A lot has happened since my last blog post! The day after I returned home from our vacation, I came down with what I now know to be the flu. A sinus infection and bronchitis followed, which thankfully cleared up with antibiotics. During that time, which was over a week, I did not run at all. I just felt too horrible to move more than absolutely necessary. During my time off, I developed pain on the inside of my right knee (see picture below).
After my illness symptoms had subsided, I went on a 16 mile long run, and it became apparent I had somehow sustained an injury, which led to another week off. During this time I got the injury evaluated and started seeing a physical therapist. The physical therapist speculated I had tendinitis in one of the tendons that attaches to the medial side of the knee, and also determined the new orthotics I'd been running in for the last three weeks prior to getting sick were the likely culprit because they were not providing any support (I have flat feet and pronate a little more than I should). Given the fact that the pain was along my upper tibia, and I do have a history of stress fractures, I decided to get a MRI to rule out that possibility. Yesterday I got the results of the MRI and thankfully I do not have a stress fracture, my ligaments are intact, and I do indeed have some tendinitis. It's hard to describe how relieved I am! So the plan now is to continue physical therapy, where I get dry needling done along the length of my adductor, as well as e-stim treatments. At home I am diligent about stretching my glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, and adductors, icing multiple times a day, and I am back to running some miles. I am now running without orthotics in more supportive shoes, the Brooks Adrenaline 18 and the Hoka Arahi 2. These shoes are actually lighter than the neutral shoes and orthotics I was running in previously. My knee is feeling a little better every day and hopefully that will continue!
So that does this mean for the Bayshore Marathon in exactly one month?? There is no doubt I have lost some fitness from taking time off, and from having the flu. And I'm not upset about it, which led me to do some serious thinking about what I want from running right now (and let's face it, I've had A LOT of time to think with all of this downtime!).
I had a conversation with my husband and he remarked that I never run races or training runs just for the sake of running. I always have a purpose behind every run, I always wear my Garmin, I'm always focused on some type of outcome. I started running in the first place because it brought me happiness. Am I still getting happiness out of my runs? Yes and no. I have been very forthcoming about my marathon goal of breaking three hours. For some reason, my goals of breaking 3:15, then 3:10, then 3:05 did not carry this same kind of weight. It's a big goal, and as I'm sure you can relate, once it's out there, whether or not this is a rational thought, it creates pressure to perform. In reality, nobody but me cares if I achieve this goal. Sure, the people in my life will be thrilled for me, but their feelings toward and perceptions of me won't change whether or not I'm successful. And if I hit my goal, I'll be thrilled, too, for awhile. But beyond that, nothing really changes.
We all know the amazing story of Des Linden's Boston Marathon victory, and how when she was feeling terrible and considering dropping out of the race, she decided to focus on helping her fellow runners succeed. In doing so, it took the pressure and negativity off of her own race and look what happened - she won!! Runner's World has a great article (click here) that explores how shifting your mindset to one of helping others creates changes in the brain that improve performance.
Running, especially when you are chasing a goal, can be a selfish pursuit. Every run is all about you and your goal. I think I have become so focused on that sub three hour marathon that I've also lost some of the joy that propelled me to getting this close to being able to achieve it. So it's time to take the pressure off and make running fun again. If my knee injury continues to heal and I'm running pain free, I'm going to run Bayshore with a friend and pace her race, just for the joy of running my favorite marathon. From there, I have lots of options. There is another marathon about a month after Bayshore where I can take a stab at breaking three hours if I'm healthy and that's what my gut says to do. I can also skip a spring PR attempt, keep running because I love it, start working with a coach again, and work on a strong build up for the Detroit Free Press Marathon in October. Having a flexible plan with options has brought me a lot of peace. Running the Boston Marathon in 2019 is important to me, and I already have a qualifying time, my 3:04 from Indy Monumental this past November, so no need to stress about that. Call me overconfident, but I am 100% certain I can run a sub three hour marathon when the time is right. I do think that my body AND my mind are both going to have to be in a healthy place to make that happen. You know that saying about finding what you're looking for once you stop looking? This is how I feel about my marathon goal. Once I stop obsessing and pursuing so aggressively, I will have the type of race where everything aligns and I crush it.
So this got a lot longer than I intended. If you skipped to the bottom, the CliffsNotes version is: I got the flu, I got injured, my injury is improving daily and it's made me re-evaluate my priorities. If you read the whole thing and can relate, please tell me your story. I'd love to hear it.