Editor's note: Spider Stories is a sports series that is designed as a platform to give student-athletes a voice through the sharing of first-person stories.
Track and field is a sport that I have always been passionate about. I’ve loved running and competing for as long as I can remember.
In elementary school, I remember when the boys used to challenge me to a race; winning was always fun. However, I didn’t start competing in track and field until I moved to Richmond, when I was 11 years old.
That spring, I had decided to try this running thing called "track.” I had no idea what it was at the time.
The following summer, after seventh grade ended, I began to take track a little more seriously. I had a track and field coach who trained me during the summer, and we worked on conditioning and speed work.
Fast forward to high school, I tried out for the track team during my freshman year at Godwin High School. During the first day of practice, there were different stations that you could go to based on what you were interested in.
I went over to the jumpers station because I wanted to try long jump. My coach asked me if I was a jumper, and I told him I was not.
“Well, I’m going to teach you how to jump,” he said.
I was super excited, and from there, my love for long and triple jump grew, as it would become two of my primary events during my high school years.
Toward the end of high school, I decided that I wanted to take my track and field career to the collegiate level, and began applying to different schools. The recruiting process was a long and difficult one.
When the offer was made, I decided to commit to one of my dream schools: the University of Richmond.
I started conditioning in the fall of 2017 with the team. My progression was going really well, and I could see myself getting faster and stronger.
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During conditioning, I had a minor foot injury that took me out for a couple weeks. I was really sad that I wasn’t able to practice with the team.
After I got a little better, I started my progression back up again, trying to make it to where I was before. As time went on, workouts became more intense and had a huge impact on my body.
We started to incorporate more speed work and technical drills into the workouts. During this phase, I was starting to feel a little pain in my tibia, but I felt that it was minor, so I continued my training.
The pain, however, quickly became worse and worse. I had shin splints before in high school, but I had never felt shin pain like this.
I was able to compete in a few meets before and after winter break but my performance wasn’t my best. There was a time when it became unbearable, and I had to wear a cast boot.
Earlier in the week of the 2018 indoor Atlantic 10 Conference Championship, I had to get a medical MRI. If the results were minor and no damage had been done, it was possible I was going to be able to compete.
Unfortunately, the results came back stating that I had a stress fracture and a stress reaction in my tibias.
I sat out the rest of the indoor season, and I wasn’t able to compete at all for the outdoor season. I was able to do cross-train workouts, such as the bike and the pool.
A couple months later, I was set to start progression again with the help of the Alter-G, an anti-gravity treadmill. When I was running I was still in a lot of pain, and nothing seemed to work.
I got a little discouraged because I wasn’t able to do the thing that I loved. After training and competing for so long, it was a big adjustment to stop that all of a sudden. I felt lost without track and field.
I was instructed to take the whole summer off. I still did cross-training to stay in shape but nothing on foot.
The end of the summer came, and conditioning was soon to commence. During that time, I met with my current athletic trainer, Emily.
She was very eager to help me get back on track. She and my coach worked together to develop a new progression plan for me.
The plan was to start up on the Alter-G again. It was working for a while as I was trying to get my endurance back, but there was still some shin pain flaring up.
Another MRI revealed that I had stress reaction, so we pulled back on the progression again. My coach and athletic trainer then worked with the sports medicine doctor to develop another plan for my progression.
The new plan was to start progression on the football field turf, due to its soft surface. I started doing my runs on the turf, increasing the time interval every week.
After this past winter break, I felt that my endurance was coming back and and my coach was able to incorporate more speed work into my workouts. After that, I felt like I was finally progressing again, and I’m still continuing to work toward my goals.
Two weeks ago, I was able to jump at our home track meet here at Richmond. After not jumping for over a year, I was able to reach a personal record collegiately, with a jump of 18-5.
After sitting out for so long, it was nice to see that my hard work is going toward my goals. Patience is key when it comes to these types of injuries, but it’s important not to get discouraged and stay positive throughout the process.
I’m so thankful for the trainers, my coaches and my teammates for helping me stay encouraged throughout this process. Knowing there is a lot more work to be done, I’m excited to see the end results and how far I’ll go, and I know it only gets better and better from here.
Contributor Rebekah Greene is a sophomore on the women's track and field team. Contact her at email@example.com.
Spider Stories is a forum that can be used to write about anything related to the student-athlete experience, such as an issue you're passionate about, obstacles you've overcome, or different aspects of life as a student-athlete. Contact sports editor C.J. Slavin at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are a student-athlete who is interested in writing a piece.
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