Injury, Identity and the Athlete

Yesterday, I decided to clean out the trunk of my car. It’s long overdue. As I surveyed the contents, I took notes (and yes, I realize this is disgusting): 9 pairs of trail shoes. 3 pairs of road shoes. 3 headlamps. 4 pairs of Injinjis, and one random mateless sock. 4 long sleeve running tops. 2 tanks. 2 buffs. One running visor. 2 rolls of RockTape. A bag of emergency gels and bloks. Scattered packets of BeetElite. A crumbly pack of Maple Bacon Pop-Tarts. And 3 handheld water bottles.

I took a step (or, crutched a step) back. I stared at the contents.

And I started crying.

“Goddamit, Amelia,” I told myself, “I thought you had moved past this stage.” That, being the all-too familiar stages of grief, mostly associated with the death of loved one or the end of a relationship. But for an athlete, nothing brings out those stages of grief like an injury.

Because, for an athlete – whether you are an Olympic gold medalist or a new runner training to run your first 5k – an injury is so much more than a physical ailment. Hell, the physical is the easy part. Muscles heal. Bones grow. It’s the mental part of injury that haunts us – that keeps us awake at night. It’s the demons and the voices in the head – the fear that we’ll “never get back” to where we once were, or we “threw away all that hard work and training” or that we were in the “best shape of our lives” and now can only sit by as first-row spectators to watch as we lose our muscle, our endurance, our speed, our V02Max, and, at the core of it, our sense of self and our self-confidence.

And, if you really, truly, love your sport, what eats at you – day and night – is the overwhelming sense of losing a part of yourself. You mourn those missed opportunities. Toeing that start line. The joy of a hard training session and the feeling of accomplished soreness. You feel…lost. A ship without an anchor. Or fries without ketchup.

My typical morning view from the trails at Rancho. This, I miss the most.

I consider myself a rational human being. I’m fairly smart, decently logical (or, I’d like to think those traits got me through law school at least). And I can sit here and tell myself, as I’m sure every athlete can, “you are not defined by your sport. You are not defined by your physical prowness and your race wins and your PRs and your podium pictures.” I can tell myself I’m so much more than that as a person, and that being an athlete is NOT my entire identity. That I’m a generally likeable human being with other things to offer to the world. That people enjoy my company (or, at least, fake it). That I can engage in intelligent conversation and I’m a worthy friend, sister, and daughter. And I’ve consoled many of injured athlete friends with the same line of “racing is not who you ARE” and accompanied that with a hug and well-wishes for a speedy recovery.

But honestly, I’m starting to think that line is a load of horseshit. And I’m tired of hearing it.

Because, for better or worse, as humans, we seek to define ourselves. We seek meaning, and we seek joy. And for athletes, racing and competing in their chosen sport IS that joy. You build your identity around things you love, around the happiness you feel. You build your community with like-minded individuals, and the sport becomes your purpose in life.  And, frankly, I fail to see anything wrong with that.

This feeling

I’ve spent the last few weeks chastising myself over being so upset, over the random fits of crying. “You should be stronger than this,” I tell myself, “You’ve been injured before.” Sure, I have. But the longest I’ve ever been separated from running has been less than a month. Even post knee-surgery, I was back to running within 3 weeks. When I compare that to the 4+ month-fate laid out in front of me, I can’t fathom that expanse of time. I tell myself that I should use this time to find new hobbies, to expand my horizons, to focus on recovery and what little cross-training I’m able to do (eff you, swimming with a pull buoy). But nothing piques my interest like the trails that beckon to me from my office window.

 

So I’ve gotten into a vicious cycle of berating myself for being upset, which then compounds how awful and weak I already feel:  I’ve pretty much secured a 24-hour pass to the merry-go-round of self-flagellation. The could-haves, the would -haves, the should-haves. The overwhelming sense of guilt and stigma associated with an overuse injury, especially a stress fracture (“didn’t you feel it coming on?” “who runs enough to break their femur?”). The sheepishness in explaining it to people, especially other athletes whom you fear might be judging you for your foolish mistakes that landed you there. And, overarching all of this, the (what I call) “there are children starving in Africa” phenomenon – I feel ashamed that I’m crying and being a bag of shit over a tiny crack in a bone given how “blessed I am” compared to so many people in the world. The inner monologue that goes: “it’s JUST running. Stop being so dramatic and emotional, Amelia. It’s not like you’re dying. Or will never run again.” (I’m sure many of you reading this would like to slap me and tell me the same thing right now).

