---- — By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- Junior Brianna Carnathan took a deep breath on Tuesday afternoon at Harold L. Bolig Memorial Field and began to talk about the different injuries that have hindered her since last year.
A minute later, she was done.
"It started at the end of last season. I took a two-week break, then I was playing handball and I came down on my knee wrong and hurt a tendon. I tried running on it, which wasn't the most brilliant idea, ever," Carnathan said. "I did physical therapy, took a cortisone shot, taped it and pushed through it for cross country season. I took November and December off to let the swelling go down, started training in February and strained a hip flexor, then IT band problems and patellar tracking disorder so that took me out through February. Then in March, I was running three or four days per week, but then I had Achilles' problems, which turned into shin splints, which turned into stress reactions.
"I've run like four times in the last month."
So any chance for a berth in this weekend's PIAA meet at Shippensburg University should have been out the window for the Seals' distance runner.
However, the lessons learned over the last year for Carnathan in how to manage her injuries allowed her to win the 800 at the District 4 Class AAA meet this past Saturday to qualify.
"I've been learning to not over train and to be willing to take some time off. It's been very frustrating, I'm learning patience," Carnathan said. "I've really learned a lot through this, though, like how to take care of yourself. I probably learned more from being injured than I would have if I was healthy. I trust in God and his plan to be patient, but I admit, I've cried."
Carnathan admitted before the season started in March, she was ready to just take her junior season off.
"I wasn't going to run. My coach said 'you're not done, you are still going to have a good year. Get over it, stop having a pity party,'" Carnathan said. "I did have a decent season this year especially with what I've been going through."
The Seals' coaching staff has modified Carnathan's training this season and she's consulted some different runners around the area.
"I've only done races and workouts, no regular runs at all. I've been biking and taking some time off. I take at least two days off per week and there have been some weeks where I've done nothing," Carnathan said. "I've talked to some people about it, Joey Stoltz (former Shikellamy and Susquehanna University standout) has been very helpful and our coaches, of course."
Carnathan, who is home schooled, would like to run in college after she graduates in 2014, but this season's injuries have caused some issues.
"It's been a little hard. I email my PR's (personal records) to places, but they aren't what they should be. My goal times in February for this season were way faster than I ran this year," Carnathan said. "When I explain where I'm coming from, that I've been only running distances competitively since last season and I've been hurt ever since, it helps. So I've really only had three solid months of running in a year now."
Carnathan was a soccer player in junior high and had only run for fun with her father before going out for track and field. In her freshman year, Carnathan was a hurdler.
"I went out for track my freshman year, but I was really sick with bronchitis so I missed most of the year. I was a hurdler then," Carnathan said. "I failed at the 100s, but I was decent in the 300s. I ran the 4x4 and was on the relay that made it to states."
She didn't think she would like being a distance runner until she ran the mile last year.
"I didn't like running until I was good at it," Carnathan, the daughter of Brian and Karen Carnathan, said. "The first time I ran a mile, I ran a 5:35. Then I ran a 5:45, then a 5:13, so I was like 'okay I could learn to like this running.'"
Carnathan already has a plan for her senior season. She's not going to force things like she did this year in cross country.
"This year I'm going to run cross country to prepare for track. If I have a problem (in the fall), I'm going take care of it right then, so I'm not dragging it out," Carnathan said.