“No running for four weeks.”
I was sitting in my doctor’s office, listening but not fully appreciating what he was telling me. He could sense the disappointment on my face, but was firm in his directive. So I just stared at my feet.
Let me back up a minute. For the past week and a half, I’ve had some slight pressure on my spine smack dab in the middle of my back. Not the lumbar region. Not near my neck. Right there in the middle where you get itches that no matter how hard you contort yourself you can’t reach.
At the end of my half marathon, I sprinted like a hungry fat kid toward a hunk of chocolate cake, throwing any sort of form out the window in a desperate attempt to finish under my goal time. After the race, everything sort of hurt – my back, my legs, my arms. I came home, took a nap, and just let the recovery process take over for the next week.
Over the next few days, I noticed a nagging ache in my back. I dismissed it, ran a short six miles last weekend, and went on with life.
And then my back went numb.
It felt like ants crawling on my skin, and to be honest, it freaked me out a bit. I called my sister (who’s been a nurse for 20 years). She recommended taking some ibuprofen (12 pills a day!) and to make an appointment to see the doctor.
So that brought me to this point. Sitting there listening to my doctor, who’s also a runner, telling me I should lay off of it for awhile. His diagnosis was that he thought I had bruised a vertebra inside my spine. All the pressure of trying to sprint after 13 miles had taken its toll, and clomping like a Clydesdale at the end caused some bumpin’ and grindin’ in my spinal column. He asked me to do a number of stretches and bends and determined that I hadn’t lost any range of motion. And since there was no real pain, he ascertained that it’s probably nothing serious, alleviating some of my fear that I’d broken my back like a twig.
So now I’m on some anti-inflammatory drugs with a prescription to rest. That’s not going to be easy after running several times a week for the past five months. In fact, as I write this on a perfect Saturday morning, I want to slip on my shoes and take off down the street.
I realize this could have been much worse. And the timing was serendipitous. I’m out of town for the next two weekends, the following weekend is Memorial Day, and then I’m on vacation. So there probably wasn’t going to be a ton of upcoming long weekend runs anyway. And at least this happened now – and not four months into marathon training. What’s more, the race I was supposed to run in Nashville next weekend (the Hell or High Water 10K) was such a disorganized disaster that the race director emailed this morning to say they’d moved the date because they couldn’t get their permits in order.
All in all, it’s a minor setback that I can make peace with.
So because, for a month, I can’t – keep running, friends.