The Beginning of my Journey to Boston - And Tips for Mentally Recovering from a Sports Injury

If you follow me on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, you may have noticed that I haven’t been running much. But Kayla, weren’t your training for a marathon to qualify for Boston? Yes I was, until I got injured.

Let’s go back to the beginning of my journey to Boston.

I have considered myself a runner my whole life or at least it seems like - I’ve been running since I was 16 years old. I ran cross country in high school then ran on the cross country team my sophomore year of college, but my collegiate running career ended shortly after transferring schools to study nutrition.

I felt disappointed especially since my college cross country coach told me I had potential to be a good runner and did not want to lose me. And it was hard to leave because I had always felt that I just needed a good coach to be a better runner. Because I had the talent, drive, and determination. But knew I couldn’t do it alone.

But I never stopped running. I ran a couple half marathons in college then ran my first full marathon after graduating from grad school. But until this year, I didn’t really believe in myself.

This year, I moved to a new city and started a new job. I began to dive into personal development and start a business. And I also decided this was the year I would make Boston. And I would qualify before I was 30 years. old.

I put a lot of pressure on myself. And I knew it was going to be hard, physically and mentally. Especially wanting to start a business while working full-time along training, but I was determined that I could do it.

So I hired a running coach in the Spring and we started training for a full marathon in October. In 2 months, I PR’d in the 5K and half marathon. And I was beyond ecstatic. Based on my races, I was projected to run a 3:33 marathon…I just needed to cut 3 minutes! It was going to be close, but so possible!

Until I made a mistake (ran a 5K that was not on the plan) and didn’t listen to my body or my coach. I started feeling so good, I kept pushing and pushing myself. I just wanted to run! But I wasn’t letting my mind and body catch up to where I wanted to be. And that led to an injury.

And it could hav occurred much earlier, but I just didn’t realize it. Eventually, I told my coach that I was having discomfort/pain in my foot and I was told to rest. And of course, I was devastated. Deep down, I knew it wasn’t going to be a fast recovery.

At first, we thought it was just tendinitis and it would heal in 6-8 weeks, so I just needed to rest and stay active without running (bike, swim, strength training. elliptical or arc trainer). But then 2 months went by only attempting to run once a week without any relief. I felt extremely frustrated.

And all this time, I really didn’t know what the injury was. I saw a PT who thought it could be sesamoiditis and I received two opinions from orthopedic doctors that it was (1) “possibly tendinitis or possibly early signs of a stress fracture,” and (2) “tendon strain.” I had repeated Xrays and there was not sign of a stress fracture. Yet both specialist told me it shouldn’t keep me from running, but my PT and running coach say differently.

Also, my PT that I’ve been working with for the past 3 weeks gave me 3 possible diagnosis and agreed with the second orthopedic specialist, so now we will go with a “tendon strain.” I don’t know why, but it was so frustrating to me to not have a clear diagnosis. How can something be treated if you don’t have a diagnosis?

When you have a sore throat, a nurse takes a throat culture (diagnostic test) to check for strep throat and when it comes back positive as strep (diagnosis), you are given an antibiotic to kill the infection. Right?

But no matter what it was, I couldn’t train until I was healthy again. And I missed races in June, July, and August. And we are now 3 months into my recovery including 3 weeks of going to physical therapy twice a week. I have been swimming, biking, and doing strength training to try to keep in shape even though I know I won’t be running my marathon this Fall.

For me, I haven’t been in a lot of physical pain (except scraping hurts at physical therapy). I don’t need surgery. So the toughest challenge has been mentally. Of course during this time, I didn’t know what else to do except dive deep and grow my online business helping others with nutrition and running. And it actually grew! So much that I know feel faced with more difficult decisions.

Working out even though I cannot run has helped a lot. I love yoga and not sure why I haven’t been doing it more since I’m not running. But have been trying to meditate. And find things I enjoy to do that is not running like biking, swimming, hiking, and cooking.

If I could give anyone 3 pieces of advice when recovering from a sports injury, this is what would be my advice:

  1. Focus on the present. Surrender to what has happened and your current situation. Focus on getting healthy. Don’t think about races. Don’t think about being left out from your social circles. Stay off social media if you can or find other running friends that are injured too.

  2. Be positive and do not give up hope. I believer our minds are powerful. And to heal physically and manifest your dreams, you have to be belief. And you have to be positive. It is hard and I’m not saying you can’t or won’t have days when you are feeling down, but do not give up on your dreams or that you won’t be able to run again. But if you can’t or know you shouldn’t, there will be new and exciting opportunities.

  3. Find other hobbies you enjoy. Is running your identity? Is running your life? I thought running was who I was and felt scary to lose that. But I’ve realized that I am still me and I can create new hobbies. And there are other activities I enjoy that move my body too like biking, swimming, hiking, kayaking, etc. If you aren’t bed rest, learn something new. Try something you may never have tried before. Sometimes, you may even discover part of you you didn’t know.

Kayla Slater