Friday, February 12, 2016

Reflecting on another injury setback

I will make this brief as I don't want to draw attention away from the Olympic Marathon Trials tomorrow, but I do want to put a few thoughts down before the race to avoid any inclination to make "what-if" statements following the race.

I have suffered my 3rd bone-related injury since the summer, with the timing on this being less than a week from the Olympic Trials. While it seems that there is some deficiency that has locked me into a never-ending pattern, I don't think that is the case. In July I suffered a navicular stress reaction which seemed to creep up during the 10km at the US Outdoor Track and Field Championships. This is the only injury that I don't have an explanation for other than bad luck. I did not do everything I could in terms of rehab on that right foot in my comeback as I didn't want to aggravate the bone, but this left me with weaknesses and compensation issues and ultimately a stress fracture in my left sacrum 7 weeks into my return. Oddly enough I have spoken with three other athletes who have had this exact same progression of injuries. This sacral stress fracture left me in a tough spot as the Olympic Marathon Trials were approaching fast and I had to make a decision quickly on whether or not to give them a shot. I was cleared to start on the Alter-G just a month into my recovery and I began to regain fitness very quickly. I was able to take my first ground steps about 3 months out from the trials, and again progressed quickly in terms of fitness and volume. My coach and I had discussed keeping volume much lower throughout this period in order to avoid injury, but as my fitness returned and everything was pointing towards the possibility of contending for a spot, I got greedy and amped of volume and intensity to past levels in order to prove to myself that I had the required fitness. I decided it was worth trying to get to 95-100% rather than try the race at 80% Even though I understood I was risking a third stress fracture, I had thought I was in the clear by the time I started to feel pain in my quad during my trip to Chula Vista. If anything, I thought this would have come a month ago, but not now. I have had my bone density checked and met with a nutritionist, both of which checked out well in my favor, but at least I can rule them out as causes.

So in short, this third stress fracture is simply a matter of pushing much too hard too soon. Had I not tried to give this training block my all and I didn't make the team, I would have regretted it, so I am going to take solace in the fact that my fitness came back so quickly and look to be far more patient during this next comeback. Now that the time pressure has been lifted, I plan to come back very slowly and emphasize health rather than matching last year's volume and workout times. Thank you for the overwhelming support I have received from family, friends, and the entire running community. It really means a lot. I have no doubt that my greatest running achievements are ahead of me.

I'm going to be disappearing in Cuba for a couple weeks, but I'm already looking forward to getting back to cross training upon my return. Best of luck to all competitors tomorrow in Los Angeles. I am sure we're going to send our best marathon team yet to Rio. For those of you in Portland, please come out to the Rock 'n' Roo and support Doernbecher Children's Hospital and Shalane Flanagan in her attempt at another Olympic Team as we have come together to host this charity event: