Back to training / Lessons learned
Slowly back to proper training!
Again enjoying beautiful 'home' terrains around Södertälje.
Past few weeks, people kept asking me how I'm doing, seeing me in competition arenas but not in the result lists or quite far down in them. Let's make it all clear. Here is my story of how things went for me past 3+ weeks.
/What I'm going to write here is my personal experience and my perception of things. I'm not an expert nor a doctor. Hope the lessons I've learned can help some of you someday (even I truly hope you'd never need them!) But still, I suggest, the best way to approach things is by listening to others while keeping your own head. It's your life, your body, thus, be curious, ask others' opinions but remember that final decision is always yours./
Friday, March 20th. I'm getting ready for a night O-training, really beautiful area around Järna (SWE). Running into the second loop of total three, I fall down and hit my left knee on stone. Yes, that happens in orienteering. Waiting for the pain to slowly go off I continue running. Suprised by still quite intense pain I finally thought to look at it. Seeing my own flesh through my running tights and undertights was a picture that (nature be blessed) pumped me up with more adrenalin and beta-endorphins. Okay, this means hospital. At least I'm able to run, that's a good sign. So I did run back to the cars while calming myself aloud in swedish and english (guess I was a bit in a shock).
Saturday, March 21st. 0.45am. Tired, I'm getting 7 nice blue stitches. Thanking again and again to the doctor when she tells me that the inside knee itself looks healthy and thus should be okay.
Lucky while being unlucky
You get a different reactions from different sides. I guess I was just being unlucky. The terrain around the place is slippery and it started snowing which probably didn't make conditions any better. I was feeling fit and night orienteering is just a part of my training programme. And I couldn't choose the stone to fall on, bad luck it was so sharp to cut my knee so deep. There were not many possibilities to do things better and I may sound foolish but I'd definitely go to that training again.
"But why the knee?! couldn't I just break my arm or whatever!" I angrily asked myself many times on the way to the hospital, knowing that the knee is really not a good thing to get injured when you're a runner. Still, I was realy lucky while being unlucky. The stone went into my leg 'smartly', it made a clear cut and avoided all the important things, all the tendons etc., thus promising a good recovery.
So far it has been 3 weeks without proper training and this last week I'm slowly starting again. Hope to be able to run speed intervals soon.
When I twist my ankle (something I've done more times) I can tell you straight after how many days or weeks I'd need for the recovery. This injury was a new experience to me. I did some mistakes, I've learned some lessons. So now, when I feel I can judge my acting, here go some points:
TELL DOCTORS AND ASK QUESTIONS - If you're an athlete always tell that to the doctors. They will then talk to you as to a person that knows his/her body and cares about it. Especially when being in the hospital in late night or busy hours, doctors can be tired and underestimate communication with you as a patient. Always! ask them what substances are they putting into your body before they do that.
WORK WITH PAIN - I prefer to feel pain (to certain boundaries, of course) as it usually allows me to understand and work with my body better. There are plenty of ways to approach the pain and I find it definitely useful to learn diffrent types of pain, specially when you are an athlete. However, taking some soft painkillers can give you good sleep after the effect of local anesthetics fades away, otherwise you just have more time to study.
WOUNDS NEED TIME TO HEAL. EMBRACE THE FACT. - Yep, simple as that, unfornunatelly. You can do a long list of things to speed up your recovery process but still it will always take some time. I focused on the things I could and knew how to work with and I foolishly ignored the fact that when your flesh is cut apart it just needs time to grow together. I was able to get rid off swelling quite soon (for those cases I believe in Wobenzym and other enzyms), I was extremely careful not give it a single opportunity to get inflammed (for three weeks taking showers while standing on one leg, yes now you have the right to think I'm crazy). But if you take two pieces of wood put a glue on them and want them to stick together you can't try to shake them after 2 seconds. Same, two days without (significant) moving IS NOT enought time for like 3+cm deep wound to heal.
FOCUS ON OTHER THINGS, TRAIN ALTERNATIVE - Injury actually gives you time to focus on things you have not so much time for otherwise. Take that opportunity. Old maps, running wild,.. Alternative training could be helpful, unfortunatelly in my case the only thing I was actually able to do was core and arms strenghtening.
STITHCES ALLOW YOU A LOT, BUT KEEP THEM IN. - While still having stitches in, even if it's such an exposed place as knee is for a runner, you can do many things. Just keep in mind that it won't help your recovery, actually it will rather slow it. But among us athletes.. If you have World Champs or Worldcups ahead, just do it. You can run with stitches and you can do good. As soon as swelling is gone and you don't feel any dangerous pain, you won't harm yourself. However, keep your racing schedule always in mind. Skipping less important races in favor of faster recovery towards the more important ones sounds clever! Once you decided to take your stitches out and your wound is still more than 5mm deep, you're screwed! If possible, get it sewn again immediately. Running with butterfly tapes or steri-strips is not a good idea, not only because you motion range is significantly smaller than with stitches.
YOU CAN RUN WITH CORE MUSCLES. YET, IT'S NOT SUSTAINABLE, NOR HEALTHY. - Yes, I did run orienteering races with stitches still in and with butterfly tapes and steri-strips as well, including WRE sprint. I don't want to judge here how clever it had been in that moments. You can run pretty fast with the great help of your core muscles that can quite easily to a great extent substitute the injured leg. Yet, it's not a sustainable way, nor a healthy one. If you feel you need to do that, first be sure your body and core muscles are ready for that (mine definitely would not be year ago or so), second, always often check your body if you're not hurting it somewhere else by this. It's easy to overload body on some oher place and then suffer from serious longterm pains.
MEDICAL GEL-GLUES HELP - When I had 2+weeks old wound still open and deeper than I'd like it to have, I thanked my friend-doctors who advised me to try Hemagel. It fills the hole while sticking the whole thing together and it speeds up scar making. I suggest putting it in the wound before going to bed, as I found it good not to move with it for few next hours. (I still used butterfly tapes/ strips to keep it together.)