This past week has been a wake up call for me. I looked back at this injury filled year of running. It has been so bad I am honestly surprised I have not thrown in the towel and said, as I have in the past, “I am done!” My father taught me the importance of perseverance. It is this perseverance which taught me to seek solutions.
I saw my running progress to heights I had never imagined I would reach. I was running distance that had only been previously run in my dreams. Injuries eluded me until the day after the 2011 Turkey Trot. I had traveled to run some nearby trails. I laced up my trail shoes and took my first step. That first step caused excruciating pain. It felt as though a razor sharp knife blade had been thrust into my groin. Still I ran.
This injury was easier to accept than others as every step which even remotely resembled a running stride caused intense pain. Two months of not running led me back to the roads. I was happy to have found I had lost little running strength. I increased my mileage again and in hindsight that increase came too rapidly. Shin splints returned. More time off. Then my arch nemesis, over thinking things took over. Maybe it was the minimalist shoes. Maybe it was the barefoot transition. Maybe it was an old injury from high school. Maybe it was this and maybe it was that. My problem is I think too much. I try an analyze many things in my life instead of leaving some things to the old saying of “It is what it is.” As Barefoot Ken Bob says, “If it’s painful you must be doing something wrong.” My fight was always in my head. If there is something wrong I am going to look harder at the problem until I figure it out.
As I lay in bed the other night writing in my journal and not thinking, the answer came to me. The answer came to me as rapidly as a light illuminating a room as soon as the switch is flipped. I ran too much too soon in my transition to barefoot running. I tried to make things move faster than my 49 year-old body felt comfortable. I tried to make up for training lost during a completely snowless winter. It was a winter during which I was forced to hear other runners talk about in happy tones with smiles on their faces. Buffalo, NY in the winter; no snow; and temperatures that stayed consistently in the forties.
This past weekend I laid out a training plan designed to help me get back on track. Two miles each day over five days. A half marathon comining up in less than one month that I have decided not to start. I believe my fitness level would allow me to complete the distance but I am not willing to survive a short-term goal in defference to the long-term goal of remaining healthy and continuing to run.
As I wrote in my journal, a sense of peace came over me. I felt comfortable with my decision. I had accepted my decision. I had accepted my limitations. I am human.