The last time I ran was during a physical therapy session in October.
My therapist said I was getting stronger, and he wanted to test out my bum knee. I had been in physical therapy for my patellofemoral pain syndrome for nearly three months by that point, but I was skeptical. I didn’t think my knee was ready. He set me up on the treadmill: a brisk walk for ten minutes, then a slow jog for five. While I warmed up, he went around visiting his other clients. He came back and watched me jog for three minutes.
“How do you feel?” he asked.
“Fine,” I replied. My knee didn’t hurt. I didn’t feel any tightness, grinding, or locking. I smiled. He smiled back.
“You’re not even out of breath,” he said. He increased the treadmill’s speed slightly. I picked up the pace and felt the sweat begin to trickle behind my ears. He smiled again, and then went off to assist an older woman with a shoulder injury.
While he was gone, I grinned to myself in excitement. Soca was blaring in my ears. My feet connected with the belt in a perfect, pounding, familiar rhythm. I had missed that rhythm more than I ever thought I could.
I was so caught up in my running reverie that my therapist’s sudden appearance startled me, and I nearly stumbled. I caught myself, though, and laughed as he brought the treadmill’s speed down to a slow walk.
“You look excited,” he said.
“I am!” I smiled so hard my sole, very fickle dimple showed. The last time I’d gone for a run was in June, and I’d stopped after a mile and hobbled home in an alarming amount of pain. I couldn’t even stand the next morning—my knee buckled as stepped out of bed. I called in sick from work, and took myself to my general physician, who recommended physical therapy, though she couldn’t tell me exactly what the problem was. It was only later, after seeing a sports medicine doctor, that I was diagnosed. And I hadn’t even looked at my Brooks since.
My therapist told me to ice my knee if I felt any pain, and to try running again on my own– no more than a mile, on a soft surface, preferably a track, before our next session.
Hurricane Sandy struck on what was to be that next session. I went back for two of my remaining four sessions, then became preoccupied with taking classes with Laurie to fulfill my YTT requirements.
And now I’m afraid to run again.
My knee doesn’t hurt. I don’t know if it will ever feel normal, if it will be the same as it was before my injury. Perhaps I’m just hyper-aware of it now. For the last few weeks, I’ve done pigeon in class, rather than taking the reclined modification. I told myself that if I felt any tension in my knee, I’d come out of the posture—but I didn’t feel anything at all. I used to have the strange sensation that I was strangling my knee when I did pigeon before. But it felt okay. Not comfortable, because pigeon is a deep hip-opener. It just wasn’t painful. So I continued to do it. And I’ve been pain-free.
Yet I am still afraid of lacing up my sneakers and getting on my treadmill.
I am afraid of getting hurt again.
I’m afraid of the consequences of getting hurt. The pain, the frustration. The ice packs and daily Naproxen cocktail. The doctors’ visits and twice-weekly physical therapy sessions. I don’t want to go through that again.
But my body misses running. It is heavy and sluggish, and it craves movement—more than it gets even with all of the Vinyasa classes I take every week.
I’m trying to figure out the balance:
How do I prevail over the paralysis of fear, so I can give my body what it needs?