Aug 02

A Gut Check?

Dirt path along the top of Ireland's  Cliffs of Moher

Yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life.

Not really.

Yesterday was, however, the first day of my next training cycle in which I gun for the California International Marathon on December 4. I’m distinctly unsure about this race. Partly because I have a nagging shin splint that has been hanging around for the better part of the summer. Part of it, probably, has to do with the fact that my marathons have gotten worse and worse each time I have run them. The goal here is to try to unpack both of these pieces of luggage because I don’t really want to carry them around for the next several months.

The shin splint. Some of you probably know this (all three people who are probably reading this–Hi Mom & Dad! Hi George!) A shin splint is a generic term that means “something is wrong in the area between my knee and my ankle on the inside of my leg. It can be a bone issue. It can be a muscle issue, or it can be the connective tissue of tendons and ligaments in that general area. I’m fairly certain that my issue is the latter. I took 2 weeks off in July to help it settle down. It’s definitely better than it was. But I’m not sure that it’s better enough to withstand what I plan to throw at it over the next 18 weeks.

But here’s the rub. Much of this can be psychosomatic. Which is to say, the act of fussing about a thing, worrying about a thing, can cause that thing to manifest. I have a history of hyper-vigilance. I also have a history of shin splints. So I’m trying my best not to psych myself out of my running and into another round of shin splints before the end of week one. I’m trying my best to trust my coach and myself and not take myself out of the game before it even starts.

Here’s the tricky part. Ad this isn’t probably news to anyone who knows me. I’m a big fan of improvement, and I’m pretty good at getting better at things. I really don’t like getting worse at them. Herein is the struggle and the humble pie part of the marathon. The marathon doesn’t care about my ego. It doesn’t care about my vanity. It definitely doesn’t care about my fear of failure or decline. My first marathon was my best marathon. My second was slower, but I cut myself slack on that because to finish it at all, less than a year after a stress fracture is something of which I’m proud. My third. Roadkill. There are reasons for it that all boil down to a confluence of bad luck and bad choices with the result of everything that could go wrong  actually going wrong. Except this: I didn’t face plant on the course. So what happens if the fourth marathon is worse still? Or what if I don’t even get that far because the shin splint flairs up again mid-cycle? I guess I have to just wait and see what this path holds. Waiting and seeing is another thing that I’m not too fond of, but I’m learning that it has its merits.

So now it’s time to try again. And I’m not 100%. A conservative guess might put me at 85%? But I’m going to try and go through this cycle and make it to Sacramento. I’ve got some other races that I am looking forward to this fall: the Myrtle Beach Mini in October and the Tryon Half in November. Plus Bird Camp. So here we go.

[Creative Commons licensed image by Flickr user Olivier Bruchez]

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