Wednesday, October 8, 2008

System Fail

A week and a half to go and I find my body falling apart. Everyone who has done this a few times will tell you that the taper period before a marathon is when you'll feel all sorts of aches and twinges, but not to worry. But this isn't just the normal aches of taper.

I'm officially worried.

Many times I have described endurance running as the ability to tolerate pain. Along with that goes the ability to distinguish between good pain and bad pain.  Good pain is muscle fibers being torn and rebuilt again into stronger legs, lungs aching with the exertion of aerobic exercise, getting stronger, growing in capacity, becoming more efficient. Bad pain is injury. With experience, a runner learns to recognize the bad pain, and stop. Stretch, recover, get different shoes, take a week off, whatever it takes to combat the problem and get back to running.

This logic goes right out the window when a race is imminent. Even really smart, really experienced runners do outright stupid things to their bodies for a race. A young woman from my running group, who had trained long, hard, and smart for a marathon last fall, hurt her back weeks before the race. She was not even close to being fully recovered come race day, and yet she started anyway and was forced to give up miles from the finish. We all told her she shouldn't, and we all understood when she did anyway. Once you spend months getting up early, going out in the dark and the weather and giving most of your free time over to mile after mile of training, not running the race is just not an option. We feel the pain and try to ignore it, even though we know better. We bargain with our bodies, forgetting that while 90% of endurance running is mental, the other 10% is cold hard physical fact. 

My yassos this morning were a complete bust, and after a week of being in denial about my hamstring, I was forced to face the fact that I'm hurt. I hate it. I want to scream and kick and throw a tantrum over it. It's just not fair not fair NOT FAIR!

Instead, I am not going to run tomorrow. And maybe not the next day. I'll pay attention to the pain and hope that a week of recovery is more than enough.

Because there is no way I'm not running the race.

No comments: