I am currently super excited! If you read my Instagram post yesterday (@Little.Miss.Expat) you will already know what I’m talking about. I’ve been selected to run in the 2018 Cross Country MESAC competition!!! For those of you who don’t know, MESAC is the Middle East and South Asia Conference, which is basically the big sporting competition we get to compete in. Ever since I joined the Cross Country team, my dream has always been to qualify to be able to run in this competition, but I honestly didn’t think I would make the cut till maybe my Senior year of high school? But here I am, a Sophomore, celebrating going to MESAC! In this blog post, I’m going to tell you about my injury, how I recovered from it, and how I made the MESAC team, stay tuned!
How Did I Get Injured?
Well, It’s actually a kind of embarrassing story, but I want to be 100% real with you guys. So about 2 months ago I was on a field trip, doing an obstacle course in Bounce (which is a trampolining center). And I hit my toe on something, it just felt like I had stubbed my toe, so I waited a few minutes for the pain to go away. But the pain never went away, and my toe started swelling up and hurting even more. I asked the nurse to take a look at it, and she didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with it, so I carried on and ran at practice later that day.
I had a successful practice, and my toe had stopped hurting a bit. But when I got home and took off my running shoes, my toe had turned purple, it had started to bruise, and I couldn’t bend it. I asked someone to look at it, and we were positive that I hadn’t done anything serious such as breaking it. So the next morning I went out to my 6am practice and ran with it. I carried on like this for a few weeks, running through the pain because I didn’t think it was anything serious. But what I didn’t realize at that time was that because I wasn’t really putting any weight on my toe when I walked or ran (because it was painful), I was sort of limping and shifting all my weight onto my ankle rather than throughout my whole foot, which turned out to be very bad.
The breaking point came during the Winter Holidays when I was walking around 10K a day because I was on holiday in Europe, and then I would go back to our hotel and run another 10K as my workout for the day. After one tiring day, my ankle couldn’t take it anymore, after I finished my run I couldn’t even put weight on it. I’ve been sore before, but this was a completely different feeling, and I knew that there was something was wrong.
I took a break from running for the rest of the holiday and booked an appointment with a running doctor for when I came back to Dubai. By this time I was itching to run again because 1) I love running, and 2) I felt like I was losing all the fitness that I had worked so hard for. When I went to the doctor I told her all about my ankle, and she asked if anything had happened to my foot recently, I told her about my toe, but it didn’t even cross my mind that these two could be connected (because by this time my toe was almost getting back to normal).
Now, to backtrack a bit and give you a little bit of history about my body. I’ve only been running this intensely for about 2 years now, and I’ve received a lot of feedback saying that I have a weird running form, or that my ankles stick out a lot when I run. Which is all definitely true, and it is something that I am working on. I get a lot of these problems when I run, because I have double jointed ankles, really flat feet, and I have hypermobility. I never like to say I have all these issues because sometimes I think it sounds like I’m making excuses for myself, but it really does affect my running. There are a lot of really successful runners who have flat feet, and as long as you know how to deal with it, it’s not that big of a deal. But I have hypermobility which means that my joints move around more than they should be able to, which also goes hand in hand with being double jointed. For example, when I’m running my ankles move from side to side, and it’s hard to control them, which affects my form, makes it easier for me to get injured, and also wastes my energy. These issues have always been things that I’ve had, but nothing that has ever really affected me that much, until this injury.
So when I saw this doctor, I told her about all these problems I had, and what she told me is that I was very close to having a stress fracture, because I had been running when my toe couldn’t take any weight, and because of that, my ankle had been compensating by supporting me and taking on the extra weight. And because my ankles are very weak and I can’t control them as much as I should be able to, it was making it even worse. She referred me to a physiotherapist, who I’ve been seeing for the past few weeks, and we came up with a plan on how to get back on track.
How I Got Back On Track
My physiotherapist gave me a lot of strengthening exercises and tips on how to build up muscle around my ankles so that this wouldn’t happen again. And we discussed gradually getting back into running and practicing with my team again. But honestly I was a mess, I love running, and it’s my outlet for stress and it just makes me happy. I had been off running for about a month at this point and I was miserable. To be completely truthful, I cried almost every day because I just wanted to run, and also because I really thought that there was no chance that I would be able to run fast enough this season to make the MESAC team.
I’ve been gradually getting back into running, by first of all not running on consecutive days. Then I started running every day again but I took it very easy, and I didn’t do any hills or stair drills. I’m finally pretty much back to normal, but when I feel my ankle start to hurt again, I stop and take a rest. Because I’ve learned my lesson, no more running injuries for me!
Listening To Your Body
If there’s one thing that I have learned throughout this whole experience is how important it is to ‘listen to your body’. For a sport like running, you’re so dependent on your body, and pretty much your whole success in the sport depends on how fit your body is. I made the mistake of running through the pain and not listening to my body when I should have, and I paid the price for it. If I had just listened then, I wouldn’t have ever got that injured. But now every time I feel a pain that I know is related to my injury, I make sure I stop if it gets too much, and treat it in the way that I should. Your body is your temple, and we should be doing everything we can to keep them in pristine shape!
I’ve been stretching and foam rolling after running, to keep my legs healthy and strong.
So What’s Been Happening?
Last week was our hardest race of the season, which is a 5K run up in the mountains in Hatta. I was really nervous because this was the first race I was allowed to run after recovering from my injury, and I felt like I wasn’t as fit as everyone else, and I definitely hadn’t done as much hill training as the rest of my team. I did my best to stay calm before the race, and I just went out and performed my best. Last year when I ran this race I came in 4th place, so originally my goal for this year was to be able to get 3rd place and medal individually, but obviously after being injured this goal had pretty much deteriorated. But I was able to push through this race and I did end up placing 3rd overall! I have never individually medaled at a Cross Country meet before, so I was over the moon. I was also crazy happy because my biggest fear was that I had lost all my fitness while I was injured, but I was still able to run faster than I have before and beat my PB from last year.
The Hatta Course
Making The MESAC Team
Making the cut for the big Cross Country competition has always been a dream of mine, even if I was the slowest person out of the 8 that made the cut, it would have always been such an honor to just get picked to run in the competition. I really thought that all my hopes of making the team this year were washed away with my injury, but my performance at the Hatta race allowed for me to make the MESAC team. I’m so happy everytime that I think about it, and I’m so grateful to be running at this event. Obviously, I’m nervous! But I’m going to be doing my best to keep my nerves under control so that I can run my best races ever at MESAC.
I’m still definitely not the fastest runner on my Cross Country team, and I probably will never be. But I’m so proud of where my dedication and strength got me, with running you reap what you sow. If you don’t train or work hard you’re not going to get anywhere. And trust me I know what it’s like to miss out on these opportunities, as I said, this is my first time running in the competition, I didn’t make the cut in years past. But not making the cut doesn’t mean that you failed! It means that you tried your best, but sometimes your best just isn’t enough. There’s always another year to work hard and improve for, and with running, there will always be a new opportunity for you to run faster and push yourself even more.
Wow, that was a really long post! I wanted to share every little bit of what’s been going on with me and I would love to hear your feedback. Have you ever been injured? Do you like running? Have you ever run in a big competition, if so what are your tips? And did you enjoy reading this post? Please let me know in the comments!
See you next week!
Little Miss Expat
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