That feeling

 

The last stage of grief is acceptance. I’m not there yet. But what I am going to accept is that running/racing is a HUGE part of my identity, and I’m not going to apologize for that. And I’m not going to change it, nor do I want to change that, just because conventional wisdom says that’s a “healthy” thing to do. Nor do I think that I (or, ANY athlete) should try to replace it with, say, underwater basket weaving, for the next 4+ months. If anything, this injury has shown me where my true passions lie, and the last thing I’m going to do is give up that part of myself right now.

Yesterday, I stood there for several minutes, staring at the open trunk of my car. Maybe it’d be easier to remove all running-related gear while I’m injured, to remove the constant reminder that I’m missing out on what I love to do (or, you know – to make room for groceries or other things that typically go in the trunk of your car). But in the end, I closed the trunk, and crutched away – contents left undisturbed. Because, even though I’m not able to train/run right now, it doesn’t erase that part of me. That messy trunk, full of mud and shoes and sweat, is a reminder of who I am. Of where I’ve come from and, eventually, where I’ll be again.

63 thoughts on “Injury, Identity and the Athlete”

  1. I have felt the same way after being injured from being hit by a drunk driver. I have crying fits and then think I’m so selfish because I am still alive and walking I just can’t run. But that is who I am and I will never be sorry for that. Yes this injury was like a tsunami, didn’t see it coming but it still has rocked my world. So don’t apologize because you are upset at the loss right now because it is still a loss. One day running will be the normal again but for right now I say cry as often as you like, because as an athlete it’s still not fair! P.s my trail shoes went from the totaled vehicle to my new vehicle because in the trunk is where they belong.

  2. i think the analogy of grieving is perfect. I’m a marathoner, and have been plagued by injury and/or illness off and on throughout my time as an athlete. Injury is the thing I fear, the thing I loathe, but the thing I can’t avoid because I love to put everything into my training and competition. And believe me, I tackle everything in my life as a competition. It’s what fuels me, drives me, and gives me satisfaction. When I can’t do what I love to do because my body has “failed” me, I grieve for the thing that I can’t do. I can become obsessive about it. But your story is a good reminder that that thing that I love to do isn’t the only thing I am. My body will heal, and I can once again do the thing I love to do.

  3. Good read. I totally feel your pain. The MRI that was supposed to confirm my stress fracture turned out to be clean, but once I started running again, my shin pain returned. Now I’m facing an unknown diagnosis and recovery time, and rather that peak for my two week training camp in France, I’ll instead spend this time recovering. Not exactly ideal.

  4. You’ll be back kicking arse and passing us all on the trails again before you know it. I’m already looking forward to seeing you pass me, several times, in the WTM come November. 🙂

  5. I’m not injured, per se, but I’m 5 months post partum and struggling with weight gain and not being where I was before the baby. I identified with everything you said and it was fantastic to see someone be upset and realistic as to where there are in the moment, but not letting THAT moment define them. I’ve been sitting in my pity party too long. Thank you for this. I needed to hear it. I knew I could do it, that “this” isn’t forever, but what you said made me so much more motivated.

  6. Powerful words, Amelia. They capture your passion and pain so well. You are almost as awesome with words as you are a competitor. Writing may be just the thing to bridge time and give your supporters a way to connect, learn, share and send strength back to you! Allow yourself a place to vent-

    So proud of you. Speedy healing Pacer girl!

  7. A friend just sent this to me, because I was lamenting the EXACT same thing, this morning. I had a mini breakdown/tantrum/overly emotional reaction to doing yoga instead of running for hours on trails like I want/need to be doing. 5 1/2 weeks ago, I was running a 100k trail race and feeling amazing – and now thanks to a crazy systemic injury, I am not running at all. I am trying so hard to have perspective, and patience, and gratitude for what I can actually do – but it is killing me. Thank you for writing this, and I completely, utterly feel your pain.

