I used to think it was just me. Then I started following a good many running bloggers and realized that I’m not the only one that seems to be struck by a significant injury soon before a big event.
Here’s what I think happens. We invest a lot of hope and money into a big “A” race, or even a B race that sells out quickly, and we promise to follow the marathon or half marathon schedule to stay healthy. But maybe we get ambitious and ramp up the mileage ahead of schedule or start the schedule midway through without a proper base.
Then, what starts as a niggling ache in our foot, ankle, shin, knee, quad, hamstring or hip becomes bona fide pain as we build up mileage. We realize this is maybe going to take more than a day or two off to heal. So we take ibuprofen and give it a week when we really need to give it two or three. But that long of a layoff could spell trouble so we “modify” our routine but continue to put undue pressure on our knees, hips, feet and thus make matters worse. Instead of applying common sense, we apply frozen peas.
Finally, we see someone who offers a remedy that isn’t fitting with the race training timetable. At this point one of two things happen: (a) we ignore or self-modify the advice and press forth to a painful finish or DNF; or (b) we bail beforehand and suffer a costly DNS.
If you’re lucky, you get a race that allows deferrals or even a rare refund. Most likely though, you learn an expensive lesson in the true meaning of rest.
So as you fill your online registrations for next spring’s key race[s], make sure you carefully consider the calendar and make sure you have enough time to truly absorb the training. You might also consider supporting smaller local races that are still affordable and generally let you wait until you know you’re ready to sign up.
All races, by the way, claim they will sell out quickly. It's called creating a sense of urgency to get you to act first, think later. Some really do fill fast; but there are plenty of others that would welcome you and not make you pay $135 for the privilege.