Patience, Grasshopper

It has been a really great couple weeks of running. My miles are building, my leg has behaved and I can picture myself toeing the line at Boston for more than just a qualifying 3:40.  Tomorrow, I will do my first speed workout post-surgery, with 4 miles at a 7:30 pace. It’s funny to think that my pace will be slower than the pace at which I ran my last marathon.  My test will not be whether I can run that fast, but whether I can be patient enough to let a 7:30 be enough.

Patience has never been a virtue.  My mom recently retold the story of me going to sleep away camp a full year before I was technically eligible.  Somehow, I convinced the camp to let me attend, despite being 7 when I needed to be 8.  In fact, I came into the world impatiently, arriving a full two months before I was due. That’s why it is a bit of a surprise to me (and to my loved ones, I’m sure), that I’ve been patient with my recovery. When I went into surgery, I expected to be running in 6 weeks, training hard by the end of the summer.  Instead, it’s November. As I start to feel strong, I find myself pushing too hard in workouts and tacking on extra miles. My brain knows that this is the easiest way to end up on the injured reserve, but my competitive side wants to make up for all the lost time.

Patience in the context of a marathon is an interesting thing.  Those who are successful in the marathon must have at least some level of it, as the distance punishes the hare and rewards the tortoise. Perhaps the strongest warning we offer to novice marathoners is that “there are no shortcuts.”  Why, then, is it so hard to remember this for myself?  When I run with friends or give advice to new runners,  I always caution against too much too soon, about taking easy runs easy.  It seems that with most advice, it’s easy to dole it out, but not as easy to observe.

As I wind on down the road this weekend, I’ll be working on waking up my fast twitch muscles again, but also on practicing patience.  It’s a long road to Boston.

2 thoughts on “Patience, Grasshopper

  1. jb

    Hi Sarah,

    My name is Julie and I have been suffering from CCS for almost two years now. I am so “down in the dumps” about it – my lifestyle has completely changed. I have found your blog to be so inspiring – thank you for creating/maintaining it. CCS is not common and most people have never even heard of it. It is great to read about your successes since surgery! Congrats on already running a ½ and good luck training for Boston. I live in Boston and the marathon is the best day of the year here!

    My surgeon is not pushing me to have it done. What were you told would be the success rate? And what compartments did they operate on? Is your leg always swollen, especially after working out? And before you had the surgery did your leg bother you walking or only during/after running? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.


  2. Sarah

    Hi Julie:
    It's such a frustrating condition! I suffered for a while and still feel crazy sometimes with my doctor/PT when I feel like they don't believe that I'm having symptoms.

    I was told and have read from extensive research, that success is up around 90%. My caveat to this, however, is that that number is return to sport technically speaking, but not necessarily return to the former level of sport. For me, I can jog all day, but I cannot do hard workouts without pain, as evidenced by my runs this weekend.

    Prior to surgery, I could only run about 8 minutes without numbness and pressure. Now, I can run most days without symptoms. If I am going to have trouble, it's about 35 minutes in and not as bad.

    My leg is still always swollen, most noticeable when I wear pants that are tight on one side and not the other. By the time of surgery, my leg felt swollen and under pressure at all times and sometimes went numb while only walking. I opted for a full 4 compartment release on only my left leg. In hindsight, I wish I'd only done the anterior and lateral compartments, where I was symptomatic and had positive pressure tests. I still have excruciating deep calf pain from the superficial and deep posterior compartment cuts.

    Overall, I remain very frustrated with my outcomes. I feel that I was promised a far easier path and much better recovery/improvement than I have experience thus far. Return to running is great, but I am going to feel like it was a failure if I cannot achieve and surpass my previous level of running.

    Good luck to you, let me know what you decide/if you have other questions.


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