Hitting the Insurmountable Wall

Remember how I had originally switched one of my 21 goals from running a half marathon to running a full one? Well, I hate to say that I am being forced to switch back to my original goal of running a half marathon.

Ever since beginning my training regimen for the marathon, I have loved it. I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment after a Saturday morning long distance run, the way that I would limp into the cafeteria to grab a big bowl of Greek yogurt and some Gatorade, and the knowledge that I was accomplishing something huge. All of those feelings and activities made it possible for me to push through the pain, the exhaustion, and the urge to give up. I developed a steely resistance to quitting, but unfortunately, that resistance was not enough to overcome physical problems.

A few weeks ago I began experiencing pain in my left calf muscle and knee. It was not overpowering in the beginning, but after each run, I would feel the affects of the exertion in my legs. I did not think much of it, but then the pain grew increasingly sharper and more noticeable. Still, I figured that I could just push through it, until I started being unable to finish even my shorter runs. I would be on a four mile run and have to stop and walk because of the shooting  pain in my knee.

So I took the advice of my friends who are runners and rested for almost a week. During that time I was careful not to over-exert myself and to stretch as much as possible. Once the week ended, I set out for a run, and I was horrified to see that I could not even make it past four miles without the pain being nearly unbearable. It was then that I knew that I had to stop training for the marathon.

There is not much that is worse than having to slowly walk/limp back to campus after being unable to finish a relatively short run. I knew that I needed to stop running for a while because of the damage that it was causing, but I could not get over the idea that I was a failure.

I shared this feeling of failure with a few of my friends, and the response that I received was unanimous: it would be stupid for me to continue training for a marathon when my knee is clearly being damaged in the process. Yes, it would be nice to say that I was able to complete my lofty goal, but it is in no way worth destroying my knee. I am obsessed with skiing, hiking, and horseback riding, and I do not want to have those activities adversely affected by my unwillingness to stop training for something that is damaging my body.

So as of now, I am no longer training for a marathon. It has been hard for me to come to terms with this change, but lately I have begun to focus on my accomplishments, not my perceived failure. Over the course of my marathon training, I have run 480 miles, completed the equivalent of four half marathons, and learned what self-discipline looks like on a daily basis. They were hard months, but they were in no way a waste. Even though I am no longer training for a marathon, I will still be able to use the principles that I learned during my training to continue bettering my life. Though it is hard to admit, I finally reached a wall that my knee would not let me pass, so now I will just have to find something new to devote my energy to.

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