Not that I have not had my share of real injuries. Starting with my first one in the fall of 2007, I've had an IT band injury, a persistent bout of piriformis syndrome, a mysterious injury on the ball of my foot that resulted in my first doctor's visit for a running ailment (the day after I ran a half-marathon), a double hernia that required surgery, and a lower back/upper butt injury that needed physical therapy and a month of rest before I could even jog again.
I hated missing time for these injuries, but it was simply unavoidable. I didn't have a choice. But still I tried to push things along. My hernia surgeon had told me I would be back running in a couple of weeks, and I read accounts on the Internet of people getting back to full speed within a month. That did not happen for me. In fact it was months before I was done with my rehab and I still have some pain even now. In the early days of my comeback my sports medicine doc, Jeff Tanji at UC Davis sports medicine clinic, could tell I was frustrated. But there was little he could do. "The art of medicine," he told me once, quoting Voltaire, "is to amuse the patient while nature cures the disease."
In between those serious problems and sometimes overlapping them, I have felt numerous aches and pains that seemed, at the time, to be worse than just your average post-run soreness. Pains in my toes, feet, shins, calves, knees, quads, hamstrings, back and neck (did I miss a body part?) had me thinking that I was headed for the shelf, only to disappear after a few days or a week on their own.
You would think that all of these injuries and pains would lead one to drop the activity that was causing them. After the 2008 Shamrock half marathon, a friend who had come to cheer me and others on at the finish saw me limping to my car and asked, "Why do you keep doing this if it thrashes your body like this?" I didn't really have an answer, and I still don't. Except that I like being in shape (my motto: "I want to die healthy") and I enjoy competing, against myself and others. So I keep at it. I imagine others have similar answers.
Now, as CIM looms around the corner, injury-obsession is breaking out all over Sacramento and Northern California. Even a minor injury now that might force you to skip a week or two could be the end of marathon training for Dec. 6. So the next time I feel pain, rather than stop running I will do what so many of my friends do: pretend it doesn't exist and keep on running. If it's minor, it will go away. If it's serious, I'm probably going to miss the marathon one way or another. So I might as well keep running and find out which it is.