Out of the woods
How to know when you're recovered from injury.
Am I good? Am I in the clear? Should I sign up for a race? Wait, is that pain? No, no I’m good.
After seven months of a running injury, how do you know when you’re in the clear? Injury recoveries are a roller coaster. Subconsciously we expect there to be a moment when we cross over the line and never have to look back. We assume it will be this ideal recovery that improves each day and one day the pain is just gone and never returns. That’s not how it goes; the road to recovery is never linear. There can be two weeks without incident and then bam, the pain comes back. I can tell you right now that has happened to me. About a month ago my physical therapist gave me the green light on running and the pain came back the next day.
Taylor Swift’s “Out of the woods” has been stuck in my head for weeks, literally taunting me. Have you seen the music video? If you haven’t, then watch it. She’s running barefoot in a forest and being chased by wolves. Sometimes that’s what it feels like in the recovery process. We learn to dodge one of them, but another closes in. I’ve been asking myself, when? When will I know? When will I be out of the woods for good? Maybe we should stop trying to run out of the woods and instead just run, one by one dodging each wolf. And if for some reason, one of them does get too close, we learn how to escape their jaw and get back on our feet. We won’t be stuck in the woods forever, but we can’t just expect to be able to leave in one swift jump. We learn how to deal with the setbacks, and we learn when to push through and when to rest. I have figured out how to manage my setbacks, and usually the pain goes away faster than it did the last time. That’s progress. I see a clearing up ahead.
Now... shake it off, because it’s time to lace up and head out on a run.