When I first realised there was a problem that needed professional help, I think in the back of my mind I knew it might take some time to fix. Most of my experience was with fairly straight forward injuries. I’ve had muscle tears before, but the best part is they heal. And often within a couple of weeks – at worst within about 6 weeks. I was totally unprepared for something that would take longer than that. It presented like something that had always niggled in the past, I’d rolled it out and it had returned to normal and been fine.
It was a blessing, the not knowing. If I’d known – I’m not sure I would have handled it so well, or been able to stay motivated enough to get through cross-training and rehab and all the things that kept me trucking along in the meantime. My last run was on the 18th December and I had no concept that it was actually my last run. I pulled the pin on it because my muscle was pulling awkwardly and I knew it wasn’t a good thing. I thought as it was a week before Christmas anyway that I’d do full rest for a couple of weeks and it was bound to get better. But it didn’t get better. I wouldn’t run again until the end of March, I wouldn’t continuously run until the end of April. I wouldn’t run over 30 minutes until the end of May and I wouldn’t see a full long run until the end of June. It was hard not knowing, but I think it would have been harder to conceptualise such a huge chunk of time. The not knowing, kept me in the moment, where I needed to be.
Frustration with my initial diagnosis of nerve entrapment took me to the Osteopath, where it confirmed what I had begun to suspect – that it was a structural issue to do with my scoliosis. Not only where all of my bones out of position on the right side, but I had significant strength imbalances that were causing me to be chronic. Once some of the structural stuff was taken care of, I went off to the exercise physiologist to further assess the strength imbalances and get a rehab program together. I’m pretty sure he felt like vomiting the first time he saw me walk and it was hard to convince him that I hadn’t been in a car accident of some kind, just based on the sheer scale of my issues. Sometimes that was overwhelming. Sometimes not knowing made it hard to imagine I’d ever get to the end of it. But mostly, it kept me focused on the task at hand.
After all of that the thing that I realised is that there is no end. There is a point where there is more running, absolutely. Whether you want to call it rehab, prehab, strengthening or body maintenance it is always going to be part of what I do now. It is hard to motivate yourself for. Doing 3 sets of 4 x 10m foot contact running drills forwards, backwards and laterally down the path in my backyard is significantly less exciting than going for a run. But if there’s one thing rehab has given me it’s an appreciation for the fact that if I was happy with where I was at before, somehow running with essentially the use of only one functional side – imagine what I could be capable of with the use of two sides.
It was a good thing that I didn’t know how long it would take, or how much work it would require or how far I would have to dig into my mental strength to get through the work. But the greatest gift is that it’s given me a greater insight into my body and although I have improved out of sight, I now know how much more work there is to do. I know I have only just started scratching the surface of where I need to be. I know that if anything, all of that work is more important now than it even was in the beginning.