Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I had hoped I would be fully recovered from my groin strain before the Firecracker Triple.  I wasn’t quite there.  I was able to finish all three races, but not without some difficulties on day three.  Then I waited for the other shoe to drop.  How far did I set myself back?

Ever since Comrades, it’s been two steps forward, one step back.  I had a three week break before the Bighorn Mountain 100, but that wasn’t quite enough.  I still felt surprisingly good after that race, but overdid my PT exercises two days later.  I had another two week break, but I knew that wouldn’t be enough.  I’m actually surprised that the first two races went as well as they did.

Immediately after Sunday’s race, it was hard to evaluate how I felt.  The soreness in my groin was drowned out by soreness in all the other muscles in my legs.  Running marathons three days in a row takes a toll.

On Monday, my groin felt tight in both legs.  In my right leg, I was particularly sore.  Monday was a rest day, but I did have to do a fair amount of walking through airports with my luggage.  I was uncomfortable walking.  Based on the way I felt Monday, I was pessimistic about doing a trail marathon on Saturday.

Tuesday was a complete reversal.  I felt surprisingly OK.  I took another day off from running, but I did weight training.  I also did my PT exercises.  I didn’t have any discomfort doing my exercises.  I also seemed to have more strength in both legs than I did the previous week.  I was suddenly optimistic again.  I went to bed feeling almost normal. 

Today, I woke up feeling sore.  It seemed like I took another step backward.  Then I went to PT.  My therapist wasn’t too concerned about the soreness.  She said that’s to be expected.  The day after my exercises, it’s normal to be sore, just like it’s normal for other muscles to be sore the day after a marathon.  If I’m still sore two days after my exercises, then I overdid it.

We talked about where I go from here.  Today was my last appointment, unless I have a major setback.  I have some exercises and stretches I can do, but from here it’s up to me.

My June race schedule was relatively sparse, with only one race scheduled.  Now I’m back to races every weekend in July.  I had a window to recover, but it wasn’t long enough.  Now it’s gone.  I probably won’t be able to recover fully as long as I’m running marathons every weekend.  At some point, I need to take a longer break.  Each time I race, my recovery will take a step backward.  That’s the bad news.  There was also good news.  I’ve healed enough that I’m not likely to go back to square one.

From here out, it’s probably one step forward, one step back … at least until I’m willing to take a longer break.  You’re probably wondering why I don’t do that now.  There are basically two reasons.  The first reason is that my race schedule is booked through mid-November.  I haven’t entered any races since the injury.  These were scheduled months ago.  I’ve entered the races, and I’ve made travel reservations, some of which are non-refundable.  Cancelling now would mean eating lots of travel costs that I can’t recoup.  Cancelling one or two races probably wouldn’t be enough.  I might have to cancel several to give myself time to heal completely.

There’s another reason.  It’s not just about the individual races.  I’m working toward some long-term goals.  I’ve been working toward them for a long time, and I don’t want to abandon them now.  If I can find a way to get through the rest of the year, I’ll cut back next year.  Maybe I can; maybe I can’t.  I was in a similar situation in 2013, and I got through it.

As of today, I’m planning to race on Saturday.  I could still change my mind.  I asked my therapist if it was crazy to race this weekend.  She said she thinks everything I do is crazy.  She’s probably right.  She gave me three pieces of advice for this week.  First, get out for a run during the week, even if it’s only a mile or two.  If I’m going to keep racing, I need to keep training.  I should listen to my body and run as much as I can without pain.  Second, it’s OK to take a few days off from my PT exercises if I’m sore.  Again, I’m supposed to listen to my body.   Third, since this is a trail race, I should consider wearing compression on my thigh for the entire race.  I have mixed feelings about that.  At the very least, I’ll have an elastic bandage with me.  I might wear it from the start.  I might wait and see.  That’ll be a race day decision.

In the short term, I’m willing to accept slower times.  I just want to finish each race.

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