t hurt. This led me to focus on my hamstrings and after several days of gentle hamstring stretches, my back recovered. Given that it happened after your big event, that might be something to look into.

    I have now had this happen to me several times in the past year, and usually just when I was getting into a good routine of activities I enjoy (softball, hiking, weight lifting). Most likely, it’s because I was over-doing them, not stretching well afterwards, and not giving myself time to recover. It’s been a slow and painful learning process. I usually express frustration and work to get myself back into a groove again.

  3. I’m so sorry about your pain! I’ve been there many times. Don’t make any decisions about what you are capable of when you are in pain, just let yourself (help yourself) heal and assess where you’re at, which will probably be in a better place than you think now!! Sending healing vibes.

    1. Thanks, Mina. Letting the healing happen — slower than I wish, of course, but I’m being reasonable and smart about it, taking advice to rest.

  4. Thank you for being real. Injuries and disappointments are all part of what makes this blog a beautiful and safe space.
    My osteopath is a miracle worker. I hope yours is too.

    Remember…it’s not about what you could do. It’s about accepting what makes sense for you to do today.
    Take it easy.

  5. I’m so sorry you are in such pain. I’ve had to scale back on running. It’s not that I have had some big injury. But many small injuries. I’m 67. So now I’m riding a bike, walking a lot and running a small amount.

    1. Thanks, Claudia. Despite that you report having had to scale back on running, your comment is super reassuring.

  6. Last summer, my partner and I were getting ready for an afternoon flight. He went downstairs for one last row on the rowing machine, and a few minutes later, I heard the worst yelp. He’d injured his back and he was seriously devastated, because he’d just been getting in better shape recently, he wanted to travel, and of course there was the brain-boggling pain. We were both freaked out for a few minutes, but worked out how to keep him as comfortable as possible, how to travel but limit his movements, and how to tell the family at the other end of our flight that we needed to change some plans (like long hikes!). He was seriously miserable about the set-back, even more than the physical pain, which I know you’ll understand. But it was helpful to tackle it as a group project, and to organize our efforts around a future version of him that would be rowing again, instead of the pain-filled present. So, I totally get being private about pain, but with this kind of set-back, you really might be better off making your recovery and return to varieties of fitness a group project. You probably know all this so I’m probably not helping, but I feel all the feelings reading this and I know of the struggle second-hand. Sending you virtual hugs!

    1. Thanks, Kate. I’m not sure how much more a collective project I can make it than talking about it on the blog! And with friends and co-workers, and with the other blog authors. I really have mobilized all the troops for input and have received much guidance!

  7. I am so sorry you’re in pain. I have no comparable experience and even less advice. I just hope you baby yourself back robust fitness and health!!💕💕

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