|Thanks to I Love To Run on Facebook.|
Never have I believed words more, especially over the past couple of months. I can't say that training for a marathon is the most difficult thing I've ever done, but it certainly is up there. I was feeling great when I started way back in October. I had just run a 10k with my sister in Boston, and was excited to get my training underway. As I looked back over my entries on Daily Mile, I really messed up my legs trying to find new shoes. Plus training around the holidays is NEVER easy. I had to have surgery on my gums too- which put me on the couch for a good week, then another week of short running until my mouth was completely healed. AND I have been trying to get my business up and running. It was a crazy time from November through Christmas.
Yes, these are excuses. However, they took their toll, so by the time January came around, my legs were ready to fight back. By fight back, I mean my knee started tweaking to the point where I couldn't go more than 4 or 5 miles without pain, and then had to limp home on my long runs. Then I had a brace that didn't work for running, and my ankle took on the brunt of my leg and THAT started to hurt. By this point I was just miserable, and starting to really worry about this 26.2 thing I signed up for.
In desperation I went and had a running analysis done, and was fitted for shoes. That actually was a good move, because I found a pair that actually feel pretty good (however I had to change the insoles). I tried rock tape, but that wasn't enough support for my knee. The biggest problem was I kept running. Cardio-wise I'm fine. If I had no leg pain I could run 50 miles. By now I had major shin splints up my leg and needed an ankle brace to keep from moving so much. It had gotten to the point where I called Katie one day and completely broke down. I was ready to quit. There would be other marathons, and I wanted another chance to try rather than blow out my knee and never be able to try again.
My friend Kimber pointed out the obvious- why don't I do cross training? I hate doing anything other than running. I don't like to ride a bike, or use the elliptical at the gym. I only want to run. But I had to get over that, and started only using the elliptical twice a week, and then my long run on the weekends. Kimber also reminded me that the time limit for the marathon can be done in a fast walk. That combined with running would keep me in the race (they actually check your time at the halfway point, and if you're not at a 14 1/2 mile/hr pace they stop you).
Armed (legged?) with a better knee brace, I started applying this running/speed walking technique, along with continuing cross training. At the same time, I was making sure to keep weight training to strengthen the rest of my body and core, and of course my frenemie the foam roller on my hips and legs. This past weekend was my best long run- still slow but I managed 15 miles. The next day I had just some minor muscle soreness, but my knee and my ankle were fine. Today at the gym I had to talk myself out of running, and still use the elliptical. I feel that good. It's amazing what your body can do when you take care of it.
I'm really glad I didn't decide to quit. I backed off and adjusted to heal as much as I can while still training. It seems to be working. I am so confident I can complete this marathon, I wish it was this weekend!
My problems are so minor compared to the person who can't run (or do any activity) because of a bigger injury or illness. Still, it really blew my self-confidence for quite some time, the feeling that I can't do it. The feeling that I'm not physically able to do it. The feeling that I've failed without even trying.
Running is a gift. Next weekend I'll run The Lost Dutchman Marathon. I'll be as ready as I'm going to be, and confident that I have done all I can. I will remember my journey and reflect on it as I'm running. I will be nervous about how fast I run the first half because of the time restriction, and hope that doesn't push me too hard too soon. It is what it is. All I know is I deserve the chance to try.
Running is a gift. These past few months have taught me that I can't take that for granted.