The Hardest Part about being an Athlete

The hardest part about being an athlete is the injuries. Not the aches and pains, but the kind of injury that puts you out of commission for a couple of months. I just learned a few days ago from an MRI that I have a stress fracture in the good ole calcaneus (heel bone), perhaps similar to what kept Jordan Hasay out of Boston this year. 5 weeks in a boot. Listen to my heart go ba-dum, boo(t)'d up. 6-8 weeks before running.

Over the past 10 years and 80+ races, I've been blessed to be healthy for almost the entire time. I had a tibial stress fracture in 2008, before my first marathon, and a broken jaw in 2012, before my first full Ironman. Both were setbacks that kept me out for a few months. I have had minor aches and pains, from mild Achilles tendinitis to a literal pain in the butt (sciatic nerve related) but have managed to train, race, strengthen, and recover through them.

When you know you can't run for an extended period of time, it is crushing - mentally, emotionally, physically. You no longer have your daily runner's high, that training run to catch up with a friend, or the upcoming race to push your limits. But as a friend and Olympic-caliber marathoner recently told me, the opportunity to reset brings its own value.

If I can't run, I can still coach. If I'm not coaching, I'm cheering. I will also use the time off my feet to work on other areas of my fitness. In addition to abiding by doctor's orders with physical therapy, nutrition (supplemental calcium & vitamin D), and recovery, I can focus on building more total body strength. I can improve my swim and bike fitness without any impact. And I can reunite with my old friend - the erg machine - or that fancy water rower these days!

It is important I don't rush back into running and listen to my body, taking extra time for the heel...heal! This will help me avoid imbalances that occur if I try to compensate due to a lingering injury and reduce the risk of future injuries. 

There will always be a comeback from injury. And it will be epic.

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