Highs and Lows

One thing I learned from running ultras last year, is that there will always be highs and lows during a race. During the Stone Mill 50 miler, I experienced many high points that left me feeling like a million bucks for miles. But the few lows I felt were incomparable to anything else I'd felt during a race before.

I  recently  realized that training cycles often imitate this pattern of highs and lows during a race. When we sign up for a race, we ride that euphoric feeling for as long as possible, until reality sets in and we realize the tremendous amount of work necessary to achieve our goals. Every good run we have reinforces our decision to race, while every sub-par run makes us doubt ourselves and our decisions.

For me, the high of this training season was spurred by running an unexpectedly fast 5K on the first day of 2014. This feeling stayed with me for a couple of weeks into the new year. I set huge goals for the Love Run half marathon and vowed to do everything possible to achieve them.

But as I sit here, on my third rest day of the last four days, nursing a sore calf, achilles, arch EVERYTHING on my right leg and foot, I find myself questioning all the huge plans I have for my goal race on March 30th. At this point, I've had pain in some part my of right foot pretty consistently since I ran the 5k on January 1st. In my 5 years of running, I've never had a real injury, but three weeks into this pain, I'm thinking my injury-free streak is in jeopardy. This is what low feels like in training.

So what can I do? Feel sorry for myself because I pushed myself too hard, too fast at the 5k? Well, sure, which I did for about 5 minutes. It was probably not my smartest idea ever to go directly from running my longest, slowest race  to running my shortest, fastest race just six weeks later.

But now I'm trying to take a more positive approach to kicking this thing, by stretching, icing, and resting. My gut tells me it could be Achilles tendinitis, simply based on previous experience in 2012 (nothing major) and the always reliable internet. I am hoping to test it out again for an easy run tomorrow, even though what I really want is to crush the tempo run I'm skipping today. If an easy run still hurts tomorrow, I will go see a specialist.

Running often imitates life.  You can't truly appreciate the good without experiencing the bad. Today, I know things could be a lot worse than having a quasi foot injury, and I've lived through enough real bad stuff in life to put things in perspective. While it sucks to have pain when I run, the bottom line is, I can work through it and get better. At the end of the day, it is still just running, and I've got a lot of other amazing stuff going on in my life.

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