When Running Injuries Happen

I haven’t been too lucky in the injury department when it comes to exercise. While I count my blessings each day for having health and strength while others fight hard to survive, I do suffer from the perils of bad accidents, painful joints and cartilage damage. I wish I could say that running is an easy form of exercise every time I head out, but that is not always the case.

Today I found myself at the doctor explaining the difficulties I face each time I try to run even a quarter of a mile. I experience trouble breathing and endure extreme dry coughing and wheezing, and feel like someone is sitting on my chest. This obviously isn’t typical for me, otherwise I’d never have run another step in my life. But it is troubling.

After examining my breathing ability and asking copious amounts of questions, the doctor diagnosed exactly what I expected: exercise-induced asthma. He prescribed me my first inhaler and then pricked and prodded me with needles for blood work–just to make sure I wasn’t also suffering from hypothyroidism. I’m crossing my fingers the results are negative.

Part of me feels sadness it hurts to run, but the other part feels grateful for a diagnosis. Maybe this is the first step to healing and I can return to running marathons once again. Right now, even a 5K feels like a tremendous amount of work to make it to the finish line (when normally I sprint the entire distance.)

Throughout my endurance sports life, I’ve been plagued with a few other instances of injuries. I fell off my bike training for an Ironman race and lost consciousness. I ended up in the hospital with 15 stitches, a sprained wrist and a lifetime of scars. It was a teaching hospital and while I appreciate the value of a hands-on education, I don’t appreciate a Doogie Howser look alike learning to stitch on my face.

In a triathlon race, a very fast man crashed into my bike from behind shooting me six feet in the air. I landed on my side with a bike strewn into pieces across the road. I then spent the next three months in physical therapy for the first time, having to relearn how to hold a door knob. This same accident hurt my knee so badly I had to reenter physical therapy a few months later and almost delayed my participation in the Antarctica Marathon–something I waited years to complete.

But the most challenging injury of all is my plantar fasciitis. If I wear the wrong pair of shoes just for a few hours, I can’t walk for days. I’ve had my feet turn blue, feel like they’re on fire and seen many orthopedic surgeons over it.

Yet, I fill that inhaler prescription because I need to go for a run!