The Big Picture

“Why are you doing this to yourself?”

I sat there in silence for a moment, my foot soaking in an ice bath, thinking over the very pointed, honest question that was just posed to me.

On the table in front of me, my marathon training plan was open on my laptop where I had been making constant tweaks and edits, trying - desperately - to Frankenstein my plan to accommodate injury recovery while ramping up to train for a marathon in less than 75 days. The math wasn’t adding up, no matter how many ways I approached it. “It can be done” I’d been telling myself. But it was becoming clear that I’d been trying to force a square peg into a round hole. 

It had been 3 months since I first starting feeling symptoms of my plantar fasciitis and 6 weeks since it had been officially diagnosed. I had taken a month off running completely to focus on recovery. I was doing everything I could to rehab my plantar fasciitis - I got fitted for orthotics, bought new shoes, went to regular physiotherapy, daily stretching, icing, and rolling. I was even wearing a Strassburg Sock to bed every night. All the while, I’d been working hard to stay fit to ensure a smooth transition back into my plan when my foot was healed. Yoga. Spinning. Core work. Strength training.

By early March, I thought my foot was ready to re-introduce running. I was relatively pain-free. Sure, I still had some stiffness in the mornings, but that was normal. At my coach’s recommendation, I eased back into my running plan. I was feeling good. Until last week. As I began to ramp up my volume and started to turn up the speed again, I was stopped in my tracks. I was no longer feeling casual stiffness. I was in pain. I hobbled from my kitchen to the living room with a large bowl full of ice, plopped down on the couch, and dunked my foot into it.

“Why are you doing this to yourself?”

I looked up at my wife and her voice of reason, who was intently looking back at me, waiting for my response. My explanation. I recognized the look in her eye. Half concern, half smarten the F--- up. I knew that both halves came from love.

“I don’t know…” I muttered, slouched over, frustrated and dejected.

What a weak response. How did I not know? What was wrong with me? Why was I doing this to myself? I had vowed to be patient with this injury and, for the most part, I had been. But clearly my body was not ready for me to re-introduce running. I finally got that. Along with plantar fasciitis, I also suffer from stubborn-runner syndrome. 

“You need to let your body recover - properly.”

She was right. This was the wake up call that I needed. Katie had seen that I was clearly not in the right space, physically or mentally. What was a truly trying to accomplish here? You can’t rush through rehab. You can’t force recovery. As Coach Dave had said to me from the beginning, respect the injury. I had been so dead set on my plan. My plan to run a personal best. My plan to re-qualify for Boston. My plan to get some redemption. But life doesn’t always go according to plan. Shit happens. And that’s okay.

“Think about Chicago.”

With only 10 weeks to go until race day, there’s no way that I could responsibly train for and run the Ottawa Marathon. So, what...was I going to run a slow marathon, just to check another one off my list? And what would that mean for my long term recovery? After all, I have the Chicago Marathon on the schedule for October. The Chicago Marathon. This isn’t just another race, this is one of the 6 World Marathon Majors. This is a big one - a HUGE one. Is jamming the square peg to fit into the round hole for the Ottawa Marathon worth jeopardizing my ability to run a strong, fast, healthy race in Chicago? 

“No” I answered boldly. “100% not.” That was the first thing I’d been absolutely certain about in weeks. 

“Well, then there’s your answer” Katie replied. 

There’s my answer. Slow down. Stop. Look at the big picture. What am I really trying to achieve here? I love Katie so much for challenging me on this. For asking me the tough questions, even if it means that I have to stop doing the thing I love most in this world for a while. She knows that it sucks, but she also knows that it’s in my best interest.

So what now?

I’ve decided that recovery is my #1 priority. It’s my new spring goal. In order to do that, I need to take the idea of running at Ottawa Race Weekend off the table. I’ve removed it completely from my race schedule. This doesn’t mean that there’s zero possibility that I’ll run in it at all in May, but it does mean that I can’t let the temptation of a race distract me from what’s truly important at this point in time. I need to channel all of my energy - physical, mental and emotional - towards recovery.

My body, my legs, and my feet have given me so much these last 4 years. It’s about time I give them something back in return.

June 14th, 2017.

That’s my 29th birthday. It’s also 116 days, or about 16 weeks, before the Chicago Marathon. That’s when I’ll be starting my training. So that’s my date. My goal date to be fully recovered. Pain free. Healthy. Ready to run. What a wonderful birthday gift that would be to myself.

As always, thanks for the support. I'll be back, I just need some time.