Trying to stay positive in a sea of setbacks

Knee. Ankle. Knee. Foot. Ankle. Foot. Shoulder. Foot. Knee. Foot. Foot. Rib. Foot.

I have had so many setbacks in my training and journey to health. It seems like each time I take one step forward, something sets me two steps back.

I have worked hard to not let this affect me but, to be honest, it tears me up. I’ve tried to put up a strong front. I’ve tried to be nonchalant about it all. I’ve had some moments of public disappointment about my injuries and setbacks. Mostly, I’ve tried to convince myself it was ok.

Truthfully, it’s been blow after blow after blow, both physically and mentally.

It’s draining to stay positive when all you want to do is ask God, “Why does this keep happening to me? Why do I keep having injuries? Why do I have to be so freaking cautious in my training? Why is it easy for everyone else to train without setbacks?”

I’ve tried to be strong. I’ve tried to set a good example for others who say they are inspired by me. I don’t want to let them down. I don’t want to let you down.

But it’s all a lie.

It sucks.

From knee problems and a sprained foot/ankle to plantar fasciitis and a subluxated rib, I’m sick of it. I’m sick of it all.

I am sick of being excited about an accomplishment, only to a short time later have to pull back.

I want to run. I want to run far. I want to run fast. I want to be the best. I want to compete. I want to race.

I don’t want to be the last to finish. In fact, I don’t want to be anywhere near the back of the pack.

But that’s where I am.

Why can’t I be happy with where I’m at? Why am I constantly comparing myself to others who’ve been at this so much longer than I have? Why can’t I be happy, knowing that I have completed a half marathon, instead of being disappointed I walked more than 10 miles of it?

Why does it kill me to know — that despite my hopes, my prayers, my careful and smart training post Napa and during training for Vegas — that there’s no way I will be able to run a full 13.1 miles in 11 weeks? That was the plan all along. Just finish the race in Napa. Then run the hell outta Vegas. I’m 11 weeks from the race and the furthest I’ve gone is 3.8 miles, and that was mostly walking. Yesterday I ran for a mile without walking, and while I’m so freaking happy about that, the accomplishment is clouded by the knowledge that I can’t keep that pace going for more than a mile.

I know I need to focus on the positive, but I’m tired of focusing on that. I need to vent. I need to cry.

I’m trying to be smart. I’m trying not to push myself too hard. I’m trying to listen to my body. I’m trying to listen to my trainer. I’m trying to listen to my coaches. I’m trying to be positive.

I’m trying.

0 Replies to “Trying to stay positive in a sea of setbacks”

  1. Amy… I hear you. I do. I have had many setbacks, too, mostly in the weight loss/nutrition arena. Luckily I haven’t had any major injuries to my feet or knees, but I do have a persistent shoulder pain.

    I don’t have any concrete advice other than to speculate that your stride/gait might be off… Shortening your stride and mid-foot/fore-foot striking can really minimize some foot injuries.

    Also, I just finished reading Jeff Galloway’s “Half-Marathon: You Can Do It”… and although he is a terrible writer, he has great info. His trademarked running technique is actually a Run-Walk-Run in which you basically run 3 minutes (or 4) and walk 30 to 60 seconds… and repeat. He says this is absolutely NOT cheating and it is a great way to reduce injuries while actually improving pace. I have tried this technique on 2 runs so far — a 5.3-miler and a 2.6-miler and WOW it feels kinda good. Tonight I ran-walked the 2.6 miles at a moving pace of 10:50 a mile — that’s only slightly slower than a run-only 5K pace I managed this summer.



  2. I’ve been told the best way to help conditioning with little chance of injury is to combine pool workouts. If you are not a swimmer, walk in the pool or try aqua-fitness classes. Very low/no impact on knees etc.

  3. Hi Amy. You’ve been working just as hard as someone who makes strides quickly and injury free. You just haven’t reaped the rewards that you want. I think the good thing about that is you are learning patience. Let’s say everything came easy for you. It would be nice but you wouldn’t know it’s worth. You respect the journey. You’ll never take it for granted or let it slip away after you worked so hard and were so patient. You’re still doing more and having more success than old Amy.

