I’m losing it.
I freely admit that I can be a bit
obsessive neurotic intensely focused, but this taper has me going crazy. I thought tapers were supposed to be relief from the hardcore training you put your mind and body through for weeks?
It all started after my 20-mile run around the city. I had such a great run. I felt strong, prepared and like I was in the best shape of my life. I’d spent the last 15 weeks running and training diligently for the Marine Corps Marathon – now just days away.
The week after that long run proved to be much harder than I expected. While I had technically started the taper, I still had decent mileage to log – runs of four, eight, five and 12 miles for the first week of the gradual decline. During my first run back, the IT band pain I’d experienced back in July and August came roaring back out of nowhere. And to make matters worse, when I got home, I noticed that the top of my left foot and ankle ached. That had never happened before.
What was going on? Why did everything start hurting two weeks before my first marathon?
I dismissed it as my body being worn out from the long run I’d just logged, but secretly, a seed was planted in my mind that everything was about to go very, very wrong.
I immediately began incorporating glute-strengthening exercises three times a day, closing the door to my office during lunch to avoid the curiosity of coworkers who might wonder why I was lying in a bridge position on the floor lifting my legs up and down.
Sometime between my first and second run back, the pain in my foot migrated to the underside of my big toe. I thought that perhaps my Brooks Ghost 5s had gone bad, but they only had about 225 miles on them. I had a new pair of shoes (the same model) at my disposal, so I slipped them on and headed out for an eight-mile run. Halfway through, I found myself sitting in the middle of the road, massaging my aching knee and whispering a prayer to finish. I got up, the pain subsided, and I made my way through the rest of the run.
Then I did what you should never, ever, do when you have an ailment.
I read the interwebs.
By the time I was finished “researching,” I had self-diagnosed my aches to the point of being stricken with Ebola. Without the hemorrhagic fever. Or bleeding eyes.
As I ran my 12-mile run that weekend, I wore a knee brace for the first time in months. I made it four miles before the IT band tightened up. I pressed on, and after awhile, it loosened up and I was able to finish.
My first run out this week was just four miles, and I ran it faster than I’d run in awhile. My IT band felt great (my glutes and hammies were sore from the conditioning), but my foot continued to ache. And now the ache had spread to the arch and heel.
I just knew had plantar fasciitis. I just knew it. 12 days before the marathon, and I’d developed plantar fasciitis.
I immediately scoured the Runner’s World fora and found countless other desperate folks who had the same problem. I read articles on legit medical sites. I read articles on obviously non-legit “medical” sites. I asked for advice on Facebook. I peppered marathoner friends with questions. Is this PF? How do I get rid of this now? Is my foot going to fall off?
I basically started to crack.
And then I got the best advice I could receive.
Chill. Out. Brah.
Things happen. And sometimes they happen when we don’t want them to. And more often than not, they happen to runners when runners are about to do something runner-y. It’s hard for me to admit that things can’t be perfect all the time, so I’m making a concerted effort to just calm down. I’m skipping some of the rest of my runs, and I’m adding some plantar stretches and treatments (including the awesome recommendation to roll a frozen water bottle along the arch of my foot) between now and the race. I don’t even know if I have PF. It doesn’t hurt in the morning, and the ache is intermittent. It could just be a strain. And it could go away tomorrow.
I debated writing and posting this entry because I didn’t want to sound whiny, but I think that there might be someone out there freaking out about the same things and could use a bit of encouragement that everything is going to be fine. If you’re like me, that can be hard to accept, but you must.
You’ve done the training. You’re prepared. Just go run.
Or at least that’s what I tell myself.
Keep running, friends.