Showing posts with label Injury. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Injury. Show all posts

5 Ways to Avoid Going Batshit Crazy When Injured

It's been two weeks since I hit a jump on my mountain bike, flew over the handlebars, cracked my helmet, and was diagnosed with a Grade III AC Shoulder Separation. As injuries go, it could have been way worse. Luckily, my running hasn't been severely affected, and I am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and the light is closer and brighter than I assumed it would be two weeks ago when I felt a bone stick out of my shoulder where there should be no bone.

My running practice calms me and without it, I tend to get antsy, and yes, even after a couple of inactive days I start to go a little batshit crazy. For the sake of my marriage, work, and family, I came up with five ways to help me cope with the temporary running layoff.

Either the flash was really bright or the painkillers are working

1. Work at recovery. I received many kind emails and messages from readers when I posted about the accident. Some of the best words of advice were passed on by Sarah, who received them when she was dealing with a broken foot. She wrote, "be as dedicated and serious about your recovery as you are about your training." My main focus over the past few months has been on training for the San Diego 100 Miler in June. My main focus after the injury is still on the SD100, but it became more focused on losing as little fitness as possible through the recovery process. I emailed Tim and asked him to send me some good stationary bike trainer workouts. I flipped the handlebars over on my bike, making it easier to reach them and support myself with one arm. This was uncomfortable and it sucked, but it worked and I was able to get some sweat-puddle inducing, teeth gritting, quad burning rides in. I also started hiking. I hiked with the dog, with my kids, and by myself. I searched out the steeper trails in the area and pushed hard up them, not running hard, but hiking hard, which isn't much easier.

2. Review your schedule and set new goals. I looked at my schedule and started modifying, crossing things off, and adding things for the future. Gone is the PCT 50, the Camp Pendleton Mud Run, and I shortened this weekend's Joshua Tree traverse to a Joshua Tree 20-25 miler. I added a possible Mt. Baldy 50K, a second attempt at the 8,000 Meter Challenge, Napa Ultra Ragnar, and an ascent of San Gorgonio with Sanam, Jess and Nata. These will be later this year, hopefully after I am fully healed (from the shoulder and from the SD100)

3. Focus on other areas of your life. I used some of the suddenly found time that I would have been training working on some projects that had been stacking up and spending more time with my family. I try not to let the time I spend running interfere with my family life, but as the races and training gets longer, the time has to come from somewhere. So, over the past couple of weeks I've tried to bank some family time.

Running helps center me, and without this practice in my life, I needed to find a temporary replacement. Coincidentally, a publisher had just sent me a book to review. The book is called Running With the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and it is excellent (look for a more detailed review later). I decided to meditate more, a habit that I used to enjoy, but has slipped in the past few years. I can't adequately describe what this practice does for me, but it is healthy, cleansing, and I need to do it more.

4. Stay connected to the sport. I ignored Facebook, or at least I tried. With the majority of my friends being runners, it seems that someone is always planning some epic, beautiful, exhilerating run to end all runs. I would get invites for 30 mile runs in the mountains, a 50K entry would free up, a group was doing a 3,000 burpee challenge (well, that one was a little easier to ignore), and everyone was posting beautiful pictures from the mountains. As runners, we can't do everything, so I did my best to ignore the posts and the pictures from my friends. Although I did read blogs, magazines, and I watched videos to get the running fix. Some of the best stuff I read were from other injured runners at the end of their healing journeys. I was inspired by Cindy's comeback 10k. She has been dealing with Achilles injuries as long as I have known her and it seems that she has finally found a working solution, at least good enough to thrown down a 38 something at her first 10K in months. I also read Christian's account of his parasite and his recovery and figured if he could go through something that serious, I could manage a shoulder with a few torn ligaments and a beautiful Rigoletto-esque lump.

5. Push the limits. I'm not a doctor and this may not be the best advice for other (especially running-related injuries), and this is sort of what got me into this mess in the first place, but when my doctor told me I could run as long as I could handle the pain, I took this as green light to train. Listen to your doctor or your PT and don't sue me for saying this, but we're runners, and as runners, we're a determined group and not very smart. Everyone stresses rest when injured or overtrained, but I have yet to meet a runner who follows his or her own advice. So, I ran. I hurt afterward, but I ran hard with the bones bouncing loosely in my shoulder and I'd stop when they felt like they were grinding against each other. The duration of these runs stretched from a 20 minute jog a week ago to today's 90 minute run where I thought of the San Diego 100, knowing that just starting the race will be a small victory, but I visualized myself crossing the finish line, probably in a sling, with one hand raised in triumph. It was a good run.

