If you are a runner, you will get injured at some point. That is pretty much a scientific guarantee. Most of us have already been there at some point in our running career. And we know just how hard that can be. Being injured breaks your heart, your spirit, and your daily routine! The good news is that it doesn't last forever. Our incredibly talented and wonderful rabbitELITE team member Tara Warren shares with us her journey on overcoming a serious injury while still planning for the next big race. Tara, you rock.
"Six weeks?" My mind quickly scanned through the dates on the calendar and landed at the beginning of August. Visions of early morning sunrises and dusty brown post-run ankle tans interrupted anything else the doctor was telling me. I thought of the upcoming Ouray race that I would have to drop out of along with big question marks about racing the Bear in September. Wait, what else was he saying to me...
"Basically, it's just a clean fracture at the end of the lateral condyle of your femur. If you completely stay off it for six weeks, it will heal up just fine. There isn't any residual tendon or muscular damage. Just something that must have happened pretty abruptly, maybe a fall, and you hit it just right.”
The doctor looked up at me sideways and pointed to the outside of my right knee. His glance seemed like he was trying to see through my crazy ultra-running eyes with a “how-can-you-not-remember-crashing-and-breaking-your-leg” sort of stare.
We talked over a few scenarios (because sometimes trail running results in memory loss and a repressing of various large or small injuries) and narrowed it down to a simple eight mile run back in the middle of May. I recalled how I tripped on a rock and launched forward with my hands and bent knee into the ground. It knocked the wind out of me. It was impactful enough that I sat in the dirt cloud and took a few minutes to gather myself as my knee bled. That had to be it. Looking back at my Strava history, I can remember having to slow down each run considerably after that crash with strange knee or IT pain. But, all of this happened right around the time tapering began for the Bighorn 100. It’s strangely natural that near the end of a training cycle you have sore spots and your body is a little angry. I guess I just chalked it up to each of those things.
“Did you have any other questions before we are done here today?” Asked my kind and curious doctor.
“So, I have this race at the end of September. It’s a hundred miler up in the Logan area called the Bear. What do you think of my chances are for running it?” I asked with complete sincerity and maybe even batted my eyes a little for a sympathetic positive response from the gatekeeper’s mouth. Instead, I saw his mouth turn a little scowly and he let out a mild chuckle. Ugh, a chuckle.
Racing at the Bear 100 has been a goal of mine for three years. I've completed the race two times, but not really on my terms, or better said, racing how I had trained. In 2015, debilitating foot blisters at mile 4 put my racing into crawl mode. I literally lost large pieces of my feet and only survived because of my amazing pacers. If you didn't hear about the conditions at the Bear in the most recent edition, than I only have one word for it, apocalyptic. Snow, ice, rain and trails that were ice-water slip-n-slide mud disasters. I have unfinished business up in Logan Canyon and will be surprised if i’m physically able to make that happen this year.
He continued, “It’s more than likely that you’ll be fully recovered in the six week time frame. Again, granted you stay off that leg. As for racing, and as for racing in a hundred mile race, you should probably consider making other plans for that weekend.” At least he said it pleasantly. The problem is, I only heard the phrase “fully recovered” AND the hotel is already booked.
Fast forward to today. It has been four plus weeks since the MRI. My leg is healing and overall, I’m doing okay. Most of the pain is gone and I can walk (when necessary) without limping. I've been given the green light to start swimming and biking. Both of these options have been a tremendous boost to my spirit.
Although I know that I’m getting better, the little voice in my head keeps asking these questions on repeat lately: So NOW what are you going to do? What’s next? Could I really pull this off? But really, how in the world am I going to prep to run a hundo in seven weeks? Where is my fitness level after I've had about ten weeks off? How long will I need to keep on the training wheels before I can fly? What if I hurt it again? Am I strong enough to race or would I be stronger not to race? What if I don’t like running anymore? Seems like there are so many unanswerable questions that will just hover there until I can get my HOKAs on and start testing things out.
This has been a true test of my patience and optimism. Aside from time off from pregnancies, I have not rested or taken time away from running in years. It’s been fantastic to create new routines that do not involve running. My kiddos are happy that I’m a bit more well-rested and energized. My heat training, or sunbathing, is on point. And, my laundry has definitely decreased.
I’m not sure what the next weeks will bring. The anticipation is growing and I am getting antsy. One can only hope for the best and work through what might come up. I’m hoping this broken femur experience is a once in a lifetime injury and moving on will be the next big story.
I’m sending all of you who are currently sidelined for whatever reason, all my best. Hang in there. Time will pass, wounds will heal. Our bodies and minds are more resilient than you think they are.
And most importantly, try not to trip on a rock while running on a flat trail!
- Tara Warren, rabbitELITE