How To Overcome Injuries Without Excuses

woman running in the park

Words By: Hayley Tutton, YMF Trainer

When I first joined Yummy Mummy Fitness I hated running, it seriously filled me with dread, I was at odds as to whether childbirth was a more enjoyable experience! Fast forward a year, and whilst I had a love hate relationship with running, I was the fittest I’ve ever been in my life and one of the faster runners in the group (not that I’m competitive or anything!). It no longer phased me, I no longer felt like my lungs were going to explode from my chest and I was putting my hand up to do any fitness events possible. Then, in 2014 I participated in the Tough Mudder obstacle course and rolled my ankle pretty bad. I completed the event with a bit of soreness and the next day it was pretty swollen. In classic mum fashion I completely ignored it, as an adopted Aussie I thought “she’ll be right”. I ended up taking a couple of weeks off due to sickness in the family and it came good so I trained as normal. I started training for my first triathlon, and during training I noticed I wasn’t enjoying running as much. I didn’t say anything and just carried on but had this niggling feeling something wasn’t right with my ankle.

First lesson – if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

So long story short, I actually had torn ligaments in my ankle. My physio told me no more running, no more jumping, no lunging, nothing high impact – I was gutted! How can I train if I cannot run and do high impact? I’ll lose all my fitness! I gave a little eye roll as I left and thought I knew better so I tried running. The pain was intense! Turns out physio’s do know better than me and my google diagnosis.

Second lesson – listen to the professionals and stay off google.

I went back to the physio and they said that the tear should repair and I’ll be back to it. So I resigned myself to upper body training (mainly boxing, resistance training and skipping on one leg). However, the tear did not repair and the damage turned out to be a lot worse, I had completely ruptured (i.e. snapped) two ligaments. Surgery was booked in for June 2015. So until then I kept fit with boxing, I’ve still got arms right? I was pretty fit and I wasn’t going to let this get me down. But the truth is it did, as I watched other girls getting faster, fitter, completing 10km running events, even half and full marathons. I had a ping of envy that I couldn’t even run 200m without my ankle giving way. Finally the day arrived, surgery went well, I had a cast on for 6 weeks, and a moon boot for a further 4 weeks. I went from training 5-6 times a week to full bedrest, I couldn’t do anything for myself. My mum looked after me and my two children whilst my husband was at work. I’m one of those people who normally can’t sit still, always has to be doing something, so bedrest and me don’t go together. All I wanted to do was get back into it, I started to get quite down and started to feel very sorry for myself. I was also studying to become a PT at the time. How can I be a PT that can’t run or jump? I kept telling myself that it won’t be long and the cast will be off and it will be back to normal. Reality is, what muscle I did have had disappeared from my leg, along with all my strength. The ankle joint was so stiff I couldn’t point my toes or bend my foot properly for months (it still ceases up occasionally). What motivated me though was looking at others, reminding myself of when I was unfit and how much I hated running, and how I was able to work so hard to get to where I was. I didn’t want to wallow in my self-pity.

Third lesson – feeling sorry for yourself only gets you so far!

So as soon as I was able I got back to it, I started doing personal training sessions to work on my strength – I could barely do a wall sit! There were days when I just wanted to quit but I realised that my injuries were minor and people go through a lot worse. What kind of example would I be to my kids if I just gave up? I did hydrotherapy with a physio and I really worked on building strength. I was determined to complete the Gold Coast 10km in July 2016. After over a year of no running I was finally allowed to run. I was surprised how keeping up my fitness with boxing and resistance training really benefited me. Not saying it was easy, my lungs wanted to explode once again, but it wasn’t as bad as when I first started. Three weeks out from the event, I’d already ran 10km in training so I was feeling good, I had regular physio and acupuncture and if he told me I needed to slow down, I actually listened.

Fourth lesson – patience does pay off, especially when it comes to healing injuries.

Two weeks out from the event, I was on my way to go for a run with a smile on my face like one of those movie characters thinking, “my life’s so good, nothing bad could ever possibly happen to me” and then boom, a car came on to my side of the road with no warning and smashed into it head on. I was lucky to get out with bruised ribs, bruised nose and chest, and whiplash. The car however wasn’t so lucky. I couldn’t believe it, I had just recovered from ankle surgery and now this! I couldn’t even walk without chest pain from my bruised ribs. I took a week off, then 2 days before the race I decided I’d attempt running 5km, if that was ok I’d do the 10km. I did end up doing the race and at the 8km mark I was getting quite a bit of shoulder and rib pain but I powered through. I had downloaded the “eye of the tiger” on my playlist so nothing was stopping me. With Rocky in my thoughts, I crossed that finish line and it was awesome. I was on such a running high I completed the 10km Bridge to Brisbane event the next month.

Fifth lesson – anything is possible, if you put your mind to it.

So my sixth and final lesson is this – if you have an injury, look past at where the pain is and think what else you can do? Ask your trainer for alternatives because there’s always something else you can do, it may not be what you want to work on but any moving is better than no moving. Now I currently still have a shoulder injury due to my car accident. Have I lost strength? Yes. Does my shoulder cease up some days? Yes. Is it the end of the world? No. Because I’ve got my legs, and they work pretty good :)

New June 28 Day Beginners Challenge now open for registrations! Starting 5th of June. Click here for more info.

Margaret Galang