In September 2018 I was coming off the best group of races I’ve ever had and training had been tough but smooth sailing into Chicago where I was hoping to make my mark.
Since then a really tough Chicago Marathon and an even worse case of Plantar Fasciitis, for the past 13 months, has made the bar graph on my training log has looked more like waves coming into shore rather than the uniformity we like to see as runners.
The simple activity of putting one foot in front of the other has not been kind to me, as every step has felt like I have a searing knife into the arch on my left foot on the good days and a burning one with loss of control of the foot on the bad.
I’ve taken ever piece of advice, knowledge, and words of encouragement that have been generously offered in an attempt to get back. I’ve been fortunate to have seen podiatrist’s in North Carolina, Florida, and Illinois. With the general consensus being something of- “You messed this one up pretty badly”.
Through this long period of being hurt I have gone through several mental phases of my running. The early stages were: “it’s not a big deal to take some time off”, which turned to impatience two months later and running through it, to the defeated feeling when the injury got to an untenable position. Now l finally feel that I’ve come to terms with it and accepted that it’s a part of my story and to do what I can each day to change it.
While being injured time seems to move at hyper speed. Every date that I have hoped to be back running at full strength has sailed right past. In my time on the sidelines I’ve seen most of my fellow teammates have three separate Marathon build-ups, I’ve seen the state of elite level US Marathoning take a drastic jump forward, and now I see runners and shoe brands gearing-up for the Olympic Trials. I can’t focus on what I can’t control though or on these upcoming dates. My biggest concern on a daily basis is how my foot is feeling and what is the right course of action for that day.
Not that this year has been a total loss. Even if I never had a pain free day of running, I did have a three month stint of training that doesn’t go away. I was given the opportunity to race and won The Bear, which is a mountain race that climbs all the way up to 5280 feet on Grandfather Mtn. I used all the cross training I had been doing and won the Elliptigo World Champs that was also up Palomar Mtn climbing 4300+ ft. I guess if anything I found out that I’m either really tough or I was a mountain goat in another life.
I’ve used the extra time I’ve had to better myself in other ways. I studied the hell out of Norwegian for over a year, I put time into my Personal Coaching business trying to better every aspect of the company.
In 2016 shortly after turning 23 I debuted in the Olympic Trials, I was one of six athletes in the country to finish both races and the youngest to do so. All of this in a not ideal training environment with a full time work schedule while in graduate school. I had just joined ZAP and I knew that once I was able to dedicate my life to running even greater results would come with the goal being the 2020 Olympic Trials.
The pull of the Trials is hard to resist. It’s undoubtedly the most interesting Marathon to watch from the American perspective. Everyone who is healthy & fit shows up for their chance to finish top three and get the chance to represent the United States in Tokyo. And while I have qualified, as the days tick closer(We’re now just under 100 as I write this) I can feel my chances of making the team slip further and further away. At the age of 23 I did something very few other Americans accomplished and at the age of 27, there’s a chance I may not be able to stand on the start-line.
I do believe though that our best learning and understanding comes from when we struggle and this past 13 months has been nothing but a struggle for my running career. Through this struggle I have dug deep into my thoughts through all the questions and doubts of myself and my own running and I found something.
I found the desire to be successful that had been taken for granted and eventually forgotten about. No matter how my foot feels in three weeks, three months, or three years. I have a burning desire to be great in everything that I do.
In my current mood of acceptance I know that if I am able to run pain free once again I have the right mental space and talent to be standing on the podium like I had so many times in College. That 22 year old who didn’t make excuses on why he couldn’t and went out and did what was needed to be done is still in there. I know that no matter what the rest of this journey looks like with my foot I will work hard to be successful athletically and professionally.
I have so much more to give.