Okay, it’s time.
I think I am finally ready to let go of the Paris Marathon.
Nothing has seemed to work with my IT-band injury. I keep thinking it’s better (this has been going on since late August) and then I start running more, and then it hurts again. Last week I hurt it again, for real, really badly. Maybe I just needed one more really painful run to get it into my thick head that a marathon is not in the cards, not even running/walking it and taking it “easy.” At this point, I would probably injure something different if I tried to run/walk 26 miles on April 9th (just 5 weeks away).
The prospect of running that far doesn’t even seem feasible anymore, let alone fun.
But it’s still very hard for me to let go of, because I had big plans to run my friend’s first marathon with her, and to run what might be my only European marathon, at least for a while. I don’t know where in the world I will be living next year, but I definitely won’t have the whole month of April off to
study for exams travel like I do this year. I’ve already skipped two 10Ks, one half marathon, and will have to skip another on Sunday. Needless to say, I won’t sign up for any more races in the assumption that I’ll surely be healed by race day.
It’s obviously going to be a while.
Aside from the very difficult task of trying to let go of my Paris Marathon dreams (Running my third marathon in the City of Lights! Breaking 4 hours! Running my friend’s first marathon with her! Or just somehow getting across the finish line!) it’s not being able to run pain-free that is even harder to deal with.
Like most runners, I depend on being able to run for my sanity. It is my greatest stress reliever and often my therapy. I need to run even when things are status quo, but my life is anything but status quo right now. Aside from all the highs of living in a new country – getting to travel to many new places, meet new people, experience life in a new way – there are plenty of lows and stressors, and I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to deal with them if I can’t run.
It’s been a particularly challenging couple of months: I moved to a new country, I’m doing a very intensive graduate program, went through a break-up, lost one of my best friends to cancer, am far away from my friends and family, am in the process of applying to jobs for next year, and therefore have no idea how long I will be staying in London, or where in the world I will be living in six months.
Add to that the stress of worrying about my leg and anxiously trying to figure out whether I’ll be able to do the Paris Marathon (answer: no) and it becomes clear to me why I haven’t been responsible or listening to my body, but instead have been impatient, irrational, and reckless in not allowing my leg to recover. I know the mature thing would have been to stop running for several months when I first got injured, but I selfishly felt justified because I needed to run, and I was over-confident in thinking that my body would be able to heal quickly, and on my timeline.
Aside from all that, running is such a big part of my identity. I love setting goals and challenging myself to reach them. Having running goals is sometimes the only thing I feel I can control, and not being able to control that (What’s that? I can’t control everything?!?) is disorienting, disheartening and disappointing.
But what can I do? I’ve tried seeing two different physical therapists, and that hasn’t seemed to do much, but I’ll keep going (currently only every 7-8 weeks, thanks a lot free UK healthcare). I’m trying acupuncture. I’m doing yoga. I’m foam-rolling. I’ll cut back on running – for what seems like the hundredth time – and will try not to push beyond what’s comfortable.
I’m still going to Paris in April to stay with my friend who’s running her first marathon, and to cheer her on. We signed up for the the un-timed 5K the day before the marathon (a route that goes past the major sights, and includes a t-shirt and breakfast), and I’ll probably run a few of the more scenic miles with her during the marathon. I’ll be envious of her medal, but I’ll try to remind myself that getting one of my own would likely have been at the price of a further (or another) injury.
All in all, this is probably just one big lesson in letting go of control. I have to accept that things won’t always go according to plan, and that healing an injury is a process that must be respected. Someday I’ll hopefully run another marathon, maybe I’ll break four hours, and maybe I’ll even run the Paris Marathon, although logistically it seems unlikely now.
I’m just sad that it won’t be in 2017.
~~~~~Follow Marathons and Macarons: