The Shift

“Ouch!  That didn’t feel right.”  The words raced through my mind as I was just starting my tempo run last Thursday night.   I had done everything the way I normally do: warmed up for 15 to 20 minutes, did my strides and drills, and started my 5K tempo.  Even though I was warmed up and didn’t start too fast, in the first 300 metres, I felt something twinge at the top of my left thigh – my good leg – as my foot landed on the ground.  I shook it off as an awkward landing due to the uneven camber of the road and continued to run.  Twenty-three minutes later, I finished my tempo, ran a cautiously slow cool down, and headed home.

The next day, I had a pre-planned physiotherapy appointment.  “Your left side?” he questioned.  “Well, that’s new.”  Richard, my physiotherapist, worked through the glutes, SI joint, piriformis, hamstrings and rest of my pelvis – as he always does.  My strength was good but flexibility was a bit off, which was really not a surprise. But this time one leg was longer than the other and the stretch on my left leg was 5 degrees smaller than my right leg.  When I left, I felt much better, took the day off and ran Saturday morning.  Every step hurt.  I got home and resigned myself to taking at least a week off running.

I spent my time walking, cycling and practising yoga (and back in the studio, which was a real perk).  Each day I felt better.  The pain was decreasing and my flexibility was returning.  My physio session on Friday was great and I was looking forward to running on Saturday.

I planned to run a slow 5K – just as a test.  When I turned onto the main road, I immediately felt the aches from last week return.  “Maybe I just need to warm up.”  Knowing that it usually takes me about 4 kilometres to do so, I kept running but I also listened to everything my hips said.  Running up the hill, which was painful the week before, still hurt.  In fact, the entire run hurt.  None of the pain ever went away.

Again, though, my strength and power seemed good.  While being careful not to push myself, I ran through the kilometres in 5:17, 5:05, 5:03, 5:01 and 4:52, with an uphill through the 3rd and 4th kilometres.  But my left leg was angry.  I don’t even know where the pain was coming from but the area around the femur joint hurt – again, every single step.

When I got home, I tried to walk the dog but she had other ideas.  So I headed into the trails alone to walk and think, trying to determine what was going on, why this is happening (again, this is suppose to be my good leg), and figure out how I am going to cope with what is looking more and more like an injury.

Nature has this magical ability to calm the mind and my 90 minutes in green space proved that.  The quiet and calm gave me the clarity I needed to shift my thinking to focus on what I can do, not on what I can’t.  I can walk – slowly, but I was slow at the start of last week too.  Hopefully, I can still ride.  I can still go to yoga and do most of the poses; I’ll just modify what I can’t.  And I can swim – as soon as I find a pool with open time.

Today, I am upset again.  I’m mad, I’m angry, I’m frustrated and I’m confused.   I’m trying to find a reason, a cause or a trigger for a possible fracture or tear: osteoarthritis? the fall from my bike two weeks ago?  the stress of sitting at a computer for 4 months while teaching remotely?

Regardless of the cause, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.  So this week I will begin the process of visiting the same health specialists that I saw last year and, hopefully, get quick answers because I really want to get back to chasing my dreams.

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