If I can do it, so can you…uh, not so fast.

Recently, I noticed a few stories on Facebook regarding the common questions a runner receives. They cover the gamut who, what, why, how, when-questions. Each article is on the mark; however, it took running a marathon for me to become the subject of the questions.

The first question with good reason is always “you ran a marathon?” with the follow-up, “how many miles is that, 5 miles?”, and finally the self-deprecating, “I could never run 26.2 miles.” If ever faced with such a comment, you could respond one of two ways: nodding lightly without evidence of confirmation, or making a statement to diminish their self-deprecation: “if I can do it, so can you.” Now, hold on just a minute. I don’t think so!

Before you stop reading and decide to chastise me in the comments, hear me out. I’m not saying that they CAN’T run 26.2 miles. I would never say that. Indeed, anyone could. However, it takes a particular type of person to go through the rigorous training regimen to complete a marathon. The statement, “if it were easy, everyone would do it,” is true. Less than 1% of the population of the planet has attempted to run a marathon. There is a reason. Running a marathon is hard. Training for a marathon is even harder. A marathon is just the celebration after the 16 weeks of grueling tempo runs, Fartleks (yes, a real word), long runs, and recovery runs. It is the realization that you’ve conquered sprains, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and hairline fractures (I know something about that). The preparation to run a marathon is like putting together a puzzle in a calendar. You can’t take shortcuts, and you can’t rush. You have to change your nutrition intake, change your habits, adjust your schedule, and re-prioritize your life. It is NOT easy!

Anyone can technically run a marathon if they have the determination. Yes, even new runners can beat my PB of 4:53:03; however, they’d need to work hard, train, make sacrifices, and show up at the starting line to do it. The moment you cross the finish line, I will welcome you to the fold.

A Snag in the New Year

As a runner, I’ve learned that I’m going to face several triumphs and obstacles throughout my running “career”. For me, career is considered the time of my life in which I will be running and not necessarily elite status; although, I wouldn’t turn down a sponsor…hello, Brooks, Flipbelt…Balega…anyone?

First, all runners will accomplish a personal record or PR (sometimes called a personal best or PB). The first time you run, nothing has been recorded yet; therefore, your result will be your PR. It becomes the baseline for your future races, usually at the same distance. Second, you will inevitably face frustrating setbacks in the form of injuries. That is the nature of being a runner. Those who are willing to run the distance, deal with injuries, and then come back and do it all over again is someone who I’d consider a runner.

I know this because that’s exactly what has happened to me on numerous occasions. It is something that is happening to me now. As previously written, I’ve been dealing with a shin splint on my right leg that has been extremely painful. I deferred the Charleston Marathon for just this reason. I had another run scheduled for the end of February, so I knew that it couldn’t be ignored.

Last week, I decided to see my podiatrist, Dr. Brian Fullem. Dr. Fullem is a runner and knows all of the injuries that runners face; he has experienced them himself. After a few painful pokes, prods, and “Does it hurt here. How about now?”, we both knew the diagnosis. “Let’s take an X-ray just to make sure.” He did and there it was staring me in the face; my source of pain over the past few weeks.

Shin splints are a pain in the as…er…leg but they can be treated fairly quickly and with little effort outside of the norm. I didn’t have shin splints. My shin splints, for the most part, were gone. My pain was from a hairline fracture just above the ankle. Translation…a minimum of 6 weeks of recovery time at best, 8 weeks, at worst. The Gasparilla Distance Classic Challenge (30.4 miles in 2 days), which I was ambitious to attempt last year and crazy enough to try again this year, is 5 weeks away. A series of 3 shockwave therapy sessions is what the doctor ordered. Many prayers are what I ordered.

Hairline Fracture is located above the arrow.

This is what I signed up for. I am a runner!