Monday, August 22, 2011

Don’t Want to Cry Into Your Pillow

Until I die it will be my credo: The hardest thing for a runner to do is rest. Be it to avoid injury, to recover, or to not appear obsessed.

Dammit, we runners want to run. Is that too much to ask? Yesterday, on a gorgeous Colorado Sunday morning, Ken laced his shoes up and went for a run on the mountain trails. I walked my three legged, one eyed dog around the neighborhood and watched while he pooped himself silly on the suburban lawns. I then leaned over and swiped up the poop into a grocery bag like a good little dog walker.

But, I wanted to be running.

I haven’t let on a lot about my injury fears. Suffice it to say, coming back from a nasty injury robs you of your confidence. Every twinge, ache, or pain signals: “Oh, shit. Here we go again.  I will be out for the next three months. I will be resigned to running in the pool with the pussy posse. I will cry into my pillow and make myself and everyone around me miserable.”

I have not had extreme injury warning signs, but it seems every time I amp up my mileage or push my speed, the left side of my body talks back to me. It seems it is telling me to tread lightly. That while the stress fracture is healed, the road is not clear. That it is a long and tedious road back, and I need to be patient.

Patient and careful I am. I do not want to be that Dumb As Shit Athlete (DASA) who jumps in too quick, ignores the body’s pleading and finds herself at the grocery store renting yet another set of crutches.

So, after last week’s run when things felt BAD, I stopped running. Altogether. I have not run in six days. I have biked, done yoga, and swam. I have a sprint tri this weekend and my hope is that when I hit that 5K I can fly and not hurt. Or reinjure.

The brain f%cks with you. You aren’t sure if the pain and fear is in your head or if it is real. You aren't sure if you need to toughen up or pull back. You question if you’ll ever, truly be back in the game with full self-assurance and gusto. You wonder if you are destined for a life of slow running, very low weekly mileages and too much cross training to bear. You try not to compare yourself to others, but you do.

I’m probably fine. This is mostly likely just my body’s response to high volume triathlon training and racing two weekends in a row. But, who knows?

Have you struggled (or are you struggling) to gain your confidence back after injury? How long did it take?

SUAR

56 comments:

  1. Oh, how I feel you on this. My back/hip have been speaking to me lately, and I am praying it is not the disc bulge acting up again. Please no. So I am trying to take it easy. So hard!

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  2. I don't know, I'm a pretty big fan of rest. And by "rest" you mean sitting your fat ass on the sofa and watching all four seasons of Mad Men on Netflix, right?

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  3. Oh wow! I'm feelin' you here Beth. I just finished day 8, no running. Not risking this time and so here I wait until my ASS stops hurting watching the days tick away. I surely hope you feel ready to fly in that 5K portion of the sprint. Best of luck to you!

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  4. Yes, it sucks!! All I want is to run pain free and boy will I appreciate it when it returns! I am on day 16 of no running (with the biggest race of my life rapidly approaching)... I have tried everything on the planet.... each day it feels mildly better but I am a big chicken to test it out for fear of the 'ouch'!! Hang in there!!

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  5. I can't begin to imagine the mind games you go theoug after an injury. I'll be thinking of you and hope you can figure out what is real and what's just in your head. Good luck!

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  6. I dealt with Achilles Tendonitis last spring, summer and into the fall. Running, felt the pain getting stronger but was manageable. Something popped and dropped me to my knees. Couldn't hardly walk. Had to call my hubby to come and get me. 2 days later, still hobbling around. After a Dr visit was told to take 3 weeks off and RICE it. Did that. Fely good. Started running again. Reinjured within the week cuz I was stupid and started out at 3 miles. Had to take another 6 weeks off or risk surgery. This time back started out at .5 miles and SLOWLY built up to where I am now. Have done 2 half marathons last spring and have 5 on the calendar this fall...starting next weekend! HATE when I feel that twinge in my calf! :( Good luck next weekend! I will be anxiously awaiting your post to see how it went!

