In January, I was one happy goal setter. I set big goals for 2014 that were all speed-related. I wanted to PR in almost every race distance, and so far I've achieved two of those goals (5k and 10k).
Since January 1st, I've paid the price for these fast goals. I struggled with an achilles problem after my 5k, which finally seemed to subside by March. This past Saturday after my long run, I noticed an extreme tightness in my right calf. This turned into what feels like a calf strain on my easy run yesterday, forcing me to cut my run short.
It's no coincidence that within a week of running two faster races (7:35 pace at the Jan. 1st 5k and 7:50 pace at the March 2nd 10k), two minor injuries suddenly popped up. I think the issue is my mental strength has become stronger than my physical strength through racing for many years, and while my mind knows I can run at a certain pace, my body isn't prepared for it.
I've decided that while I believe I can eventually achieve my goal of running a 1:45 half marathon, on March 30th I am not going to stupidly push myself hard enough to try and achieve that time. I believe I will end up more seriously injured if I do.
At this point, I am planning to take a few days off to treat my calf properly, and will re-assess time goals after that. My February mileage was significantly lower than expected, and now it seems this week will be a wash as well. To be honest, I still think I can PR in the half marathon on March 30th (sub 1:50:38, or 8:26 pace) but if my body is not feeling up to it, I won't push myself too hard.
Injuries are eye opening, and I've been lucky enough not to have had any major ones during my running career. I've come to realize over the past few months that while I can get by running slow and long without a regular stretching routine, it's not going to cut it when trying to run faster. The long-term plan is to implement a daily stretching routine, especially focusing on my tight hips, calves and hamstrings (so yeah...everything.)
For now, I'll focus on Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE) on the calf in hopes of it healing soon. I'm also scheduled for a massage on Friday, so that should definitely help out as well.
As for my goals? They are most definitely still there. Maybe I won't be chasing them so aggressively, but instead, I'll be paying a little more attention to taking care of myself.