Friday, February 10, 2012

When is a training cycle not a training cycle?

When you get injured in the 3rd week of said training cycle and have to take 4 (possibly more?) weeks off. No running. None. Zero. Zip. Hi, welcome to my Boston training 2012.

My left shin had been irritated ever since I started going back to track workouts, but I chalked it up to, oh, I don't know, doing my first sub-6:30 pace running in over a year, in combination with my standard shin splint issues and figured it would pass. It did not. I did manage to get in one glorious 17 miler on 1/15 and a great track workout on 1/17...and then the shit hit the fan.  The day after the track workout, I was an emotional trainwreck and was vaguely aware that the pain in my shin was starting to get to the point where it was noticeable/having an effect on me while I was running.  Given that I've had shin splints ever since I started running 10 years ago, and have been able to run through them in every case, this was a giant red flag.  The following day I decided to run easy on the treadmill, thinking that the more forgiving surface would help. It did not.

At this point I was still thinking that maybe I would just take a few days off and jump right back in.  I took 4 days off/in the pool and decided to go back to track practice the next week to see if things had improved. By mile 1.5 of the warmup, it became apparent that not only were things not better...they were actually worse. And that (1/24) was the last time I ran. It took another 2 weeks after that for me to suck it up and see a doctor (when I had to jog for a train and my leg throbbed for 3 hours afterward, that was the final straw). The good news is that according to x-ray, it's not a stress fracture, most likely a stress reaction, and the fact that I've already taken 3 weeks off at this point means that healing is happening and hopefully recovery is around the corner.  The bad news? I haven't run a meaningful run/workout in almost a MONTH. During which time I was supposed to be TRAINING FOR A MARATHON.

I pretty much went through all of the injury stages, including the one that involves "bursting into tears for no particular reason because you feel like the essence of everything you are has been taken away". I am beyond that now and am mostly dedicated to just kicking my own ass day after day in the pool and the weight room. I know that I'm being a smart athlete, doing my damnest to keep my fitness up by getting in the pool (pool running...not as soul sucking as I expected) and on the bike, and strength training as much as I can to come out of this stronger than I was before (no lie...I have done more strength training in the last month than in the rest of my life combined. And the shock of the century is..I ENJOY it.)  But...I have obviously had to drastically lower my expectations as far as this marathon is concerned.  Am I going to run the marathon? Oh hell yes. Is it going to be pretty? Oh hell no.  I can't imagine shooting for a PR with a maximum of 8 weeks of actual training under my belt. But maybe this will force me to go into the race as a no pressure situation and just. freaking. enjoy it. I've already basically made the decision that I'm racing a fall marathon since it's clear that Boston is going to be a shitshow at best, so why not just go out there and just...see what happens?

So that's my life right now.  I have been listening to "Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson a lot during my workouts lately (shut up, I love her.) and the lyrics ring pretty true to me in terms of being thrown some shit by life in the last 6 months...
You think you got the best of me
Think you had the last laugh
Bet you think that everything good is gone
Think you left me broken down
Think I'd come running back
Baby, you don't know me cause you're dead wrong
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
Undoubtedly, I will come back stronger, fiercer, and maybe with a little more gratitude for the fact that I'm able to run. Onward and upward.