I think everyone has a running super power. Mine happens to be planning and analyzing just about everything. Researching race reviews? Check. Figuring out my goal pace and my ideal splits? Check. Helping to plan a 5K, be in charge of making tutus for a 12 person relay team and making information packets for my spectators? Check, check and check. (I will admit that the information packet may have been a tad overkill, but I like to think it’s part of my charm.) This crazy over-planning trait of mine means that I’m frequently in positions like group organizer, captain or aid station coordinator.
But just like in the comics sometimes super powers can turn against us, and our greatest strengths can become our greatest weaknesses. In most scenarios my planning every detail is great, but in matters of injury my over-thinking gene goes into overdrive! It feels like my inner superhero has turned against me… She becomes my evil alter ego, Anxiety Girl, who comes up with worst-case scenarios everywhere she goes! Let me offer you a little peek into this warped, anxiety-filled part of my brain.
Scenario: My ankle is bugging me a tiny bit, even when walking around the neighborhood.
Rational person response: Take a week off, nix all the cute shoes for comfortable ones, and if running is still hurting, get checked out at the sports medicine clinic.
Anxiety Girl response: OMG! It’s a stress fracture and I’m going to have to drop out of the marathon that’s five months away even though I already paid and I never will run again and my running friends probably won’t even say hi to me when they see me on the street.
Beyoncé has Sasha Fierce, and I get stuck with Anxiety Girl? Anxiety Girl gets her power from a combination of Google self-diagnosing, a feeling of waiting for the other (running) shoe to drop and well, just anxiety. Marathons are about the risk, about putting it all on the line.
It’s pretty nerve-wracking to think of all those miles put in the bank gone to waste. All of the early mornings, the ones drenched in humidity and sweat, the early nights and plans to which you’ve sent your regrets in anticipation of weekend long runs. You put your body through intervals and race pace miles, and invest your hopes for months, maybe even years, into this one day going well, and when it looks like you may not even make it to that day it’s easy to panic. I like things to be a certain way, to have them planned to the nth degree. When I can’t do that, Anxiety Girl comes out to play.
Unfortunately, Anxiety Girl is sometimes right, which is the root of her power. In the scenario above I was diagnosed with Achilles tendinitis at the end of this past January. Once I was able to resume training, I was so far behind schedule for my planned May marathon so I decided to err on the side of caution and switch to the half. But… the world didn’t end. I can still run. I still have other races on the horizon. And my running friends may have started out as running friends, but regardless of what happens I know that we are friends for life.
Oh, and even if I hadn’t been able to run the race at all, the miles would have never been a waste!
Maybe I have more in common with Beyoncé than I originally thought. She announced that she killed Sasha Fierce because she didn’t need her anymore. Me, I’m working on keeping Anxiety Girl in check. As you may have noticed in my training log this week, I felt like I strained something early in the week. I responded with stretching, heat, rest and a massage. While I did freak out to a few people (including Salty and Cinnamon), I wasn’t as worried about my marathon (7.5 weeks out at the time), as I was about my upcoming overnight relay in 2.5 weeks. But I didn’t make any sudden, race-dropping-out moves or drastic announcements. My massage therapist verified that yes, I did have an issue, but that it would heal quickly. Hallelujah! I’m still playing the wait-and-see game for a few more days, but I’m listening to actual experts instead of Anxiety Girl, and feeling reassured that It Will All Be Okay.
Have you had to deal with injuries during the peak of your training? How do you handle them?