Today’s post is from Katie at Live for the Long Run. Katie learned about injuries the hard way- and early on. Here’s her story:

I learned the hard way that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

I started running in August of 2009. I quickly fell in love with the release it provided me as well as the magnificent things it was doing for my health. All of these positive side effects made me push harder. There was just one problem: I had no idea what I was doing.

My ignorance and overzealousness caught up with me.

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After running for three months with a pain in my left leg, I finally visited a sports medicine doctor in December of 2009 when I started feeling the pain all of the time. I explained my symptoms to him. He listened. He nodded. He rang a tuning fork and held it up against the spot that I was complaining about pain. I jumped off the table. He diagnosed me with a stress fracture.

He pulled his chair up to the table I was sitting on and wrote out his treatment plan for me on the paper liner covering the table. The original treatment plan included:

1. No more running. Nada. Zip. Zero. (Water running and spinning were still okay).

2. Physical therapy three times a week.

3. Active release therapy (ART) three times a week.

4. Start taking calcium and vitamin D on top of my multivitamin.

I didn’t listen. I had made so much progress with running, I decided I could just back down on my mileage and that would be enough. I didn’t want to start gaining weight back/losing the fitness level I had worked so hard to get.

A month later, I went back to my sports med. doc for a reassessment. He took one look at the x-ray and shook his head.

The stress fracture had gotten significantly worse. My secret treatment plan was no longer a secret. Water running and spinning was out.

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This sexy looking boot was in. For two whole months.

I continued with physical therapy. No ART until the bone healed. I listened this time and wore the boot all the time.

At first, I scoffed at the physical therapy exercises. Moving a towel with my foot? Scrunching a towel up using my toe? Seriously?

Then my physical therapist retook my measurements. My range of movement was significantly better. I don’t know if it was the rest that my leg was getting thanks to the boot or the seemingly mundane exercises using high-tech equipment like towels, but something was working.

I struggled when I stopped feeling pain all the time in my leg. I decided that since I wasn’t in pain anymore, I must be healed. I wanted to take off the boot and go for a run. Physical therapy was not enough exercise for me. Constant preachings from my physical therapist, Dan, was the only reason I continued to wear the boot. Finally he told me that if I didn’t listen, I’d probably never run again.

After that, I threw everything I had into my physical therapy. After two months of PT, I started ART and ditched the boot. ART was the best pain I have ever felt.

I went back to the doctor after a month of ART. He looked at my x-ray. He pulled his chair over to the table and started writing on the paper table liner again.

This time was writing out a training schedule for getting back into running safely. I let out the breath I hadn’t realized I was holding.

I listened to every word he said. I took it slow. I hit the mileage that my doc prescribed every week, never exceeding it. Every time I wanted to push, I heard Dan’s voice in the back of my head telling me that I might never run again. I still hear Dan’s voice to this day (creepy, I know).

In some ways, dealing with such a serious injury so early in my running career was a good thing. The consequences of overtraining are very real. It’s not something that could happen to someone else, but never to me. I am human. When something hurts, I head back to my sports med doc’s office. I constantly remind myself that running through pain today might mean that I can’t run tomorrow.

I want to running twenty, thirty, maybe even fifty years from now.

I’ve got time.

Why rush through the healing process now?

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Have a story about overcoming injury or starting to run? Email me: rungirlrunn at gmail dot com.