5 min read
When the Fire Went Out - Jess' Physical and Mental Reality of Injury
Hi there, you may remember me from earlier this year - where my marathon preparations had been interrupted by injury. You may be expecting a triumphant post about how I overcame the odds and completed the London Marathon in October with a respectable time, because those are the stories we're used to reading, right? Sadly this isn’t the fairytale ending you or I were hoping for.
Despite the best efforts of my coach and I to come back from the injury, after carefully building back up to 19km, it flared up again. One morning, six weeks out from the marathon, I didn’t even make it 500m from my house before the pain stopped me. This is the moment it finally sank in that my marathon wasn’t happening.
I allowed myself three minutes of weeping when I got home. After that, a cool wave of logic took over and I told myself it wasn’t to be, I did the best I could etc. All the platitudes you could think of. But that didn’t really make up for the fact that the one goal I had this year – the thing I’d cleared all other plans for – had just gone up in smoke.
I’ve never been good at talking about negative feelings; as I previously confessed, I am a perfectionist so anything less than smashing my goal I perceive as failure, and I can’t bear to talk about failure. Also, in the midst of a global pandemic when people’s lives are being torn apart, should I really be taking up space to complain about missing a marathon? Is that not a little, you know, crass? So, instead of being upset, I internalised the disappointment and hid it deep inside. Rather than feeling devastated, I opted out of caring altogether.
Overnight, I lost all interest in running. Over the next few weeks, I was dogged by intense apathy. The passion that had driven me all year withered, and so did all my interest in documenting it. Thankfully, my job is another part of my life that brings me a lot of joy and was getting busy, so I threw myself into that instead. I was still having my Clean Lean Protein and Good Green Vitality daily because even though I wasn’t exercising as much, I knew I still needed it for my health and recovery, but I even stopped being creative with smoothie ingredients and made them simply mixed with water (which is still delicious, by the way).
On the day of the marathon, I turned on the TV and watched it for a few minutes stone-faced. I didn’t feel envy or sadness, only disinterest. I knew that if I had been able to run it, I would have been having the time of my life and experiencing amazing highs and lows, but that was a parallel universe, and I didn’t feel a connection to that person anymore.
I now feel conflicted about the future. The charity I’d already raised over £1000 for, Ambitious about Autism, have generously offered to let me defer my place to London 2022. The optimist in me wants to pursue that 3:30 marathon dream, and come good on the promise I made to myself and the others who generously donated. The cynical side is frightened to try again. Could I put myself through the same year again, knowing that an injury could happen again? What if my love of running doesn’t come back? Will I ever run a marathon or will this be forever a half-finished book?
For now, I’m not forcing myself to decide. I’m cycling to stay fit and doing short runs when I can. Once my injury is better, I’ll work out what I really want. I know that it's possible to rekindle the fire, but working out how is my next challenge.
Author: Jess Morgan, Nuzest Ambassador and Cyclist/Runner