Today's the day: the 2016 Boston Marathon. I'm reminded that, a few years after completing my first marathon in 2007, a wave of friends began focusing on a new goal: Boston Qualifying. While speed had never been a particular goal of mine—I was usually focused on running longer and enjoying it more—suddenly I was consumed with the idea of joining them. After all, running is a sport where you can always improve, and this felt like the ultimate goal for an everyday runner. I dove headfirst into speed workouts and focused on a time goal that was probably outside of my reach. But hey, “dream big,” right?
After a few months of these workouts, I developed iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), one of the most common, painful, and hard-to-recover-from running injuries.
My first injury after four years of running was a textbook case: too much, too soon, without enough cross-training. Unfortunately, I did what many injured runners do: I continued to run, right up until I couldn’t even walk, which led to six months of being unable to run at all. As with most lessons that are learned the hard way, this one stung. It was a wake-up call to my supposed invincibility, and it eventually required me to put my pride to the side if I ever wanted to run more than a mile without pain.
Luckily, that injury helped me reclaim my true focus: running healthily for as long as possible. In the months of recovery and years of running that have followed, I’ve remained largely injury-free thanks to the following five lessons. If today's race has inspired you to step up your own running game, bear these in mind to learn from my mistakes.