IAMRUNBOX ambassador Gill Bland shares her story on how an injury taught her a valuable life lesson.
Running, like life in general, has its phases. This summer began with my running appearing to be going through the grumpy teenage years and with it, I was suffering some growing pains. Since Boston Marathon I had not run more than 12 miles come a week later. For someone who loves knocking on the door of 80 mile weeks, that’s quite a change. 

Why, you ask? Answer - a right royal pain in the ass. 
I had completed my recovery period after Boston and was ready to get back running and tackle my first Ultra Marathon, but clearly my body had different plans.

The Piriformis is a muscle in the buttock which can go into spasm and be a literal pain in the ass. Not only that, but it is either right next to the sciatic nerve or has the sciatic nerve running through it. When it gets inflamed it rubs that nerve and causes referred pain down the leg and into the back. Having never been injured before this was something of a wake up call. As a marathon runner I thought I was okay with pain. Oh, how wrong I was. A combination of a hot burning sensation, shooting pain, a dull ache and a weird sense of instability when putting any weight through your hip is not my idea of fun. Turns out I’m not a stubborn warrior but more of a delicate flower!

It’s at times like these having a running community really helps. I was able to contact other runners to get advice about the injury, physio recommendations and, perhaps most importantly, get sympathy from people who understand how weird and frustrating it is not to be able to get your heart rate up and pound the day away as the miles disappear under your feet. At first, when it hurts too much to even consider running, it’s not hard to stay off your feet. The trouble comes when you’re mobile but still uncomfortable. It’s then that the brain goes into over-drive. You need those around you to tell you not to push it yet and that it’s okay to wait a bit longer. But once the root cause is dealt with and you’ve got the go ahead, you need them to encourage you right back on track. This wasn’t something I had expected. I thought I would be desperate to get back again. But when running goes from being your happy place where nothing else matters to where your mind freewheels to being a constant internal chatter of “Is that hurting too much?”, “Should I stop?” “Am I imagining it?” “Why is it such hard work?”, well, then you need the wisdom of others. Running friends explained to me that sometimes your brain takes a while to catch up with your body and that it was ok to feel odd for a bit. Having to learn from the experience of others was a really important lesson. I’ve seen lots of people go through injuries over the last year and, whilst I didn’t realize it at the time, I think that in all honesty I thought that maybe they got injured because they had done something wrong. How idiotic and proud of me. Of course, there are some obvious do's and don'ts in running, but sometimes these things just happen.

Seven weeks after the initial moment of “Ouch, what’s that?” I had my first run where I actually forgot to think about the pain. What a feeling. As I came through these awkward teenage years of running these growing pains have made me realize that I had forgotten to appreciate what a joy pain-free fluid running is. I had forgotten how fantastic it is to be able to lace up and run for as long as you want to, just because you can. Now I can be of use and service to others who get injured and offer more empathetic support to them - and hopefully be less presumptuous of my own body.