Summer 2018 marked the start of a great season of change for us Hackett twins. We completed a Master’s of Accounting at Abilene Christian University and exhausted all of our NCAA eligibility. This summer we would use our free time (before starting a full-time job in Boston in January) doing 2 things: attempting to pass the CPA exam and training for our first marathon as new members of the Boston Athletic Association (BAA)! We planned to reach our goals by doing things a little differently. Unbeknownst to us, the decision to do things a little differently wasn’t 100% our decision. Sure, we wanted to study and follow a training plan, but Michaela experienced a setback (IT Band Syndrome) that would change the way she went about her daily routine.
While my main training partner was going through this season of struggle, I still needed to focus on following the plan that Coach had sent. After building a base and starting to focus on bigger workouts and goals, I found that my fitness started to improve. I was excited because the things that I were doing differently seemed to be paying off. (But I did at times feel guilty for feeling this way while my sister was struggling to run)!
I spent a lot of the summer meeting up with friends to run, running different routes, doing workouts that were different that I’ve done before, and fine-tuning my recovery A LOT (massage, PT, Epsom salt baths, etc.). Although the workouts weren’t necessarily harder than what I’ve done before (at least not yet!) and the places I’ve run aren’t completely new, I found that even just doing something a little different can give me a new perspective and new-found joy.
For example, having a plan to meet someone at a specific place at a certain time was a nice way to get my day started. Having refreshing conversations led me to believe that my struggles aren’t too different than anyone else’s and if they can do it, then I can do it! This summer I spent more time planning my day around other people or obligations and not only on what I wanted/ felt I needed to do. That led to me not complaining/worrying as often and definitely served as a nice distraction from my tense mind.
On Sunday, August 19th, I raced the 46th annual New Balance Falmouth Road Race (pictured below). After a disappointing experience at the Narragansett Lions Club Blessing of the Fleet 10-miler just a few weeks before, I was definitely nervous for this one. I was determined to not make the same mistakes I did then! I went out conservatively and stayed very consistent, resulting in my 18th place finish. I was happy with my finish, but knew that I had some left in the tank- which only serves as more motivation for the next race!
Michaela’s injury and what she’s learned:
This is my second “serious” injury where I couldn’t run for more than a month. IT band syndrome is a pesky little thing- it takes a long time to go away. With my first injury, I had Sacroiliac (SI) joint syndrome and with physical therapy and cross-training, I was able to run again in a little over a month without any pain. Now with my new injury, I thought: “I am so much more knowledgeable now, I know how to deal with this injury,” so I went right into doing all the necessary things to nip this injury in the bud, and thus had high hopes that I wouldn’t be out for more than 2 weeks. Well, IT Band syndrome just doesn’t go away that easily. I strengthened my hips/glutes, went to physical therapy, a sports doctor, a massage therapist, and finally a different physical therapist to try to get rid of the pain in my knee and be able to run, but nothing seemed to be working until I stopped “testing” the injury by running 1-3 miles once a week. It’s been a little over 6 weeks and I think I can see the end of the injury in sight, but I am still not running yet. My coach and BAA have been super supportive of me during this difficult time, and I recommend to anyone who is struggling with an injury to communicate with and trust your coach. It also helps to have someone lift your spirits when you’re feeling down (Thanks Allie!) Here are some other key things I learned this time around:
- Don’t try to rush it; there is a good reason for this injury and your body is trying to tell you something- give it what it needs. For me, that meant massages, a rest from running, and then working on strengthening the weak areas to fix the problem.
- Everyone is different, so no matter how much I researched and asked for advice from others who have had the same injury, and said they were able to get back running quickly after doing “x”, it does not mean that will be the same for you.
- Do quality cross training workouts but don’t try to kill yourself everyday– physically or mentally. Cross training for me is more mentally challenging than anything, so if I was burnt out after cross training for 3 days in a row, I took a day off.
- Focus on strength and physical therapy (stretching may not be the best option depending on your injury, especially if it’s a tear).
- Fuel up– but also focus on increasing protein intake. Don’t think that since you’re not running, you aren’t burning as many calories and end up restricting your diet- it’s just the opposite- your body needs more fuel to heal the injury.
- Find pleasure in doing other things! I joined my sister on some runs by biking next to her- this refreshed my spirit and allowed me to feel like I wasn’t missing out on everything by being injured!
This summer was a promising and enlightening start to our post-collegiate careers and we can’t wait to see what this fall season has in store for us!