Adapting Your Training and Goals to Match With Reality

The truth about running: it’s not always easy. Even when you’ve done it all before, it’s still incredibly hard.

Training for a marathon can involve running up to the edge of injury (and beyond), and some days it seems like it’s one step forward, two steps back. It’s very easy to get discouraged early on and to think you’ll never make it to the start of your race, never mind the finish.

Shin splints, my near constant companion lately

Since last fall I’ve been struggling with horrible shin splints. These things are bad enough to have me limping on the morning after a run and bad enough that I thought for sure I had a stress fracture last fall.

Physiotherapy was helping a bit, and easing back on running took a lot of the pressure off. But not running isn’t how you get to the start line of a marathon ready to run well over 42.2km.

Discouraged isn’t a good way to end each training run

I thought I could manage things on my own and that as the training went on I could keep things in check and run right up to the fine line between soreness and injury. I was wrong about that. Lately, things were getting worse again, not better. Each run was more discouraging and I was wondering if I’d even be able to get to Ottawa to run the marathon in May.

Athlete's Care Liberty Village

Athlete’s Care Liberty Village

That’s not a great place to be when you are a part of Team Awesome for the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, and are supposed to be encouraging and supporting other runners on their marathon journeys.

Seek professional help

Last week I headed back over to my physiotherapist, Adriana. She’s a person I trust and someone who knows me pretty well. I worked with her after a very bad bike crash a few years ago that left me with a severe arm injury and she understands that running is a big part of my life.

I was honest with her. I really want to run the Ottawa Marathon in May and so not running isn’t an option. We worked out a plan to pull back from the edge of injury and get to the start line ready to go.

That means a little less mileage and speed for the next few months. It means being less focused on running a personal best in Ottawa, and more focused on enjoying training and having a good race.

I’ve started doing some exercises on my glutes and hips, and I’m also paying much more attention to how I run. There’s already a difference in how my shins feel after just a week. This is encouraging.

The takeaway

Things don’t always come easy, or go the way you expect. Sometimes the best thing to do is to change your goals or adapt your training to better match up with what your body is able to do.

The ultimate goal should be to have fun and enjoy your running. If other things are getting in the way of that, then maybe it’s time to take a step back and make sure that you’re looking at the big picture.

Getting faster and achieving personal bests is awesome, and there’s nothing wrong with setting performance goals. But be realistic first and listen to your body when it tells you that you may have set your sights too high.

Good luck with your training!

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