Tillie's Back!  #10

  • By Leslie Friedman
  • 30 Jan, 2017

Hi, friends!
Last week I got some great news that I would like to share with as many people as will listen to me. Let me first back up with some information on why said news is so great.
Pretty close to three years ago, I started CrossFit. I loved being active and lifting all the weights, but I still absolutely hated running. I had always hated running, except for one day in middle school when I was really feeling it and went out there and ran around for however long we were supposed to. But that was literally the only exception. Running was the literal worst. I’d try to do it time and time again, and almost every time ended with me stopping before I intended to and throwing my shoes in a fit of anger and frustration. 
Enter Disney Princess Half-Marathon 2016. Combine running with majesty and a little beach trip with my best friend and I was sold. We registered, we trained, and I made the most kick-ass running playlist ever. I came to love that time with just me, my playlist, and slowly but surely becoming a “runner”. My walk breaks were getting shorter, if I even took them, and I could feel myself getting better and more comfortable. It was so great.
In October of 2015, a few weeks before I was supposed to run my proof of time race for Disney, I went to the doctor to get a weird nagging leg pain checked out. I left with a diagnosis of a pulled IT band and strained SI joint, and a single appointment with a physical therapist that told me I was killing myself by doing CrossFit. He gave me a stretch or two that helped and got me through my October run, but my pain never truly went away. I backed way off at the gym and started to feel a little better until December when I was doing a burpee and my entire left leg went completely numb. That was terrifying. I saw a couple people and hobbled through the next couple months thinking that maybe there was a pinched nerve or something in my hip, completely in denial that what I was feeling was a reoccurrence of my herniated disc in my lower back that had completely changed the course of my life in my late teens.

In February of last year, we ran our races, and I could barely walk afterward because my left leg just wouldn’t go. I got an MRI shortly after I got back home, which revealed I indeed had a herniated disc in my lower back, a bulging one above and below the herniated one, and spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the space in my spine that allows my spinal cord to pass through. Since February of last year I have been on extremely limited activities, as I’m sure many of you have noticed. I have been unable to pick up more than 25 pounds, repetitively bend or twist, or do any high impact activities. I had to say goodbye to my new love of running so quickly after I discovered it, and I was bummed. For almost a year now I’ve been fighting a huge mental battle with myself because I can’t do what I want to do, and it is extremely frustrating. Most days I win the battle, but there were a good couple of months in there that I was completely lost, and I think I am still recovering from that a little bit.
I have been working with Zach Harmon, the in-house Physical Therapist at DeCO, and I’ll be the first to tell you that he is absolutely amazing. He has opened my eyes to so much about my own body, given me so many stretches and exercises, and has helped me feel so much better. Often working simultaneously on making sure my ankle heals well and helping my back feel normal, he has helped me get to a better place physically in the past three months than I have been since October of 2015. Workouts are less frustrating because I know my limits and I know what to modify movements to so I still get a good workout for myself. I have had to force myself to let go of feeling badly that I am not doing what everyone else is doing in the gym and just focus on getting better. 

And it’s working.

Last Monday, Zach gave me the word that I can start running again. Sure, it may only be for a couple 10 second intervals over the distance of about three miles, but it’s something! On Saturday I laced up my running shoes, put on my playlist, and went out for a run. Well, a walk with some run breaks, but it felt amazing. The picture accompanying this post is my face of pure joy after I was done. I feel like I’m starting to come back to myself piece by piece, and this running piece was huge. I have to remember to “go slow to go fast”, so I am really using my body properly and not reinjuring myself, but I am more encouraged and motivated than I have been in a long time. 

Maybe this is a good reminder for you too. If you’re feeling down and out about something, physically or mentally, ask for help, then stay the course. You may not move as quickly as you would like, but you’ll get to your destination when the time is right and it will feel better than ever.

Do something great today, friends!

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