Yesterday marked 5 weeks since I added another DNF to my race history. While I would love to simply erase the last 5 weeks, I can’t and am hoping to close that chapter after a bit of reflection. Since I could hardly walk for a few days after the race, I decided to take the week entirely off from any exercise. For the 4 weeks following, I exercised off-and-on, but was overall horribly inconsistent and took far too many days off. I attempted to run on the treadmill exactly twice (in a row), but gave up after the second run because of the still-present pain. While I had every intention of adding strength training back into my routine, I picked up weights exactly twice. I foam rolled and stretched here and there, but I feel like I’ve been sitting around for 5 weeks. I feel lethargic, out of shape, and blob-like.
I always struggle emotionally with running setbacks, but this go-round has definitely been the worst. An injury + a professional life full of challenges, stress, and disappointments left me feeling very depressed. *Gasp* I used the D-word! It is shocking how dismissive people are about it. Leg pain hasn’t been the sole cause of my emotional low, but running help(ed?)(s?) me remain mentally buoyed. I felt like I’ve been sinking under the weight of different stressors. “Do something else? Find a different hobby?” friends suggest. Despite attempts, the craving for my runner’s high becomes stealthily stronger until I find myself growling under my breath at runners that I see out and about.
The positive: 5 weeks ago, my pain level was 9/10. Discomfort and general aching pain disrupted my sleep and darkened my mood for that first week. I would rate my current level of pain or discomfort at a 6/10 and I am walking with no limp. I ran very slowly on the treadmill this morning and did experience pain, but it wasn’t as bad as during the earlier attempt to run.
The negative: I am registered for the LA Marathon (6 days from today), the Boston Marathon (about a month from today), and the Big Sur Marathon (2 weeks after Boston). The LA Marathon is definitely a no-go, and the probability of my running Boston 2 Big Sur is very low. Even if I were fully healed and running by the end of March, I don’t think that I could be physically prepared to run 26.2 miles in 2 weeks. I missed out on the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon and 2 other smaller races that I was registered for. I’m not one of those “I have to run it fast or I’m not going to run it at all” athletes, but I prefer not to suffer through races that I am not adequately trained for.
I did feel a pleasant tickle of hope after today’s run, but I’m being realistic about this healing process. Some days my mindset is that I’m going to “retire” from racing and just run for pleasure and fitness. Other days, I fantasize about once again pinning a bib on and trying not to trip over timing mats. At this point, I would genuinely just like to run for an hour pain free. However, I know that after 2 weeks of post-injury easy running, the itch to train for a race will set in and I’ll scratch it if I can. For now, I need to work toward healing this injury, regaining my mental and emotional balance, learning to enjoy non-running activities, and overhauling my mindset.