It’s been some time since my last post on running. I’d been waiting to see how my present situation develops before writing anything here. Today was the defining moment after more than three weeks of wondering, “Will I still run the Marshall Marathon? Will the problem with my ankle be less than what I think it is?” Everything came together today. First however, I’ll start at the beginning of this latest chapter in my newly acquired passion for running.
On Saturday morning, September 24, I was beginning my long run of 16 miles to top off my mileage for the week. The marathon training plan had been going beautifully since the first of July. A little over one month away was the November 6 Marshall Marathon. I’d already run the equivalent of one or two half marathons in training, so the full was beckoning me. I started my run early to avoid traffic. I also enjoy running before daylight, then watching the sun rise. As I jogged up a highway that was often a part of my route, an oncoming car veered from his lane and headed toward me. I sidestepped abruptly down, off the shoulder of the road, then continued my run after the car had passed. A half a mile later I had to stop running due to severe pain in my ankle. I tried massaging it, stretching it, nothing helped. I walked home and was angry over what seemed to be another injury.
My first running-related injury was in the spring with a pulled-groin muscle. Then I was doing everything wrong. I was over striding and over training, being very passionate about my renewed interest in running and allowing my zeal to get the best of me. Injury was inevitable then, and with the time I had off I was determined to train smarter. I found a running coach to work with me, read about proper running form, and when I was able started with a modest training schedule. There would be no more than a 10% increase in mileage each week. Over a four month period, I would train and prepare for a full marathon.
For three months I couldn’t have asked for a better experience with training — no injuries, no aches or pain, no problems at all. After finishing a 14 mile long run, I showered and tackled the rest of the day. There was no extreme fatigue, because my coach was doing his job and the training plan was working beautifully.
Then with a car veering my direction and quick sidestep off the shoulder of the road, all the training came to a halt. Two days later I had the ankle x-rayed, but no breaks were evident. I followed the RICE treatment as most coaches advise — Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. The ankle got worse, not better. Twice I tried running again, but was only able to take a few steps. Soon I started walking with a definite limp as the pain increased. After consulting with a foot/ankle doctor, an MRI was ordered. When the report was received, I was told I had a fractured tibia and a torn or detached tendon. I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon, who reviewed my MRI images and informed me I had two fractures, one in the tibia and one in the talis. He said I would need to wear a non-weight bearing cast for a month.
So today, I received a cast for the first broken bones in my life of 51 years.
There are a lot of lessons I’m learning about life from this freak accident — perhaps the main one is who I am in Christ. The thing that most defines me is not my ability to run or physical fitness — those things can come and go. What defines me is who I am in Jesus Christ, what He has done in my life and what He continues to do. I am a Christian first and foremost — everything else is secondary.
Will I run again after this ankle is healed? Probably, but only time will tell. I definitely will be doing something to take care of the body God has entrusted to me. When it comes to running however, I’ve learned that there simply are no guarantees against injury. A person can do all the right things and still be sidelined.
The only guarantee I have is that One who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). He’ll do it in His time, and in His way. I am confident His way is always best, that He will take all things in my life and work them together for His glory and for my good (Romans 8:28).