2021 NYC Marathon Training: Week 5

And then there was week 5.

Week 5 started out shaky, had a promising middle, and ended terribly. I suppose “terribly” is relative. I’m not injured, I can walk with zero issues, I still have food to eat and a roof over my head, and I think I’m mentally sound (although this is questionable). As far as marathon training goes, it was not a great week.

The last day of week 4, Sunday, is when I felt pain in my outer right heel that prevented me from running at all. This was the day after a 12-miler (including a 4-mile race) which I guess was too much for my precious little feet.

My next attempt was Tuesday. This 7-miler actually went well, at least after I got through the first couple of miles. As usual, my right inner calf slowly felt better as I ran and was good by mile four. I naturally sped up, doing a mile-by-mile progression from a 10:00 to an 8:15 pace. I felt good after that.

The following day, I thought I might do some fast 400 meter repeats at a track, but my calf and heel weren’t having it. I didn’t even attempt anything fast. I got through 4 miles before calling it quits.

I spent the next two days feeling distraught and kind of lost. Five weeks into training and I haven’t been able to shake this constant, nagging calf and foot soreness that keeps popping up in different spots for the past god knows how many months.

Also, I was scheduled to run the Harlem 5K on Saturday morning.

I waited until late Friday to do a short test run to see how my feet were doing, and from there I’d make a decision about the race. At 8pm, I ran about three quarters of a mile. I did okay – I wasn’t limping or anything, but I also didn’t feel entirely comfortable. I knew that if I tried running a fast 3 miles the next morning, I’d be in even worse shape than I already was.

So I decided not to run the 5K. I spent the day moping instead.

I did a bunch of foam rolling over the weekend. Stick rolling, too. I’ve always foam rolled, but I really foam rolled this weekend. Like, a lot. My whole body. So much that my weak left wrist swelled from leaning on it and I had to wear a splint for two days.

There’s a specific reason I did so much foam rolling that I will write about next week since this post is already too long. I’m supposed to be summarizing this stuff and writing about my dad, for Pete’s sake.

My friends the stick and the foam roll

I’m looking at this past week as yet another lesson in “Things Don’t Always Work Out the Way You Expect Them To,” something I should have fully learned by the time I graduated college but my brain still has a hard time grasping. This whole expectations-vs.-reality thing works out great sometimes; others, not so much.

A couple of years ago, I was contemplating going back to school. I have actually been wanting to go back to school since my mom was sick in 2017. I’ve spent months at a time debating between getting an advanced degree in psychology (my undergrad degree), physical therapy, social work, occupational therapy, geriatrics, and palliative care. (Fun fact: before the pandemic hit, I was on my way to a postbac premed program at Fordham but dropped out when my income ceased.)

At some point in 2019 I decided to talk to my dad about it. He wasn’t in any of the aforementioned careers, but he had spent his entire life in academia so I thought he’d have some ideas as to which direction I should take.

I called my dad on the phone, which is not something I did all the time – he had always kept calls short, saying he wasn’t “good on the phone” – but I really needed his advice.

Sitting on my kitchen counter that evening, I told my dad how hard of a time I was having figuring out what to study, fearing I would make the wrong decision, take the wrong path, and realize it too late. The classic perfectionist move, in that there is no move at all.

He said something I hadn’t considered: there was no wrong decision. I could choose any direction I wanted. As long as I kept finding ways to enjoy the path, the end result would be rewarding, no matter where I landed.

I had never thought about it this way. There is no incorrect path. There is only the path you take. Find ways to stay passionate, engaged, and interested, and you will likely end up in a good place.

So it’s this lesson of his I’m taking away this week. I may not feel like I’m on the right track at the moment, but if I keep my focus on the end goal, find ways to be grateful for what I have, and keep my head up, I’ll be able to look back and be thankful for the experience – even if it’s not what I had expected or intended.

I guess this post wasn’t so much a story about my dad as much as a post about myself, but I’m hoping things might look a little more normal next week.

This photo was taken almost exactly two years ago:

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