Am I injured or am I hurt? I ask myself this every morning before the sun comes up, several times throughout the day, and after the sun goes down. You can run if you're hurt, if you're injured you can't. And it hurts. Ever day it hurts. My calves scream. My heals throb. My knees are tight. Scar tissue is built up in my ankle. My back feels like boulders are sitting in it. Headaches make it hard to take my head off the pillow. None of these are injuries. This is everyday.
Sometimes people act like running a lot of miles every week is easy. Because RunJunkEes sponsors some of us that we have superhuman recovery. This is not the case. I will let you in on a little secret: my legs hurt more today, after running a 90 mile week, then they did when I first started running. It has never gotten easier for me. I can just push harder, go faster, and run stronger. I run with pain that would keep some people in bed for the entire day. This doesn't make me special, or superhuman, or anything like that. Anyone can do it if you want it bad enough.
As for injuries, I have had plantar fasciitis, runner's knee, it band problems, ankle problems, on and on. Smart or not I ran through them all. Except one. Last August I got the bright idea of doing one of those zombies are chasing me mud runs. I fell a few times, and unknown to me I got a stress fracture in my tibia. To make the fracture worse, I went for a 20 mile training run the next day. It hurt, but I thought that was normal. I couldn't walk afterwards. Stubborn as I am I still thought I just hurt myself. Tried running two days later and couldn't make it 10 feet. Off to the doctor's I go.
After being diagnosed the doctor told me I'd be off my legs for 12 weeks and couldn't run my full marathon in November. After some back and forth he agreed to do another MRI after 9-10 weeks and if all was clear I could try to run. But how to stay in any type of marathon shape when I couldn't? It was not the time to be depressed, get lazy, or give up. I found other ways to keep training.
I got up everyday and was at the gym when they opened at 4 a.m. I lifted for an hour and a half to two hours. I got a pool running belt, shoes, and a heart rate monitor and simulated all of my runs in the pool for 1-3 hours a day. It was boring. It sucked. But it worked. Once my leg felt little better I was able to go on the bike. And I did this everyday. For two months. It was boring. I wanted to cry. But I was not going to give up. My ass was going to be at the start AND the finish line on November 17th in Philadelphia for the full marathon, fracture be damned. If you want something bad enough you will find a way. If not you will find an excuse. Being injured would not be my excuse.
I was cleared to run after 9 weeks. Within a month after being cleared I ran a 10k race, a 10 mile race, and a full marathon. Each of those races remain my worst time because I had lost a step. But I finished each of them strong, standing upright, because I didn't allow injury to make me lose sight of my goals or diminish my motivation to keep moving forward.
Each of us has to decide what they want out of everything they do. Running is more to me then a recreation, then a hobby, or a way to keep in shape. It is part of who I am. Whether injured, hurt, depressed, heartbroken, afraid, anxious, lost, it doesn't matter, I have running, if nothing else. So no matter how many obstacles life throws at me, I am going to bust my ass to make sure I am the best runner I can be, even when I can't run.
There is no finish line.