So I had another untimely injury a few weeks ago. Not as untimely and not as serious as my setback last April, but still quite untimely nonetheless. I felt as if my training was going well, as I had some pretty solid workouts that gave me confidence that I was capable of finally breaking out with a solid race this season. Niagara Falls half marathon would be a good place to go for that, but unfortunately, I was feeling some pain in the upper quad/groin that was worrying me. Despite that, my workouts were going well, so I convinced myself to try to run through it, and I could take some time off after the half marathon. I almost made it. One week before my focus race, I decided to jump in the Vic Matthews open, Guelph's home meet. I'm not sure exactly what or when exactly something went wrong, but something didn't feel right. But I was in a racing state of my mind, and I'm not that good at distinguishing normal racing pain from something more serious, so I just pushed through it. Going up hills was particularly more difficult than usual, and I was getting owned each time going up the big hill at the end of each loop. As a strength runner, usually hills are a strong point for me, so I wasn't sure what was wrong with me. I finished the race really disappointed, getting beat by people who had no business beating me...800m/1500m specialists who shouldn't be near me were blowing by me at the end. On the cool down, I felt something not quite right on the outside of the knee, so I shortened the cool down, went home, and rested it up for the weekend hoping that would be enough. I figured I would just lower the mileage this week and get ready to redeem myself the next week, since I was confident my training indicated much much better than that race. So I attempted a light tempo workout that Monday. I felt a little pain on the warm up, but I figured I had to at least try to run through it. That worked for about 5 minutes or so into the tempo, and then I started to realize that this isn't the type of pain I should be running through. It turns out I messed up something with my IT band where it connects below the knee. So whenever I bent my knee it really hurt. Attempting the tempo definitely made it worse, because the next 10 days, any attempt of running was basically impossible, and going up and down stairs really sucked. but after that, things started to heal up quickly. So I can be thankful that the injury only lasted 2 weeks, but I'm still obviously bummed out that I wasn't able to get in a half marathon this fall. After all the hard training I did since coming to Guelph, so far I have nothing to show for it. I guess that's where patience comes in.
As cliche as it may sound, I really have two options. I can be extremely negative, or I can stay positive and look at the bigger picture. Since I'm human, sometimes I have a tendency to get angry at God and frustrated, because ever since that magical race I had at Around the Bay, it seems like has nothing has gone right for me this year. Injury....fighting hard to get back from injury...finally feeling like I'm getting into the same form I was before that injury....and then injured again. "WHY? Why, oh God, would you give me this awesome opportunity to run in Guelph, the running capital of Canada, with all these amazing athletes, and then allow me to get injured like this? Why do you give me this taste of success only to rip it away from me!?" Yeah...I feel like that is what the devil is tempting me to think like, and question God like I would now what's best for me. I think the devil also made the 3rd place guy at Niagara Falls half marathon (last money spot) run really slow so as to really frustrate me as to the prize money I could've won. But I've tried to be mature and have a better attitude about this minor setback though. I think this injury was simply an overuse injury. Whenever I increase my mileage and/or intensity at too fast of a rate, the chances of injury become much higher. I know that from previous experience and I experienced it again. In previous cases, it was increase of mileage, but in this case, I think just the amount of quality tempo work that they do and some of the long interval workouts were a lot more volume than I was used to, not to mention I was working really hard to keep up with some of the best in the country. I was starting to get excited as I thought I was getting used to the training here at Speed River, but I guess my body said otherwise. I guess its another learning experience. As I get back into things, I should be a little more wise about my training along with working hard and striving to be the best I possibly can be. Perhaps I should not focus so much on getting x amount of miles each week, because sometimes it may be more beneficial to take a day off once every few weeks, especially if I'm not feeling 100%.
There is a specific bible verse that I came to mind as I was going through this injury, and it comes in 2 Corinthians 12:9 when Paul asks the Lord to take this thorn in his flesh away, but God says "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness". I certainly prayed to God to take way this thorn on the outside of my knee before the race on that weekend. But it's like God said "My grace is sufficient for you" like he did for Paul -- it is definitely true for me too. God was graceful enough to let me to have a mysterious breakthrough first year of post collegiate running free of injury last year. Based on my circumstances outside of running last year, I don't know what I would've done if I had injury trouble last year. I really believe the Lord was watching out for me, and he knew I needed that success at that time. It also gives me hope for the future, because I know that had I not had that success, I likely would not have been drawn to train in Guelph because I wouldn't have felt fast enough. For that reason, I feel like God has a reason why he drew me to Guelph right now, but the precise reason, and whether I am here long term is something I don't know, but I'm sure God will reveal that to me in his good timing. God was faithful to me before, and it helps me trust that he will be faithful again. At least this time around, I am in a Master's program that I actually have a chance of completing, as I'm not completely over my head. So, it's enough to keep me busy so that I don't go insane if I get injured. The second part -- "my power is perfected in weakness" -- also has some implication for me. The injury reminds me that by my own strength their is so much uncertainty and limitations no matter how hard I try. It's a reminder that God is in control, and sometimes he uses hardships to build our character. If everything came easy with no bumps in the road, we wouldn't appreciate the successes as much.
Well, I had a taste of that success last year when I made my first National team. I had a taste of that success at Around the Bay. I've set the bar higher for myself with those performances under my belt, and I'm in the right place to develop my God given talent of running to its fullest here in Guelph. It's unfortunate my first stint of training here had to end with an injury, but that taste of success I was blessed with last year has me thirsting for more, and eager to get back into things next spring and excited for what God might have in store for me. Intuitively, if I have the God given ability to run as well as I did without a coach, eventually, the training here under Dave Scott-Thomas who apparently knows what he is doing based on the number of world class athletes he has, should lead to significant improvement from what I did last year. How much improvement and how long it will take, I don't know, but I'm eager to find out. I realize that two weeks is not a horrendous setback, and I have a lot of time to build up and hopefully do something significant this spring. The key for me I think is to realize that these few months are really an adjustment season for me. I shouldn't expect instant improvements, since it takes time to reap the benefit of a new training plan. So...if I think about it...I really do have reason to stay positive about the future despite this setback. But regardless of what happens next, its important to realize that God's plan is better than my plan.