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Embracing down-time, a runner’s challenge

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Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016 8:50 AM

Every runner has experienced a time when an injury or illness has forced them to stop running for a period of time. For those who love the way running makes them feel and the psychological boost it provides, we can struggle horribly when that is taken away.

Over the years, I have learned how to balance my running with other activities to remain injury free and to experience and enjoy a variety of other pursuits without wearing myself down by exclusively running.

I still have a tremendous need to run regularly because nothing else makes me feel quite the same way. Having easy access to trails is a treat, and that escape provides me solitude and time to process my thoughts and feelings. It is “my drug of choice,” and I feel so thankful to have this amazing outdoor playground in my backyard.

For the past two years, I have grappled with trying to figure out the direction I want my running to take and whether I want to shift my focus more to triathlons.

I decided, as summer approached, to train specifically on a few goal races, mostly half marathon distances since my running was feeling so good.

Imogene was the race I ultimately decided to train for, as I hadn’t run it in 10 years and was excited to return and see the result of my efforts.

High-altitude training with sustained ascents was my strategy, and I was making that happen at least twice per week adding speed intervals once a week for strength and leg turnover.

Frequent hikes in the high country and a backpack trip on the Colorado Trail also helped my training and gave me back-to-back days at altitude. I was enjoying the journey again and looking forward to competing and pushing myself.

A few weeks before Imogene, I ran a half marathon as a tune-up event and, during the last few miles of the race, I began feeling some pain in my foot. I thought maybe it was because of swelling or tight laces until about a half mile from the finish when the pain increased dramatically. Had I not been so close to the finish line I would have stopped.

I searched the Internet to try and determine what had happened. I couldn’t put any weight on the ball of my foot and initially thought it was a neuroma and knew rest would resolve the issue.

Unfortunately, the pain continued and walking was virtually impossible, so I scheduled an appointment which revealed I had in fact fractured a metatarsal and would spend the next six weeks in a boot.

Happily, the six week period has passed and I am once again free to resume my normal activities. Time away from running didn’t send me over the edge but instead gave me the opportunity to pursue other activities and catch up on projects that had been pushed to the back burner.

It also renewed my appreciation of the importance running plays in my life and made me thankful for all the years that I have been able to run and the many more that are in my future.

Reach Marjorie Brinton at runswim55@gmail.com.

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