Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Worrier's Mind And A Shin Splint

Something I do that I should not do, is worry.  I worry a lot.  A LOT.  I worry about my family, my friends, my students, my running, my health, my finances, etc.  The other day, one of my friends posted the following quote:
"I have 99 problems, and 86 of them are completely made up scenarios in my head that I'm stressing about for absolutely no logical reason."   
I could've penned that line myself, only the 86 would be closer to 96.  Another worry quote I remember is from Matthew 6:28-29 in the English Standard Version of the Bible:
"And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."
That verse used to (and still does) frustrate me, because why am I being compared to a lily?  A lily doesn't have family, friends, a career, bills, etc.  It may have health, but it doesn't know it.  No wonder lilies don't worry.  THEY'RE PLANTS.

It's possible that the annual goal that topped my list, to remain injury free, has already been defeated.  I have shin splints, or rather, a shin splint (singular).  I used to think shin splints meant "sore shins."  Nay.  The calf muscle in my left leg is slowly pulling away from my tibia (the bigger of the two lower leg bones).  I have reduced my running mileage--reluctantly, but smartly.  I am doing lots of elliptical work--reluctantly, but smartly.  I am getting Graston, ultrasound, and exercise therapy on it twice a week--not reluctantly, but I would really rather be doing something else... like RUNNING.  It's a bummer.  A minor bummer.

The Worrier's Mind
Let me share with you what the worrier's mind has done to this "minor bummer" of a shin splint:

Completely rational thoughts: Man, shin splints suck.  I'm going to have to reduce my mileage significantly.  A mileage reduction will affect training for my goal races.  It will also affect my annual mileage goal.  That's OK, though.  Health is more important than mileage or times.  I'll get the painful treatment and make sure my leg is healthy.  That's the priority.  I don't want to make it worse.

Slightly irrational thoughts: Oh, man.  This shin splint is close to a bone.  Maybe it's another stress fracture.  Maybe I won't be able to run all summer.  I've lost almost all my goals.  People will think I'm weak if I don't reach my goals.  Also, if I don't run, I'll have no way to control my Crohn's pain, and I'll hurt ALL THE TIME.  How am I going to cope until 2016, which is surely how long this mystery injury will take to heal?

Off one's rocker, completely irrational thoughts: OH MY GOD.  My leg is seriously injured.  What if, when I wake up, the bone has spontaneously shattered because it's so weak, and shards of it and my shredded muscles are lying in a bloody pool OUTSIDE OF MY BODY when I wake up in the morning?  OH MY GOD.  I'LL NEVER RUN AGAIN.

These thoughts have all been in my head at some point, and all of them have been considered legitimate scenarios for my situation.  Perhaps this explains why I run so much in the first place.  Running quiets the "off one's rocker" thoughts and makes me think a lot more clearly.

So, what am I doing?  As mentioned above, I'm getting therapy on it.  I also do stretching, foam rolling, and icing at home.  I use Biofreeze and Voltaren Gel on it, which are likely psychological fixes, but whatever.  It makes me feel like I'm doing something.

Tuning Fork Stress Relief
Wendy is running again (Yay!), so I'm assuming her "comeback" plan with her, which consists of very short runs (like, 1-2 miles), every other day.  We barely break a sweat, but it's better than no running.  We also work out on ellipticals at oh-dark-thirty and do strength workouts with our trainer, Sam.

Finally, when I start imagining my leg spontaneously exploding into bits of bone and muscle tissue, Wendy eases my fears.  Today, she used a tuning fork to prove to me that the tibia has no fractures.  I mean, really: #GoodFriend :-)

The month started strongly, but ended weakly (much like January), as I began noticing the recurrence of the leg pain.  I enjoyed lots of fun runs with Amelia, which were the running highlights of the month.  Here are the stats for the second month of 2014:

Miles Run: 65.57
Runs: 8
Hours Run: 10.97
Average Run Distance: 8.20 mi.
Average Run Pace: 10:02.3
Average Run Duration: 1:22:16.3
Average Temperature: 20.8°F
Longest Run: 11.00 mi., February 15
Shortest Run: 6.00 mi., February 3, 10, and 12
Favorite Run: February 1, 10.01 mi.
Total Lifetime Mileage: 3,077.60

March will bring a healthier leg (that's The Optimist trumping The Worrier), a successful Shamrock 4-Miler in Indy, a fun Spring Break, and warmer weather!  Here's to all that coming true.

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