The word that I’ve been using as my daily mantra has been grit. When I feel lazy and want to skip a workout I ask myself, are you being gritty? When I want to sleep late, I lay in bed and ask, are you being gritty? Life can be hard and the last two years have not exactly been a walk in the park (I acknowledge they could have been much worse). I know struggle, but thankfully I also know success and sometimes after struggling for a long time, things fall into place and work out. For me, I’m moving into a new job: starting my career as an elementary school teacher. In the same week that I was offered the job, my thesis research was officially published!
Feel free to check it out here: http://www.learninglandscapes.ca/index.php/learnland/article/view/808
This week I truly feel happy and I owe it all to not giving up when things felt (and legitimately were) tough. Anyone who has written a thesis knows the perils of long days/nights of writing, procrastinating, re-writing, editing, being rejected, being critiqued, re-writing, crying and writing some more. My main focuses for the last three-ish years have been improving my academic writing skills and working my butt off to get published in an academic journal. Finally, this week I was able to read my name as an official author in an academic journal. My heart felt warm, and fluttery and I thought back to all those tearful nights when I thought it was impossible. Was it worth the struggle? Yes! And I owe it all to grit.
This high that I’m riding now can’t last forever, and I don’t think I would want it to. I appreciate the good news so much more after the struggle. Would it feel this good if I had whipped up that publication with no effort? Likely not. I feel grateful and appreciative for the opportunity to grow, learn and push my limits.
Having focused on some of the positive results of being gritty, I feel encouraged to continue bringing grit into everything that I do. I’ve been gritty for the past few years to improve my running and have seen PB (Personal Best) after PB crushed. However, at this time I have chosen to let two of my big goals go. I have decided to pull out of the Salinas Half Marathon (August 5) and the Santa Rosa Full Marathon (August 27). I had big aspirations and big goals for both of these races. I was ready to race my second ever half marathon and crush my last time. I was ready to push my limits and test my boundaries by attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon in Santa Rosa. Alas, both will have to wait.
Shortly after coming back from the Big Sur Marathon, I thought I was recovered enough to get started on my next round of training. My workouts were on point and my long runs felt smooth and controlled. I was feeling fit and ready to push myself to my goals. I was waking up at 3:45 am in order to get my workouts in (and my dogs out for their usual morning walk). The wheels started to fall off the cart.
It started with pain on the outside of my left knee for last 10 minutes of my long run. It gradually increased to the last 30 minutes of my long run. When I felt the pain, I would back off and cross train instead. I was on my bike and in the pool. I was icing, rolling, stretching, strengthening, doing everything I could think of to stop the growing pain. After a week, the pain subsided and I decided to pull out of the trail half marathon I had signed up for, and do a 5 km race instead. The 5k was fun, fast and flowy and I had no pain at all! Boom – I was back at it and felt invincible. I had one more high quality workout then everything felt apart again – this time I knew I was going to be out for awhile. The pain came back, this time it didn’t go away when I stopped running. Walking in general was painful, as were stairs, elliptical and even swimming. I got my butt to physical therapy and discovered it was IT band syndrome.
IT band syndrome does not put me at risk for tearing anything, which is the good news. It is however, a very painful and stubborn injury that can take weeks and even months to fully heal. Basically my IT band is stretched so tight it’s causing me pain. My hips and glutes have tightened up in response. It’s been about a month of completely no running, and very limited cross training in an effort to settle the aggravated IT band.
Here is an instance where being gritty (in terms of actual running) wouldn’t help me. I realized that pushing through the pain would only delay my healing time and would put me at risk of not being able to run the California International Marathon in December. I would like to say that I made the decision to pull out of the half marathon and full marathon, but the decision was made for me – by my body. I had to come to terms with the fact that I would not be doing these races, and that was okay.
Any runner knows how devastating it can be to not be able to run or even cross train. I felt frustrated and frankly had too much pent up energy for my own good. I decided to take the time to recover, rest and focus on getting better. I still have my work cut out for me, but today I was finally able to get to the gym and take a couple of classes. I’m focusing on strength training and starting from the ground up. I still consider myself to be gritty, since I am working hard to accomplish my goals. I may not be running (yet) but the work I put in now will (hopefully) pay off later.
I was inspired to write this post after reading Stephanie Bruce’s post on Instagram and Facebook today. She too, is coming back after an injury and working her way through recovery. I do not consider myself to be at her caliber of running by any means, but I appreciate her message so much. She is real, and shares her struggles and her successes and she inspires me to keep going, be gritty and to reassess when I need to. It may feel hard now, but the pay off will feel so good later. I’m still riding that high from the good news about my career and publication this week… I’m focusing on the happiness I feel in my accomplishments and know that pushing hard now will pay off later. Future Leanne is going to be so happy 🙂