Wright Out of the Blocks: Adding Insult to Injury

By Jennifer Wright, Science Leadership Academy

Being an athlete is rough. Not only is the actual game play rough, but training is too. The worst part, though, is injuries! I’ve come to learn that over the past nine months of training for running races.

Need I mention our friend, Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger?

Really it boils down to this: it’s part of the game, and everyone gets hurt sometime. But being able to think ahead and do what your body is telling you is the best strategy every time.
Freak accident, you could say, was Pronger getting slapped in the face by that stick, though the precaution was available. I’m doing what he didn’t. I’m deciding to run the half marathon on Nov. 20. I have mixed emotions about it, but I’m putting my pride aside and listening to my body, which is telling me I’m not ready for 26.2 miles just yet.

It’s taken a lot of thought, but this will be my second half marathon, and this way I’m guaranteeing my body a spot in next year’s Full. Four months after my ankle injury fiasco just isn’t enough time for me to prepare.

I’m an interesting breed of athlete. I run just to do it. “Do you do cross-country or track?” I am always asked. Nope. I run for the sake of running and doing things I’ve never done before. A whole group at my school, Science Leadership Academy, are just like me. I like to call them my team, but we compete for nothing beside the right to say we’ve run marathons together.
We are brought together by Students Run Philly Style. We wear blue shirts, and we are nuts about running. Three times a week, students from my school and our two Running Leaders mentor us through the process of running road races and finally the Philadelphia Marathon.

If it weren’t for my team it would have been very hard for me to work through my injuries. It’s said it takes a village to raise a child, but personally for me it takes a village to recover from an ankle fracture, especially for the type of sport in which I participate, which is normally seen as individual.

My Running Leaders, Jeremy and Margy, worked with me through my disastrous ankle fracture. It took a lot out of me physically and emotionally. Not only is being injured frustrating, but I would call it bewildering. An odd word, but that’s how I felt. I didn’t understand the pain. Normally, one would stop doing something altogether if it hurt. But this was different. It takes a certain type of courage to work through pain.

More importantly, though, it takes a lot more courage to put your pride aside and say “When.” Athletes sometimes associate pain with hard work. While this is true to an extent, it is extremely difficult to differentiate between the good pain and the bad pain. For me, this had been a huge hurdle. I am still seen as a newbie to running, so when I was feeling pain I was proud of it, I was working hard!

Luckily, I had the type of support system of my team and my running leaders to help me realize the boundaries. Walking the next day is necessary and at one point I couldn’t. Everybody’s got a story about injury — their knees, ankle, feet or a combination of all three.
There’s no one out there who will disagree. Injuries are traumatic but only crippling if you allow them to be. I’ve definitely learned about overuse injuries, and I’m hoping Pronger has learned something about protecting his face.

Contact Jenn Wright at jwright@scienceleadership.org