by Nikki LaRochelle
I was coming off one of the greatest summers of my life and had never been in better form. My husband and I climbed fifty-six of the 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado. My friend Shannon and I won the Power of Four 50k team relay. I set a personal best for running up and down Quandary (our local 14er). And I raced my first 100k, coming in seventh in a field of sponsored women. I felt invincible!
I had one more race to culminate the season in November—the Rimrock Marathon. This road marathon climbs and descends through the Colorado National Monument and is particularly special to me because it’s my hometown marathon. I thought to myself, “this is my year to win this sucker.” After a hard battle where I pushed myself to the limit, I came in second—my right knee aching in a way it never had before as I crossed the finish line. I blamed the asphalt.
The knee pain, that I initially thought was temporary, persisted for months. It wasn’t until mid January that I realized I had a legitimate injury. It was time to seek medical advice. I was diagnosed with Iliotibial Band Syndrome, a relatively common runner’s injury. To spare you unneeded detail, my journey over the next six months involved a slew of doctors, a ton of physical therapy, and rest, icing, stretching, yoga, injections, and eventually surgery.
It’s been a rough six months, but it sure did change my viewpoint …
This was my first big injury. Prior to this, I rarely took a day off from endurance sports and two consecutive days off wasn’t an option. I didn’t take the initial pain seriously. And while I didn’t ignore it, I was constantly teetering on the edge of what I could get away with. In retrospect, I should have taken a whole month off following the marathon. Now my advice is—LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! Collectively, we aren’t very good at this, are we? Hindsight is definitely 20/20.
When I was in the thick of it, I did take six weeks completely off. This gave me back a lot of time in my day. Yes, I sulked and lamented, but I also rediscovered lost hobbies and interests. I baked. I sketched. I napped. I read. I spent time with friends. I cooked my husband fancy dinners. I also spent a lot of my energy on my recovery. I was allowed to practice yoga, which I did with fervor. I also mastered the pull up, setting a goal to do ten in a row. I started at five and got to twelve!
The last six months made me think about the way I spend my time. Was I too intent on racing? Perhaps. Is my life something that I would consider balanced? I’m not totally sure. I consider this self-reflection a critical step to becoming more intentional. So perhaps this has all been a very good thing …
In conclusion: 1. Don’t get hurt, 2. If you do get hurt, chill out and give your body a break, 3. Pull-ups are a lost art, 4. It can be beneficial to evaluate your priorities and the way you spend your time.
I do know one thing for sure. When I start running again, I’ll have one Kate’s Bar in each hand; one to fuel my one-mile run and one for when I’m done.