  8. I was a crying mess after a really bad race one time and someone told me the same thing essentially: You shouldn’t cry about a race, it’s just a race.

    But I just kept thinking: if you aren’t going to care enough to feel that strongly, then why bother spending so much time doing it? I don’t think you should apologize for going all in emotionally or physically. It is what it is, part of who you are.

  9. Good for you Amelia . Your passion is inspiring . Also , I’m making a mental note to be more judicious in my use of the ,’ Starving kids in Africa ‘ , schtick . Get well and get back out there .

  10. Kudos to you Amelia. When anyone asks me what Spartan is about, I always pull up your photos, and explain what you are about. You ARE the sport, you are everything that OCR means.
    It’s about determination and a goal, and you enjoy it. And that is the key. I am a 55 year old guy that started doing Spartan races almost 2 years ago. When I am running a race, or running for training, I always think back to you, working hard, knowing you aren’t the youngest in the sport anymore, but knowing that you can “hunt” anyone down on any race course. You run smart. You love it, you live it , and yes, it defines you. So stand up tall ( as best you can on crutches) and know that all of us racers out here are thinking about you every day, thinking about how you are such a “badass” in this crazy sport of OCR. While you are recovering and rebuilding, we all run for you when we step on the course !

  11. Thank you. I needed to read this, as I am dealing with an injury from overuse as well, and it’s stolen what I love and enjoy as well, and is affecting how I view myself, and my confidence. To associate it with a grieving process makes sense, and I can take a different look at how I respond to my injury, and how I move forward now.
    Thanks again, and best wishes for your recovery as well.

  12. I am with you 100%. I understand this feeling and the emptiness it leaves.
    I am hating being injured right now, and reading this article has made me not feel alone.
    I have been utilising a saying at the moment to help me get through
    “Your setback is the platform for your comeback”
    Pauline – Australia

  13. Amelia, as I’m sure you’ve been told by like 10 billion people, no one thinks you’re whining or should shutup. This entry just exudes the feeling of relief, even though there’s other super unpleasant (understatement) stuff going on, because you accepted where you are at and not where people or even you may think the “healthy” place is to be. I’m sorry about the really painful times. Just try and remember you’re still a hot blonde lawyer, so it can’t get TOO bad 🙂

  14. You are blessed. I have breathing issues, doc says no running. Need to rule out cardiac-asthma, need to test this, check that … One day you WILL get to run,and compete. I pray one day I will simply just get to run …

    Love you Amelia, but you know what, you get to come back, some of us simply dream we get a remote chance to simply lace up and give it a shot.

  15. I’ve been following your journey since you were a guest on Tim Ferriss’ podcast. You are so inspiring, not only to women, but to men as well. Fitness is a huge part of my identity, and I can completely relate to your recent struggles. Good luck with your recovery, and we all can’t wait to see your badassery come back even better and stronger!

  16. Amelia. Don’t beat yourself up. My friend had a femoral neck stress fracture that if he was his own patient, you see he’s an orthopedic trauma surgeon who specializes in taking care of broken bones, would have recommended surgery. He knew he had pain and kept training. It’s our nature. He didn’t have surgery. Crutched through his days for a bit and returned stronger than ever. I wish you the best.

  17. S’up, AB!! I didn’t know you are injured. That sucks and I’m sorry to hear it. I never read blogs but I read this one because you’re a BEAST who always keeps it real. I wasn’t disappointed.

    I’m pulling for you. 🙂

    Greg (AKA “Demolition Man”). 🙂

  18. Well put… The struggles are real and your identity is what you want it to be. Thanks for cutting through all of the shit society tells us how we should feel, act, and adapt. Be mad, be pissed, be sad and more importantly be Amelia!!!!!

