Waiting and Healing: Why I’m not running this spring

Whenever I’m asked where I hail from, I stumble a little bit. After living in one foreign country and 10 U.S. states, including a few on multiple occasions, I can reasonably answer all over the place.

But if I had to pick one place I’m actually from, even though I only lived there for three brief years, it would be Washington State. This is where my parents still live, I graduated high school there, and I’ve consistently traveled to Washington since the late ‘9os. But the bulk of my time has been east of the Cascades.

In the past week I went to Tacoma, and I was blown away by Mount Rainier. I was taken aback by its iconic beauty (it’s on Washington’s license plate) and the way it glows as the sun sets behind you. Surprisingly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it from the ground, probably due to Seattle-Tacoma’s notorious weather. With Tacoma’s hilly terrain and incredible scenery, things I sorely lack in eastern New Mexico, I would normally run and explore as much as possible. But i’m not running.  It’s really depressing to admit that I didn’t run at all during my trip and it wasn’t because I didn’t have time.

Tacoma 1_April 16 not running

In the past month, I’ve been dealing with peculiar pain in my lower tibia (inside of my right shin) which has limited my ability to run. Limited = not running. In mid-February I started training for a marathon which would have been later this month, but training for a sub-3 hour marathon in less than three months may have been too ambitious. One night after an eight mile tempo run, I noticed a new discomfort in my shin. Applying some RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and taking some days off, I pressed with my training. Unfortunately within a couple weeks I couldn’t even jog.

As it stands, I still don’t have a diagnosis for this pain. An MRI showed that my leg was normal with no stress fracture and no shin splint which is good, but I still don’t know what’s wrong. So I’ve reluctantly decided to stop running and heal properly. This means I can’t race a marathon this spring, and I probably won’t be able to race any distance for a while.


Tacoma 2_April 16


The following are three big things I’ve learned…

First, I think I’m injured because I ramped up training too intensely in too short of a time frame. Marathon training is a different animal. 26.2 miles is an extremely tough distance and requires a complicated balance of quality miles, easy miles, rest, good nutrition, speed work, strength training, and life. At my fitness level and my job, I probably need 12-16 weeks to properly train for the marathon I want to run.

Second, some people have told me I should have scaled back my goals. My training was aimed at the 2:40-2:45 realm, but I was recently told by someone who’s accomplished a dozen marathons that I should realistically aim to just finish. Here’s the rub… I’m almost 32 and I don’t plan to run a road marathon every 4-6 months to improve my marathon result. For the months required to properly prepare, it’s not worth it for me to continually run marathon after marathon to reach some personal record threshold. If I train for 16 weeks, taper and then put on a bib, I’m going to race for the best result possible. Sorry if this is elitist, but until I start running ultra distances, I’m not interested in just finishing.
Finally, I will never take wearing a bib for granted ever again. Watching other people race is tough. But I stay engaged with races as they happen (really no different than being a pro-sports fan) and offer congrats to others wherever I can, primarily through social media. And being injured has boosted my appreciation for my wife who isn’t able to compete herself but prides herself in being my crew chief and my biggest cheerleader.
It’s going to be hard for a while because I have to wait patiently for healing. I hope the sports doctor can establish a diagnosis for this pain soon, and then I plan to undergo physical therapy. I will need to learn how to better incorporate preventative measures into my fitness routine like strength, nutrition, rest, drills, and stretching.

On a different note, two weeks ago I won the lottery! Specifically, I won the Marine Corps Marathon lottery and made it in among thousands of applicants. Assuming I can run pain free by June or July, then I’ll conveniently have 12-16 weeks to train. Washington DC happens to be the place where I trained for my first marathon in 2007, so returning to compete has meaning for me.

Having a focus and something to chase after, being in a place for feasible redemption and a return to the running scene…these are the goals which inspire me.


Tacoma 3_April 16


5 thoughts on “Waiting and Healing: Why I’m not running this spring

  • LaChicaRuns

    Followed your #RunChat shameless plug! 😉
    I’ve come back from injury and you are right, I’m never taking running for granted. Here’s to a quick — and permanent — recovery for you, too!

    • Dwight Rabe Post author

      Thank you! I believe the challenges we overcome as athletes make the overall experience so much more rewarding.

  • LaChicaRuns

    So sorry that you’re injured but it sounds like you’re doing what you’re supposed to so you can heal. And congrats on MC! My running mentor races it last year and now it’s on my short list for whenever I can do destination races. (Did I mention we have to put three kids through college? They’re cramping my style!)


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