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  7. The brain is a terrible thing. Even when you know that you're in the clear, every little twinge makes you wonder. It's taken me a year to fully recover from a broken bone in my foot; even just four months ago, running felt like there was a rock in my shoe right beneath the break site. It's hard to keep going when you feel like that, but it's even harder to stay off it altogether.

    Good luck!

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  8. Injury blows. I sat out for a long 8 years. I have been back running for a year now, and I definitely get freaked when things start hurting…but I am diligent in resting and noticing (usually). I've cried into my pillow on several occasions in the past 6 weeks.

    I sure hope your body is feeling great after a wee bit o' rest :)

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  9. Training for my first marathon, I dont want to miss it. I am totally holding back right now.

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  10. Being a DASA is better than being a DASH (plain ol' dumb as sh%t human).

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  11. SO there. As you know, I had the FNSF. I also have a torn labrum. Now that I'm running a little, the hip hurts. I know it's probably the labrum, but my paranoia is strong. Plus, the labrum could mean surgery. Sigh.

    Here's to outwitting it with our smart resting! I took today off after my 4.5 miles yesterday left me achy.

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  12. I'm starting to have injury fears. I haven't been running very long and I haven't had any bad injuries, but now everything hurts. I got done tonight and hobbled home. Ugh. I just want to feel GOOD running again.

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  13. I hear ya, Beth. I am on Week 3 of the Alter G. Eeeeking my way up 5% at a time. Today I made it to 75%, yet I still *feel* my R calf. Don't want to be a DASA and keep bumping it up only to take a big dump on all of my progress. At the same time though, I'm SO ready to get back to the pavement. (((sigh)))

    I hope your aches and pains go away soon!

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  14. Yep, I'm still there. It's been a little more than a year since my last full marathon and my bout of posterior tibialis tendonitis and stress "reactions".

    Still feel like I'm not running with good form and/or that something I'm still doing is going to make me re-injure myself. I dream of the day when I can afford a running coach.

    Until then, I freak out whenever I feel pain. Is that the "good" leg pain or the "bad" leg pain? Should I walk it off or fight through it? Should I worry or ignore. Maybe I need therapy.....

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  15. This is the time last year when I ended up with a stress fracture in my left foot (first meta), so I'm trying to keep those ghosts at bay and superstitiously will not run the race (Hana Relay) where the injury became apparent.

    I'm also training for my first 1/2 in over 10 years. Slow and steady and everything has been good so far. After the last 1/2 in 2001 I suffered tendonitis in my hip. So what happens? I wake up Saturday morning, a 10K race that afternoon, with eerily similar pain in my hip.

    CRAP is all I can say right now. Stretching, resting, running slowly, swimming, yoga and lots of praying!

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  16. Having a week off from running because my left shin still hurts...Ran with 6 year olds orthopedics, got shin splints, doctor told me only to run half distances for two months. Have new orthopedics now, leg still hurts, wondering if it's the infection or getting used to the orthopedics... Walking around with them now, not running for a week (ouch)... Afraid that long distances won't be possible again... Wanna do my 1st marathon in May after several Half Marathons...

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  17. Still don't have it back after a knee and a foot operation (same leg). Not sure if I ever will.

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  18. I am you a la december 2010! SUCKS! I have a grade 4 tibia stress fracture....right before my marathon. ERRR..but like you I am in the pool with my little old ladies. I can't full out aqua jog yet so I am just taking the class obsessively. Love your blog as always!

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  19. Oh YES! I have definitely been there! November 2010 I got the infamous IT band injury. I had to stop running for 2 months, completely. It also meant I couldn't run my marathon I'd been preparing for for 4 months. I just started running again at the end of January 2011. But didn't start training again until June 2011. It's been almost 3 months and I feel great! But while I was recovering I had a hard time. You'll get there. You're doing the smartest thing you can for your body right now: NOT RUNNING.

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  20. Its 6 am and I had to let my running partner go without me. So bummed. I managed to pull something on the side of my shin...not cool : ( Good thing I don't need that part to swim! Hope your recovery goes well. Alecia, I LOVE Mad Men!

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  21. I know exactly how you feel! Taking time off is painful, but necessary...slowing down is not one of our best attributes however there are worse things to suck at!

