Exercising was an integral part of my weight loss, but it’s even more important in my current weight-maintenance phase. So you can imagine how I felt when I learned I might have to stay away from the gym. I’ve been dealing with an exercise-related injury since early May. It’s been stressful and frustrating, and I’ve struggled with how to stay in shape.
Growing up, I played soccer, tennis, basketball, and track, but I never got injured. Basically, my body was invincible. I stopped playing team sports when I entered college, so I started running to relieve stress from my rigorous academic schedule. Running became a form of exercise that I could count on, and for the next decade, I ran two to four times every week. Most of my runs were 3 to 4 miles and I never ran more than 5 or 6 miles at a time.
When I rang in the New Year last January, I decided to set a few health goals for myself for the upcoming year—like running a half-marathon. I found a training program online, started following it, and ran my little heart out. I did a few short runs during the week and a long run on the weekend. I was running between 20–25 miles per week, which was much more than my usual weekly mileage, so it was just a matter of time before I felt pain in my left hip. But I was more than halfway through my training program and the half-marathon was just a few weeks away, so what did I do? I took a short break, but then kept running. Because I hadn’t dealt with injuries in the past, I figured my body would eventually adapt to the strain that continuous exercise caused it. Plus, I was so close to my goal, I just had to do it!
In May, I ran through 13.1 miles of pain and completed my first (and last) half-marathon in two hours. I pushed myself hard, which ultimately caused further damage to my hip. Months later, I still ask myself, Was it worth it? Absolutely! Mission accomplished! But I learned a very valuable lesson: My body isn’t invincible anymore.