I’m going to take a moment to talk about an injury that has been plaguing me for over a decade.
For as long as many of you have known me, you’ve known me with a busted left leg. Hell, I honestly can’t remember a time when my leg wasn’t an issue. Granted it’s a hell of a lot better than 10 years ago when icing, chewing Vicodin, and stinking like IcyHot was my every day. I’ve weaned down to ice, ibuprofen, and biofreeze (occasionally) now.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, I lack a quad muscle in my left leg. The circumference of my left leg is actually almost 2″ smaller than my right. I believe it was first evaluated around age 14 and written of as a fluffy kid with growing pains. It was reevaluated early college years which put me in a leg immobilizer for over a month. I truly believe that the immobilizer was the demise of my leg. I haven’t regained the strength I lost from muscle atrophy. I went through heavy PT sessions about 4 years ago which helped a little. Anyone lacking a basic anatomy lesson, you have 4 muscles that make up your quad – insert shocked face here. If you need a visual, they’re shown below in this handy diagram.
The untrained eye can’t notice it at first glance, but upon closer inspection one can notice that my left leg is quite smaller than my right. Mainly because my left leg is lacking the blue muscle – my Vastus Medialis. Who knows when I lost it or tore it or it decided to take a vacation, but it’s obviously not there. Not only does this muscle help you do things like walk and lift heavy things, it keeps your patella snugly in place by supporting your knee joint. Anyone who has walked with me for some miles has experienced me “catch” my leg. What I mean by this is, every now and again my patella slips out and when I put when on my left leg the joint is out of whack and can’t support it so I start to fall. I catch it and move on. Sometimes if it’s bad enough I wobble.
I know you’re reading this and probably saying “But Kim, you CrossFit and run OCRs!” I know right?? I might be squatting with two legs on the ground, but its about 80% right leg and 20% left. What this has done is thrown my strength ratio completely off balance. So much so that my running is going to shit. Am I quitting CrossFit? No. Quitting running? No. Am I stubborn as hell? Probably.
So what is the point of this rant? I’ve been having IT Band issues as I’ve increased my long runs. I got new shoes which seems to have helped a bit. Yesterday I got completely frustrated with my run and had a pity party. Everyone is faster than me. Everyone can run longer without stopping. Yes my cruising run speed is an 8 minute mile, but I can only maintain that for about 2 minutes, walk for a bit, pick it back up. I average out around 11-11:20 minute miles. Why am I complaining? I honestly don’t know. I guess because I can cruise at 8 minutes, I feel like I should be able to maintain that. I’m tired of this leg holding me back.
Last week I revamped my training program. 2-a-day workouts. A combination of left leg isolation work, swimming and cycling in the am. Crossfit and running in the pm. I’ve cut my run distance down to save my IT Band. I’ve increased my swimming and adding spinning to keep my cardio up and save my IT Band. I’m keeping CrossFit 3-4 days a week because I love it and I won’t deny myself heavy lifting.
My point to all of this is that I’m not letting this injury stop me. I’m going to work my ass off to get this leg closer to where it needs to be. I have an amazing group of friends that love and support me and will help me any way they can. When I get frustrated, they’re here to get me through it. This imbalance has gone on long enough and I’m tired to not being my best because of a silly little leg.
So to anyone of you sitting around crying about a set back, stop. Don’t make me drop names of amazing athletes who are working their asses off at a disadvantage. For every elite athlete you can name, I can name one who is pushing the bar and overcoming something that most of us don’t have to willpower to do. So what’s holding you back and how are you going to conquer it today?