It turns out that much like the common cold, random injuries apparently have no regard for race registrations or training plans and they can in fact jump up and bite you at any given unsuspecting moment.
Let me start at the beginning: 3 or so weeks ago I woke up on a Tuesday morning to that unmistakable feeling of an impending cold. So I did what any marathon training runner would do, I hydrated, ran and hoped it would not turn into anything. Instead of getting into my PJs early I instead went to the Pink concert – which although was very fun was not anything remotely like the “early night” that I should have been getting. By Thursday morning I woke up with a full blown – itchy ear canal cold. I spent the day in bed. Told myself that a good solid days rest would surely shift this thing. The long and the short of it is that I missed a few days training and it actually took several weeks to fully shift the congestion – I may in fact, as my cube mate at work remarked, have had back to back colds!
Whenever something like a cold hits and forces an extra rest day or two it messes with your training mojo. It feels like you have missed a bunch of runs, and are way behind. Fortunately my coach get me on track and prevented me from “trying to play catch up”.
So I got going again. But the long run at the end of my “first week back” was particularly disasterous. Neither my legs or head/heart were in it. I was physically and mentally tired and after 1h 30mins of running my brain was constantly telling my legs to “take a break”…”just stop for a minute”…”what is with all this running anyway?” I dragged my butt for another hour but ended up cutting the run short by 30 mins. Not a good day. Another black mark on the training plan.
The next day was an easy run and having chatted with my coach about the potential cause of my less than stellar long run – pushing it too hard/fast in regular training runs through the week – I took it easy. Had a nice run, chatted some. Had a post run chai latte – everything was good. Until I stopped at the organic grocery store on my way home, reached for the reusable grocery bags and BAM – it felt like my right SI joint was broken in two! By the time I made it home all I had in me was a quick lap of the house to collect essentials – an ice pack, two chihuahuas and my tablet before collapsing on the bed where I remained for the next two hours awaiting rescue! I used this time to apply the ice pack to my SI joint, google “sudden onset SI joint pain” and think about (in the form of trying not to think about) the fate of my marathon training. By the time my rescuer arrived home from the gym I had decided that I may never walk again let alone be able to run the half marathon that was scheduled for the following weekend or the Marathon that was in 7 weeks – that I had been training for since Christmas.
So where am I going with all this? It is easy to be derailed by all these things…a few days or a week off…a bad run….a sudden injury. The mantra I choose in my brighter moments of icing my butt was “it can always be worse”. The only option when faced with such obstacles is to give yourself the best possible odds. Rest, be sensible, seek expert help – massage, dr etc. And most of all try not to allow yourself to be mentally defeated or defeat yourself. In the grand scheme of a 4 month training plan a few extra days off is nothing. If you allow them to wash together in your mind and feel like you have had a sucky 3 weeks it becomes a bigger deal than it really is.
I am happy to report that as unlikely as it seemed early in the week when I couldn’t get in and out of the car without wincing, I was not only able to run that half marathon but take 3 minutes off my previous PR while listening to my body so that the following weeks training was also pain free.
So whatever hiccups are along the road to whichever event you are preparing for – remember that sensible rest and recovery are as important – if not more important than hard training days, always give yourself the best possible chance and try to stay positive however large the hurdles seem when you are right up against them – the season may in fact not be in tatters!