Marathon Training, week 2: Pain and Heartbreak

Week 2 of marathon training was filled with heartbreak and pain. Let me explain. The pain I had experience in my left leg for the past few weeks turned into something of a nightmare on Monday. I headed out for an 8 mile run, and instead of the pain subsin as it had in the past during a run, it turned into to a sharp, horrible pain within the first mile. I limped in pain, and decided to call it quits. Something was clearly wrong.

As I hobbled back to the subway on 60th street, I felt frustrated, pained, and plain angry. How could this have happened to me? I had been so careful in previous months, and had spent weeks on speed work and strength training to prevent such injuries. It didn’t seem fair, and the reality of my mortality hit me hard.

I saw a Sports Medicine Doctor and a Physical Therapist that Ben recommended this week, and the diagnoses was promising: I had created a stress syndrom in the left calf area, which would not get worse with use (though it could be VERY painful to run), and physical therapy and strength training would help fix it. This diagnoses was heaven-sent compared to what I was expecting.

I took a few days off, and ran a total of 14 out of 52 miles on the calendar for the week. When I attempted my run yesterday, the pain was excrusiating. I limped for a while and fought back tears. How had my body come to this? I had a trained, and raced so hard, and rested and ate as best I could to rebuild my body. It didn’t seem fair. As I limped to the subway, I felt worthless, weak, and defeated.

This would be a good time to address reality: No, I am not an elite athlete. My life does not rely on my ability to win races. However, my mental state relies on my body to run to the best of my ability. Let me explain: If I were not an actor, and thought I had the genetic gift to succeed as a runner, I would compete as an elite athlete. My heart, mind, and focus are committed as much as they can be, and I love it that much. I don’t believe I have the genetic gift (as my injury has proved) to ever be an elite athlete, and I love acting first and foremost. Running is a close second. Therefore, when I cannot run, it is like telling a singer that she cannot sing. As an actor, running keeps me focused, sane and feeling in control in some aspect of my life. Without it, I feel like a ship lost at sea.

As I limped back home after my horrible run last night, I decided that I would force myself to take the next week entirely off from running, with two exceptions: a 5K race in Astoria on Sunday, and the Queens Half Marathon on July 30th. Both are races that are important to me, and I will rest the entire week (missing another 50 miles of training) in the process.

This week has been  a reality check, and as close as I can get to hell. I feel scared, terrified, and useless right now. I am horrible at sitting still, and I am super scared that the time off will kill my chance of reaching my ambitious -3:20 marathon goal, which would have been difficult if I had been healthy for the 18 weeks of marathon training.

And though I have cried out of pain or frustration every day this week, I am telling myself that injury and recovery is part of the process. Its part of being an athlete. Will I ever be an elite runner? No. Will I ever be a healthy and happy runner? I sure hope so.

Come hell or high water, I will do my damndest to cross that finish line in under 3:20. I will probably have tears of emotion streaming down my face, and legs that feel of lead, but I’ll be damned if I don’t succeed. I am a Corkum, and Corkums are fighters. However, this week – I rest.

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~ by Elizabeth on July 22, 2011.

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