Monday, April 12, 2010
Over the past 16 weeks, I’ve quoted Greg McMillan as though every word he writes, podcasts, or speaks is gospel. When I opened my e-mail this past week, I found the following quote from McMillan, “The week prior to the marathon is what I call the 'great marathon freak-out' that occurs during the peaking process.”
Oh, the words couldn’t be truer. (Cue the somber, violin music). You see, I’ve read all the tapering articles and the claims of these mysterious injuries cropping up, aches and pains that suddenly appear, and even *gasp* the occasional cold. I’d not experienced this phenomenon for any of my four previous marathons…until now.
I felt like Tonya Harding on Sunday night, complaining to my wife (who is writing grad school papers now…so the stress level and self-pity is at an all-time high): “Why me? Why now? Why anyone?”
It started toward the end of last week. It was that knowing twinge, that stiffer than normal tightness down the outside of my right leg. At first I pretended not to notice. Then I tried to blame it on floor hockey, that it wasn’t actually what I thought it was, but something just, you know, in the area of my IT band. In the end, there was no getting around it: my IT band was/is sore.
I set out anyhow on Saturday for my last “long” run, a fast finish 12 miler. It actually went very well with no pain during the run…only pain after. That’s what’s so vexing about this whole thing. I’ve had some aches and pains along the way – to be expected during marathon training – but my IT band (knock on wood) has only ever hurt after runs. I’m hoping to chalk this up to a “sore muscle” you might get after a hard workout rather than a chronic injury.
And of course, this is my fixation now. I spent the majority of my work day contemplating my IT band. However, when I got busy or headed to meetings and couldn’t dwell, miracle of miracles, it didn’t hurt anymore. Which leads me to wonder just how much of what I’m going through is mental and how much is physical?
I can’t deny that that side of my leg feels like a taut bow string when I run my fingers over it, but the irritation only really comes with the fixation. I go back to the box office giant “Batman Begins” when that creepy guy Dr. Crane who wore the freaky burlap sack over his head said, “Only the mind can grant you power.” If it can grant you power, it can most certainly take it away.
I’m focusing on being mentally strong because, after all, that’s what this (any) marathon is going to call for. I’ll head out for an easy four miler tomorrow in the rain and hope that it’ll wash all these fears and insecurities away.
And so, I’ll end this post with a little more Gospel according to McMillan:
“Use this peaking time to reflect on all your successes in the training. Think good thoughts. Run strong in the remaining workouts and focus on relaxing the body/mind. Negative thoughts will creep in but just push them aside and focus on the positive.”