and today i landed myself squarely into that category.
it started off innocuously enough: a planned 20-miler run on a sunday, something that i’ve done over a dozen times by this point. but usually there is no pain involved other than the mental agony at mile 1 (19 to go!!?) or some soreness as i pound the ground toward the end.
i’ve been a lucky runner, injury-wise. i’ve done 3 marathons, a bunch of halves, and have run many 50+ mile weeks over the last couple of years without much significant worry about hurting myself. i attributed that to luck, decent biomechanics, and doing a lot of my miles on the forgiving surface of the treadmill.
but lately, things haven’t been so easy. i decided to follow a rather aggressive training plan for this marathon, secretly (and maybe foolishly) hoping it would lead me to a boston qualifying time. there were weeks that went up as high as 70 miles, and midweek runs of up to 14. i pushed through it, even though it seemed like, well, a LOT, because i know that a lot of others have had success with this plan. before i knew it, things were sore. a random twinge in the achilles here, another ache there, and most recently an odd pain on the top of my left foot that sidelined me for about a week 3 weeks ago. i felt really lucky to be ‘back on the horse’ in time for my race. it would have been terrible to put in all that work and then not be able to even try to have a great race due to injury, right?
but just because i felt lucky then didn’t mean that i was completely out of the woods. and today, as i ran on an increasingly painful left achilles tendon, i really REALLY didn’t want to accept this fact. i was dying to run my 20-miler, to prove to myself that i was still ready for the race despite the earlier missed sessions from the previous injury. my psyche needed it! what was a little achiness to stand in the way?? i’m stronger than that.
and i was. i pushed through moderate pain at mile five. i stupidly believed that 2 ibuprofen washed down with water from my bottle at mile 10 would be the ultimate cure. but the intensity went in the wrong direction, and by the last mile i was limping. out of anger and frustration, i limped my way to the finish without slowing down. the pain was searing. and i was just coming to the realization that i had done something really, REALLY stupid, and probably should have stayed in bed all morning like i really wanted to in the first place.
and now, i can’t even walk. it hurts to put weight on it and take a single normal step. my race is 3 weeks away, and i am feeling very concerned as to whether it will heal before that time, let alone soon enough so that i can resume any sort of training. i am NOT the sort of person who is comfortable entering a race after a 3-week taper of zero running. in addition, i think that i will probably combust from the stress, and unfortunately i consider running to be one of my only effective stress relievers (although i suppose there is a time and a place for a stiff drink).
i feel so dumb for doing this to myself. had i rested and waited a day or two to run, i’m sure i would have been fine. i guess maybe i will learn something from this, if nothing else: listen to my body before it sends a very UNSUBTLE reminder about who is in charge around here. it’s definitely not my stupid, stupid head.