To Race or Not to Race…

Yesterday I was hoping to run the USATF Niagara Trail Championships (8 miles) at Mendon Ponds. I wanted to run this race because I love running championship races, there were cash prizes for 1st-3rd place, it was a challenging course on trails, I would see a lot of people I know, I heard the winner gets a log “trophy” (I enjoy a unique award), and the winner gets a $200 stipend to use towards the USATF National 10k Trail Championship in Laurel Springs, NC on August 25th. My foot had other plans though, as it has been acting up over the past week. I struggled with whether I should race all week but woke on Friday morning unable to run due to some sharp, stabbing pains so I decided racing, especially on tough trails the next day, wouldn’t be smart.

I got to bed after midnight on Friday but still woke at 5:55am, exactly when I planned to wake if I was racing. I laid there in bed, putting my foot through range-of-motion exercises and thinking it was feeling ok and I should probably go out and see what happens. Then thought about how a trail race would be the worst idea possible – I could make a small injury a huge one with one bad decision and I needed to forget about racing. Then I thought maybe racing wouldn’t make it any worse and I could at least try to get some good miles and see what happened. This went on for a good 45 minutes. I finally convinced myself racing on trails was a really horrible idea and I was able to go back to sleep.

The rest of Saturday was spent traveling through airports on our way to Seattle for a little vacation. I thought of the trail race a few times, wondering how my foot would have felt, what the conditions were like for the race, how the whole thing played out… By the time we got to our hotel, around midnight (3am EST) my foot was a little sore and I was exhausted. At that point I was happy I didn’t race since I was already running on empty.

Today I’m happy to say I was able to run 8 miles almost pain free and feel so thankful I was able to talk myself out of racing. Looking back it was the only logical decision and I’m happy I’m getting to a point where I can make smart decisions like that and know they won’t affect my fitness as much as previously thought.

drinking water from spigot

Happily splashing myself with water, a day before feeling the first sign of foot pain. This picture was taken at an innocent looking park that is actually filled with steep trails, sharp turns, creeks to jump, and lots of critters to dodge on the path.

Have you raced through an injury and regretted it? Have you skipped a race you were excited about in hopes to prevent an injury? Are you lucky enough to never get injuries?

5 thoughts on “To Race or Not to Race…

  1. I know the feeling! I have dealt with foot problems and had to skip races that I REALLY wanted to run. In the end, it was the right decision. One race isn’t worth hurting the injury more and then missing weeks of running. I go crazy when I can’t run!

  2. I’ve had to skip 4 or 5 races already this year and it drives me bananas. I think I’ve finally learned not to register for races 3 months in advance … either way it sucks. But always best to forgo one race for an injury free future.

  3. I battled with plantar fasciitis for 9 months in 2010. I still ran and raced. Even though my foot was killing me with every step, I never stopped. When I was running the 2010 Detroit Free Press Half Marathon, I realized I was running pain-free for the first time in 9 months. I was overjoyed that my foot pain was finally gone after months of doctors appointments and physical therapy sessions.

    • Well that’s an inspiring story, Deloris! I have a friend who has been dealing with PF for over a year now. So it sounds like you kept running, but saw the doctor and physical therapist and it eventually worked itself out? Very cool!

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