    V/R
    Steve C

  19. So – dang – true Amelia! I know that you, Rose and a few other females are the queens of OCR. I’ve been a runner for 40 years, and have been doing ocr’s for about 4 years, and absolutely love them. They define me too…it’s “what I do”. I got an “overuse” (and probably a “misuse”) injury back in November 2015, and have only been able to run (halfway normal) once since then. I can still ride road and mountain bikes, and walk and hike, but the pounding of running has been too painful for my hip (SI joint) and right knee. No biggy…I have plenty of podium and finisher medals and trophies. So, my hardware collection is put on hold for a little while. So I take a few months off (run) training, but keep in shape and condition with cycling, hiking, walking and my regular body weight exercises. Once I’m able to run “normal” again, I’ll be back. Maybe just more for the sheer joy and excitement of competing in, helping, and completing the races – and not be so “race and podium” driven. Plus, my 10 year old loves ocr’s and is pretty darn good at them – so, maybe I’ll start focusing more on him, then me. And…cycling is pretty dang awesome too… Good luck with your recovery. See ya out on the trails again soon…

  20. If you weren’t a runner and endurance athlete, I would not know who you are, and I wouldn’t have read this amazingly raw and accurate description of dealing with an injury, and I wouldn’t be feeling a little bit better about wallowing in my own misery over a running injury… This will help me get through the rest of my day, and it will probably help me get my rehab exercises that I skipped this morning (because it was easier to just continue wallowing)… So thank you for being a runner, thank you for being a writer, and thank you for this post… Thanks for reminding me that’s it’s ok to define myself as an (injured) runner, and to miss the running more than I thought I “should”… I wish you well in your recovery 🙂

  21. Just would like to say get well. I like watching the elite runners, both men and women. It inspires me to see all of you, especially top performers like you.
    You are tough. And you will be back on top. Hang in there. I ran Montana and it was my first Beast, let me say, elites like yourself I have so much more respect for now.
    That course was tough.
    Get better, see you out at a Spartan Race sometime.
    Richard

  22. Exactly. I’ve gone through this process and more with achilles tendonitis and then a broken wrist. Crippled me for almost two years. You’ve summed it up perfectly. The self-loathing, the shame at said loathing, the identity crisis, and the doubt and fear of ever returning. I too wrote about my experiences, which I think you may find worthwhile. Good luck! https://singletrackstories.com/2014/12/30/feel-better-mr-schuhmann/
    and
    https://singletrackstories.com/2016/04/19/object-permanence/

  23. I am so inspired that you stand your ground with running being a part of who you are. Also, it’s great to tell people what you DON’T want to hear — the pat responses from those who want you to feel grateful for other things, as if it wipes out the pain of your condition. I’m a nurse, and the last thing we would ever tell a patient with an injury is, “Hey! At least you’re not paralyzed!” Comments like that might infiltrate your thoughts, but they don’t have the right to diminish what means the most to you. What I admire about you is that running IS a part of who you are. Some of us never find “that thing” that connects our soul to action. The way you live your life gets us jazzed to find what jazzes us. Grief is raw and hurts like hell. I’m so sorry you experienced this injury and face a long healing period. If there is anything that feeds your spirit, go towards it. If you’re losing touch of how to access that because you’re grieving, consider getting in the company of children. They are authentic and get us in touch with what can heal us spiritually. Even better, they aren’t capable of dishing out crappy advice or blame towards you. My heart goes out to you that you can manage your way through the grief and trust in your ability to heal, mentally and physically.

  24. Thank you for this. I was supposed to run my first ultra this August and now, thanks to a back injury, it doesn’t look possible. I get where you are coming from w the tears. A friend of mine ran a 5K recently and thank god I had on sunglasses bc I cried like a little girl. At a 5K. An ultra (the Bulldog 50K, actually) was supposed to be what was next for me. Now I am reading and doing fucking jigsaw puzzles trying not to go nuts. I moved from Houston to Denver so I could run in Colorado. I left everything I knew and yeah, people will still be like “get over it” – It’s hard not to mourn when it shapes so much of your life, when you love it so much and nothing makes you happier. I wish you a speedy and thorough recovery and thanks again for sharing. It is comforting to not feel alone in being angry/sad/frustrated/lost in “injury-land”.