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  22. I totally can relate to this. I make my family miserable when I have a rest day and my mind spins with ways to quasi-run but not really run because that is what I WANT to do. Obsessive...probably, but as my teenager says, "it is what it is". My brain tells me that I can push thru any and all things, but my body sure tells me to STOP.

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  23. Yep. I'm there right now! It's been 4 weeks tomorrow since I've run. My poor husband having to put up with my cranky butt. It's miserable for sure. But it's something we have no control over. All you can do is be patient and know that you'll run again. I'm telling myself this like 4000 times a day. Hardest thing ever. And with all this free time on my hands I'm sitting around calculating how many hours of training I've missed (68) and how many calories that is....(34,000) and that I've still managed to eat those 34,000 calories and gain 15 pounds. It's pretty dang depressing. But it will turn around at some point - both mentally and physically. But yes, right now it pretty much sucks!!!

    Jamie in Arkansas

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  24. What is worst for me is that the 36 to 48 hours after any "hard" effort is pure anxiety as I wait to see how much of the pain is just normal (temporary) muscle pain. I don't know what the hell is wrong with my ankle/foot, but I know I can't afford to have it checked out, and I can't give up running (and still want to live).

    -GR

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  25. I had a really hard time last year with an ankle sprain that happened in the middle of my tri series. It took me out of my fall marathon plans entirely and my goal of running a BQ time. I felt like a total failure most of the fall, and didn't really feel happy again until the spring, even though I wasn't hurt anymore and had been training and had a huge PR at the half marathon in the fall instead of a full. I did finish the tri series, taking almost a full month off of running between the injury and the next race in the series. I did my therapy, and still feel some pain every now and again. I ice almost everyday, and go back and do some therapy about once a week still. I worry it will get hurt again, but now my left hip is bothering me, so I am worrying about that too. My fall goal is a tough one that I really don't know if I can acheive or not, so I am hoping if I don't, I will be less depressed than I was last year. I can fake my way through a half marathon so I can at least still do it for the medal that I want for my son, and the cider mill trip that is also serious motivation for heading back to the D to race when there are perfectly good halves here to do.

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  26. Sorry you are still feeling it. Just keep reminding yourself you are doing the right things..you don't want to look back with regret at that one run on a gorgeous day.

    Yes, I don't know when I will ever have confidence again. I've even toyed with the idea of just running, not racing, again so that I don't do stupid things and get hurt. It's such a mind f*(&k!

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  27. Every time my ankle twinges I come to a dead stop, and start doing my therapy for a while. I sprained my ankle about 5 miles from the trailhead over a year ago, and had to walk out on a swollen, painful injury on loose rocks and steep dirt. It will never be the same. Last summer I tried running too soon, and ended up hurting not only the injury, but both knees and hips with my gimpy running. I wasn't right again for half a year.

    So now I stop, until the pain goes away.

    And I still don't have "real" mileage... I get maybe 15 miles in a week (in 2-3 mile increments) because I am NOT going to hurt myself. I don't need to be ready for a race. I need to train, not strain.

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  28. Beth.. I'm STILL working on how I feel. My 5 sfxs have been really hard on my confidence. Even when my muscles are just plan sore I get freaky. I hate it! No thankfully it hasn't caused me to stop running. Although my stupidity of running a marathon on a sfx almost really did have me throw in the towel. It's so hard once you suffer a bad injury. You are smart. That week off I bet will show you a big thank you and a great 5k time!!!

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  29. OMG! I'm scared to death that I'll feel my tendon snap over the bone again. The anxiety is so great that MY A.R.T guy had to do mental imagery exercises to get me back out running and biking. Good for you thought for listening to your body. Good luck in your race!

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  30. What an honest and telling post. I think many will relate.

    I have been fortunate not to find myself in the situation, but thank you for the reminder that maybe we ALL need to tread carefully sometimes.

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  31. Been out of action since November 2010 and only just slowly getting back into it again. Terrified of pushing things at the moment, even to the point where I swap a programmed run for a bit of X-training. I've gotta bite the bullet soon though and really test the knee out!

