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I’ve decided to hit the reset button. By that I mean I’ve decided to
take two weeks off from running—maybe three.
The reason is that my body feels like it’s coming apart at the seams.
I don’t have any full-blown injuries, but I’ve got what I call “red-flag pain” in a number of areas and I’m quite confident that at least one of these trouble spots would become a full-blown injury if I kept plowing ahead with my training.
Twelve years ago—heck, even seven years ago—I probably would have plowed ahead. Indeed, seven years ago I ran my first and only Boston Marathon. I was on the best form of my life, having just set a half-marathon PR, and was ready to take down a comparatively soft marathon PR. But the early downhill sections of the course wreaked havoc on my quads and I wound up walking most of the last 8 miles. I was coming up on my 38th birthday at the time and fearful that I was running out of opportunities to achieve lifetime best performances.
So what did I do? I ran another marathon two weeks later and, of course, got injured.
The problem started out as plantar fasciitis but then metastasized into an Achilles strain after I tried to train through it by running on a treadmill at an incline in order to reduce heel impact. The Achilles strain turned chronic and two and a half years passed before I was able to run my next marathon.
This was a hard way to learn a lesson, but I learned it. My current situation is not dissimilar. I’ve had a good year of running overall, and am fitter than I’ve been in a while. Yet my last two races have not turned out well. My consecutive second DNF left me strongly motivated to get right back on the horse and prove my fitness in another race, but my body is sending me a very different message. I’ve been training progressively ever since my last reset in January and the wear-and-tear is mounting. Most worrisome is that one of my sore spots is the same dime-sized area of my left Achilles tendon that hobbled me for more than two years after Boston.
It’s difficult to make yourself take time off from running when you’re fit and you have a big challenge—in this case, my first 50-mile ultramarathon—looming in the not-so-distant future. But I know I’m making the right decision. And it’s not as if I’ll be completely sedentary for the next two or three weeks. In fact, I’m going to do one of my patented steep uphill treadmill walks right now!
Matt Fitzgerald is a thoughtful author focusing on all things endurance and nutrition. We are all looking forward to seeing how this experiment fares. We have agreed, whether a magnificent triumph or in a crumbled heap, Matt’s first ultra in 2016 will be a journey worth following. Learn more about Matt HERE.