The Audacity of Hope


Yup. I stole President Obama's poignant book title, but I think the sentiment applies not only to our fractured political system, but also to the fractured dreams of a runner who has been battling injury for an extended period of time. One thing I have learned over the past 2 years is that physical medicine is a practice of trial and error and there is no guarantee that a recommended treatment will work. This means every run is a test and the first several months of rebuilding are a constant juggle between increasing fitness while preventing any setbacks due to overdoing it. Over the past 2 months, the frequency with which my inner dialogue bounced back and forth between "OH MY GOD YESSSS YOU ARE RUNNING LET'S PUSH IT THIS FEELS SO GOOD" and "chill the f*ck out, you are going to strain one of the thousands of muscles or tendons or ligaments that are not used to this" is probably enough to have me diagnosed with multiple personality disorder. But in all seriousness, the constant battle between wanting to train hard to get faster and stronger and the constant fear of not being ready is really exhausting. I have also been feeling guilty for not having fixed my ongoing issue even after almost 2 years of attempted treatment. Despite following treatment and rehab instructions from several of the top running focused sports medical professionals in the city, but butt still throbs and my left glute still doesn't activate properly. Until very recently, I was convinced this was my fault. The PTs and doctors all had to be right and I had to be doing something wrong despite the fact they all said something slightly different. The straw that broke the camels back was when PT 6/7 completely contradicted what PT 4 & 5 / said and told me the exercises I had been doing for the past year had actually been making things worse. I further lost my shit when PT 7/7 told me that PT 6/7 was a little too emphatic and while he was right about some things, it was more an issue of doing said exercises in a very specific way to avoid them making things worse versus not doing them at all. I was actually very close to giving up trying to get better (and thus running any significant distance) because I had zero faith in anyone's ability (including my own) to help me get better.

Maybe its because I have 2 years and 7 PTs worth of advice to choose from, but I am finally making progress. Just when I was starting to give up hope, things are feeling better and I am trusting my own instincts about my body again. Don't get me started on how I think anyone in physical medicine needs to offer their opinion more clearly as an opinion and not as a fact or that I think there is a huge hole in health services to provide a holistic approach to any ailment, or how fucked up health insurance and billing is. But apart from my issues with the system, I have found a path to recovery and that gives me hope.

Hope is a dangerous thing as anyone who has ever been disappointed knows. The me of a few years ago would have shut down any little spring of hope in order to avoid the possible disappointment that comes with it. The me of now embraces this hope with the full knowledge that I will be disappointed. But without hope, there can be no growth and I want to continue to grow as a trail runner and as a person. So I share with you the hopes that have been bubbling up inside me.

I am hopeful that I will be able to do single leg squats and have them feel the same on each side.

I am hopeful that I will be able to run up a hill without my left glute throbbing

I am hopeful that I will be able to stop spending hundreds of dollars a month on PT and rehab treatment and instead spend it on race fees.

I am hopeful my body will get strong enough to run consistently healthy

I am hopeful I feel healthy enough to start doing big workouts without being constantly afraid of breaking myself

I am hopeful that by fixing my mechanical issues, I will be able to focus on getting faster and stronger

I am hopeful that one day, I am able to get good at running up hill.

I am hopeful that no one else has to have such a long and frustrating experience with physical medicine professionals and insurance companies.

I am hopeful that all the focus on a clean sport will actually have an impact on future athletes

I am hopeful that Shalane Flanagan wins Olympic gold on Sunday!!!