I will start with saying that this photo makes the injuries look worse than they were.
I fell while running. A sidewalk was uneven because of tree roots coming up. Although I was warned in advance of the uneven sidewalks, I clearly didn’t realize the extent of said rough sidewalks. Within the first five minutes of running, I tripped. I managed to make it over a giant uneven patch and when I looked back, proud of myself for overcoming that bit, I tripped over a small, barely broken area of sidewalk. I ripped open my knees again.
Because of the damage, I decided to spend the next day relaxing in the sun. I decided to wear shorts and not bandages, just to let my knees air out. I was being super responsible about taking care of my injuries, right? Of course, then I fell asleep in the sunshine and got sunburned, including my knees.
Did this stop me from running the next day? Yes. Yes. Yes, it did. Apparently the combination of road rash and sun burn is the recipe for actually taking a break after an injury.
Today was the first day that I’ve gone out for a run since then. It’s been a full week, but I knew I needed to get out again. My knees bled, the sunburn peeled, but I managed a seven-kilometre route. I felt like the rest of me could keep going but I didn’t want to damage my knees any more. Now, eight hours later, they don’t hurt too badly (comparatively) and I hope it stays that way. I am registered for a half-marathon in just over one week and I would really like to be able to both start and finish it. Tomorrow the plan with a friend is a sixteen-kilometre route in the morning. It will be the first run I’ve done in 2019 that I need to bring out my running backpack and I am super excited for it.
It was mentioned to me last week that I am (literally) running myself into the ground. It’s true. I would like to say “It might be true”, but that would be untrue. It’s a totally true statement. Sometimes I take on too many things (definitely true) and sometimes I end up with more on my plate than anticipated. Yet, I keep asking for more and keep pushing despite adversity.
When I fell last week, I got up again. I checked to see if anyone saw (no one). I checked to see how bad the damage was to my knees (topical). I checked to see how bad the damage was to my phone (luckily none). Then I kept running. I could have turned around and gone back and been home in a matter of minutes to clean myself up. Instead, I got up and kept running. By the time I returned to the house, I had blood running down my legs, my socks were soaked and my sneakers weren’t so grey anymore (coincidentally, these were the same sneakers that I had been wearing that triggered my “Sweat, Blood and Tears” blog post).
These two injuries were not related to epilepsy. They were related to running and falling asleep in the sun. They were only related to the same things that neuro-typical individuals face. While I was comfortable when I headed out running that I wasn’t experiencing any seizures, I couldn’t have accounted for human error. I tripped because I wasn’t paying attention. I thought that because I was on a sidewalk instead of a trail that it would be easier. There was no pressure associated with a race. Anyone who didn’t apply sunscreen and spent that much time in the sun would have also gotten burned. That was also my error.
We might fall. We are at risk of falling from seizures or vertigo. We are also at risk of falling because of our own mistakes. The ground might be very uneven yet it might just be the slightest crack that brings us to our knees. I think that the important thing to consider that, as athletes (especially with a medical condition), it can be very easy to want to push ourselves. I want to push myself that I am capable of running and so much more. I want to prove to myself that I am capable of getting back up. In doing so, sometimes I, (literally and metaphorically), run myself into the ground. Sometimes getting up again is just what everyone has to do.
What is the solution? Like so many other topics, there is no answer. Personally, I will likely continue to push my own boundaries. I will continue to risk falling. I will challenge these things, both as an epileptic and as a runner. I will continue to run myself into the ground. Am I my own adversary? Yes. But it is also where I build strength in myself.
I will start using sunscreen though.