I made a difficult decision earlier this week, that is I will no longer be running Toronto Waterfront Marathon this fall. From the start of the build up, I had some issues with my right hip flexor which I figured I could run through. A bit later I started getting pain above my knee, which I later found out after physiotherapy that I was altering my stride, although barely noticeable, and it put a lot of stress on my lower quads which lead to the pain above the right knee. I tried to run through it for a while, as it was manageable for the most part during runs, but really hurt afterwards. It started to become evident that the issues I've been dealing with were impeding my training. I wasn't able to train the way I wanted to, and if I tried to get over 160km a week things started to get worse and I had to go to the elliptical for a few days. My paces in workouts were nothing spectacular either. I prayed that God would make it clear whether or not I should try to run through the injuries and do the marathon or play it safe and call it quits, get healthy, and focus on a spring marathon. After running the slowest 10k and half marathon of my post collegiate career, it was pretty clear evidence what I should do. Not the answer I wanted, but pretty clear evidence.
It is difficult for me, as I'm not the type of person to quit easily once I set my mind on some kind of goal or pursuit. The problem with that mindset is that sometimes it is logically of your best interest to quit. It could even be that continuing on your pursuit could have devastating consequences. For example, if that pursuit is a girl you could end up with a restraining order (not speaking from personal experience)...or in my case if it is trying to run through an injury, I could end up more seriously hurt which would have worse consequences down the road. I have to keep in mind that my realistic goal over the next few years is a sub 2:15 that would qualify me for the 2015 world championships. If my training isn't pointing to anything close to that, then there is no point risking further injury. It is kind of like a hypothesis test with this decision, and I'm a math/stat guy so that's just how I think. My null hypothesis is that I will run the marathon, and I will need significant evidence to overturn that in favor of the alternative, drop out of the marathon. In statistical hypothesis testing, you come up with a p-value between 0 and 1, and the lower that value is the stronger the evidence is against your null hypothesis. Before running the test you usually pick a value in which you will reject the null hypothesis if the p-value turns out to be lower than that value. It's important to pick an appropriate value for each situation. Too high and you are a coward or a quitter. Too low...and you might be accused of being a stalker if the null hypothesis is a girl will go out with you (i.e. there may still be a 0.0001% chance she likes you, but you better move on to the next one), or in my case, I could be at risk of a chronic or more severe injury if I continue. Not to mention running through pain really sucks, it really takes the joy out of training. So I'm running without joy, I'm not racing well, and I don't want to make things worse. Definitely enough evidence to reject the null hypothesis. It is a tough decision, but I am at peace with it because I feel it is the logical decision to make. I want to head into my first marathon feeling confident and in top shape, and its becoming unlikely with the way I'm feeling now that i'll be able to achieve that in such short time. Time to heal up physically and take a mental break. I plan to finish up my master's this fall, and I'm involved with the Athletes in Action group at Guelph, so at least I have something productive to do to keep my sanity while I'm not running.
Lord willing I will get my chance to make a marathon debut in the spring. And I say Lord willing, because it is important to recognize that nothing is guaranteed, as it says in James 4 not to be over confident in your own plans but to recognize that ultimately the Lord is in control. It's still wise to make plans, but it must be recognized that many things can happen outside of your control that could hinder those plans.