Why, hello there! I bet you forgot about me. I, however, haven’t forgotten you. For the past two months I haven’t written a single word here. And that’s been a bit sad for me. Sad for two reasons. One, because I made grandiose plans to write here weekly, and clearly that promise has been broken. And secondly, because the enthusiasm and happiness I had about my return to marathon training evaporated quickly and left in its wake a sort of gnawing anxiety about my upcoming races (more about that in a bit). And it felt too big and too heavy to write about here. Yet, I need to leave these words here, so I don’t have to trail them around behind me like a dirty secret anymore. I just haven’t known what to say or how to say it. Runners are supposed to always be in love with the sport. Every single day they live and breathe running. They look forward to their runs with a childlike giddiness. At least that’s the image that’s mostly projected on social media. And while I generally try to keep my corner of the Internet world an uplifting and positive place, my posts lately have lacked a certain genuine honesty. And that isn’t fair. It isn’t fair to lie to myself. And it isn’t fair to lie to the people who see my posts. It’s not that I’ve hated every run I’ve gone on or that I haven’t had some successes in my training. It’s just that the overall feel of this training cycle has not been as positive as it usually is. I find that I am sleeping in more on the weekends lately, instead of rising before the sun to get my long run in, like I used to. I put off my runs for hours. I trudge through them like I’m being forced, instead of looking forward to it. And all the while, I’ve kept up pretenses about my training.
And then, about 3 weeks ago, I began experiencing an uncomfortable twinge in my left shin. It wasn’t quite painful, just a nagging “hot spot”. I first noticed it after a 14 mile run through ice and mud, with lots of slipping and sliding around. It’s not uncommon for some aches and pains to crop up when my mileage starts getting higher, so I didn’t really think much of it and instead just took a couple days off running. I purchased some new shoes, after realizing my go-to pair was likely beyond it’s healthy life. However, I quickly returned to running, thinking the new shoes would solve the problem and I’d pick up training at the same intensity I’d been running at before. This was stupid. The pain got worse, to the point where even walking was uncomfortable. Now I’m icing and stretching and trying to cross train while simultaneously trying not to panic about it. I know that shin splints are a common running injury, and I know they aren’t serious if they are allowed to properly heal. But I was stubborn and now I’m paying for it.
Not only is my next marathon approaching in May, but it’s a tough course with quite a bit of downhill that will be difficult on my knees and quads. I can’t afford weakness in any areas of my body. And then I realized that race is 11 weeks from today. 11 weeks! I’ve hardly talked about this race here or with anyone, because my focus has been so much on Chicago in October. But I’ll admit that right now, today, I’m starting to have doubts about my ability to complete my spring marathon in a healthy place. I recognize that 11 weeks is still a decent ways away and that I do have a significant amount of training already under my belt, but these last two and a half weeks of injury have started to feel like a derailment. Like the train is picking up speed while simultaneously running off the tracks and there is no way to prevent a disaster. I’ll need to make a decision soon. Perhaps drop down to the half marathon, if I can’t resume my normal training levels in the next week or so.
Yet, even with this current injury, I can’t stop thinking about Chicago and the BIG, SCARY goal I hope to accomplish there in October. I think about this marathon. Every. Single. Day. Like a woman possessed. And, like a woman possessed, I’ve tried to (stupidly) push through an injury and hope that it just goes away. I seem to think that because I want it badly enough, I can somehow tricky myself into mentally surmounting a physical injury. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Ultimately October is my end goal. I will do anything to arrive at that starting line healthy. So, it’s time to start being a smarter runner. Because I know better. I do. I need to take a small injury seriously before it becomes a big injury. It’s also time to search for and find my love of running again. I don’t know what that entails quite yet- if it means continuing my training for my spring race, focusing on half marathons for the spring, or just going watch-less for a little while. But I’m bound and determined to get back to that place. And to write here more often… Thanks for coming back and reading. I missed being here.