Trusting my worst enemy

My goal this year has been to trust. Trust that my journey as an elite runner is for a purpose. Trust my training and continue in a similar training progression as I have for years. Trust that my body will hold up and withstand all that effort and the effort it’s going to take to get to the 2016 Trials in fine form.

Welp, I’ve not held up my end of the bargain.

February, I started to question myself. When doubt creeps in you start to look around to find ways to do things differently in hopes of a better, faster return. So I thought: more, more, more. I ramped up my mileage and ratcheted up paces to match the ideal “runner-me.” And most likely I could have maintained that psychotic training, but training is much more than just running. The price it took me to get in all those miles and to run all of the long, hard workouts was that I stopped taking care of myself outside of the running. Losing trust, I began to run myself into the ground while not stretching enough, not recovering enough, not drinking enough water, not sleeping well, not continuing to work on my splashy post-pregnancy core muscles, etc. etc. On top of that I wasn’t leaving enough brain and emotional power for my son, my husband, my cats — they require so much love and devotion from me.


Rewind: the beginning of March I was steamrolled with sciatic pain. Pain like none other! Like a knife deep down in my hip — where my right leg adjoins the pelvis — just digging and scratching around in there for days. Days and nights! Oh, to sleep at night . . . Impossible! Besides the pain, I’ve had numbness in my foot and ankle. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’ve been dealing with some “back pain.” Often sciatic pain and such numbness is as a result of a spine or disc issue which aggravates the sciatic nerve — the largest nerve in the body, running from the pelvis to the toes. After that Running trough my mind post, I was to have an MRI from which I had hoped I could share greater insights to my issue. But then insurance said I needed six weeks of physical therapy before meriting an MRI. Annoying since I’m married to a physical therapist. But, I understand. Through lots of deduction and since I obviously did nothing to my back other than having a history of low back pain, we’ve determined my issue is more like backside pain not back pain. When I’ve had back pain in the past it has usually stemmed from too much horse or too much kettlebell. Though I believe there’s no such thing as too much horse or too much kettlebell. Maybe at the same time?


But when I’ve had issues in my back it’s been from doing something with the horses with poor form or throwing around kettlebell with poor form. Nope, there was none of that. What I have is Piriformis syndrome like none other. Or as I call it: butt syndrome. All of the muscles of my hip and glute were so tired and so overused that they balked and refused to continue. The tightness and injury to the muscles impinged the sciatic nerve.

Now to recover. I’m slowly unraveling the ball of pain in my butt and learning to trust. Again.

How am I learning TRUST through this?

With a little trust, your worst enemy can become your biggest ally. Or at least, this is what I keep telling myself. I’m using this time to think bigger-picture. The bigger picture, which is now clearer to me, is to recover. And to enjoy life a little too. Of course an injury is not what I would ever have wanted, but I’m actually thankful for it. I’m thankful for how it has shed light on some errors in my ways. I believe wholeheartedly that I’ll still hit the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials in the best shape ever. This will just be one more page to that story.

This leads me to a contest I was running for a new pair of Torin 2.0 shoes. I’ve enjoyed reading stories about so many runner’s first forays into the sport. “Team Duke” helped me to select the winner, Courtney G., who was introduced to running as a girl from her grandfather who ran many half marathons and continued to run into his 90s. She shared a picture of a framed note and race medal that she sent to him thanking him for his inspiration. She said that at 97, he’s no longer running, but he keeps her framed note in eye-shot of where he spends most of his days now. And his words of wisdom: “A coke a day, at least!”

I love it. Amazing how one can inspire another and how something so simple as running can spark good things in another. Plus, I don’t necessarily need a coke a day but what I see at the crux of that advice is to live a little. Enjoy life. Don’t get yourself in over your head or you’ll end up with a major pain in the butt like me. So thanks to all who shared your stories. Congrats, Courtney!



9 thoughts on “Trusting my worst enemy

  1. Love the positive perspective you found from this. We find such important lessons in the most unexpected places and experiences. Know you will do amazing in the year ahead. Strong hip and butt = happy for life 🙂 xoxo

  2. I had a similar issue where I could feel tightness in my left butt connecting all the way down to numbness in my left foot ankle. I really worked on form and strong hips and it surprisingly went away as I ran through the remainder of training. It has not been a good training cycle with all the issues that I have had it really did compromise my ability to put together a good marathon. It did teach me what you just wrote on strong hip and but = happy for life (at least running life).

    • Well, your situation sounds exactly the same to this… So thanks for the encouragement! I’m to the point that I can get back to some training and trust that it will work itself out like yours did. My PT husband’s suggestion is lots and lots of drills and actually lots of speed. Maybe not so many miles but more strides and sprints to, as you said, work on form. So I’m looking forward to what’s ahead. Thanks again! Hope you don’t have to deal with anything like that again.

      • It’s funny that I just started back training thinking the same and my last 3 workouts: easy w/strides, track repeats, hill repeats. I want to do drills any recommendations for a guide?

  3. Hey Susie! Believe it or not, I was diagnosed with the exact same thing! Although, apparently not to the extent that yours was. I can sleep, but sitting at work is THE worst. I wanted to let you know that dry needling, paired with electrical stimulation has down wonders to “unwind” the ball of tension that is my left butt-cheek/lower back. Find someone that’s been doing it for at least 1-2 years on athletes (initially I went to a rookie PT, and it was a completely different experience!). Keep up the great work, and keep inspiring us all to be better, faster, stronger! 🙂

    • Wow. That is funny but NOT funny! Sorry you’ve had a similar experience. Yikes. But funny because I just had my third round of dry needling yesterday and I agree, it helps immensely. How many times have you had it? I’ve gone 1/week for three weeks. Could probably use more? But yes, it helps a ton. Crazy technique! Hope you keep feeling better.

  4. Pingback: Three weeks and three races: a race report bundle | Flexitarian Filly

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