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  32. Thank you for posting this. I have never had an injury that has held me back from running until 5 weeks ago. My injury is hopefully due to overuse, but it still sucks. I don't rest well, or at all, so this is a bit like torture. I am supposed to run the Portland Marathon in 7 weeks and resting for the last 2 probably isn't the best training plan. I hope you kill it this weekend in your race, though!

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  33. You have a way of nailing it. I'm feeling just like you, although I am not as far in my healing. Same injury as you, mine showed up early April. As of this morning I've worked my way up to running 2.5 slow miles 2-3x/week. Some days I feel like I've conquered this thing (or at least I am well on my way) and others I wonder if I EVER will. I am constantly wondering if I am being a baby when I get a twinge, but then I also think if I wasn't so "tough," maybe I wouldn't be here in the first place? Thanks for putting it so clearly, as you always do.

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  34. I tend to lean more DASA than most. I know that I need to listen to my body more when it comes to injury but I just don't. I bust out the stick and roll my quads, hammys and calves then put on arctic ease and think that everything is perfect.

    I have been fortunate enough to not experience excruciating pain and so I wonder if and when that does happen if I will know when to pull back.

    My wife has gone through stress fractures in her foot and have seen her stressed out about running and I just hope that it never happens to me.

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  35. Oh yes I am right there right now. I had major quad tendonitis and my knee hurt like heck. I run 5Ks about 3 times a month. Now I feel like I totally suck and can barely run 3 miles. Yesterday after my run I told myself I am never running again! Whatever. I'm running a race this weekend. Hopefully I will be able to make it the entire way and not worry if my knee is going to hurt after and then won't be able to run again! :-)
    Mary Ann

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  36. It's hard. I'm forcing myself some rest, to avoid injury.

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  37. Just went through this angst. I aggravated my achilles after an aggressive 18 miler (frought with hills and speed - DASA right here!). I then spent the next 3 weeks walking/jogging on eggshells, worried if I was doing more damage. After 3 wks, it seemed to be ok again.

    I'm happy with retiring my DASA status.

    I hope you bounce back quickly!

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  38. One thing I find amazing is that none of you question should you be running at all. I'm a wanna be runner, I run 4 days a week and am training for my first half. I'm totally paranoid about injury and follow my schedule to a T. I dream of having the speed and ability that everyone of you have to bust out long runs just because you want to be running.....I think that a few bouts of "rest", be they days or weeks or longer is not much considering you are all gifted runners!! Good luck to all of you in your training and races!

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  39. Have you considered acupuncture for your hip/butt pain? I have pain that sounds exactly like yours - it started about 5 weeks ago. I took 4 weeks off and it wasn't any better, so I tried acupuncture and I was running two days after my first treatment. I've had three treatments now and I feel almost back to normal. And I'm running again! I would highly recommend it!!

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  40. I'm in the middle of my recovery and pushed a little harder today. I swim with the pool pussies - I am one, at least for another month. Yes, I know EXACTLY what your brain is telling you. Mine is telling me the same. I am nowhere near your level of running. And I dont' think it matters. We are all kindred spirits when it comes to wanting do what we want, but also intelligent enough to be hearing "rest", and then doing just that. Listen to our bodies.They speak the truth.

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  41. I sure hope this is but a small bump and all is well soon!!

    I have a slightly different issue but can feel for you. Ever since I damaged my airway in early May, my ability to breathe (a minor neccesity when running) has been off. If I run too hard, I cough enough to close up my airway. Heat and humidity also affect it. Now I am scared many days and it sucks. I'm hoping the cooler weather of the fall helps me get back into the groove, I plan on doing the Denver RnR 1/2 and want to run the darn thing!

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  42. Gosh, I know exactly how you feel. I'm still not fully recovered from my ligament tear back in October. I don't if I'm just getting older or what, but it's still swelling. So, I force myself to give at least 1 day off.

    But the heat has been a killer and I have to choose between walking the dogs or running. So, I am the one walking the dogs, cleaning up the poop, and seething jealously when runners run by me.

