The First Hurdle

Month Two of Track & Field Training (Oct ’16)

My second month of track and field training started with a bang. Or, more like a thud. Yep, that was the sound of my 150lb body crashing onto the living room floor. Lamest story ever: I tripped on my laptop cord. Yes, seriously. Lame as it was, it still hurt like hell.

I lay still, exhaling through pursed lips until I could wince myself up onto the sofa. I unfisted my eyes to look at my hand. My right pinky had swelled into a lopsided stack of blueberries. I’d never seen such an ugly shade to my skin. Worse yet, I couldn’t move my finger at all. My mind leaped to the petrifying place any athlete or gym rat’s would. “Oh no, my training!”

The next morning, I walked into the East Liberty Medical Centre then to The Toronto Centre for Medical Imaging. The x-ray suggested a “minimally displaced small avulsion fracture arising from the volar base of the 5th middle phalanx”. I’d find out exactly what that meant later. My immediate question, of course, was “Could I still workout?”

Taking it all in stride

Have you ever seen a hurdle race? What happens when a runner knocks down a hurdle? They keep going, right? Sure, the falter slows them down, but it doesn’t take them out of the race. And that’s exactly how, Andrew-The-Amazing, handled our training.

After one disrupted week, we were back to our usual training schedule. But since I couldn’t bend or bear weight on my finger, I couldn’t grip any equipment. Dumbbells and barbells were out *gasp*. I assumed that in lieu of lifting, we’d switch gears and get into some longer sprint intervals on the treadmill. Wrong.

Fractured finger or not, the training focus remained the same – correcting mechanics and building explosive posterior strength. We would simply modify our usual regime. (I say simply, however, Andrew approached the modifications with an incredible amount of thought). Instead of back squats and deadlifts, he challenged me to sets of jump squats and isometric pushes against a brick wall. And in place of bench press and lat pulldowns, I did variations of upper body work from the elbows versus the hands, and using Andrew’s 250lb frame for resistance. Our sessions were as intense as always.


While awaiting an opinion from a fracture specialist, I enjoyed the perks of working alongside a team of chiros, physios and massage therapists at Totum. Waj tested for a break with a tuning fork, Mary-Catherine showed me how to buddy tape, and Gonzalo shared an optimistic outlook based on his personal and professional experience. Though as Waj pointed out, my hand modelling days were over.

Finding humour in it all

Have you ever seen a primetime hospital drama on TV? Notice how the cast consists of a stupidly handsome male resident, a scholarly looking female and a stern older doctor in charge. Well that’s exactly how my appointment at St. Joe’s played out.

I dropped my pink forms into the metal tray as indicated, and waited to be called. A kind young woman introduced herself as a student doctor who’d be taking part in my examination. Then came Dr. Slov-hottie. Forgive me, I didn’t catch his real name as I was distracted by his everything. I locked eyes and possibly winked, as he took my hand and examined my tender finger. “How does this feel? What about this?” Are you kidding me?!

The spell was broken when Dr. Grouch marched in and sat at the desk. “So, what’ve we got?” He continued to fire questions at the pair, “What about this? What about that? Where’s the xray? What have I told you about diagnosing without an xray?” I could barely hold it together as he chided the students in front of me.

I was bursting. I couldn’t keep this hotness and hilarity to myself. So as the tired looking clerk at imaging registration keyed in my info for xray, I tapped my phone furiously laughing out loud, as I gave my sister the play-by-play by text. <It’s like Grey’s Anatomy up in here!>

The kind  (and not so grumpy after all) doctors at St. Joes.

All kidding aside

Having viewed and discussed the x-ray with Dr. Slov-hottie, I now had a better understanding of the injury. In layman’s terms, I pulled a ligament at the middle knuckle of my pinky (an avulsion). This kind of pull often takes a piece of bone with it (an avulsion fracture) but in my case it didn’t. Phew! 

However, after two weeks of splinting, my finger had gotten incredibly stiff. I left the hospital with a page of physiotherapy exercises to restore range of motion in my finger, a roll of Coban wrap to help reduce the swelling, and a 5-week follow up appointment with Dr. Grouch.

It’s all in your head

The recovery process is slow. Lifting is still out. But believe me, the race is still on! (Like literally on, as Andrew has selected Jan 22 as my first indoor meet).

What’s interesting is that up until that day at St. Joe’s, my finger felt sore, stiff and could barely curl downward at all. The next morning, after my first constrast bath and set of hand exercises, I had already found significantly more range of motion.

As effective as the therapy is, I attribute much of the change to mindset as well. When I thought of myself as injured, my body acted injured. As soon as I switched to a healing versus injured mindset, it changed. The increase in movement that I’ve found in the latter two weeks is exponential compared to that of the first two.

This hurdle definitely hasn’t taking me down. I’m feeling great and committed to going the distance!

Note to Readers: I may sound pretty smart  but remember, I am not a health care professional and this article is not a substitute for medical advice.

Missed month one of training? Catch up with A Running Start.

What happens next? Follow the blog to be notified of new posts by email.



One thought on “The First Hurdle

  1. Pingback: A Running Start – Supafitmama Toronto

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s