Every runner training for a big goal race is worried about getting injured and all of us get injured at one time or another. I’m no exception. Last summer, when I was training for my first marathon, I was plagued by all sorts of knee issues. I managed to get through my training, but it was sub-par. Then the knee problem reared its ugly head in full force at mile 20 of the marathon. I still finished, but the knee issue hampered what otherwise would have been a good run. This year I’m training for the NYC marathon and I’ve implemented all sorts of recovery and injury prevention tools to make this training cycle better. I foam roll religiously every night, I stretch, I’ve increased my protein intake and I do regular strengthening exercises. I’m currently 6.5 weeks out from NYC and training has been going great. Yet, every single twinge and soreness I feel leads to fear and panic that I’m injured.
This was particularly true last week when I stupidly decided to run 25 miles, out of my 45 mile peak week, in a pair of running shoes I haven’t been using much lately. I figured I needed to save my favorite pair for the longer runs and the marathon. Then I started noticing all sorts of pain and tightness I never had before. It got worse and I started to wonder if it was the shoes. I did some digging and come to find out the drop of the shoes was less than my usual drop. I switched back to my favorite shoes and did my first of three 20 milers on Sunday. Once I hit mile 8 my knee started hurting off and on. Any time I stopped and stretched my calves and quads it went away, and then eventually returned. I managed to finish the run but I finished completely panicked that I ruined my chances to PR (and run pain free) in NYC. I’ve been talked down since then, and lots of stretching and foam rolling has helped. However, I’m still mildly concerned that it’s the start of an injury, so I’ve been taking this down week super slow and easy.
That’s the funny thing about running though. Things can be going great and you absolutely love it one day, and then the next day you feel terrible, something hurts and you hate running. Running, like much of life, has a lot of peaks and valleys. Sometimes the peaks last longer than the valleys, and other times you get injured and trapped in the valley for awhile. My husband keeps reminding me that when you’re training for a goal race it’s just as important to enjoy the training because you never know what race day will bring, and it’s true. It’s during training that you test your grit, motivation and perseverance. The valleys of training make you prepared to face the valleys that come during the marathon. So while I keep facing the fear and paranoia that I’m injured, I’ll keep reminding myself to just take it one day, and one valley, at a time.
“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”
― Barry Finlay