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Written By Jessica Lam - April 15 2020
Life is full of ebbs and flows, and running is no exception. Some days you feel like a galloping gazelle, others you feel like a trampling ogre. Some races will result in a defining, glorious PB, others may not. Having the agility to embrace the highs and lows is important because with certainty, we will find ourselves at a low at some point or another.I personally dubbed 2019 as my “Tumultuous Year of Running.” I started the year feeling fit, strong, and ready to roll, but the universe had other plans. My first race didn’t go as planned, and so I spent the year running too many races, chasing an arbitrary standard I had set for myself; one that I felt obliged to achieve within the calendar year, for whatever nonsensical reason. I ran the next few months without giving my body the proper rest and recovery it both craved and deserved. By the time my fall marathon rolled around, my body was not happy, and I went into the race knowing I would greatly suffer after. In the end, I finished 2019 with 3 DNFs, was sidelined with injury, and achieved none of my goals.I won’t lie, being injured sucked. I didn’t run for months, and most frustratingly, I couldn’t walk without a limp. Injury, and the sense of failure from not achieving any goal, provided a lot of mental stress. Even as a natural optimist, I felt myself fall into a funk. To me, injury was a setback, it was a blow to the ego. Aside from the natural “why me” thoughts, I also thought: “Maybe I’m not as fast as I think I am. Maybe I’m not as strong as I think I am. And maybe, just maybe, I’ve already reached my peak and it’s all downhill from here.” On the contrary, injury proved to be a silver lining. It was a forced reset, a time to slow down and reflect on the year that was. I spent my downtime reassessing the goals I was setting and questioned why I needed to achieve them in a set timeframe – what was I trying to prove? I considered my attitude towards running and re-evaluated my why – why do I run, why do I love this sport? I rethought my approach to training and racing, and what I would have or have not done differently. I turned my focus on honoring my body for what it was capable of, thanked my body for recovering, while setting my sights on the longer-term. I’m now injury free and running again, and in hindsight I’m grateful to have been stopped in my tracks. As I’m working on my rebuild, I’m learning to take each day as it comes and not fuss over any self-imposed standards. That’s the thing with setbacks, they’re a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from. If we can find the motivation, setbacks can be both informative and a wakeup call. It’s the choices we make when faced with challenges that provide us with the strength we need to propel ourselves forward. We take the lessons with us as a reminder of where we have been, and we come out as better runners.