An Untimely Hiatus

In the months leading up to 2015’s Fall marathons, RunWashington will follow several local runners as they prepare for their races. We’ll chart their progress as they train their legs, lungs and minds for the challenges they’ll race on race day. Each week, we’ll catch up with our runners and see how they’re doing. Meghan Ridgley of Reston, Va., planned to run the Philadelphia Marathon, but has been forced to take the season off. Read the first article about Meghan Ridgley here and the second here.

Meghan Ridgley lives vicariously through the runners she coaches until she can, herself, run again. Photo: Dustin Whitlow/D. Whit Photography
Meghan Ridgley lives vicariously through the runners she coaches until she can, herself, run again. Photo: Dustin Whitlow/D. Whit Photography

Meghan Ridgley has a lot more time on her hands now that she’s out with a stress fracture and a torn labrum.  Still immersed in running through her work at the Potomac River Runners store and as a coach, she insists that she’s ok being around people who are still able to get out and go running.  It was actually harder when her ankle was injured because she technically could still run.

“It’s a little hard, but it’s easier to watch people run this time because if I try to run my leg will stop and I will literally fall on my face, so the decision is kind of made for me,” Ridgley said.  Instead of wishing she could run, she gets a little secondhand joy from those who can. “I just try to live vicariously through my customers and the people I train.  A lot of people are doing the Army Ten-Miler and Marine Corps, I’ll absolutely be cheering them on and that’s gonna be the best,” she said.

Ridgley’s insisting on keeping her outlook positive by focusing on the side benefits of her setback.  For the runners she coaches “it’s an opportunity to show people that injuries happen, and that you have to let them heal.  Especially for a new runner, they get that injury and they think their life is over,” Ridgely said, joking that the people she coaches will say to themselves: “I don’t want to end up like Meghan so I’ll definitely take some time off.”

Long-time friend and fellow coach Jodi Rakoff has a firsthand insight into how Ridgely is dealing with being sidelined, because both happen to be convalescing from injuries.  They support each other by catching up on the couch instead of running together.  Ridgely has been there for her and is “definitely taking it in stride even though not exercising is really, really hard,” Rakoff said.  She sees her friend Ridgely channel the energy she isn’t using for training to support the runners she coaches and use her injury as a teaching tool.

While Ridgely definitely has let close friends in when she’s feeling the loss of something that she loves and that has always been a central aspect of her life, she’s relieved that overall, “people have commented at how upbeat and enthusiastic I am.”

Ridgely hasn’t gone this long without running since she started running.  Even when she was pregnant, even when she took time off from racing, even when she injured her foot.  “This is the least amount of physical activity I’ve had.  It’s difficult to deal with.  I didn’t realize how much of my day involved movement.  Fortunately I have a physical job,” Ridgely said.  But gone are the daily routines of quick core sets, triceps dips, foam rolls, and pushups in between tasks, tricks the busy mom has honed to keep herself at peak fitness while still doing everything else.

In the place of the time she spent training, she’s sleeping in, and getting to spend more time with daughter Miranda who’s starting third grade this year.  She’s cooking more, and has time to do things like drop a plate of cookies off for a friend who’s had surgery.

The extra time with her daughter is definitely the central focus of her decision to look on the bright side.  With back to school and a birthday party to prepare for, they’ve been busy together.  Miranda reminds Ridgely to wear her brace whenever she has to leave the house and asks about the pain.

As far as recovery and racing goes, Ridgely is playing the waiting game.  She’s due soon for her six week check-in with the surgeon, where an assessment of the torn labrum and stress fracture will decide what her running future holds.  “Because the stress fracture doesn’t feel remotely healed, in my non-medical opinion, I feel like I’m not going to run this year,” Ridgely said.  If the labrum requires surgical repair, she’ll have at least 12 weeks of convalescence.

“I’m anxious for the next step, I’m in the holding patter now,” said Ridgely.

Ridgely had already seen a step back from competitive level racing in her future due to an ankle injury she had orthoscopic surgery on and which will require another operation sometime in the next few years.  She is ready to accept that this injury may force her to stop running at the level she’s been at, but isn’t yet taking it as a done deal.

“It’s a different mindset.  I’m in the phase of I may need to reevaluate – I want to just be able to run, if that means I don’t get to run super-fast or super-far again, that’s fine – as a result of this, I’m going to be less disappointed,” Ridgely said.  “But,” she added, “it’s extra rest for my ankle, that could be what I needed as well.”

Rakoff agrees that the rest is good for Ridgley’s ankle, “it looks like an ankle now.  Before we called it the ‘schmankle,’ it was really inflamed,” Rakoff said.

Hoping that your current injury is good for your previous one is the epitome of looking on the bright side.  Ridgely is taking the determination she’s used in her training to cultivate her attitude of looking for the good in a situation she didn’t choose.  She doesn’t seem to be forcing it at all, rather she gives the impression that whatever comes her way, she’s going to do it the best she can.  Even being injured.

Once she’s healed up, she’s planning on a fall marathon in 2016.   She figures she’ll take it easy over the winter and then try out some summer races to see where she stands.  Without hesitation, when asked about Ridgely’s prospects, her friend and training partner replies “I think she’s gonna crush it 2016.  I think she’ll use this to fuel the flame for next year,” Rakoff said.


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