Finding It Impossible to “Run With It”

Warning: Serious discouragement ahead.

It’s the end of August. I’m 65 days from the Marine Corps Marathon.  My training has been either mediocre or nil, due to nagging issues in this year’s problem joint: my left hip.  And the training that hasn’t been decimated by injury has been pretty well done in by travel and weather.

I just got back from 3 weeks in Nevada, where I was living at 5100′, and planned to rehab my hip joint and improve my respiratory capacity in the thin air and challenging hills.  I decided to use Couch to 10K to help…since the physical therapist I saw prior to leaving VA told me to use the next month to “work back up to 5 miles” (his diagnosis, by the way, was hip bursitis, and the solution was supposed to be strength training and stretching).  So I did intervals of about 2-3 minutes, trading off walks and runs, and power-walking the steepest inclines when I just didn’t have any running left in me.

I wish I could say I ran most of the days I was out there, but I didn’t.  But I did get a resistance cord, and started using that a bit.  I was further heartened by the fact that my hip pain was going away…up till about 2 days before I came back to VA.

The past two days, especially today, walking around Washington DC for about 6 hours, have been as painful as it was at its worst before I went to Reno.  It even started out that way, early in the morning.  And the new painkillers I got from the doctor yesterday, which she said were good for arthritis (related to bursitis, I assume, since she made that connection herself?) didn’t seem to make a DENT in it.

And so now I’m stuck.  I know if I were to go out for a run tomorrow (hurricane or no hurricane a-comin’), I’d have the same results I was having in June and early July…I’d probably have to walk before long due to the hip, even if I had energy and breath left.

Did I mention I have 65 days till the MCM?

I have not done a SINGLE long run.  Not ONE.  My brother and my friends are doing 14s and 17s.  I haven’t done so much as a 6.  And my last 5 was weeks ago.

And I’ve been telling people that the hip couldn’t POSSIBLY be as bad as the knee was during the St. Jude Marathon in December, so even if I only got through HALF my training, I could probably still PR.  I was still saying that just yesterday.

But today…well, I hate to say it, but today, I started thinking about picking up someone on Craigslist or Facebook who is willing to pay to transfer my bib.

Yeah.  I’m thinking of washing out.

I just hate the idea of showing up to an event like the Marine Corps Marathon with anything less than my best efforts behind me and my best possible outlook ahead of me.  I can’t toe that starting line with doubt and failure in my heart.  It would feel like sacrilege to me.  Why muddle my way through, injured and (VASTLY) undertrained, just to muddle my way through?  I don’t think I’d even want a medal I got under those terms, finish or no.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have no delusions of competitiveness.  But I feel so woefully unprepared at this point, halfway through a full training program…hell, I haven’t even been DOING a training program!!  It’s SO unlike last fall, when I was religiously logging the runs, when I wasn’t injured, when I’d laid the groundwork prior to the start of the program, when I’d put forth the discipline and the dedication and the injury came long after I had already gained the necessary self-confidence.  I ran the race, I finished, and I took the winter off…and I’ve just never gotten anywhere near back up to a decent, respectable ability this spring/summer.  I just never found the flow.  And now, it’s nearly September, and I’m STILL floundering.

Should I just bow out?

The upsides are many.  I could start from the bottom again, no pressure, no stress.  I could do easy little 2 and 3 milers, work my base back up.  I could incorporate a strength training program, again, from the bottom up.  It would be a relief just to be able to focus on getting back into decent form and shape again without the constant calculation in my head of how badly I need to chop and hack and reassemble my training program in order to have SOME readiness in a mere two months…something that is foolish if not impossible.  And, if I transferred my bib, someone who REALLY wants to run this race – and is prepared – would have a chance to do so.

I really wanted to run this MCM this year.  It’s my brother’s first marathon…I wanted to do it with him.  I have so many friends registered.  But they’re all so much farther along than I am…and it’s frustrating and it’s wrecking my self-esteem and that just means it’s sabotaging my recovery anyway.

And it’s not like I’ll never have another chance again, right?  RIGHT?

I need some advice.  If my Running Gurus are still reading this, please weigh in.  If I bow out, must I hang my head, too?


About merlintoes

Amateur marathoner, constant wanderer, sometime teacher, and pilgrim for life. As of July 2012, I have picked up and moved my life to Colorado, a state where I know no one, have no job, and hear it is very beautiful. I don't understand it myself...but I'm gonna run with it.
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3 Responses to Finding It Impossible to “Run With It”

  1. George says:

    Sorry to hear about all the setbacks. As hard as it is, I definitely think that passing on the MCM this year is the best thing. Think of it as an investment in longer-term running (because otherwise you risk an injury serious enough to take you out for a very long time). Definitely nothing to hang your head about. Running, and marathon training in particular, is all about getting to know your body’s limitations, when you can push them and when you can’t. This is part of that process.

    You’ve already done one marathon, so this is not about just 1 finish line… not just about proving you can do this (since you already know you can). At this point, if you’re to become a multiple-marathoner, you have to take the long view of things. In this case, it seems that the long view suggests that sitting this one out is best.

    Depending on how things go, training for a half might still be an option – is there one that day that you could transfer to (or even an 8k)? One other thing – be sure to check out race rules about bib transfers. I’ve never done MCM but a lot of other races won’t allow you to sell your bib, and if you’re caught you could be banned for life from the event… and you want to be able to be there next year when you’re healthy and trained! :-)

  2. Jeff says:

    Bummer but not a bust. I also was injured and had to let my MCM bib go once. Difficult decision, but one that probably saved me from a more severe injury. I would contact MCM and see about transferring to one of their other races. Remember, runners are runners for life. I ran Boston after my MCM bib drop!

  3. Michelle says:

    I am no running guru, but I agree with George’s comments. Don’t hurt yourself! And look at this as a break, not giving up forever. I admire your discipline and determination, always! You hold very high expectations for yourself :) but my advice is this: Give yourself permission to watch your brother at this event! Find another race so you keep running and start again. I believe the most valuable lessons we learn, are often from our struggles. So ask yourself…what can I learn from this?

    No matter what…you are a runner and you always will be! :)

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