Monday, October 22, 2012

Comeback or move forward

Second run back, marking the Firetrails 50 course
Photo by Brett Rivers

Six weeks ago I was in the best shape of my life. Workouts were going great. I was coming off a good training run at Kauai marathon feeling hungry to go after a PR in the low 2:30s at Chicago. Fit as a fiddle and ready to roll. 

I was excited and motivated to keep pushing. But then I fell and then I was injured. A month ago, I was still hoping to be able to run on our wedding day. Instead, I had to watch from the sidelines (and shed some tears) about not being able to join my friends for some wedding weekend running. I had to withdraw from Chicago, cancel my trip and miss out on seeing my sister PR in the windy city on her birthday. The last six weeks have been filled with the best of times (getting married!!!) as well as some very rough times (it is not in fact just me that is injured, Nathan has a stress fracture in his foot). 

With an injury like mine, there comes a point when you feel like you are no longer just trying to bridge the healthy running with intense cross training and instead are struggling to hold on to your goals. You come to a point where no matter how hard you workout in the pool or on the bike or on the elliptical, that you just don't feel fit anymore. It took me four weeks to get back to running and naturally, I went out of the gate pretty hard with it. The first week it felt blissful to just be back out on the trails again. I felt nervous and tentative about pushing my foot/ankle too far. But that blissful caution wore off pretty quickly with the reality of my upcoming goals. I am slated to do NYC marathon in less than two weeks. Last week I pushed myself like a crazy person and took risks that I might not have if I was simply focused on my healthy return. I was focused on the comeback, not moving forward. 

The funny thing about the idea of a comeback is that it is not very forward thinking. It is a focus on getting back to a place of something, in this case fitness. Moving forward means letting go of where you were and focusing on creating something new; better, strong, faster. Because I have a race rapidly approaching, I have had a comeback mentality which ultimately a very short sighted approach. I could ready myself enough to run NYC in two weeks, but I wonder if it is worth it. I struggled really hard to let go of Chicago and am now faced with making the same choice again. I wonder if I will be fit enough to deserve to stand on the line with the elite women. I wonder if I will get dropped quickly and be bringing up the rear of the elite women's start. I wonder if I will wheezy and lumber myself through an embarrassing performance. I wonder if my ankle will flare up or if it will hold steady. I don't know the answers, but I know that I would make different choices if I had no races on the immediate schedule. It is a complex thing to decide whether to come back or move forward.

I want to make the right decision for my health, for my running, for my racing. Ultimately, I simply love to run and I love that my body has allowed me for so long to push it this way. I want to respect it and take care of it so I can do it for a long time.

13 comments:

  1. Is it possible for you to run NYC as a strong training run and not "race" it? Trying to race it so soon after coming back from time off due to injury may put your recovery and so mental outlook at risk. You can't expect to run the super fast times you were running before you got injured in a comeback/build-up phase. If you feel that you have to "race" it due to elite classification obligations, perhaps take a pass this year and set your sights on CIM or other Jan-March goal. There's no doubt you will come back strong and continue to PR, but better not to rush your body even though your mind is raring to go.

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    1. Jen-
      I know there is no way to race it the way I wanted to. I think it is a question more of weighing the positive/negatives of participation and what I would want to get out of it. I don't have the answer yet but have decided that no matter what I do decide I will be patient and kind to my injury and recovery and not push too hard too soon or be short sighted.

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    2. FYI, I am running NYC for the first time this year. I am really looking forward to the experience. Good luck with whatever you decide re: NYC and also enjoy your running/training.

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  2. Nobody knows your body better than you, so you are the one to ultimately make those decisions. I know how it feels as due to injuries this whole summer, I have DNF'ed at 1 race, canceled 2 and deferred 2 more to next year.. It was not easy by any means, but now not being rushed by my race schedule I am finally feeling strong and recovered and happy. Good luck to you if you do decide to participate in NYC. If I can walk that day (I am racing 50M the day before, so I may not be walking..) I will come out and see you zoom by. Feel better and happy trails! :)

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  3. How do you like those Hoka One One shoes? I just tried some from Zappos, but none of them fit right, unfortunately, because I loved the stiff sole and lightweight. I'm going to try a couple other models. Do you find the Stinson runs true to size?

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    Replies
    1. I like them a lot. They are very comfortable and have fit me true to size. Sorry you are having trouble finding ones that fit correctly!

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    2. Devon- Do you still use and like your Suunto t6d? Do you like the footpod? I'm trying to decide on a Suunto or Garmin.

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  4. Devon, you have had such a fantastic year...I'd say give yourself more time to heal and rest and pick something else after the first of the year.
    Best of luck with your decision!

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    Replies
    1. I was going to say I am with Steve, and then read your (Devon) comment below. Sorry about a new ache, I'll be keeping you in my thoughts, heal up, girl, your life is bound to be awesome.

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  5. Hi, Devon! Found your blog after seeing that we'll be rooming together at New York. Very sorry to hear about your injury, though... hopefully things will start to turn around in the next week and a half? It would be really fun to meet you and share the NYC experience with you! (Plus, I'm considering doing my first ultra next year, so it would be fun to pick your brain a little bit!)
    -Nichole Porath

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    Replies
    1. Hey Nichole. Looks like my decision has been made for me as I have some tendonitis developing in a different part of my ankle, so I have opted out of NYC. Would have been awesome to room together. Happy to field any questions you have about ultras, just email me!

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  6. Hey Devon, I was wondering what type of tendonitis you have developed?
    I was just diagnosed with Tendinitis of the Posterior Tibial or tendon of the inner ankle, no running for 4 to 6 weeks. Boo! Good thing I love to mountain bike.

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  7. Hi Devon, I just checked back into your blog for the first time in a while. Well, I guess NYC wasn't meant to be due to the super storm. How's the tendonitis and what's next for you race-wise? Good luck ... being injured is so incredibly frustrating. If it's any solace, I know of many runners who've come back stronger after injury because they "wipe the slate clean" mentally and physically and enjoy the jolt of motivation that comes from building back up. Take care,
    Sarah

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