  25. Really enjoyed the honesty of this blog piece. It totally hit home as I haven’t run since Oct due to nagging plantar fasciitis. Hang in there. You’ll be back running before you know it.

  26. Saw you on the plane to Montana Amelia. Yes, you were hunkered down in your own world with the “don’t bother me headphones” firmly inserted into your ears. I saw you and I immediately felt your pain but rather than stop and say “Hi” I moved on.

    Some of us are wired differently but there’s something to be said for being left alone to bask in one’s own misery, to immerse yourself in the frustration of not only what could have been, but more to the point, self-pity, and frustration. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. To the contrary, it’s what makes us better. It’s what makes us fight to get back to where we were. We tell ourselves “I’ll be damned if this is going to hold me back so watch out – I’m coming back”…yes, that’s what goes on through the self-pity, the frustration, and the tears.

    There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind you’re going to be awesome in short order. Why am I so confident? Because while I don’t know you personally I feel like I know what people like you are made of. You’re a fighter. You will not be denied. You are a champion dammit!

    So, yes, I saw you crutch on to the plane with the group “those that need help for early boarding”. I saw you hunker down with the headphones, sinking into your own world. But if I were to guess, you’re in there plotting your return and the OCR world had better watch out because Amelia is coming back!

  27. Life’s obstacles are opportunities….makes us appreciate what we have and what is really important. Thanks for sharing and thanks for “not” cleaning your trunk.

  28. Just when I thought I’d run out of ways to reinvent myself . . .
    I did Ironman Japan; ‘loved the sport & training (any distance). I was 35. Finished 4th in AG; 9th OA female. I came home to chronic back/leg/hip pain. Did one last “short” tri later that season and essentially gave up running. Learned I had congenital dysplastic hips. Continued cycling, swimming. Began marathon x-country ski racing. First hip THA (total hip arthoplasty) in ’99. No more ski racing. (“Not worth the risk.”, advised a well-respected PT. Second THA ’01. Swimming and biking would have to suffice. Discovered sport of “dog agility”. This became my “new” triathlon. My dogs were great teammates and stellar athletes; it satisfied my need for competition and self-actualization. 2010 first “hip” requires revision surgery. Set-back and more recovery time. Present border collie proves to be “best dog ever”. March 2015, stem in femur of l. hip prosthesis breaks (mid-way between tip and hip). Five months and seven specialists w/o proper diagnosis. My head is about to implode. Horrible pain. No diagnosis. No sports or training of any kind. On crutches. Housebound. Depressed was an understatement. “Fractured femur” diagnosis and complex revision surgery at Mayo Clinic; August ’15. Three months post-op: non-weightbearing. (Eight months not using left leg) Ortho. surgeon says, “One to two . . . years . . . before I am 100%. Yesterday was last day (of six months) of PT. More strengthening to do. Still aches. Unknown whetherI can rehab to the point where I can run/compete w/my BC, Tachyon, again. I’ve had to have a lot of “talks” w/myself. Basically, I was in a black hole of pain and self-pity. I could not allow myself to give in. I fought to cling to the sides of that hole and crawl back into the light. Now, I’m taking one day at a time. I can swim. I’ve been riding my mtn. bike locally on the roads (it’s a better fit for my rehab). I can walk my dogs again for the first time in over a year. I’ve learned the truth to the expression, “Life gets in the way when you are busy making other plans.” Self-determination and the right attitude are huge but one must also be realistic to deal with the hand we are dealt. (If all goes according to plan, look for me and Tach’ at AKC agility Nat’ls in March 2018. Dogs are earning qualifying “points” for 2017 this year. I’m not “ready” to run him, yet.)

  29. Sorry to swear but FUCK YES!!!! You just put into words my life from this past August to March of this year!! Same injury although my femur didn’t fully fracture… They called it fluid in the bone…. I have a 50 miler this weekend, I was able to cross train almost the whole time and when given the green light to run was able to do a trail 50k within 3 weeks! So keep your head up and know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

  30. Wow!!! I so much appreciate you putting your honest feelings out there, and I don’t think you’re being a baby. I often feel trivial about my fitness passions too; like my friends and family probably get tired of always hearing about races, times, progress, etc. This post is a reminder to me to be unashamed that I’m passionate about running in this given moment of time.

