Between pre and post-surgery physical therapy, I spent over 20 weeks attending regular PT sessions. I learned a lot of fun things over those 20 weeks, like how to use Lamaze breathing to get through manual piriformis release without crying, and that the anchors that are holding my labrum together will not set off metal detectors, and, perhaps most importantly, that I’m going to have to listen to my body if I want to run for the rest of my life.
That last one is kind of tricky because, well, I think the whole “listening to my body” thing is the biggest cop out ever. It’s become this perfect, not-to-be-argued-with excuse. “Listening to my body! Taking another rest day!” “Yoga > tempo run. Listening to my body.” To you it might sound all namaste, at-peace with my physical being, but all I hear is, “I’m lazy! Going home to eat Doritos!”
And then race day comes and the body whisperers are all pissed because they missed their PR, and it’s like, really? Perhaps if you spent half as much time, you know, running, as you did, listening to your body, you’d have some sort of kick. So yes, when I was told by my physical therapist, and my surgeon, and several PA’s that I would need to listen to my body as I started back to running after surgery, I was just kind of like…
But, much to my surprise, returning to running with a marginally bionic hip is totally different than returning to running with an unadulterated skeletal system. Sure, the pain and soreness I felt when I started a new running plan after several months of laying on the couch inhaling cheesy garlic bread sucked, but this kind of pain and soreness? Suuucks.
It’s kind of hard to explain, but it just feels more serious than pre-surgery running soreness. It’s as if my hip is saying, “You push me to run another day this week and I swear I will bust into four pieces and make you drag me home.” Not to mention that no matter how much I foam roll, and stretch, and wear spandex shorts lined with ice packs, there are some days that I just cannot seem to recover. It’s frustrating. It’s foreign. And the only way that it can be effectively dealt with? Listening to my body. Not running when I’m excessively sore. Taking an extra non-impact day when I can’t seem to recover. Cutting runs short when I experience that excruciating, yanking sensation that runs from the bottom of my butt cheek to the back of my knee (thankfully, this has subsided the longer I’ve been running, but for a while there, it was a delightful, routine occurrence). It’s slightly ego-crushing–you’re lying if you’re a competitive human being who says they don’t get a thrill from gutting it out, no matter what–but it’s working. I am getting stronger and adding mileage without hip pain, which is basically the whole point of paying $79,000 for the surgery, in the first place.
So rest assured, when I say, “I’m listening to my body,” I’m not just trading my miles for cool ranch flavored corn chips and fat pants. Although, I do really like fat pants. Comment-baiting question: Do you listen to your body, or “listen to your body?”