“Nothing bad ever happens to me. It’s all to learn and grow.”
Have you ever read something that you just felt like was meant for you to see right at that moment in your life? I stumbled upon Elaine Welteroth’s book More Than Enough right in the middle of my latest injury and so many of her words spoke to me in an unexpected way.
For me, being a runner is about more than medals. When my running career is over, I hope that people remember me for the way I carried myself, the way I made them feel, and what I did when things went south.
Summer 2019 didn’t exactly go how I imagined. But when with my team of coaches and doctors I decided it wasn’t safe for me to compete in the World Championships (an opportunity I had been working for all summer and earned the right to), I didn’t go home and curl up in a ball on the couch feeling sorry for myself. I kinda wanted to. I did cry a lot and for many days in a row during the injury, but when I got to Doha I decided that the only thing that would truly make me feel better would be soaking in the joy and triumphs of my fellow Bowerman Track Club and Team USA teammates as they sprinted, jumped, and threw their way to glory in Doha. So I stayed in Qatar and I went to the track and I cheered my guts out, genuinely happy to see them succeed even though I had to sit this one out.
This is how my 4th injury of 2019 went down:
Two weeks before USA Championships I had a stress reaction scare in my left foot (again) and had to take about 5 days off and fly my therapist out to Park City where we were training at altitude. Luckily, he was able to get me back on feet (gingerly at first) and I did a couple test workouts before flying to Des Moines for the US Championships. Last summer I had to pull out of USAs at the last minute due to a stress reaction in the same foot, so I really didn’t want to have to do that again.
Luckily, I was able to get to the line without pain and qualify for another USA team (my 5th). I thought that since I safely got through the foot injury that I was in the clear and would have almost 2 more months of training to prepare for World Champs… but you can never take health for granted or assume that the path ahead will be straight and clear.
About a month away from World Champs, I started feeling a tightness in the front of my right hip, maybe a pulled muscle I thought. A week later I got an MRI that showed some bone marrow edema and impingement in the front of my hip where the femur meets the acetabulum. The doc said there’s wasn’t much to be done, I just have to let the swelling in the bone go down. To try to mitigate the pain we tried a cortisone shot and then a prescription anti-inflammatory, neither having any affect on my pain levels. When the cortisone wasn’t helping, I decided to leave Park City and head to Phoenix, AZ to see my favorite doctor at Maximum Mobility. My days in Phoenix looked like this for two weeks: wake up early for the am lap swim session, grab breakfast and coffee and head to Maximum mobility by 9:30, get treatment from John and his assistants until around 2pm then head back to the pool for an afternoon swim, grab lunch on my way back to the office for a few more hours of treatment in the afternoon. Sometimes I would come back to the office after dinner for more treatment. Then fall into bed and pass out.
The hip made some ups and downs in those two weeks, along with my morale and hope for making it to Doha. But my doctor and coach both kept assuring me that it would turn around and that all I needed was a few days of running to find the rhythm in my legs again before racing in the prelims in Doha, so we kept at it.
“What is not for you can never be for you.” - More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth
“I’ve done this before,” I kept telling myself. “You have done this before,” everyone who knows about all my injury struggles kept telling me. And it’s true- I got diagnosed with a stress reaction 4 weeks before winning my first National Championship this year in the indoor mile. I got in the pool and couldn’t wear spikes for a few weeks, but then I found my rhythm again and still had all the benefits of altitude training and cross training in my body and was able to write an incredible end to that story in New York earlier this year. In 2016 I had 3 separate injuries that took me out for months and months leading up to the trials. I swam and I cross training and I kept my head up, and I got to the start line healthy and made my first Olympic Team. It can happen. I know because I’ve done it before.
A week out from Worlds I went to Switzerland to meet up with my teammates to acclimate to the timezone without spending too much extra time in the brutal heat and humidity of Doha. Unfortunately, my hip did not travel well and I turned up in St. Moritz feeling swollen and sore. It took a full day for the swelling to go down, then I was able to get a couple normal runs in and even some strides on the track- a good sign. Then I traveled to Doha and had to have more serious conversations with my coaches about what was best for me for these championships. I hadn’t gone over any hurdles yet and with how I came off the travel I didn’t feel comfortable with the extra impact that jumping and hurdling would require (especially for the water pit). My med staff agreed that while I made improvements over the weeks, it wasn’t quite there yet. It was worth a shot, we can all agree, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“When the music changes, so must your dance.” - More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth
I’m so sick of the injury narrative. I never saw myself as an injury-prone athlete until I turned pro. I’ve always seen myself as a 0 or 100 type person- when I want something I put myself 100% into the project. I think that many of you might be able to relate to that drive and desire to do something great and maybe I’m not the only one who ends up striving so hard that she isn’t listening to her body and her needs anymore. I want to be great. I’m willing to do whatever I have to do to be great. After countless injuries over the last 4 years as a pro athlete, I’m willing to do less in order to stay healthy and hopefully end up doing more in the long run. I’m ready to makes some changes in the way I train and the way I recover in order to stay healthy.
“Crises are nature’s way of forcing change— breaking down old structures, shaking loose negative habits so that something new and better can take their place.” - Susan L Taylor (More Than Enough)
One thing I won’t stop doing: being open and honest about the ups and downs and sharing my journey as much as I can with you all so that hopefully my journey can help or inspire someone else to make the right choices for them to reach or even just keep striving for their own goals.
“Falling down is inevitable. It’s the getting back up that’s on you.”
-Elaine Welteroth, More Than Enough