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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Cagle

When Injury Crashes In

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

A wise physician and running mentor once told me that if you run for long enough, you'll eventually find yourself face-to-face with injury. Not a matter of "if" but "when". No matter what stage of life you're in, an injury makes everything a challenge... not just running. When you're day-to-day tasks suddenly become daunting, it's easy to feel overwhelmed thinking about your future as an endurance athlete. You won't find any solutions or answers here, only solidarity. It's merely a retelling of my story. You've probably found yourself here because you're currently sidelined with an injury, grasping to any silver lining you can find.


Almost ten years into my running journey, it happened to me. Beautiful November day, new pair of shoes, running bestie by my side, and my kids were at school. The perfect set up for a long run. But seven miles in, I took a fall. Fall is a nice way to put it actually. It was more like an obnoxious crash in front of a group of people setting up for a festival. I jumped up quickly and thought I had only injured my pride.


As the minutes ticked by, I started to realize that this was probably more serious than I wanted to believe. By the time I shuffled back to my car, I could barely move my left arm and my hand was getting bigger by the minute. After a tearful call to my mom, she left work and took me to the urgent care. (Yes, I'm a 34 year old mom of two... but sometimes you just need your mom!)


After a painful series of X-rays, we got the news. Fractured elbow and hand. Pain meds for that night and a follow up with an orthopedic surgeon first thing the next morning.


My amazing husband had to wash my sweaty, post long run hair and immediately jump into all my roles at home. Laundry, cooking, momming, all while still working MORE than full time to financially provide for all the bills I was currently racking up! He also became my nurse, although he despises all things that involve blood and displaced bones. He's the true MVP of this story, and also certified to take care of women who faint from extreme pain (who knew I'd develop that complication?!) After a long painful night and early morning doctor visit we heard some good news... no surgery! "Just a cast and immobilization" for the next month. Just a cast, ok cool. Have you met my forty pound two-year old?


Not to be dramatic (ok maybe a little), but these were the four longest weeks of my life. I realized how much I took for granted in my daily life. I was forced to be resourceful and creative if I wanted to leave the house with two preschoolers. I would have never survived without my support system. Not only did I have to figure out a new normal, so did my kids. They were resilient and gave the best "get well soon" snuggles.



REBOUND AFTER INJURY


The hardest thing about this whole situation, slowing down. I was so caught up in the hustle and chaos of daily life, I felt empty and unsure of what to do with myself. Things like folding laundry, changing diapers, and cooking now took me twice as long as before... so at least that filled some of the void. But I needed to find some form of movement that would nourish my soul, but not prolong my downtime.


Walking was obviously a good place to start. I also adjusted my strength workouts to lower body and stability training. Everyday is leg day when your arm is fractured in two places. But you know what was harder than the actual workout? Getting dressed and putting my hair into a ponytail. Struggle bus: party of one.


As the weeks went by, the intense pain started to fizzle away. Although my arm was completely immobile, I was relieved to know that the hurt wasn't going to last forever. Little rays of light started to make their way back through the storm clouds. Or maybe my two boys decided to cut mama a little slack. Either way, I was smiling again.



Before the day of the crash (sounds better than "fall", right?), I had signed the whole family up for a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. After much deliberation, I decided I was doing it regardless. Even if I had to hobble to the finish line, I was going to show my five year old that we don't just quit.



GOODBYES AREN'T HARD


Things I hate saying goodbye to: my brother who lives five hours away, my adorable niece (who belongs to said brother), my husband when he leaves town for work. But saying goodbye to that cast, easiest thing I've ever done. I probably would have thrown it out of the window on the interstate... but my son called dibs. He needed it for his "vet kit" at home. Those poor stuffed animals.


Some stretching, ibuprofen, and DIY physical therapy (as directed by my care team) had me feeling back to normal in no time. I still had some residual stiffness and range of motion issues, but those things worked themselves out within a month. Now onto the final exam... can I carry my toddler with that arm? Passed (barely, just like college calculus, but it still counts).


The injury tunnel is dark, frustrating, and somedays it seems endless. No matter what's got you sidelined, I hope you'll find your way through. You will notice more athletes out there than you ever have before. You'll feel like you're being lapped by everyone: neighborhood joggers, early morning gym go-ers, and bikers galore. Just know that this season will pass and the sun will shine again on your training.


Stay vertical, friends.


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