In the last few posts, I’ve made reference to my “achy leg”, or my “leg that hurts”, or my “stupid shin splints” (that’s the technical term, you know). Because hindsight is always 20/20, or at least 20/30 in my case, I really should have taken time off when I started to get THAT feeling. I’ve had them before, but never this early in training and never this, well, for a lack of better words, painful. I know that at the time, I was so worried and paranoid about being able to get into Boston, it didn’t matter and I was going to work through any pain so I could run my best race in January in Houston so I could re-qualify for Boston at an even faster pace so then I wouldn’t have to worry about actually getting in to run Boston. It’s a very bad spiral of crazy, my friends.
Besides putting all that pressure on myself about Houston and re-qualifying and all this other crap, I also committed to running the third leg of the Beach 2 Battleship 1/2 Iron Distance Relay Race with my sister and a friend. Oh, I wasn’t just going to run it, I was going to PR, which puts me at a sub-8 minute mile. For me, that’s booking it. On top of that, in August, we moved (with our two kids and FOUR cats) 1200 miles from our last home in Texas to North Carolina. Nothing like a bunch of changes and upheaval to start off training, right?
So last week, after my 15k race, I decided to take 10 days off running and concentrate on cross-training so I could let my leg heal. I have been getting physical therapy, which seemed to work….. until yesterday.
Let me describe shin splints: they’re like a crazy ex-girlfriend. One descriptive word I stole from Wayne’s World back in the day and still use now is “psycho hose beast”. They make you insane. They start off as a tight muscle. Maybe a cramp. Then when you start running, you’re like “What the hell??! Why does that hurt?”. Then while you’re running, they want to show you they still love you so they stop hurting. Then as soon as you’re done, BAM, like a bat on your shin, it hurts like hell. Then you stretch, foam roll, maybe ice it and don’t think about it as the pain (or as I now call it because I’m actually tired of hearing myself say it, discomfort) has gone away. Maybe you have a few more days of good running, and then you’re back at the
pain discomfort again. It comes and goes, but then the times when it dissipates dissipates, and then you’re just left with that terrible feeling that nags and nags at you. Should I run, should I not, what should I do? The physical therapist squeezes your bone and muscle with a vice-grip (that’s what it feels like – I really don’t know what they actually do as I’m sweating and gritting my teeth and trying not to cry at the time).
I felt very optimistic about recovering quickly. The discomfort was going away, I was doing my cross-training pain-free, and then. It. Happened. The crampy feeling came back Monday, and I hadn’t had a run in over a week. Was it the yard work? It remained Tuesday. Tuesday was the day I was to return to running. Should I? Should I not? I have a 1/2 marathon in just over two weeks. Will this ruin it? Does it matter? Do I have time to still train for Houston? Is it too late? The run was good, wonderful, long strong strides, fast, everything I needed it to be. But it hurt. And it hurt for the rest of the day.
I finally did something yesterday that I never wanted to do nor imagined that I would have to do. I realized that I need to quit training for my marathon. No, I didn’t quit training, as there’s always muscles to be strengthened, skills to be learned, miles to be swam, a bike to be ridden. I realized that I need to see the big picture. I DID get in to Boston. I WILL run in Boston in just a few months. I cannot and will not ruin that because I have a fantasy about beating my marathon PR in Houston in January. It’s simply not worth it. But why is it bothering me so much? Why did take so long for me to just STOP and realize that I’m doing no good to my body by pushing it through pain that simply isn’t going away? (It’s funny to think about this particular question because, duh, we’re marathon runners and we just don’t give up easily, plain and simple!!) Why am I torturing myself with making this decision? Why is this so hard??? Then I realized the truth.
In all the chaos and drama of life, running is the constant in my life.
It’s the thing I rely on to calm my soul, to make me feel free, to bring me a sense of joy that nothing else can bring.
This is not to diminish what my husband means to me either. He is my one PERSON, the other constant in my life. But there’s a big difference for what he can do for me and what running does for me. So what do you do with a relationship that is hurting, an injury? You nurture it. You don’t keep beating it down until it becomes nothing but what the past was and what the future could be. So I’m going to take time off running for now, which pains me to say, but I’m still doing the 1/2 marathon on October 26th. After that, I’m just stopping. I cannot make this worse. I have to be smart about it and do the right thing. Will it work? Will I recover? Honestly, I don’t know for sure. But I’ll do whatever I need to do to make that happen.
It makes me sad to think of not running. But I know I have to let it go. I’ve had to do a lot of things these past few years that I did not want to do, so it’s just plain annoying to face yet another one. But that’s life, right? Just deal with it and move on. It doesn’t do anyone any good to whine and mope about it.
I’m lucky to have a support system in my husband, my sister, my coach Kristen. She has been doing my training plan since August and has had to make so many adjustments, starting with my first “achy leg” comment several weeks ago. Kristen has been very supportive and has let me make my own decisions about what running I should do or not do, while giving me her honest opinion about those decisions. My sister is teaching me how to swim well. I thank all of you for being there for me. I don’t know if you really understand why this is so difficult for me, but chances are, you do.
So instead of feeling sorry for myself, I feel very lucky. I get to run in Boston in April 2014. I can still train. Running will be there for me, but we’re just going to take a break from each other. Hopefully, we’ll come back even stronger. No fear.