As athletes, we try to develop strong determination to keep on going, pushing through any pain. That drive is necessary and helps us to achieve new personal bests. However, sometimes this quality of extreme persistence is our own worst enemy. How do you know when to stop pushing ahead and say “No” to the race?
For only the second time in my life I have had to pull out of a planned race. I am going to pass on running the Mississauga Marathon, a race that I love and has been great for me in the past. My training was gearing me up for a spring Marathon – I had all of my long runs completed (up to 37km). So it goes strongly against my determined nature not to follow through with my plan.
How to know when to say “No to the Race”
- Chronic Ongoing Pain: Keeping a training log is an impartial way of looking back over the weeks and identifying if an injury has been an issue. I thought my hamstring pain had only been around for a couple weeks, but looking back over my training log, I discovered that I had recorded the first twinges of pain 4 weeks ago. Prior to that I had other issues; tight quadriceps and heel pain. I have been plagued with various injuries for 6 weeks.
- An Honest Analysis of the Consequences of Running the Race: In a race, it is inevitable that an athlete will push herself. I have found that for me, it is extremely difficult to hold back in a race even if I know I should save myself for a more important later goal. I’ve learned that if I truly need to hold back, then running a race is not an activity I should be engaging in. While I might be able to get away with it for a shorter distance, like a 5k, the pounding of the full 42.2km distance of a marathon would definitely exasperate any injuries that I am trying to nurse.
- Listen to the advice of Health Care Professionals and Coaches: Having an ongoing therapist who knows how your body responds to stress and how quickly you recover is key to knowing when it is time to call a “time-out”. I am not always able to determine when it is time to call it “quits”. I need people in my life who tell me to slow down when it is necessary. Last week my chiropractor – Dr. Geron Cowherd – adjusted my lower back and did ART (Active Release Therapy) which had a very significant impact on my hamstring. I felt almost instantly better. In fact, it was the most improvement I had ever experienced from a single treatment. I was able to run well over the weekend with no significant pain. However, the pain returned Monday morning. Geron has seen me recover quickly from injuries in the past, but this time he told me to stop. I will listen.
- An Assessment of the Importance of the Race: Prioritize! Determine what the most important goal of the year is and go from there. Will this current race assist in achieving that main goal or detract from it? My main goal of 2015 is to complete my first Ironman race in September. It is time to increase my cycling mileage and start combining the three sports in practice. Running the marathon now would not give me a great time (as I am injured and currently not at peak fitness) and it only has the potential to detract from the Ironman, with risk of further injury and a prolonged recovery time. A marathon has a minimum of 2 weeks (and up to 4 weeks) post race recovery, which would mean the loss of much valuable training time. I will gain nothing from the marathon in terms of my Ironman goal, except lost training time and likely worsened injuries.
Now it is time to focus on RECOVERY and my long term goal of the ironman. The beauty of this event is that although I must now take some time off from running, I can continue to pursue my swimming and cycling training. I will enjoy active recovery and a weekend with my family, without the pressure of a marathon. I have determined that I will focus on the positives and treat my body with care and respect the time it needs to heal. For inspiration, I read the story of Krista Duchene,who broke her femur a year ago and today found out that she will be be going to the Olympics to represent Canada. There is hope!
How have you coped with your injuries? Have injuries forced you to say “No” to a race? I would love to hear about your experiences and learn from your recoveries!