Stress and Injury

I wrote this a week ago and sent it out for submission. Having not heard back I’m chalking it up to Written Rejection and am moving on, choosing to post it here instead.

I should be heading out for six miles tomorrow morning according to my marathon training plan. But since writing this piece, I’ve pinched a nerve in my left scapula, which kept me from Saturday yoga, woke this morning with a pulled muscle in my neck and have a faint, but still there, soreness in my quad.

I am, in physical terms, a big old mess!

Maybe it’s time to hang up the hopes for a January marathon. Maybe running to meet a time and distance goals should not be my focus right now. Maybe at this phase of my life I should run for pleasure and freedom and stress relief.

No decisions must be made today.

Acknowledging the thoughts……


Stress and Injury

Being plagued by a tremendous amount of stress recently I woke up ready to go for a run, but had momentarily forgotten about the right quadracept injury that had forced me to put my marathon training on hold. If that wasn’t irritating enough, as I stepped down from my bed I felt a muscular pull up the backside of my right calf; curious as I haven’t done any running or worn new and different shoes since I’d allowed myself this little break to heal from the nagging pain in my thigh.

As I hobbled down the stairs I wondered if the mental stress I’ve been under lately is causing my body to react in a way that is purely physical; both slowing me down and creating pains in places where there shouldn’t be any. It isn’t just common sense that stress can cause illness and injury, in April 2012 a Scientific study at Carnegie Mellon University found proof that mental stress can cause harm on a cellular level; real and actual inflammation can (and does) form in the face of stress.

Two weeks ago I was on a running/yogic/healthy lifestyle roll. Marathon training was in its first week, my consistency in yoga attendance was helping me gain strength and focus, and my food struggles seemed a thing of the past (quitting sugar helped). I was pushing my limits much as I had a year ago at this time, but my circumstances are currently quite different.

Forget that my divorce mediation is nearing closer by the day, the fact that my mother is a week out from surgery from a skin cancer or that my daughters have been acting out to the point that I’ve called a child psychologist for help. Forget that I’m still living with my soon to be ex, that as a stay at home mom I am at the mercy of my husband’s financial choices or that I haven’t worked in six years, since before my twins were born. I have no idea how I’ll support myself after the divorce.

On Tuesday, when a life threatening illness of a loved one rang in my phone, it dawned on me the enormous amounts of life stressers that have plagued what I am coming closer to christening, “Terrible 2012.”

I have a list of things I want to do. I want to run my second marathon in Miami (in January). I want to find meaningful work that will monetarily add to the lives of myself and my children. I want to eat right and attend yoga and fit in my closet full of clothes all presently too tight. I want to feel happy about the chores that keep my house running. I want my family to be healthy. I want to spend time with friends and hear about the wonderful things happening in their lives. I want. I want. I want.

But now may not be the time for the things that I want.

Now might be the time to step back and allow the universe to deliver to me what it thinks I need.

Am I ready to hang up the dream of Miami? Not yet.

Am I going to beat myself up for eating more than my share of the pumpkin pie? Nope.

Will I attend yoga tomorrow morning as I have been for the past few weeks? Yes, because I know it is good for me (my intention, however, will be to remain mindful and without pressure to perform).

What I am not going to do is allow the stress to creep up and cause me pain and frustration and worry.

Sometimes a person needs to be able to choose between what they need and what they want on a minute by minute basis. Knowing when not to do the thing(s) that they want becomes the only decision; the grown up decision to say, “I can’t right now,” knowing that they’ve saved themselves from a stressed out illness or unfortunate injury.

Have you ever pushed through stress and injury for a race? How did you do?


It’s not funny how badly I want another one of these and the experience to go along with it.

10 thoughts on “Stress and Injury

  1. Yes, yes, yes, to everything above! I pushed stress and injury to run my first marathon and it led to my having to bow out of my second. My body is a mess right now and I know that it is for the same reasons that you stated. Yes I firmly believe stress affects us on a cellular level. Hugs. xo

  2. To quote Queen Elizabeth II back in 1992, for you, 2012 “is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’.” Lots going on, but remember that, like the characters you carefully craft in your writing, the parts of life that are difficult make us better, stronger, and wiser. You’ve got this, my friend. Just allow yourself the time and the tears that will bear the fruit of growth in the future.
    Much love…

  3. More Yoga, more calm,more centering, more peace. Even Good changes in your life cause stress, Difficult changes cause deeper stress. CENTER…Health, happiness,sanity,calm….embrace the positive….
    sending you positive energy and love.

  4. Never mess with an injury. There are lots of marathons out there and they will be there for a long time. Recover and restart.

  5. Well, interestingly enough, this is the Daily Word (which I subscribe to) that showed up for this morning. Maybe it will help:

    My body responds to my thoughts and feelings. If I am down, my body feels it. If I am tense or hurried, my body becomes tense and tired.

    Conversely, it responds just as readily to positive thinking.

    When I affirm with conviction: I am filled with the life, strength and energy of God!—even if I do not feel especially strong at the moment—it will stir up feelings of divine life and strength within me.

    My body, mind and spirit respond to positive, life-affirming prayers. I feel an upsurge of energy through my entire being. I am filled with the strength of God.

    As a spiritual being, I draw upon divine strength to do all I need to do, to be all I can be, to achieve my heart’s desires. What an inspiring truth!

    best of luck and heal fast!

    1. Your comment this morning insiored an entire post in me… but then the day got nuts and I am just now getting around to responding to you! Your reply to my post reminded me of something my dad always used to say…he used to say, “If you think you’re sick, you will be sick!” I’d forgotten about that!

      Am hoping to heal fast. I could really use a run after a day like today, but my quad is so strangely annoying. Sore! Boo!

      1. If it helps I’m back in the not-running boat with you. I was allowed a short trial run yesterday but spent the rest of the day with spasms in my hamstring. Now I am again disallowed running. You just hang in there with your twinnies and all the stuff going on in you life – there’s always something – but you can do it. And someday you will look back at this time of your life and you will (I promise!) be grateful for all you learned and all you’ve become because of it. There can only be so many Top Worsts in life (and I do not mean this lightly) so there’s two options: This is a Top Worst…or it’s not.

        Which I needed to hear, myself! Thanks for replying!!

  6. I have been blessed to not get a lot of major injuries. The most injuries I got were in high school which kept me from running track or running in general. I do know that as much as I LOVE to run, I committed to going at least one year between marathons (and actually it’s been more like 18 months). It’s too hard on everyone’s schedule once I get to the 2-3 hour long runs.

    One of the reasons (not the sole reason) I switched to triathlon training is that it doesn’t take up as much time. With all the running I have done the last six years I really felt like I needed to use other muscles and do something low impact for awhile (i.e. swimming).

    You might find you really like shorter distances. I ran my first 10K last spring and loved the 10K distance. I might do a couple of those in the midsts of this triathlon training.

    1. I think time off between marathons is really smart. I thought less than a year was enough for me, so it surprised me to find I wasn’t ready.

      I’m going to focus on shorter distances and see what I can do to my speed. I’m also going to focus a lot more on yoga. I went to a class yesterday that worked every muscle in my legs and I swear my quad feels better because of it!

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment! Really appreciate your input!

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