  31. Phenomenal. I’m just now starting my comeback after 9 weeks of back injury. I’m running little bits, with a healing disk and residual numbness in my knee (not a good place for a runner!) from the pinched nerve. I angry cried, started to understand suicide by people with chronic pain, moped, cheered for others while inside starting to really really hate them and their damned ability to ‘tank a half’. This. You put it so beautifully into words. I needed this 9 weeks ago, but I still need it now. Great job! You will be YOU again.

  32. It’s what we do when we’re down that make us who are are, not what we do when we’re on top. You’ve always been an OCR fav of mine and that is still true with you temporarily on the sidelines.

  33. Thanks so for sharing…I saw your Instagram post with you on crutches and just heard you on Ultrarunner podcast. While I’m not the bad ass that you are, I have a stress fracture from over training too.
    Someone told me that it’s a daily fight to NOT get depressed. TOTALLY underestimated how crappy this is. Worse part is that, through no fault of her own, my wife has no idea how hard this is. She’s just knows I’m a pain to be around. 90 days is no joke…after tomorrow, I’m still 60 days away.

    Like a support group, it did help to read this…thanks for sharing.

  34. May 12, 2016

    Amelia,

    Great post and I just was chatting with a coaching client about injury tonight and then saw this (Thank you Eric at URP) and think you did a great job capturing the feeling of being hurt and where your mind is and has been throughout. Being injured just stinks…a lot.

    I can’t wait for you to get back from it and get to do your thing…

    I got hurt a few years ago, August of 2012, I had 5 stress fractures of my pelvis and 5 hernias at the same time…that was not fun and I felt a lot of the same things you did and eventually I accepted it…last stage you mention above.

    After accepting that I was hurt “for real” and going to the doctor and confirming I was injured, I then treated the injury as a challenge that I was going to “overcome” and I asked what “can I do” and I found that I could cycle, hike, swim and aqua jog (yes, maybe I went a little far going for 4 hours sometimes…they do open early..wink).

    I eventually figured….fine…you win.. If I have to take a “penalty”…just like during a game when you draw a penalty (I played lacrosse growing up…so that is why I think I thought that), I chose to make the most of it and do whatever I could to stay fit.

    I think you know better than most but if we are pushing our bodies to the limits eventually we step too far…it happens…if it didn’t we didn’t really find out just how far we can go, right? I spun it in my head and looked at the injury as a learning opportunity and challenge.

    I was stoked to test myself and my recovery powers and I challenged myself in ways like this:

    1) How fast could I come back?
    2) Could I eat differently to increase my healing,
    3) Could I do a trip that I hadn’t made time for before.
    4) Could I do a challenge that I have always wanted to do but couldn’t (for me that was biking the Skyline drive 105 miles with over 10,000 feet of vertical) because I was running a race somewhere.

    I also set a goal for myself that when I got back to running I was going to do the Rim to Rim to Rim with friends, not fast, not for a record, just to do it because I always wanted to…that was my reward..if I was good and didn’t come back too fast…I did all the right things..I would get to run Rim to Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon…we went four (4) of us, my brother, Matthew and two of my friends Andy and Spencer and it was lifetime experience…so maybe having a goal, just a for you goal will help…

    Anyhow, I felt like the time being injured was my penalty time and after that I could get back to what I loved and was passionate about and I maintained my fitness through cross-training and I volunteered at races, road my bike, hiked with my family, etc…it was not so bad…ok, it wasn’t great but it could have been worse and I thought I was stoked about all the amazing stuff we get to to do before the injury but post injury I smile and am fill with so so much joy just lining up at events. I loved to train before the injury but now I appreciate that it is just awesome to wake up and decide to run 10 miles because you want to…how cool is it that we can do these things.

    Anyhow, you will be back, we all come back and it will all still be there.

    Wishing you much speed in your recovery and see you there there soon.