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  43. WOW. This is so me right now. I tore ligaments in my ankle back in January and i'm still not back to running yet. Little bits here and there but I can't even go 3 miles straight yet. And yes, the brain messes with me. Should I just suck it up and run through it? Is it just sore from something else? It's pure torture!!!! And all the spin class, swimming, elliptical machine and weight training can't take away my itch to run. Run. Run. I hope someday soon!!

    Good luck on your tri!!!

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  44. Good luck this weekend Beth! May the wind be at your back and your bum feelin fresh.

    Yes, I am currently STRUGGLING with PF. I have reduced my mileage and plan to REST following the H2C relay. I loathe injuries!

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  45. Hi! I've been reading your blog for awhile, but have had yet to comment until now. I always enjoy your posts. With regards to the topic of injury recovery, I do believe that it majorly effs with your head. Though I haven't sustained any serious injuries other than a bad case of runners knee, which kept me out of my running shoes for almost a week, I always feel like it could come back at any moment. It's kind of crazy when you think about it: that us runners love what we do so much that we risk injury over and over again. The juice is always worth the squeeze though!

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  46. You nailed it. I came back from a 4 month injury recovery earlir this year and every twitch, ache, pain gets my head spinning. I too know I'll be fine but it's that little bit of self doubt that robs you of your confidence and I have yet to get back to my pre-injury level. I still (mostly) love to run but it's always question mark when I don't feel right on a run.

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  47. I have a recurring calf strain that seems to be linked directly to my negative Nancy brain. Everytime I think my calf is starting to strain, it does. What a head case. I wear compression sleeves and try to stay within my limits. I wonder how it would be if I lost 20 pounds??

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  48. Injuries heal. Slowly. And yeah, you lose a bit of confidence. But you'll get it back. Doesn't matter how many miles you can run in a day. The issue is, how many days can you run a mile? Every runner runs her own race.

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  49. You're singing to the choir, sister!!

    Sending all good vibes your way for a fantastic race...and that this little annoying ache is nothing more!!
    xo

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  50. This post spoke to me, big time! I am such a nervous wreck when I am running, all the time. Every little twinge or ache freaks me out. I am certain it's a stress fracture every time. After 2 stress fractures it's hard to gain that confidence back. I think it's a good thing because it keeps me in check but I do miss that fearlessness I used to have.

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  51. I know this is going to be a dumbass question.....have you tried Myrtle exercises...? I find when something 'tweaks' (besides anything below the knees) doubling up or concentrating harder on form of these exercises helps a lot! I tend to have hip issues...which sometimes shows up in my butt, hip, IT, or even knee....working the Myrtle really strengthens those tiny-never-knew-they-existed muscles in the booty, and makes them mega strong! Run on SUAR!

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  52. I haven't been injured in a few years but I still have that fear and every little twinge, sore spot, and weird ache, puts me right back to fretting I did something. I pay all the late entry fees to almost all my races because I am afraid I will sign up and then get injured. I don't know if the fear will ever go away but what if that fear is why I have stayed healthy this long? Maybe I should be grateful? I don't know but it is frustrating being scared all the time.

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  53. I'm a runner with scoliosis so injuries are par for the course for me...learning how to listen to my body has been the single greatest challenge in running for me. I just remind myself of the disappointments of injury and that usually scares me off from overdoing it!

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  54. I've been struggling with a IT band injury for the past year and it just won't go away, even with rest, rehab, etc. It's been getting better, but much to my regret, I listened to a couple of people over the past year (with the appropriate training and credentials) who recommended I up my running and ended up re-injuring myself. I should know better by now and just listen to those twinges from my body! Now I'm facing not running a half marathon in a couple weeks, despite having started training for it back in May. Live and learn, yes?

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  55. I've been struggling with a IT band injury for the past year and it just won't go away, even with rest, rehab, etc. It's been getting better, but much to my regret, I listened to a couple of people over the past year (with the appropriate training and credentials) who recommended I up my running and ended up re-injuring myself. I should know better by now and just listen to those twinges from my body! Now I'm facing not running a half marathon in a couple weeks, despite having started training for it back in May. Live and learn, yes?

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