Snowshoe racing season is over, and I didn’t get a single race in. That really bums me out. My hamstring injury is my own fault for violating the first rule of running: Listen to your body.
Ever since I first started running, I have made it my first priority to take care of the little nigglies before they become big problems. I proactively go for rehab and massages and take days off to calm things down so I can resume my training. Getting to, and through, my goal race is only possible if I am healthy, so it makes sense to listen to my body and give it what it needs, from pampering to good nutrition to lots of rest.
Except twice I have forgotten this priority and put the race cart before the healthy horse. And both times have resulted in a stubborn injury that put me in limbo with lots of time to re-learn the lesson. The first time was five years ago on a fastpack of the Rideau Trail in Ontario for our honeymoon. Finishing the trail became more important than not getting injured, and in the end I fell short on both. The metatarsal injury that resulted put me out completely for months, and lingered for a lot longer.
Last year at this time I forgot again, and went into the Rock and Ice Ultra pretty banged up after unrelenting training followed by an Ibuprofen-fueled race execution and (perhaps worst of all) a stubborn refusal to properly heal and recover after. That led to this past winter’s depressingly low mileage, deconditioning, and zero snowshoe races.
And here I am, like Humpty Dumpty, trying to put my pieces back together again. I’ve had a lot of time to think about how I might avoid having to re-learn this lesson in the future. But first, I have to admit that it feels really good to be so enraptured by a goal that it overrides the ‘playing it safe’ route. Rock and Ice last year was the first time in so long that I cared as much about finishing a race, and I’d probably revise my actions only slightly in a do-over. And the Rideau Trail? It was our honeymoon, enough said.
More than anything, I am reminded that listening to my body is only as good as what I do with the information I gather – obey or disregard? And if occasionally I ignore what I might better not, it had better be for a good enough reason to make it worth the very real possibility of sitting out a season.