The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare.  –Juma Ikangaa

If we could imagine an Everyrunner–our running community’s version of Everyman–then Everyrunner would periodically be hobbled by injury, with the actual frequency governed by wisdom or luck.  Anyone who regularly laces up running shoes knows this.  But as it turns out, injury harbors its own teaching.

My own story goes something like this.  I fell too in love with racing in my second year of running, and raced far too often for my level of training and weekly mileage.  I ignored small injuries and pains because all I could think about was running fast–and I was very good at denial.  And then I ignored a meniscus strain not long before the San Jose Half Marathon on October 7.  I ran, with pain, and still achieved a P.R. at 1:36:32–which only encouraged me to race more.  On October 14, I paced the back half of the Nike Women’s Marathon.  And then, on October 21 came the coup de grace–I attempted the Humboldt Half Marathon, even though I had been in pain that week.

The race started, and immediately I knew I didn’t have it.  My pace dipped from 7:30, to 8:00, to 8:15.  The teammates I’d anticipated running with left me in their dust.  I resigned myself to a training run.

And then, at mile 7, a searing pain shot through my right calf.  I was well and truly done, unable even to walk the rest of the way.  The dreaded season-ending injury had arrived, cutting me out of all remaining races for 2012.

It was three weeks before I ran again at all, thanks to the guidance of a wise friend and coach who convinced me not […]