Oddly Shaped Lump

If this post wanders, contains grammatical and spelling errors, or is exceptionally good, I blame the hydrocodone. I was hoping for Oxycontin, but I guess they save that for people who are hurt really bad, like Rush Limbaugh.

I took a couple of days off after the Zion run. I went hiking with the family, ran into Ricky Gates in Zion Canyon, and made the eight hour drive home on Sunday in my compression gear. By Monday I was feeling recovered, or at least recovered enough for a short mountain bike ride to my mom's house to say hi and drop off a check. She lives about 5 miles from me by road or 2 miles by trail. It takes me about ten minutes to drive to her house, or about 10 minutes to bike (it's steep with three stream crossings, and I'm slow). However, they are doing construction on the road near her house and the wait time is about 30 minutes before the gatekeepers in orange let you drive through. So, I was actually doing the smart, logical thing by riding my mountain bike.

Smart and logical doesn't really describe the way I took the final descent. The county has been doing a lot of trail work around Elfin Forest and they have decided to create foot-high berms every 10-20 feet on the hills. I'm sure there is a purpose for these, some kind of anti-erosion technique, or some plan to ensure that all of my mercury fillings will soon need to be replaced with a less poisonous compound.

I bombed that last hill, like I always do on this trail that I've ridden at least 50 times, but this time I didn't see the berm towards the bottom, conveniently located after a corner, and camouflaged by shade. I hit it hard, shifting my weight back at the last minute and too late, feeling the back tire lift and bouncing and rolling on the front tire and then flying, flipping seeing my bike still attached to my feet with a backdrop of clear blue sky and then hitting the ground hard in two places, the back of my head and the back of my right shoulder. I couldn't breathe, but immediately popped up and strung together different variations of the F word, mixing it with mother and stupid and bike and county workers, then I started to black out, so I sat down to assess the situation and do the requisite body scan.

My ankles were fine, no bones sticking out of my legs, I lifted my arms and the left one was fine but there was a sharp pain in my right shoulder and when I felt around back there, I felt a bump that should not have been there, not the swollen bump of a bruise, but the solid lump of bone poking out, not through the skin, but pushing against it like a beautiful and fitting mountain bike jump between my neck and shoulder.

I slowly got up and was able to walk, then slowly ride the rest of the way to my mom's house, who used her well-honed persuasion skills to get us through the construction and to my wife who was waiting to take me to Urgent Care.

They took me in the back room and the nurse that was taking my vitals got queasy and couldn't look at the injury. She said she was originally going to be an x-ray tech, but couldn't handle the sight of bones not being in the proper place...she wouldn't have lasted long as an x-ray tech.

I had x-rays taken and was sent to the orthopedic doctor who told me that I had a Grade 3 AC shoulder separation (that's the bad kind). The clavicle attaches to the scapula via the acromioclavicular joint, or at least it used to. Mine no longer attaches, and it probably never will. He told me the bump where the clavicle sticks up is probably going to be permanent; it's cosmetic and once it heals it shouldn't interfere with much. He said the healing will be exquisitely painful, which I thought was pretty poetic for a doctor, and it could take up to two months before I am able to start rehab and physical therapy, and I should be in a sling up to six weeks. The ortho told me a lot of hockey players get this injury, and that I'm just a couple of missing teeth away from looking like a badass.

I'm the guy who asks the doctor for my x-rays "so I can post them on my blog."
Of course, all I could think about was running and what effect this injury was going to have on my training, and if I was going to be able to run the SD100. I pulled out of the PCT 50 on May 12th, and I'm hoping to do enough vertical hiking, one-armed bike riding on the trainer, and hopefully be able to run in a couple of weeks to be able to get myself in shape enough to at least attempt the 100 miler.

I was feeling depressed and sorry for myself until I re-watched this excellent video from Lisa Bliss talking about her solo and self-supported Badwater to Whitney Summit run. My friend and running partner Cory, who I ran Death Valley with, sent me this video before the Zion traverse for some motivation. The timing could not have been better. The name of her speech is called "No Failure in Trying," and I plan to watch it again as I try to get over this injury, as I try to run again, as I try to get my fitness back, and as I try to finish a 100 miler.

As far as injuries go, this one isn't too bad and there are so many people that have it worse than I do. Plus, the injury could have been much worse (thank God I was wearing a helmet, and that my spine and neck were spared). I don't respond well to sympathy, so if you would like to comment, I prefer the humorous route. Try to top Jess' Facebook message "chicks dig oddly shaped lumps." Or my sister's "I think this qualifies you for medical marijuana." Yes, yes it does.

Thanks for reading, and if you have a spare 20 minutes, this video is awesome.

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