This is the 4th installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.
Down Days with Runner’s Blues
I’ve been in a rut for the past few weeks. I chalked it up to usual life frustration but then I came across an article about runner’s blues. As a sport, we all know that you need to account for physical rest but, it turns out, you need to let your brain take a break periodically too. You can’t let setbacks, black toenails, or off-days get you down. Run with it. Yoga has helped for me because it teaches you how to separate external stresses and thoughts from your present state of mind. And I end up getting a good nap at the end because my brain just shuts down if it’s not incessantly ticking. But then…
Injury & Mixed Emotions
Remember my thigh acting up? So apparently, bone, like most of our body tissues, gets stronger and adapts when it’s subjected to stress. BUT, unlike muscles and tendons, which which do so in a matter of days or weeks, bones take months to get stronger after increased stress. They first become weaker as they undergo remodeling, tearing down old osteoclasts’ walls and forming new ones. This is usually why stress fractures occur with runners who are upping their training regimen over several weeks to several months. Bio lesson over. Luckily, my recovering-from-stress-fracture teammates (Leila and NRC Pacer Nour G!) convinced me to go get my thigh checked out early. I went to a sports medicine doc who looks like a calmer, scruffier version of Cesar from OITNB because I figured a regular white-coat would just tell me to stop running.
Dr. Cesar ordered an MRI and while trying my hardest not to fidget in that pod, I kept thinking that if I was injured, I’d be off the hook and I wouldn’t have to do the marathon; it wouldn’t be that I quit or wasn’t made for this rigorous training. But the moment the technician said that my scans weren’t 100%, my heart sunk. You’re going to take away running? But I’m trying so hard. Running is what I do. If I lose myself, I lose it all…Farrah? Is that you?
Running had become a huge part of my daily routine that, once taken away temporarily, left me with a void. In that moment, it was clear that I didn’t want a way out but I did need a physical and emotional pause to recharge. Two weeks and I’ve missed moving, I’ve missed my team, and I’ve missed the sense of accomplishment. I feel stronger now but I’ve also been reminded of why I’m doing this: not for anyone else. I want to prove to myself that I can. I’m just doing it.
The MRI indicated slight edema in my femur. In English: Before a fracture occurs, athletes can suffer from stress reaction, the swelling phase just before bones crack from prolonged pressure on the already inflamed area of the bone. I was benched for two weeks meaning low-impact cardio (swimming or biking) until I can slowly return to running. Normal people would be happy to sleep in on a couple Sundays but I was experiencing major FOMO when the team shared photos of their high-20s long distance runs. Today is my first day back with this adorable team:
Sidenote: DJs should get MRIs for inspiration. I felt like I was in a Daft Punk jam session. It was difficult not bobbing my head in there.
Diets & Recovery
Everyone wants to swim like Michael Phelps but I just want to eat like Michael Phelps. Not because I’ve been craving grilled cheese sandwiches at 1 in the morning or anything. Anyway, Shalane Flanagan’s cook book has recipes that help athletes stay fueled and healthy. They’re also split according to injuries or deficiencies.
Shalane is an American long distance runner, holds the American record times in the 3000 m, 5000 m, 10K and 15K road race, and ranked 6th in this year’s Olympic marathon. Mostly, she’s also the author of the below tweet so I feel like I can trust her.
There Will Be Others
Based on how the recovery goes, I may pull back to a half-marathon to avoid further injury and stay safe which is what Dr. Cesar suggests. It absolutely sucks but I’d rather not push to the extreme and end up on crutches for 3 months. There’s always next year and there will be other marathons. There is no need to risk injuries that will leave you with no choice but to stay on the sidelines.
I’ve been looking into destination races too. For example, the DisneyWorld marathon has a generous 13-min mile cut off time. Our Beirut full marathon has a max of 6 hours to complete, otherwise you don’t get a certificate. That’s Disney for you, always letting you live your dreams. I’m still waiting on my own genie and real-life Prince Eric but I digress. This all begs the question: if you run a 42K but your name doesn’t come up on the timesheet because you slow AF, did you really run a marathon? Existentialism at its best. Regardless, I can’t wait to be back with my running peeps. I mean, planning a trip around a running event? Whatever happened to obscure diners and Broadway shows? I don’t know who I am anymore. Oh wait, yes I do. I’m a runner.