“If you ever get a second chance in life for something, you’ve got to go all the way.” – Lance Armstrong, “It’s Not About the Bike”
On occasion the past few years, I’ve mentioned how lucky I’ve been to be able to keep up a heavy training volume, race several marathons and enjoy a sport that has become more than a hobby for me. It’s been a passion.
There’s been a few hiccups along the way – a strained abdomen, a severely sprained ankle and some other dings and scraps – but I’ve run through it all. And I’ve taken a great deal of satisfaction in grinding through it, especially since those aches and pains have been followed by periods of elation and successes.
And normally, at this point in my preparations for my next marathon, I’d be writing a lot about my training, and detailing the types of workouts I’ve been putting myself through, offering up some observations from my runs and providing some specifics from speed workouts and weekend long runs.
That, though, hasn’t been the case lately, and for good reason. Training has been a rollercoaster the last six months, and in particular, the last two have been difficult.
It comes down to one basic issue: my sciatic nerve.
Up until 3 weeks ago, I just found a way to grind through it, gritting my teeth through the miles to top 50 per week. I chalked it up to early struggles on my climb to marathon fitness. But as the miles piled up, I found myself needing to take my easy days off – simply to rebuild the mental fortitude to crank out the hard days.
And then I began writing less and less. In part, because I has less to write about my training, and while I still put in the speed work and longer runs, they haven’t been the quality or paces that I want or need. One of the side effects of sciatic nerve problems is a shortened stride, making it not only painful to run, but shorter strides means a slower pace. And by not writing about the lack of success in my training, I’ve managed to stay more positive.
There’s little doubt in my mind that the sciatic nerve issue will clear up. It’s just a matter of when and how it will effect my running and the 2012 race season. Luckily, I’ve been able to run through every ache and pain that runners encounter along the way, but this one has become increasingly difficult, both physically and mentally. It’s taken its toll already: my first ultramarathon – just 10 days away – appears nearly impossible. Running races, let alone chasing personal records, at Fargo and Grandma’s also seem like a long shot.
Here’s a good article about sciatic nerve problems, although my pain is mainly isolated along the entire stretch of the hamstring. In fact, when the problem first started, I thought it was my hamstring. I looked for causes: a new type of shoe I wore at the indoor track, perhaps too much running on the track, the day I spent on a plane and driving in a vehicle (afterward the symptoms multiplied) that left my legs extremely tight, perhaps even the nasty ankle sprain sustained in a trail race a few months ago.
It doesn’t really matter what the cause was – as long as I’ve eliminated the it from my running. As a start, the shoes have been cast aside, especially since I never really liked them. Instead, my energy is focused on what needs to be done to overcome – and avoid – the issues.
A fast healer in the past, I’m hopeful there’s another quick turnaround in my future.