Circumstances that are beyond complicated and equally irrelevant have me, a 32 year old man, sleeping in a toddler bed.
While somewhat intriguing, the point is: we all have lives that exist independently of our running. Those lives can take a toll on the body both physically and mentally. As can an injury. For some of us this can be unnerving because those runs are crucial to maintaining balance in our lives.
Well, regardless of how I slept, I knew something else was wrong the minute my feet were on the floor. As I rose into my first vertical position of the day I noticed that my left knee was sore.
It wasn’t an awkward, momentary soreness. It hung on, surviving the first few steps. “Damn it,” I thought, “not now! I’ve made it this far into training. I really need to run right now!” I could feel the anxiety tying a knot in my stomach. I had a vision of myself sitting on some curb in the latter half of the Chicago Marathon cursing this very moment.
Then I took a breath. “I’ve got two months,” I told my neurotic self. I tried not to overthink it. This wasn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with hiccups in my training plans. I ended up deciding not to run that day – and go from there.
When it comes to training, as a regular Joe, I’ve got to take it as it comes. Three years ago Hurricane Sandy forced me to work for two weeks straight which almost derailed the training for my first half marathon. The following year my training was sporadic. Once again work prevented me from running for a full week before heading to the Newport marathon. And last year, about this same time, my piriformis muscle did everything it could to keep me from my runs right before Chicago.
I made it to all three races and I finished all three races. I had to swallow my pride a little, readjust a goal here and there, but I learned to accept that I’m only human. The training plan is written on paper. We are made of flesh and bone that is quite often weighed down by other responsibilities and commitments.
It can be tough to admit that you need a rest day, or two, or maybe more. It’s even harder deciding you may have to defer to the next year. For all the doom and gloom a setback or injury inspires in the mind of a runner, not all are devastating. The goal is to make it to race day in the best possible condition.
One bad day, or week, doesn’t turn Meb or Shalane into a runner like me. Nor will a perfect season of training turn me into a runner of their caliber. More often than not, training isn’t going to be perfect, still I end each year as a better runner than I began.
So I rest when it hurts. I try to be consistent. I try to learn from others and find what works for me.
I’m looking forward to getting back on the road after three days off. My knee feels good. If it hurts again, I’ll adjust for that. All I can do is arrive in Chicago in the the best shape life will allow.
And on that morning in October, while bouncing nervously in my corral, maybe I’ll think back to that morning when my knee hurt.
Or maybe not.
I know what I will be thinking of though: I’ll look around at the thousands of people crowded beside me, and just feel humbled and grateful that with everything each one of us has had to deal with; We all made it.
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