I started training for my marathon 6 weeks ago, and the miles came easily. I was logging 20, then 25, then 30 mile weeks, and everything was going smoothly.
Until it wasn’t.
I ran 14 miles last Sunday and when I woke up on Monday morning, everything felt fine. Only a teeny bit of sort-of-soreness that comes with running double digits. I stretched, swam, recovered just fine.
And then Tuesday happened. I met with my local running club for hill repeats on the trails. A few miles in total, I expected it to not be that hard.
But it was. Really, embarassingly hard.
(Warning: it gets a little gross here…scroll along if you want to! #runnerlife.)
I had blisters on the two outer toes of both feet. Gnarly, nasty blisters as a result of Sunday’s long and sweaty run. No big deal, I thought. Blisters happen. But what I didn’t expect was the overwhelming pain in the arches of my feet that came from overcompensating to relieve the pressure on those blisters. I bailed on the workout only two miles in, something that I haven’t had to do since my very early days of running and building endurance.
I felt awful, physically. My feet were killing me in the strangest way. Just walking back to the car felt like an impossible chore.
And I felt awful, mentally. A minor injury? A setback, only 6 weeks into my training? The mileage hadn’t even gotten hard yet! I left the park and my running friends with my head low and my heart discouraged.
This past week, in the days after the failed workout, was miserable. I logged a whopping total of 16 miles for the week and had to say no to a lot of scheduled runs. I logged more miles on the elliptical than I would like to, and some days I was left feeling so discouraged about my feet, waiting for the blisters and arch pain to subside, that I couldn’t get my butt to the gym at all. It was rather pathetic.
Now, one week later, I’m happy to report that the pain is gone, I’m up and running according to the plan again, and life is back to usual. I have a little pep in my step and walking around the office no longer feels like stabbing pain. (It was SO weird, guys! Feet are weird. And fragile. We take them for granted).
I’m very grateful that this was only a small setback. Seriously, it’s not even as bad as the stress fractures I’ve had in the past. And those aren’t even a blip on the radar compared to the challenges and setbacks that people are facing in real, everyday life. This is nothing. A brief interruption to my hobby, big whoop. 🙂
It was only one botched week of training, not a training cycle or a race all together. I pray this is the worst setback I’ll have in running for a while, but the reality is, we never know what might happen. I’m ashamed to admit how down being “out” of running for a few days got me, how depressed and moody I really was, but it got me thinking about how we can overcome setbacks in running so that our hearts and minds aren’t injured, too.
Setbacks Happen. So How Can We Handle Them?
The next time you’re met with a surprise injury or setback in your training, take action.
FIGURE IT OUT
Take some time to really think about it. What’s going on? Is it a physical injury? A mental roadblock? A personal conflict that’s keeping you from running? Do you need to see a doctor or get a diagnosis? Are you in the wrong shoes? Before anything else, take a good hard look at all of the factors and figure out what you’ve got and how to treat it. Go to the doctor, head to your local running store, or ask your running friends if they’ve had any history with what you’re experiencing. They can offer you some great information!
MAKE A GAME PLAN
In order to make a comeback, you have to commit to not staying stuck in your setback. You want to return to running and training as quickly as possible…great! But what are you going to do in the meantime to prepare yourself for your comeback? How will you stay healthy? If you’re not able to run, are you able to hop on the elliptical or AMT? What about swimming? You can still work on core, arm, and stretching exercises…right? Create a “new” training plan for what you can do to maintain your fitness while you’re not running. Keep your body strong and your mind engaged, and you’ll come back in no time. You might even discover your love for a new passion or hobby in the process! Beyond working out, what else do you need to do? It can be easy to turn to comfort foods when we’re down, but are you still maintaining a healthy diet? Do you need to purchase new running shoes, orthotics, or a brace/support for a painful area? Do you need to pickup medicine to kick those flu symptoms? Figure out what you need to do, make some short term goals, and get to it!
STOP YOUR PITY PARTYIN’
- It’s not the end of the world. No, really, it isn’t. Even if we lost our legs tomorrow — we are still abundantly blessed. Life is still sweet. It’s just running, after all. 🙂
- You’re not the first person to have a setback in running! Neither was I. Chances are, we’ll have them again. Even elites like Kara and Deena have overcome significant challenges. And their setbacks were public, no less! My mom just ran a half-marathon after having a major foot surgery. My friend Jen is training for an ultra even after battling crippling pain and family health issues the past few months. They can overcome, you can overcome.
- This is only temporary. Embrace this challenge and learn what you can from it. Use it to make you fight stronger and run harder. Let it give you gratitude for all of those times that your body is healthy and performing well.
In the comments…
What setbacks or injuries have you experienced?
How did you overcome them?
Please note: While running is an amazing thing in life, running is not everything in life. If you’re walking through something hard, a real life setback or challenge that feels impossible to overcome, I’d love to pray for you and support you. Please feel free to leave a comment or message me privately.