    Cheers,
    Mike
    Ps. I hope this makes sense still trying to figure out what day it is from racing in Japan last weekend.

  35. This is such a raw emotional blog! I’m sorry that you are going through this. I understand it also. I was getting ready to run my first Spartan race Oct of 2014. We had been training hard all year to prepare. Guess who had to have her gallbladder out three weeks before? I told the doc I had to be ready for the race. He looked at me like I was nuts. I was nuts of course, you can’t run a race like that when you just had some pretty major guts taken out. I was extremely sad and went through all of these emotions you have described. You have done so much though for this sport and for women who look up to you. Keep your head up, literally looking for and waiting upon The Lord. Things happen. Do they happen for a reason? Do they happen because of crap luck? Because of a broken world? Heal, then get back to it. You will be back. Praying for you Amelia. Amy Steele.

  36. Best line: “Because for better or worse, as humans, we seek to define ourselves.” Non-athletes don’t get it because–non-athletes.

    I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that so perfectly summed up what it is like to be an injured runner/athlete. Been there more times than I care to admit.

    Perfect.

    And you will be back.

  37. Thanks for sharing, I tore my calf muscle in January and have not been able to run since. It is part of who you are and you don’t need to give that up, unfortunately time heals all we may be sick of hearing that but we know it is true. I have turned to lifting and may not be the same fix but it is helping me deal and get stronger every day. Stay positive you are not alone, and when in doubt just have a drink, or two with friends.

  38. thank you so so much for this post. I am two years into my traumatic brain injury recovery and this really resonated with me. It’s something I have thought about/ wrestled with, since I’ve been injured. I had to retire from playing soccer and I’m just recently returning to my beloved trail running. It just felt good to read words that I myself have often felt. Thank you. Godspeed with your recovery.

  39. Amelia, you are amazing and you are strong! I’m sure you will be back running again in no time! You are such an inspiration!

  40. Amelia, I am not a trail runner like you, I am a martial artist who has and is still training for over 18 years. I turned 60 this year and I LOVE it. I embrace it. I am the proud owner and chief instructor of my own studio. I am a 4th Dan Black Belt and I was getting ready to test for my 5th Dan. Then October 22nd 2014 came and I suffered a stroke! I am fully healed and there is nothing wrong with my brain anymore. My strength is the same and my health is the same. I have all the normal daily motor skills I need and only I seem to detect the 2 physical insufficiencies I have (two-sided wide smile and speaking for a period of time). What I am frustrated is that I am 90 to 95 percent recovered thanks to a lot of hard work. The remaining percentage is solely my martial arts skills, the skills you don’t use in every day life. I am training hard to recover most of the basic skills that don’t look like they should and will leave the higher level skills to age. I write this to tell you that I see that you are going to give up and I support you not to give up. What I will suggest is that you organize your trunk so that you can easily grab the items you need to do the thing you need/want to do without having to look for it. Build a shoe storage system. Store the food items in a visible but protected way. Have a specific place to put clothes. And so on. Running what you want to do so do it to the best of your ability. You may have not had the time or inclination to do this before but here is a prime opportunity to help yourself do even better than before. Go out and grab what you love doing and do it even better!

  41. I read your previous blog entry about the stress fracture and remember thinking how awful it was because I’ve been there myself with a 5th metatarsal stress fracture and understanding that familiar cycle of injury. I felt partly blessed myself that I was injury free for the time being……..that “time being” lasted three days. I’m training around an injury at the moment (partially torn deltoid) and have a Spartan Sprint in 98 days (but who’s counting?). I entered the stages of grief momentarily and lapse back into them from time to time, but what I’ve been telling myself is to “adapt.” Sure, I may do one-armed burpees and actually look forward to the once dreaded “leg day” because that’s the only form of weights my workout week will be seeing, but I’m an athlete by heart, not by body. I will adapt and I will find a way to wake up with determination and go to bed with satisfaction. Adapt, adapt, adapt. You will hit those trails again and you will love and appreciate them more than ever.

