I’ve reached a point where I’m losing all faith in medicine, and coaches, and Eugene, and running…everything really except family and friends. Its been five weeks now and I still don’t know what the hell is wrong, I still can’t run, and I don’t know how to progress forward.
The beginning of an injury is so much easier to manage, even when it is a mysterious one, because you always feel like its only a matter of a few days, or worst case scenario, a couple weeks before things resolve. The athlete’s mind can justify a few weeks off early in the season as “prolonging their summer” or some other positive flip. But there is a point where you get restless and no longer value the time off or rest, and you know you need to get going. It starts as a little flame, warming slowly, and if you are still injured you have to use your mental energy to control that flame and keep it small until you are well. You learn how to do this after one or two injuries because letting that small flame of desire erupt into a bonfire before your body is ready to train creates a state of mind that is totally destructive. Catastrophic really. You become so stressed out that you literally create a toxic environment in your body for healing, therefore you remain injured for much longer.
Having learned that lesson eight years ago with a metatarsal fracture that took 10 weeks to heal instead of 5 or 6, I now sense that small flame and shield it from any oxygen as best as I can. I divert all my focus to staying positive and almost creating an alternate reality for myself where I am happy without running. I try to feel purposeful, and optimistic, and I say things like “this time off is a great opportunity to work on my core strength” or “this is a chance for my body to build up vitamin and mineral stores and prepare for a long season of hard work.”
That worked more or less for 4-5 weeks. I had some awful days as you may have read about in this journal, but I was always fighting to stay mentally healthy.
But I am really starting to get pissed off now. I’ve told myself all the positive excuses I can. I’ve reached a stand-still in a way. I’ve accepted the set back and I’m really really ready for it to be over now. I’ve analyzed mistakes I may have made, I know exactly what I will do differently. I’ve got words ready for coach to let him know exactly what I want and need to be a champion. I’m ready to assert my needs more and focus on what works for me without getting caught up in being adventurous. I feel like I know EXACTLY what I need to do now to stay healthy and reach my potential here in Eugene, but I STILL CAN’T F-ING RUN! And I still don’t know what it is. And I still don’t know how long it will take to heal. And I still don’t know if I’m even doing the right things to HELP it heal. And here I am with all this potential energy and a great plan of attack and I’m trapped in this friggen trap of quicksand, sludging through it like one of those running dreams where you are in slow motion, unable to move quickly despite being chased.
This is obviously not productive to think about or dwell on, and I know that. Its only running, and I’m not trying to save the world or anything, and people everywhere have real problems. But that is what I was honestly feeling today. I can’t believe how much pain and passion and powerlessness can come from this athletic pursuit sometimes. The war is mostly mental, and at the end of the day, I have to recognize that today was one hell of a battle and I fought it pretty well.
My DadMy dad called me a few minutes ago, out of the blue. He sounded confused and told me he wasn’t expecting me to pick up and was planning to leave a message. “But, what the hell,” he said. “Now that I’ve got you on the line, I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of you and Jesse and how much I love you.” My dad is amazing like that. He is hard on the outside with his blue collar exterior, flannel shirts, worn jeans and redwing boots, strong from years of construction work. But he is never afraid to share his emotions, even if he has to preface it with an off collar joke about being a softie or something. And he would literally die for me. I love him so much it hurts. Especially right now with these chinks in my armor.