Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I've spent the past week and a half trying to recover from the marathon, both mentally and physically. But more so mentally.

I'll start with the physical-- that's easier. My hip felt a bit sore going into the marathon. It started about a week prior to the race, and I'm not sure why because my mileage was super low from the taper. The marathon didn't seem to make it any worse. In fact, the hip wasn't even an issue at all during the marathon because my entire body just felt so horrible. 

For the most part, my legs recovered pretty quickly. I kept all my workouts in the pool until Thursday, when I did an easy 4-miler. My next run was an 8-miler on Sunday and that's all the running I've done post-marathon. I could feel my hip during the 8-miler but it wasn't bad-- just nagging. I saw Dr. Maggs (an ART provider) on Monday and he told me that I should focus on resting my hip. Even though it wasn't a big problem now, it could become a lot worse. 

My coach agreed. I had been planning on running the Nike Women's half marathon as a training run this weekend, but my coach thinks that's an "awful idea". I've been looking forward to running this race since March, just as a fun run, and now my coach is advising against it and my doctor isn't thrilled with the idea either. If my hip were really hurting me, it would be much easier for me to just abandon the race. But since it's just a small amount of soreness, it's very difficult for me to not still want to do it. I don't even have an official diagnosis, but it's probably something like bursitis. It' doesn't hurt in one particular area, though, it's like the entire hip area. 

As for the mental recovery, I'm trying to rid myself of the idea that my marathon PR is the ultimate indicator of how good a runner I am. My marathon PR does not define me as a runner or a person. It's just a number. I really hate it when I meet someone new and I tell them I run marathons and then they ask me what my best time is. It's like they want to know how fast I am and my marathon PR is how they are going to judge me-- without knowing anything about my training or other races. 

I know that I shouldn't care about what other people think. Especially strangers I just met. But I think my marathon PR from 2008 is a misrepresentation of who I am as a runner, so I hate that question. I've come so far since March of 2008 as a runner and yet I still answer the "what's your fastest time" question the exact same way.

It also annoys me when I hear about people who don't run much, and decide they want to run a marathon with the goal of qualifying for Boston. They run all their training runs at their qualifying pace. They go into the marathon, qualify for Boston and then move on to something else. And then there's someone like me, who should have been able to BQ over 2 years ago, who has read books about marathons, has a coach, wears a heart rate monitor, wins age group awards at all other distances, does everything "right" but then just can't pull it all together on marathon day. It doesn't seem fair, but as we all know, life is not fair.

I know this is happening to me because I'm supposed to be learning something that is a  lot larger than running. I need to work on being less anxious. I need to not be as perfectionistic. I have to be ok with the fact that many things are not within my control. I need to stop using numbers to validate my success. I need to be less uptight. These are all areas that I have tried to address in the past and I've made significant progress on. But apparently, I still have a ways to go. These are the areas that I need to focus on-- not my training or my marathon times. 

Not focusing on a particular marathon time is exactly what I tried to do with Milwaukee. I actually didn't have a goal time, but rather a large range where I expected I would fall. I had a strategy about how I would run the race and I was confident that my time would be good based on my fitness level.

But now I'm in a spot where I've been told to keep all of my workouts in the pool until my hip feels better and I just feel like all my hard work from over the summer is going down the drain. I won't even have access to a pool for an entire week when I am in San Francisco.

I think I just need to remove myself from being so immersed in running and so I apologize in advance for my lack of comments on the blogs I regularly comment on.

I don't feel burnt out. I love running and I have never dreaded going into a run. If I could go run 10 miles right now that would make me very happy! Even on days when my runs don't go well, I still enjoy them. Heck-- I even enjoyed Milwaukee. It was a miserable experience, yes, but I enjoyed that I was there and that I was taking part in the event. Running is "fun" for me, but I don't run for the sole purpose of fun. If "fun" was all I was after I would find something else to spend my time on. I enjoy the challenge. I love the personal fulfillment I get out of each run. I love setting goals for myself and attaining them. Whether the goal is to run an easy 5 miles or to pass as many people as possible in the last mile of a race.

While I'm far from burnt out, I'm definitely discouraged. I worked really hard all summer and now that the weather is finally nice, I am stuck in the pool with no marathon glory and no idea how the rest of the racing season will play out.


  1. I'm so sorry, Elizabeth. This sounds a lot like me last year after MCM, and I'm still skittish about throwing myself back at running. It burned me bad, and I still haven't completely forgiven it. I wish I had an easy answer for you. But I will tell you that pool running aggravates my hip bursitis, so I did a lot of training on the bike. It's not exactly cycling weather right now, but it still allowed me to be outside and be with friends until I was ready to run again. And then I signed up for fun races and just enjoyed them and my times instead of chasing that BQ that was ruining my life. I'm also working with a genius trainer, which has helped immensely, but he's in Georgetown so not much use to you ;)

  2. Oh Elizabeth, I'm so sorry to read this, but your words are very honest and everything you describe rings so true with me, it's exactly what I am feeling after last weekend. It's just so hard and there's no right answer. You do everything right and then race day comes and your body & mind just won't pull through and I am RIGHT THERE with you. Maybe we should go out for ice cream and martinis and commiserate. :( The point of this rambling is this: you aren't alone.

  3. It's so difficult to have a tough race after a great training cycle and it's even harder when there's no obvious explanation as to why things went the way that they did. At least when we can point to mistakes we made or obvious outside factors that influenced the outcome, it is easier to move forward and "fix" the problems before the next race. The mental part of running really is the hardest, I think.

    I'm thinking of you and I hope that after some recovery time for your hip and a mental break, you'll find yourself ready to come back to running.

  4. I guess all I can say is that the tough times are where we get the chance to practice and prove our toughness.

    And if your focus is on overcoming anxiety and perfection (and I understand how that is), then the frustration that you feel right now is a great opportunity to develop that skill.

    I have every bit of faith you'll pull through this. :)

  5. I agree whole-heartedly with all previous comments. One thing I wanted to add, though. NOTHING IS WRONG with your PR marathon time! That is a still a great time. And, one of the reasons I don't work with a coach is b/c I like to make my own decisions about racing. If you wanna do the race, then do the race. You're an adult. (Of course, do be realistic about your hip and remember that you did just run a marathon.)

    Hang tough, girl!

  6. "It also annoys me when I hear about people who don't run much, and decide they want to run a marathon with the goal of qualifying for Boston" <-- this paragraph, I'm so happy you typed it and SAID IT. I feel very similar. In my experience with Chicago Marathon over the weekend ALL of my friends did GREAT, and I sucked. Two of my friends were 1st timers, one of my friends just did a 50 mile ultra 3 weekends ago. HOW come they all can have a successful marathon & I can't. It's not fair. There, I said it too.
    Again, I'm glad you typed this, it's relieving to see that someone else feels the same frustrations post marathon as I do.

  7. Oh, I have so many things to say, but I'm just going to say this:

    I re-read your race report the other day and I was literally stunned. "Yesterday morning I completed my 13th marathon"

    Thirteen. I ran 6 in a span of 6 years and felt completely wiped out, discouraged and overwhelmed by all the work. I am amazed you have run 13, I don't even know over what span of time. Forget about times, 13 marathons!!

  8. This is a great post. Running is so defined by numbers and times. No one really cares about all your hard effort in training.

    It must be difficult to feel trapped in the pool. Even though you may feel frustrated with your coach, he/she is probably just trying to make sure you stay safe and are free of injury.

    You still have the rest of your life to run. If you think you're ready, you could always just test it out and possibly pull out if your hip felt terrible.

  9. A. I think you're right on with skipping out on the Nike Women's Marathon this soon after another marathon AND with hip pain.

    B. Learning to let go of the factors we can't's a good lesson for any of us. Think you're on a good path with really focusing on this mindset.

  10. I agree with Cris, and with Karah - it's hard to learn to overcome anxiety and let go of the things we have no control over, but it's an important lesson, and I am certain you will come through on the other side. It's so easy to fall into the trap of feeling defined by one thing or another. But running is more than just the marathon, and your life holds more than just running. Hang tough, kid. You'll be okay.

  11. This is a great post. Running is so defined by numbers and times. No one really cares about all your hard effort in training. Treadmill India