I’ll always remember when Lisa told me this simple fact: athletes get injured. You run (bike, swim, you name the sport) long enough, and you’re going to face set-backs in the form of our bodies telling us, whoa, slow down there. This hurts. The other simple truth she wisely shared: we heal.
This is what I’m thinking about tonight as I cut short a 14-miler due to pain on the outside of my left knee. And by cut short, I mean I was hurting enough that just past mile 9, after giving myself a few walk breaks in hopes that the pain would subside and I could finish the run, I texted Joe to come pick me up. I’d chosen an out-and-back route, and with snow falling, roads icy and temps in the 20s, I knew it wasn’t wise to walk the five miles home–not when my sweat-drenched body was quickly chilling now that I was no longer cruising along.
I’d never had to call anyone to come rescue me from a run gone bad. It pretty much sucked.
As I walked along the side of the road, scanning the stretch of snow-covered pavement ahead of me for our mini-van to appear, I kept it together (for the most part–I did let my knee know I wasn’t too happy with it) by reminding myself of Lisa’s words. And also reminding myself of my past aches and pains that have cropped up throughout different trainings — and that have also gone away, with ice and time and patience. I didn’t want to write this post, I’m sure in large part because this knee thing has been nagging at me for pretty much the entire month of January and I just haven’t wanted to admit that this could be more than just a little ache. It hasn’t been a major problem (until today). More like an annoyance that’s been there on a few longer runs, more so I’ve noticed when I’m running hills. I had talked with Lisa about it, and we’d decided to tweak my plan some to include a few days of rest and shorter runs in the last week. I’ve also been icing — can you believe I’m just now discovering just how great ice in Dixie cups work? — and I really thought all of this would equal a good run today. I wanted to experience that, a good long run of 14 miles. I think it would have boosted my increasingly dampened spirits about this training for Boston.
We also can cross-train. Yes, we can do this. I’ve started back up with Pilates in the past month, and I know it’s a very good thing because it’s been an incredibly humbling experience. I took a break during the summer, with camping trips planned and friends visiting, and thought I’d get back into it come fall. But I took on a new job, one that I love but that has been more challenging and time-consuming that I’d anticipated. So Pilates again took a back-burner. My body, as a result, has been sore, in a good way, as I’ve gotten back into the swing of reformer Pilates.
My work isn’t really any less time-consuming, but I’m also making my health a priority again. Not to mention trying to get back eating well, drinking more water and getting enough sleep (the last one seems to be my biggest challenge, being the night owl-type. But I keep trying).
These past few months have taught me — once again — that discipline is everything when it comes to reaching our goals. It’s sticking with our plan. Doing the work. Showing up. And when we fall off or veer away from our path, we get back up again and keep going. All of this is hard, and I don’t pretend to be a master at it. Clearly. But the one thing I’m sure of is that if we continue to move forward, we’re on the right track.
I also know that every training we experience will be unique in its own way. Different work schedules, shifting family obligations, ongoing or new injuries–these make a difference in how and when we train. I’m grateful for what I am able to do, and I’m looking forward to staying the course.
Are you facing a running challenge at the moment? How are you dealing with it?