As part of my “foot homework” I’ve been given a list of videos, blogs, and articles to review and some exercises to perform (90% of which I have already been doing... sadly... I WANT SOMETHING I HAVEN'T TRIED!). Today I read this blogpost by my Podiatrist and friend (we competed in many of the same races that allowed open athletes) and, man I wish I was a Toyota sometimes.... In case you didn't click over to the blog (if you are struggling with a lower leg injury you should probably check out their blog posts- way better information than I can give you!) I'm sure you can guess that there's some sort of car reference there. In short, Dr. Saviet uses the comparison of a broken down car to an injured athlete as well as the type of car to the type of runner who is, for whatever reason, predisposed to .... "breakdown"... He also discusses some of the "tools" used to keep you "on the road"... but the big thing that stuck with me was the topics of “injury Shame” which I hadn’t quite thought of before.
Here's a true story for you regarding the type of car owner I am (or... "was?")
I previously had a Ford Focus that I literally had a mechanic tell me I should just light on fire and drive it into the river because "those things suck!" so I just drove it until I could afford something else and really never felt the need to take care of it since it sucked anyway (according the the expert). Why would I invest resources into something that is just not going to make it anyway? I was habitually abusive to that car. It hated me, and I hated it right back. It was a constant $100 here, $200 there type thing. Annoying.
Then, I bought a Nissan Juke brand new as soon as I got my first "big girl" teaching job. You would think buying a car brand new I would have done my due diligence to find out how the hell I'm supposed to take care of the thing, but that's just not who I am. I had already developed a pattern of disinterest in taking care of my car, and so that's how I continued. I usually (always) learn things the hard way and while that is a tough way to learn, it also, in some ways, can be pretty effective. You want to know what happens when you don't change your oil? I actually know... wont make that mistake again!
At first, I was really good about getting my oil changed on time at because I got it for "free" as part of a package I bought with the car. The dealership would just call me and I would just go... but then I moved away from the dealership and so those calls were useless. At some point I opted out of the calls and thought "I'll just go on my own"... but that sticker in the top left hand corner fell off and I knew nothing about how many miles I should go before I get an oil change... nor did I know how many miles I drove a day... or how many miles my odometer read when I last got the oil changed. The only car mileage I kept track of was "how many miles until E" and even then... ever seen that episode of Seinfeild? We all know you can drive past E (not everyone finds out how far, though!).
Anyway, I've got a brand new car, I don't expect anything to go wrong ever. Somehow the Ford was still kickin' and it had screws holding the mirrors on and pretty sure the exhaust pipe was being held up by a hair elastic. What could go wrong here? The Juke drives like a dream and is turbo charged and super fast and... PERFECT.. Until one day I went to take a right hand turn the engine just stopped.... DEAD! That almost never happened with the Ford. No warning light or anything... just dead. The tow truck came to get the car and took it to the nearest Nissan since I had that package some repairs were included.
Guess what's not included? A destroyed engine due to neglect, AKA: never getting an oil change. I went something like 25,000 miles on that thing without an oil change. Time flies when you're having fun! I was quoted for a repair. $8,000. WTAF!?... I hated myself. No. Just no. That's all the money I had saved for our wedding. I never in my life felt so ashamed and embarrassed about something so easy. I had already paid for the oil changes. All I needed to do was drive a little out of my way to the damn place!
At the time I was living with teammates, and I became the tagline of every joke involving procrastination. "Matt will propose to Caitlyn as soon as she gets her oil changed" type of jokes (we were already engaged, but 100% that would have been the joke if we weren't!).. I admit it. It was funny... but I wanted to move on... and those jokes just felt so linked to the dozens of other times I had felt like a failure due to neglect or procrastination, or just not being aware of something that everyone else considered common knowledge.... like paying my bills on time... or turning in assignments... or changing your oil every 3-5000 miles. Fortunately, the story has a happy ending. There was another woman at work who owned a Juke. While I'm trying to figure out what the F(!!) I'm going to do about my car and 40 minute commute to work, (before Uber and all that, too), this woman had her car break down too. Now, this is the type of lady that hands in her lesson plans months ahead of time. How is her car breaking down? Recall. There was a recall. ON THE ENGINE! The engine was completely replaced and I paid ZERO dollars for it, I learned to get my oil changed, and the jokes stopped. Man oh Man, I would have played the lottery that day with such luck, but I felt like I had already won!
How does this relate to the blogpost and my injury?
Dr. Saviet talks about the shame that we experience as car owners who let things go on too long and as athletes, we often behave and feel the same way. Why didn't I just "get the oil changed"... The truth is that I beat myself up over that stupid engine so bad. Yes, I should have gotten the oil changed, but there was not outstanding proof that this was entirely my fault. I still spiraled into a pretty dark place feeling like a complete failure in all areas of life over this one incident that may or may not have been my fault. Sometimes you have a pain that you ignore because you think it's just a normal training fatigue... and then later find out you ran on that discomfort so long that you now have an entire chain to correct. If you knew then what you know now you would have made different decisions
But you didn't know. Now you do. Learn from it.
and stop blaming yourself.
I've been feeling a lot of shame for these past two years because once again, another specialist tells me that my calf and foot issues are from a compensation pattern I've developed. My right hip isn't doing it's job. When I was pregnant, I knew my hip was bothering me. I knew there was a chance it wasn't worth it to keep running and that the problem could get worse and still exist postpartum. I knew my body wasn't happy... but just like the oil change, the result might have been the same if I did not run. I have to let go of the blame game. This injury was not my fault. I may have made some mistakes, but mistakes happen... and just like not all cars are as reliable as the Toyota Camery; not all bodies are either. I was blessed with the engine, but not the frame. Just like I talked about in the A Tale of Two Thresholds durability is not everyones strength. (Dr Saviet gets into a bit more detail on that in his post.)
Since Having Maebel I am sure I've done everything I can. I do everything right.... I use every tool there is that I can access and reach out to every resource that might possibly help me through this...and that's all I can do. Leave no stone unturned and decide what to do when I've tried it all.
If you're injured, don't blame yourself, friends. We don't have crystal balls telling us which risks we take will pay off and which ones wont. At the end of the day, I'm grateful that I've had a body and mind strong enough and willing to give all of this a try. It's a privilege that I often overlook because I'm so frustrated with where I fail, that I over look where I succeed. I get up and give it my all every damn day. That is way harder to do when you don’t have momentum and things are not going the way you want.... but I do it, and I’m pretty damn impressed.
I see you, injured friends. “Keep showing up”
Welcome to my blog! I blogged my entire pregnancy in 2017 and I had high hopes for where I could take my running after baby number 2, but my body had other plans. At some point I got too discouraged to write and recently realized that it is essential for my personal growth and development to keep putting feelings into coherent(ish) thoughts. I still hope to run sub 2:45 in the marathon one day, but for now I’m trying to focus on the process and I’m learning to enjoy it. You can come along for the ride, apologies in advance for grammatical incorrectness!