The Road to Recovery

It feels like I have been on this road for longer than I actually have and I don’t know when it will end.  That is the most frustrating part of it all.

I can tell you that rest has not been a part of this journey.  I guess I should be able to say that I have “rested” from running, but that isn’t completely accurate.  Every couple of days I make an attempt to run.  It usually ends in failure.  Yesterday was one of those days, but I was able to do more than I expected.  I walked mostly, but jogged some.  I managed to go for 6 miles using that walk/run method that I so much despised before all of this happened.  Now it is a blessing.  I feel a sense of success when I am moving through the “run” (okay, let’s call it a jog) phase of the method.  A car passes by and I know they are thinking “look at that runner, I wish I was running right now.”  The pleasant feeling only lasts about a tenth of a mile before I back off and start walking again.  I know that when I feel any pain that I must stop.  If I feel pain in my leg then that means my disc is pushing against my nerve.  That means that I am not helping the heeling process.  I am probably part of the reason why this road seems to continue on forever.

When I don’t feel pain I am unstoppable.  I will squat, lunge, chest press, curl, etc.  If my physical therapist tells me not to use a bar on my back for squats, then I use the same amount of weight in dumbbells along my side.  If my physical therapist demonstrates strengthening exercises, then I do those exercises every day.  Of course, when they give me more, I add it to my routine.  When I am told to use the ARC machine at the gym (something similar to a cross between an elliptical and a stair climber) I make sure I am sweating bullets by the time I get off.  If I am not told to do something, then I do it.  Maybe they don’t realize that they need to give me a list of every activity, movement and exercise I shouldn’t be doing…

So, is this helping or hurting?  Not sure.  Some days I feel so great that I think I could run 3 miles without walking.  Funny enough, these are usually the days after I have exercised in the morning.  Other days I feel like I am hurting just when I walk around the house.  And yes, these days usually happen after a period of minimal activity.  I don’t know what it means, but I am thinking that it is better to exercise than to sit around and wait.  Not only can I not bear the thought of sitting around, but I would undoubtedly fall into a state of depression that can only be cured through exercise (I know this to be a fact).

And they appear to think that part of my problem is a lack of strength in my core and glutes (it seems ironic that a fitness enthusiast would be told that she doesn’t exercise enough).  So, I have been burning my butt muscles on a daily basis.  And wouldn’t you know it, I can actually feel a tightening in my tummy.  I nearly have total confidence when wearing a 2-piece bathing suit (just the damn stretch marks I can’t get rid of).  Is it helping my back?  Not sure, but at least I am getting more fit trying!

Okay body.  So if I can’t run, then I won’t run.  I have pretty much excepted that.  I won’t give up, but I will keep myself entertained in other ways.  The day will come when this road will end and a new one will begin.

Run for me

I never imagined that it would take so much self-discipline to NOT run.  That’s right folks, I must be plum crazy.  Everywhere I turn I see runners… at the gym, on the roads, at the park…. everywhere.  Funny, just as I was looking out my back sliding glass doors right now I saw a runner go by.  Seriously.  These runners remind me of what I can’t do right now.  The most ironic thing is that I can pretty much do anything else BUT run.  I still go to my weekly BodyPump class and pump iron, I have become a serious cyclist (okay, at least I like to think so) and I enjoy long, fast walks.  The boot camp class would be an option too, but it is usually involves some type of sprint running.  The only other thing that I can’t do is walk anywhere near water.  Usually about once a day I will happen to slip on a puddle and that actually hurts my leg.  So, no running and no slipping for me.

Let’s see, it has been 2 weeks and 1 day since my last run.  I remember that last run well.  It was a slightly painful run thanks to this sciatic business and it was rather slow.  I struggled to run 5 miles, but I did and I felt accomplished at the end.  The pain has been bearable in most cases, but obviously something is wrong and I have to fix it.  Some days I just want to say “screw it” and go for a run, but I suppose that would be stupid.  I know my husband would say so.  Therefore, I have to wait for my physical therapist to give the okay.

As I arrived at physical therapy this morning the therapist asked me how I was feeling.  I told her my muscles were sore, but only because I had done weight training the day before.  My sciatic was not bothering me and it doesn’t ever seem to interfere with my daily tasks.  It only decides to torture me when I try to run.  I kind of felt excited when she told me that I would try running on the treadmill with the assistance of a belt.  We got it all set up and my hips were re-adjusted (because my hips tend to de-align for some reason).  I started out slow and brought it up to a slow jog.  Well, guess what?  The belt didn’t make any difference.  I still had the same pain so she told me to stop.  That was disheartening.

The objective now it to strengthen my piriformis muscles, glutes and hip flexors.  Folks, I am no newbie to the world of exercise so it is kind of irritating that I have to do more of what I already do.  I just hope that the more will actually help me.  It is not like I am the average Joe who just started running and had never been doing any type of weight training.  It would almost seem reasonable for Joe to have some sciatic pain.  I have been running for many years so you can see why this doesn’t make sense to me.  It actually makes me feel a bit doubtful about any future running endeavors.  However, I will just go with the motions and see what happens.  I feel the pressure to remain positive.

Still, I am reminded about NOT running every day.  Just the other day someone asked me if I was a runner.  I automatically said “yes” but then wondered if that was really an accurate answer.  The woman had said that I looked like a runner because I had no body fat.  That would be a compliment to most people I’m sure, but I was saddened by her comment.  Not only because I now have to watch what I eat like any other non-runner, but by the mere fact that I am unsure as to whether or not I should call myself a runner.

I drive down the road and glance at the runner on the sidewalk and I think about how lucky they are.  They can run and I can’t.  As I thought about that today, I realized that I am not the only one who can’t run.  There was a time when I was running for those who couldn’t.  I can’t really feel sorry for myself.  There is just too much real grief in the world.  Yet, I can still hope that someone out there will run for me.