Thursday, March 17, 2022
By Dr. Maggie Arnold, Vascular Surgeon & Director, MedStar Heath Vein Centers and Charm City Run Boston Marathon Training Group Member
Picture it: a beautiful day in Colorado, skiing under clear blue skies when out of nowhere: BOOM! I was hit by an out-of-control skier. The aftermath of the accident was a complete tear of my left ACL as well as a partially torn meniscus.
The pain of the injury was intense, but short-lived. By the time I had made it to the emergency center at the mountain base, I had only minimal physical discomfort.
However, after learning of my diagnosis and the long road of recovery ahead of me, the mental discomfort was real…and not short lived.
As a “runner of a certain age (46)” I have dealt with various minor injuries and set-backs along the way, but none that side-lined me for more than a week or at most a month of easy running. Hearing my orthopaedic surgeon tell me in January that I likely would not be running again until late July was a total shock to my system. Currently, I am 3 months out from my initial injury and 2 months out from surgery. Here are some of the lessons I have learned along the way:
Control what you can: Suffering an injury can feel like a total loss of control. I couldn’t do the things in my life that I really enjoyed (running). I felt untethered. What was I going to do on my Saturday mornings now? But I have been focusing on the things I have control over. First. I really prioritized sleep. It was really hard for me to get a good night’s sleep without my usual energy expenditure of running. I started focusing on good sleep habits, going to bed early, no scrolling, and meditation. I also worked on my diet and tried to fuel up on foods that were going to support my healing body.
Lean into your community: my Charm City Run crew was so amazingly supportive. They brought me a care package complete with good reading material and fuzzy slippers. Instead of pulling back from my running community, I have kept up with them through weekly emails from our coach, following their Strava posts, and even showing up for post-run coffee and bagels. Part of what I love about running is my running community. Staying in touch with them help me be connected to that part of my life
Change your perspective: Instead of focusing on the things I couldn’t do (run) or the races I wasn’t going to be competing in, I have rebranded this time as an opportunity to reset and rebuild. Remember all those times you told yourself you were going to do strength training? Well now I am! I am also doing lots of cross-training with the bike (Peloton) as well as swimming.
With these things in mind as well as tremendous love and support from my family and friends, I choose to view this injury is just a season, a recharge. I am confidently hopeful that I will return to the starting line of my next race empowered by the mental and physical work that I will put in over the next months.