Why I’m Not Racing This Fall

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.

2013-09-29 12.37.08-210 miles was a confidence boost, but somewhat of a “fluke”

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.

2013-10-07 16.10.26I made a decision. And then this arrived in the mail. Boston 2014 will be an amazing experience.


35 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Racing This Fall

  1. Cait Weingartner (@prettyandfun) says:

    Smart decision although I know it had to be a really hard one to make. It’s great that you’re being optimistic here and focusing on the bigger picture versus dwelling on missing one race this fall. Keep on, keepin’ on. Can’t wait to see you crush it at Boston again!

  2. Jesica @rUnladylike says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this Jenny, but you have such a great perspective on it all and are doing the absolute right thing. Just think how awesome you are going to run at Boston and how incredible that experience will be next year. I’m thinking about you and wishing you a speedy and safe recovery 🙂 xoxo

  3. lindsay says:

    The right decisions can be the hardest ones to make, and usually it’s my heart that is the holdout – my body and logic say one thing, and my heart says something completely different.

    • Jenny says:

      That’s so true, Lindsay. I’m glad my heart came around so I could make a decision and move on. Nice to not have to try to ‘heal’ on a deadline now.

  4. Annabelle says:

    Gosh, I’m so sorry you’ve had such a rough month, not to rub it in, but your training WAS going REALLY well. Really, what that indicates is that or next training cycle will be fantastic and I’m sure you’re learning a lot of lessons about training and running and what works for you and when.

    I think when we really put it out there like we do (we as in, runner-bloggers), it makes it hard when we have to stop short of a goal for anything less than something catastrophic. But it’s like a good relationship, running a marathon, you have to wake up, every morning, and choose it.

    • Jenny says:

      AB! Training was going SO SO SO well–which is why the decision was so hard to make. I’m going to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t all for nothing and that I’m still stronger for working that hard even if I don’t get to a start line. You’re right—I’m choosing to run a monster PR next year 🙂

  5. Fast and Fabulous says:

    High-five for listening to your body there, friend! Such a tough and ballsy thing to do. I’m sure it will pay off big time come April. My running bestie Allie is pretty much the world champion of recovering from injury and staying super-fit while injured. Here’s a little blog post she wrote on these topics if you’re interested: http://trainingracingpacing.blogspot.com/

    Heal quickly, because Boston is going to be amazeballs! See you there!

    • Jenny says:

      Wow, Allie’s article was super helpful–exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve taken 5 complete days off running and I’m not even antsy to get back to it yet, which means I really needed the rest. Really looking forward to Boston especially with all of the fall marathons happening now! Thanks for sending me the blog post!

  6. Leslie @ TriathleteTreats says:

    You made a hard/good decision!! Defintely better to get the “injury” healed up now and not compromise Boston training this winter!! You will be back and better than ever!!
    I still want you to channel your fastness to me while I am running the streets of Chicago on Sunday!! 🙂

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks Lelise! I’m glad you put “injury” in quotes because that’s exactly how I feel about it. Nothing major but serious enough to make me slow down, ya know? So psyched that you’ll be running through the streets of Chicago on Sunday! Hope to see you out there! Are you going to the Oiselle party that afternoon/evening, by chance?

  7. Britt @ Chicago Runner Girl says:

    Proud of you girl! The right decision is never the easy one right?! There will be millions and MILLIONS of races ahead for you with nothing but smiles and fun filled miles. There’s only one you, so you gots to take care of that cool gal 😉

    Just more time to snuggle up with that sweet sweet pup of yours.

    • Jenny says:

      🙂 You’re too sweet, Britt. You’re right, I am pretty cool 😉 Looking forward to more and more races and it’s funny because now I’m even more excited about Boston and already thinking about time goals to chase down. (currently cuddling the pup!)

    • Jenny says:

      A wise mother, you are, my friend. You’ve been so supportive and you certainly have words of wisdom to share. Can’t wait to see you speed by on Sunday!

  8. Lia (@liasotiria) says:

    Just catching up on your blog, Jenny! Wishing you a speedy recovery. Sometimes you just need some time off to recalibrate and do other things. Plus, im sure cross training will do wonders for your body !! hang in there, you are going to rock at boston!

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks Lia! It’s been nice to do what I want, when I want and not stick to a strict schedule. Among spinning, Bikram, and physical therapy, I’m still getting my fair share of workouts. Hope it makes me nice and strong for the next cycle. How are you doing?

  9. Ken W says:

    Glad you were able to get through that without self destructing much. 🙂 Injuries are a sensitive topic and never easy to talk about. You will definitely come back stronger. I guarantee Jenny.

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