  42. Amelia,

    You should NEVER feel ashamed or let someone else make you feel ashamed over your feelings our reactions. You can’t do something you love and the natural reaction is grief. Sure, you’ll be back at, but you have time away. It would be like someone or something keeping you from your best friend/soulmate.
    Keep healing and smiling. Your feelings are yours and their justified!

  43. Drama queen. Boo hooo. It’s an injury. Not cancer. Meditate. Work on other parts of your game and life. Such as POV. You’ll be first to the finish line soon enough.

  44. Hey Amelia.

    This is honest. I empathize with sentiments. You are grieving and dealing with loss. Please, remember to move on to controlling the things you have control over. In time, you will heal. You may never be the same physically again but hopefully are if not better.

  45. Fabulous write. You’re a dynamo. Perfectly normal feelings. Keep looking forward to getting back out there.

  46. Feel the pain , 4 months of sciatic pain and no end in sight , muscle atrophy in my legs , for gosh sakes I was box jimping 48 inches and pushing a friend in wheelchair in the Edmonton marathon and came in just under the Boston quslifying time ( you get no extra time for pushing an extra 180 lbs)
    Was I proud? , I don’t know but exercise was one of my favourite past times , I’d hoped to learn some more parkour with my 13 year old daughter this summer , after surgery will I i ever run as fast as I did last year at 46 ? Who knows, will I ever do an obstacle race again . It’s brutal but I guess eventually we all get old and die . this just sucks

  47. I love this ditty from Amelia it’s so relatable on so many levels to so many parts of our daily lives, Amelia is a true inspiration to many people she will come through this episode mentally and physically stronger and i look forward to seeing that Amelia rock our world again.
    K

  48. Really great article!! I hope you heal quickly and get to join the comminity again! As hard as it might be, remember you have to ease into it but it will come back!

  49. Hi Amelia, reading this had me in tears because I’m sitting in bed from a running injury myself – broken ankle and torn ligaments – and I’m thinking of all the things you listed out – how I miss the feeling after a training session, how I was in the best shape I’ve ever been etc.. I’m weak and tired and frustrated all the time, and like you, get into bouts of crying and berating myself. Im not even sure of post injury physio – What kind of physiotherapy or strengthening do you do once you get the cast/crutches off?

    I’m not close to being the racer you are, I was ready for only my first half marathon but like you said, I think the emotional rollercoaster might be similar. I’m a lawyer as well, and completely identify with sitting in the office and thinking about your running trail.

    I hope you feel better soon and know that you’re anything but alone! Chin up!

  50. Amelia – I’ve had this post saved in a tab on my phone for weeks now. I’ve read it so many times that I almost have it memorized. Thank you for writing this. I’m a 35-yr-old marathoner (chasing my dream of a sub-3 finish) and on April 16th this year I fractured my 4th metatarsal while at the playground with my children. I could not agree with you more – the actual physical injury is the easy part. The time away from running, from my super active friends, the disconnect of basically my whole social life (now that I’m unable to be very active), and the loss of identity I feel as an injured athlete is by FAR the worst part. But…I also struggle with what you describe. I know (cognitively) that I still have my health, my wonderful family and that I’m very blessed – and that this isn’t all that defines me as a person. And I get a ton of folks who look at my broken foot and don’t understand why I’m so upset – it’s “just running”. And I get that – I do. But I’m still sad. And frustrated. And so badly long to be back out there. Thank you for this post and for shining a little ray of hope that we will return to being able to do what we love, and celebrating that very cherished piece of who we are. I hope you are healing well and will be able to return to doing what you love very, very soon.

  51. This, this, THIS. Thank you for writing it! (I just found this post and your others on your injury.) I’m currently rehabbing from an injury, and COMPLETELY can relate. No idea when I will be better, but having that piece of my identity torn away has left a gaping hole that I’ve been unable to fill with anything else. And the self-flagellation? Absolutely. (Looking up trails and seeing mountain running photos on Instagram.) The frustration is unbearable. So, in short, thanks for reminding me that I’m not a freak, but in fact “one of the pack” in how I’m feeling and (not) dealing with this whole thing. Good healing vibes all around!!!

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