I had thought of the title for this post months ago.  I was excited after signing up for the Challenge USA Atlantic City 140.6 and was planning on kicking off my training pretty close to the new year.

The good news is that the title is still appropriate.  The bad news is, it’s not for the reasons I originally intended.

This year, I am starting off on the disabled list.  Somewhere in the lead up to the Philly Marathon and the weeks following, I developed some knee pain.  An orthopedic visit and several tests later, I’ve been diagnosed with hamstring tendinitis and sentenced to 6 weeks of no running.

I’ve been injured before and I’ve coached people going through injury recovery and I often point to the bigger picture.  6 weeks of no running is a small price to pay for a lifetime of endurance sports that I still have coming.  And that’s true. And yes, it’s hard to be patient when you are used to just getting up and going and it’s even harder to watch others keep going while you have to stop.

But what I grossly underestimated, or forgot, was the other mental toll it takes.  Running isn’t my only form of exercise, but it’s the easiest to squeeze in.  It’s woven into the fabric of my life that when removed, leaves a big void.  I miss it.  I feel the difference in myself, my body and my mood because its missing.  I’m missing my endorphins.  I’m missing my running buddies. I feel a little like I’m in mourning.

I like to make sense of things.  I like to find meaning.  But as I feel my spring half marathon potentially slipping away and question what my training will look like for the Challenge USA race in June, its hard not to just feel a little defeated.  Unless, of course, I take this time to become more compassionate and more innovative in both finding alternative exercises for athletes who are recovering from injury as well as addressing the mental ups and downs that go along with being injured.

After all, injuries happen.  And I, for one, want to be the kind of coach who is ready to handle any challenge that comes up – whether or not it’s the challenge I thought I would be facing.