    You’re not ‘trying’. You’re doing. (Had to get all Yoda on ya’) 😉

  4. Amy… always keep moving. Even if you can’t do X at the level you want to right now, or perfectly, stay focused. When you get injured, remember that there is always the lap pool. Keep at it, even if It isn’t perfect, or right the first time. Take good care of your body and pull back or reroute when you have to…so that you can work out for the rest of your life.

    PS…I’ll be 40 next year with a lonnnng list of recovered and not-so-recovered injuries. To some degree, it’ll always be there, you just find other ways.

  5. I’ve been reading “The Courage to Start: A Guide to Running for Your Life” by John “The Penguin” Bingham. I highly suggest it, less for the mechanics of being a runner, but more for the journey to being and becoming a runner and dealing with some of the things you’re thinking about.

    I feel some of the same way as you – I walked a marathon last May. Walked the whole thing. And usually, instead of being proud that I made it the whole way (even though I really wanted to quit halfway) and proud that I spent over 7 hours on my feet, I feel like I didn’t actually “do” a marathon.

    Similarly, I struggle with being satisfied with what I AM doing – trying to remember that I used to do NOTHING – and being disappointed that I haven’t come further, can’t go faster, etc.

    I am proud of you for sticking with it. I am proud of you for being honest. Don’t give up!!! You WILL reach your goals; it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

    1. Thanks a lot for this message Becky. And sorry it took me so long to respond to your comment! I’m waaaaay behind! Anyways, I wanted to say that I think we all need to stop getting so down on ourselves! A friend told me a couple of weeks ago… that if you run ANY portion of a race, you should tell people you RAN the race. Don’t put yourself down by saying things like “well, I walked most of it.” I think the same thing should go for your marathon. How many people can say they did a marathon? Very few. But you have. That’s nothing to be shy about.

  6. This post really hit home for me. I’ve spent all summer training for my first marathon. I got up early on Saturday mornings while my husband slept in. I ran long distances in 85 degree weather with 95% humidity. I ran even after I’d thrown up because I knew it would make me stronger and faster. I spent Friday nights sipping water while my friends had drinks. I did all of that to reach my goals. And then three weeks ago, in an incident unrelated to running, I injured my back. I spent three weeks barely able to move. I was devastated. It’s a reoccurring injury that I’ve been dealing with for years. AND IT IS SO FRUSTRATING!! I went through all the stages of recovery: denial (I kept trying to run even though I couldn’t even stand up straight!), anger, sadness (cried for days!), and finally acceptance.

    I was finally able to go for my first legitimate run this weekend. It didn’t go well. I was slow. My muscles were cramping. But I was so excited to just be able to move! My injury reminded me that at any minute it can all be taken away. Each run, each walk, each movement is a blessing.

    We all read running blogs about other people’s successes, other people’s splits, other people’s mileage. We are all guilty of comparing ourselves to those people and feeling inadequate. It is SO REFRESHING to have someone like you tell it like it is. It is isn’t always easy! And working hard doesn’t always mean you will immediately achieve your goals! Sometimes it takes a lot longer than you think. Sometimes reaching your fitness goals means being strong both physically and mentally! And that’s why I love your blog! So don’t feel like you’re letting your readers down! You’re not! There are a lot of people going through the same thing! You help all of us feel like we’re not alone! So THANK YOU!!

  7. Amy, you really dove right into physical fitness, which is totally awesome and inspiring. On the other hand, it’s also really easy to do too much too fast when you have such ambitious goals and lots of motivation. I’ve had my share of overuse injuries from trying to do too much, and it’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down. Do you want endurance or speed? Maybe try focusing on one first, then the other. Break your major goals into smaller goals that you can attain without injuring yourself. It will be worth it in the long run (pun not intended, but I like it).

    And remember, you have come so far and accomplished so much — don’t deny yourself credit for all your achievements! Learn from your setbacks and keep your chin up.

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