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Out There: I Wanna Run!

Susan Lacke is still injured and is getting -- in her own words -- pretty desperate.

Susan Lacke is still injured and is getting — in her own words — pretty desperate.

It’s been four months since I hit the trails. Four months since I had a true case of Runger. Four long months since I laced up a pair of shoes and ran – really ran.

I wrote about my knee injury once, back in July (my physical therapist still hasn’t forgiven me for calling her a masochistic freak) and then let it go. No need to whine every week about how much I miss running. There are plenty of other things to write about in this column.

But after months of strengthening, stretching, and other, ahem, “creative” things my PT comes up with in the name of healing, I’m still run-free. So now I’m bringing out my whining pants. Because it’s not fair! I WANNA RUN!

These rehabilitation things take time, I know, but I grow more impatient each day. If you’re one of the 70 percent of runners injured each year, you know how much agitation a hiatus can cause.

In this agitation, I’ve gotten pretty desperate. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve gone to some pretty extreme measures in the last few months. I’ll do anything to run again. Anything.


I’ve diligently attended physical therapy three times each week, submitting to hours of torture, often to the point of trembling legs and core muscles that stab when I sneeze. All this takes place under the watchful eye of my trainer, an ex-Marine with a knack for inspirational speeches:

“Oh, it’s too hard? I didn’t realize you were paying me to pat your back and make you feel good about yourself. Do we need to sit in a circle and talk about our feelings? Should I pop some popcorn so we can watch Ryan Gosling? Quit whining and give me 30 pushups, real ones. None of that girly stuff on your knees, or I’ll make you do 60.”


Because part of my knee problem can be attributed to the fact that I pronate like a champ, I was sent to a specialist to get fitted for custom orthotics. After walking around an office barefoot for 15 minutes, the specialist shook his head, tsk-tsk-tsked, and set about correcting my wonky stride from the ground up.

When I first slid the orthotics into my Brooks, I felt like I was walking with golf balls under the arches of my feet. The specialist told me I’d adapt to them and handed me an invoice. Two weeks later, they still feel like golf balls under my feet. My pockets sure feel lighter, though.


Not the relaxing, lavender-scented kind. The kind doled out by a Russian woman with a unibrow and large, mannish hands. Need I say more?


There are foods that cure knee pain. I know, because I saw a list on Wikipedia. So my diet has consisted of smoothies made with turmeric, willow bark, flax oil, tart cherries, and ginger. My partner, Neil, cares so much about getting me back in tip-top shape that he politely declines his share of the smoothie so I can have more. He’s a giver, I tell ya. A giver!


A new-agey friend of mine said that burning incense would “carry my prayer” up to the spirits on a waft of hippie smoke. But patchouli reminds me of this guy I dated in college, so I burned a cupcake-scented candle instead.


Hey, if it works for my friends’ babies, it’s gotta work for my knee, right? For ten minutes each day, I rub my kneecap lovingly and tell it how much mama loves it. I also put some headphones on either side of the kneecap and play a few Mozart ditties. Just in case.


Speaking of babies, I’m not being dramatic when I say I would literally sacrifice my firstborn baby for the chance to do hill repeats again. I miss running that much. Also, I don’t really like babies.

I don’t have children of my own (so quit dialing Child Protective Services, y’all), so I asked my 13-year-old stepdaughter if she’d mind being my sacrificial offering. She looked up from her iPhone, told me I was embarrassing her (again), and then went back to brooding or Instagram-ming or whatever it is that teenagers do on their iPhones. If I never run again, I’m going to be holding the guilt over her head for a long time.


Since it’s been four months and no improvement, my doctor is sending me in for cortisone shots next week. Unfamiliar with the procedure, I googled it. My eyes widened as I read patient descriptions:

I just had injections for the 1st time ever. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being horrible, it was a definite 10. Patients could hear me screaming in the waiting room, and believe me, I am not a big baby!

Gulp. As it turns out, I am a big baby.

Anyone got a first-born they wouldn’t mind loaning out?


About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke