Some things however should not be ignored.
Last week I set out for my long run. I was scheduled to complete 16 miles. Due to some planned and un-planned life/family events, I was unable to get a long run in since my 10 miler 4 weeks prior. "It's ok", I thought, "I'm tough, I'll be able to do it. Once I get this 16 miles in, I will feel great!"
After about mile 6 I was much more tired than I was expecting. Looking at my Garmin, I also noticed that my heart rate was a bit higher than normal. "Hmmmm, that's odd...oh well, suck it up! Marathons don't run themselves."
Mile 9 rolled around and I was unable to run. Physically my legs refused to move in a forward motion at anything faster than a 14 min/mi pace. With every step my knees screamed in agony (think hammer on both sides of your knee cap with a vice press on the front part of your knee cap).
I've experience knee pain before, but NEVER has it been so agonizing. And, it's not like distance is new to me, I've completed 4 half marathons in the past 16 months.
Mile 11 came and I couldn't move. Even walking was pure torture. "$h!t, I have to do 5 more miles today? If this were the race, I'd have to do 15 MORE miles?!" I was in such misery that I actually called my fiancé to pick me up because I couldn't even walk the 3 miles to my car.
I have never felt more defeated in my entire life.
That Saturday I made a decision. I decided to stop ignoring the pain. The reality is that I have never run pain free. I've tried the traditional cures: ice, new shoes, old shoes, new terrain, knee brace, stretch, weight lifting, you name it.
It was a difficult, painful, tear-filled decision, but I decided to step out of the Chicago Marathon.
You hear of runners who drop dead at mile 22 of a marathon, who mess their muscles up so badly they can't walk, who die of heart attacks... Want to know how that happens? It's because so often we forget what a strain we put on our body. We ignore the fact that we're asking it to perform over and over again. We completely stop listening to what our bodies are telling us. In this runner's case, I'm going to listen.
I feel that there are some underlying problems that I may need to deal with. Mainly I need to focus on my heart (find out what my healthy and dangerous bpm are) and focus on my knees. It's not normal to sit down for 15 minutes and not be able to stand back up because you're knees stop working (especially at my age!)
I'll still be here. I'll still be exercising , but I'll be doing it because I want to.
I mentioned that I've never run pain free, well I've never run just to run either. Every single time I've ever put on my running shoes, it was a training run.
I can't wait to go out and run...
I am sad that I won't be doing the marathon, but once I finally made the decision, I felt like a huge burden was lifted off of my shoulders, which assured me that I did make the right choice for me. Running shouldn't be a burden. One day, 26.2 miles will be totally doable, but that day is not now, and that's ok.