I’ve been on the road to healing for quite some time.
Recently it has come to my attention that although I’ve opened myself up to welcome healing into my life when it comes to both matters of the mind and heart, I haven’t afforded the rest of my body the same luxury. Rather than allowing myself to sit with physical pain to understand it, and accept it, I’ve attempted to run through it, run past it, and run away from it. That is, until it caught up to me.
The night before my half marathon in Chattanooga, I had an irritated bump on my right Achilles tendon, what I suspected to be a scar from a recent, haphazard leg-shaving incident. I band-aided it for the race to give it some extra cushion, and tried not to think about it, although it caused quite a bit of discomfort. The moment I crossed the finish line, I doubled over in pain. Not only was the bump still there, my Achilles looked and felt like a giant rock and my foot was sharply cramping. After a few hours of rest, the pain subsided enough to get me back on my feet, and I was able to lace up my boots and enjoy hiking the remainder of the weekend.
Still, the pain was there. I could not will it away, nor could I ignore it any longer. Upon returning home several days later, I decided if I wanted to continue on with marathon training, I had better acknowledge the pain, swallow my pride and go see someone who could fix me. There was no more running through it, past it, or away from it.
“How long have you been in pain?” was one of the first questions I was asked when I sat down with Dr. Jacobs, a local chiropractor who was recommended to me based on his expertise dealing with athletes, and specifically, runners. My answer to this loaded question came in the form of a ramble about how the fall season was a dark time across all areas of my life. When I wasn’t sitting down for hours on end, I was hobbling along battling leg and hip pain. Truthfully, most days during that season I didn’t feel I had the physical or mental strength to even get up, much less fight the battle to run.
Since then, despite reaching a place of inviting mindful healing into my life, and getting back up on my feet to run many miles, the physical pain I ignored returned to effect the other side of my body, finally forcing me to change my pace and slow down long enough to address it. After x-rays, initial assessments, adjustments, scraping and other riveting treatments, it was determined that although the greatest of the physical pain was concentrated in my Achilles, the cause was actually a number of other issues.
I should have known the answer usually exists in the bigger picture. It simply takes perspective to see past the obvious signs and get to the honest answer.
Dr. Jacobs asked me to give him two weeks to fix the issues at hand. In just over a week’s time, not only can I run again without excruciating hip, lower back, calf, or Achilles pain, I can squat jump all the way to the floor (in dance workout fashion), balance on one foot, stand all the way onto my toes, and even leap. Still, Dr. Jacobs reassured me that although I am “healing nicely” nothing is ever 100 percent fixed. At any given point in time, there will always be something that is in need of adjustment, and specialized care.
During the next six weeks, between now and the marathon, there is much more training and healing to be done. The good news is that in running, like in life, healing and growth can and should go hand in hand. All you need is a bit of fortitude and the willingness to reroute as needed.
Being injured, just like any other obstacle, offers us a reminder that it’s not about the destination or the finish line, it’s about the journey.
This journey just so happens to be a winding road, one that is meant to be taken in stride. It would be a shame to miss out on all the bumps, bruises, and details along the way because of being so hellbent on sprinting to arrive at some far off, idealized destination.
Ultimately, the road to healing doesn’t look like an overnight fix. It’s a lifelong journey filled with roundabouts, detours, and at times, even temporary roadblocks.