I spent a third of this year with varying degrees of a calf strain that largely affected my spring training and still occasionally tingles or tightens just to reel me in. I'm preoccupied more than ever on not overtraining, on pushing hard but not too hard. I'm fixated between training well and making it healthy to my goal race.
Then this morning I woke to a text from my sister, my smart and methodically training sister, a picture of her obviously swollen ankle and a plea for a call. Usually a picture doesn't show subtle differences, I could tell from the picture that this did not look good. A quick phone call revealed that a wrong step on pavement and concrete resulted in a sprain or twist that has sent my sister, who has trained all year long for her upcoming marathon debut, to the brink.
An injury does that to runners. After my not so fun time at Iron Mountain a few weeks back the only uplifting thought that remained through the fifty miles was 'at least it's not an injury, you'll be fine as soon as you're done today'.
I understand injury. There are statistics that would scare any runner not just your competitive types that an average runner will experience an injury of some degree once a year, some articles report more. The internet is full of articles for runners to pour over about injury prevention and treating a slew of injuries.
If injury wasn't on my mind before it certainly is now that my sister looks to be forced into a few days off. And if there's anything I can empathize for it is the fear of the unknown that an injury brings along with its physical discomfort. Do I need to take a few days off? How many days off? Will my fitness suffer? If racing, how will this affect my performance? I understand as well as anyone that a forced day or two or ten of rest, especially compounded when your race is quickly approaching, is difficult to stomach. Fortunately, my sister is smarter and more patient than I am, I trust she'll do the right thing and rest it. She does have time to recover if it's a sprain to not affect her marathon in November, but that sometimes isn't enough to quell all of the fear.
I find running does so much for my mental state that the time off coupled with the thoughts that accompany injury is enough to unhinge me. I imagine at least some other runners feel the same. As others before me pointed out to me when I was injured but can be often forgotten when we're the ones resting on the couch, sometimes you need a break, you're still a runner, trust your training and allow your body to heal (and I will need reminding of that I'm sure if I get injured, it's the first thing that I forget when I get injured).
Truth is there are bumps in the road, sometimes we meet those bumps and we stumble and fall. You are a runner after all.
You ran in the rain, Runner, and you will again. You ran before the sun awoke and you will again. You ran harder to push yourself and you will again. You ran in the hottest weather all summer and you will again. You ran further than you had ever run and you will run further still. You felt the rush of a second wind and you will again. You ran to meet new people and you have friends still to make. You ran in the dark with a light to lead the way and you will again. You suffered through a hard run or two where you questioned what you were doing and yet you ran again. You hit the trails for a change of scenery and there are paths still ahead. You surprised yourself and you're not through yet. You made a training schedule and you stuck to it, you will change it and get back with it. You slowed down to recover and you will again. You ran and you will again.