We are just SEVEN months away from the 2024 Yuengling Shamrock Marathon Weekend! Our guest series from J&A Racing Ambassador, Andrew Ware, continues this week with a training update about the ups and downs every runner will face. We hope you follow along and are encouraged on your own journey!
When I came to Pete Hansen at J&A for the idea of a blog/podcast series following my training for the 2024 Shamrock Marathon Weekend (specifically for me the Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon), I envisioned being able to walk you all through my training. Yes, I knew there would be ups and downs. Yes, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. My intention was to give readers insight into how to train for these big races.
However, what I did not factor in was the idea that I cannot go a full year without hurting myself. This may seem hyperbolic, but ask anyone in my run club, RunSomeMo, and they will confirm this. In fact, a year might be too generous of a timeline (to them it may seem more like every few months).
Yet here I am, writing an article having not run in almost a month. A month without running. Yes, this is the worst.
About a month ago, I hyperextended my knee walking up some steps.
So, for now, my training is paused.
However, this all begs the question: How do we come back from injuries, hoping to achieve our goals?
I will say, lucky for me my goal is still quite a ways out. Though if this were in the middle of my training cycle for Shamrock Weekend 2024, I would try telling myself that injuries are equally difficult both mentally and physically.
It might be tough to reconcile with a decrease in your fitness routine, but sometimes these things happen and beating ourselves up over it does not help.
As you saw in my initial article (check it out here) I have experienced a lot of injuries that have derailed my experiences. The mental aspect is always the toughest to reconcile in the moment. I injured myself at a conference and remember spending the 4 hour drive home just angry and bitter about being injured again.
Then I realized that while my anger was justified, I needed to move past it. The longer I was stuck in that hole, the longer it would take me to bounce back. The quicker I mentally reconciled my injury, the quicker I could begin the rehabilitation process.
So I am on the mend; I am doing a lot of strengthening in my hips and core. I am reminded that the joints in our legs that propel us when we run are fragile when they are not stacking correctly. I am in the midst of rebuilding that stacking system. Last time I had to do this, my whole stride changed and it messed up my fitness when I did that.
Mentally, injuries last longer than physically, but it is what makes the accomplishments we achieve that much more worthwhile.
When I got back into running more consistently in 2019, I thought my longer distance goals were behind me. I tried to achieve what I thought might be easy. I just set my sights on doing 5K’s, 8K’s, and 10K’s. I didn’t want to push too hard, and for me I didn’t even really care about setting personal records (PRs). I would have loved to have gotten one, but I was trying to rediscover my love for running.
This was all until I actually started running and my coach at the time thought I needed a bit more of a mental push to drive me forward. My brain was in it but my heart was not.
We can run purely for the love of running, but sometimes we need more to continue to drive us forward. We need a “Why” that we can continue to turn back to when times are tough. Had I had an injury in that time, would I have been as driven to keep going or would I have stopped?
I don’t know how to answer that because I was encouraged to register for another half marathon and challenge myself. Instead of keeping my goals vague, I was encouraged to make them something worth working for. Then 2 weeks out from that half marathon, when I turned my ankle and awoke one morning with a lot of swelling, my feelings were calmed by a coach who reminded me that this was why I had given myself the challenge.
It was not a bad sprain in the least bit. Swelling went down after a day, and pain was gone shortly after that. A few days later, I was walk/jogging, and the next week I was running again and hitting my easy pace not too long after that.
I fear that had I not been mentally in a space to push myself, I would have taken the sprain at face value and thrown the whole training season out. Luckily I had someone to help me realize to stop and assess.
Had I really considered how bad it was? Had I given time to consider what I was working towards?
Could it have been a much worse injury than it was? Sure, but had I given it the chance to assess? No.
I had immediately jumped to the worst possible scenario. Unfortunately, I continue to do this sometimes. After a 10K back in April, I knew I had strained my quad during the race, and was ready to just shut it down. Again, I was calmed and told to think about the big picture.
“Take a couple of days off, and see how it feels.”
That is what my current coach told me. Even friends in my run club helped to walk me down from the cliff of a terrible fall season. Now I sit here with a knee injury, feeling better, but still worried about the fall season.
Even if I run a half marathon, how fast will it actually be? I set a high bar for myself, but that’s not the problem.
Our running game must be as mentally strong as it is physically. This is difficult, and yes even this runner struggles with it.
Mental strength is built in the pits of despair, as sad as that is to say. However, mental strength is also learned in community. We are stronger together and there is no secret in that. There has to be someone to bounce your mental struggles on. I have a spouse, therapist, coach, family, and friends who I can talk about running with. Our mental struggles are not only our own, and when we have a community supporting us, they can help remind us of our why; then we become stronger runners.
I am going to be running soon and when I get back into it I am sure some of my goals will adjust. However, the drive and passion will not stop.