Marathon dreams.. Running Injuries.. And The Will to Prepare..

I don’t know who said it but it might have been said by many. “It does not cost you anything to dream. So, why not dream BIG?” Well, dreaming may be free. But, trying to make those dreams, a reality, is not. As I discovered during my marathon training, you cannot simply pay for them with the bouncing checks of your wishes. You would need a Swiss bank full of determination, a load of gold bullion of dedication and above all a priceless gem called discipline. A discipline to get out there and train when you can sleep in on that lazy Saturday, when you can take it easy on that freezing Sunday.

“The will to win is nothing, with out a will to prepare” This quote, quite aptly, comes from a marathoner, Juma Ikangaa.

That seemed to be in line with what another veteran marathoner told me when I approached him for advice. “A marathon does not start at the starting line when thousands gather to run on the race day. It starts on the day you start your training. Training is the real thing. Its not always easy to motivate yourself to get out there and run when there is nobody standing on the sidelines to cheer you, when there is no one to pat you and say ‘well done’. If you get through the training with the same motivation you started out with, you need not worry about the race.”

Although, I had never run a race before and hardly managed much beyond a 5k jog, I decided to make my marathon dreams a reality. I started enthusiastically training for my first marathon that was to be today. As I gradually increased the distance, I began to know the actual meanings of the words blisters, cramps etc. New muscles were being discovered every week. Some days were less painful than the others. But, I gradually graduated, from barely managing 5k to managing half marathon distance (13miles/21km) comfortably, in just six weeks. Completing my first 13miler gave me a taste of the joy of running. The next weekend, I completed another 13miler. It felt great!

Felt great, until the next long run. It was on the next long run that I experienced my first niggle in the left knee. I stopped after 9miles and could not run again. I had to walk back the remaining 4miles home. Strangely, I could walk without any pain. But I could not so much as jog for even a couple of steps with out pain.

I could not figure out what the problem was. Was it because of the shoe I was running in? Was it tinkering with my running form? Was it because of the crown in the road? There were a million questions but few answers. I gave it a couple of weeks of rest.

During this time, I walked and biked. Then, I tried running again. Immediately, I busted the heel on the same leg. This time, I could not even walk. It was then that the meaning of the phrase ‘count your blessings’ dawned on me. When I injured the knee, I could still walk and bike. But all I focused on was that I could not run. Of course, it is a bit justified too, considering that I was training for ‘running’ a marathon.

After two weeks of limping, I was able to walk again. Strangely, I have less pain walking barefoot than walking with shoes on. So, I have started going for walks completely barefoot and the heel seems to be getting better. I am still unable to run. It turned out to be a stress fracture. It just needs time.

I intend to give it all the time it needs this time. Having learnt my lessons, I don’t intend to rush it and do more damage. But how much longer do I have to wait before I start running again? That is a question that I am yet to find an answer to. I know that my marathon dreams are squashed for now. Yes, just for now. I am definitely going to give it another shot for sure. For now, I need to be considerate to my body and heed to its requests.

Although, I am unable to realize my marathon dreams for now, the process has taught me some important lessons. Most important of which is the importance of the will to prepare. The will to prepare is as important as the will to win. And like most things in life, it’s the journey and how you savor every moment of it is what matters the most.

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