The past 3 weeks have been difficult, both physically and emotionally. It’s been 3.5 weeks since I felt like my body started to tell me “woah there buddy, stop at the red light!”. Up until my long run on September 14th, I hadn’t felt any aches or pains this cycle. I was deliberate in my strength training and stretched muscles that are notoriously tight when training peaks. I felt like I was doing everything right and getting stronger through the cycle.
After that 17-mile long run, I tried to do everything I could to refresh the legs. I didn’t really feel like anything “happened”. Nothing snapped, nothing was broken. My legs just weren’t working. (That’s the only way I can describe it.) I resolved to take it easy for one week and, as difficult as it was to skip 2 key workouts and my first 20-miler, I knew it would be for the best. Missing out on one week of training wouldn’t make a difference come race day. I saw my chiropractor and had massage work done, along with gentle foam rolling and stretching at home each night. But things didn’t really turn around, as badly as I wanted to convince myself that they were. I had a few very short test runs that week and an elliptical workout that felt fine, but I just knew my left quad wasn’t going to let go.
The next week, a little better. I managed 25 easy miles and my 10-miler actually felt strong. I thought, “alright, we’re not out of the woods yet but we’re almost there!”. Still hoping and dreaming that all my hard work and recovery would pay off, even if it wasn’t the original plan.
And then? Last week. My heart wasn’t in it and the disappointment started to set in. On Monday, I did a very easy spin for 45 minutes and felt great. On Tuesday morning, I woke up early to do another test run of 6 easy miles. I didn’t feel comfortable by mile 3 and knew it was over.
Actually, I think my brain knew it was over but my heart wasn’t ready to let the dream die yet.
I sat on my butt and did absolutely nothing on Wednesday and Thursday evening, even though I had another easy run planned for Thursday morning. Thursday just….came & went. Almost every hour, I considered going out for a jog (I was “allowed” to run 7-8 miles that day). I felt like I was in a daze all last week because I didn’t know what to do with myself, but my heart and my body started to agree by Thursday afternoon.
I went to physical therapy and said these words out loud for the first time: “I don’t think I’m going to run a marathon this fall.”
I was surprised how comfortable I was when I said it. It just kind of came out.
There are many reasons why I think this is the right decision for me right now.
This is a very minor injury. I “can” still run, but don’t want to risk major injury during or after a marathon this fall. Running through pain is a recipe for disaster and I’d rather choose to rest now than be forced to rest for a much longer period of time later on.
I have Boston 2014 to look forward to. I would be angry with myself if I ran through pain this fall and struggled through the next training cycle. Too many years of racing ahead of me to risk anything right now.
My body is trying to tell me something and I have to listen to it. I ran twice last week. I haven’t run at all this week (self-imposed hiatus!). And honestly, I don’t miss it yet. That’s a sign that I need to recover and regroup before going into training mode again.
Abby NYC published a post this week about why not racing isn’t the end of the world. It’s like she crawled into my brain and gave me the kick in the ass that I needed.
She’s right: I’m still in awesome shape. Just because I’m not racing now doesn’t mean that won’t EVER race again. There’s still value in the training I did for the past 18+ weeks.
3 weeks ago, I was thinking: “I wasted months of my life for no reason, I feel like I’m a disappointment, what will people think?, what if I decide to run another race instead?, etc.”. Picture all of the negative aspects of the situation swirling around in my brain and that was my reality for about 10 days. A bit of a mental temper tantrum, if you will. One day, I would confess that the race was still going to happen and the next I’d wonder why I even said that.
I’m happy to say the temper tantrum has come to an end and I’m comfortable with my decision. After staying away from Bikram for over 2 years, I’ve started going to classes again. I have a clear idea of where my weaknesses are and it feels so good to work on them. I’m spinning and doing elliptical workouts just to keep up with cardio. And I’m SLEEPING like a pro (I’ve always been good about my sleep but it seems more restful now). I don’t feel the pressure to fit the workout into my day and, for now, that’s a good thing. I’m excited to rest through this week and work on a really strong base before I start training for Boston again in January.
The marathon isn’t happening for me this fall but that means I get to be a spectating fool for not one, but THREE different marathons within the next few weeks. First up, Chicago this weekend! Next, Grand Rapids (where The Man will run his first half and Hillary and Jeff will race for all the beers). And finally, the Indy Monumental Half and Full at the beginning of November. I bought extra vuvuzelas on Amazon a few weeks ago (I’m prepared, people) and I think I’ll be pretty skilled after spectating for three marathons.
Being on the other side of the race this fall seems refreshing to me now. Hey, 2014! You better watch out! I’m comin’ for ya.