I’ve seen this sort of thing before

It’s the last month or so before my goal race and, as typically happens, a host of physical issues are suddenly emerging on the horizon like thunderclouds only to recede just as quickly and mysteriously, having spared me from a soaking, or worse, a lightning strike.

Where have I seen this before? Oh, right. During every single previous training season. Looking over my logs of the past few years (you do keep detailed logs, don’t you?), I see that this is something that happens like clockwork in the 4-6 weeks prior to each marathon.

In the spring of 2007, it was chronic shinsplints. In the spring of 2008 it was a torn fascia in my right calf. In the fall of 2008 it was a general malaise that I couldn’t shake for days at a time, almost as if I was on the verge of getting the flu. In the spring of 2009 it was a twofer: a cyst on one of my left foot’s ligaments accompanied by a mysterious pain in my right quads that migrated from quad muscle to quad muscle for a few weeks. (Ironically, the iron/vitamin deficiency and/or overtraining — which eventually did me in — was the one thing I wasn’t accutely aware of.)

This time around is no different, although I’ve learned not to be completely freaked out by each new complaint. Two weeks ago, it was a hamstring pull. Yesterday, it was some sort of odd, painful ligament or tendon issue on the top of my left foot.

I dutifully take my anti-inflammatories, ice and massage the sucker, and hope for the best. If something persists, I go to the orthopedist, who at this point can probably set his watch by my twice-yearly appearances. After a completely unnecessary, “defensive medicine” x-ray, I usually leave with a good dose of cortisone surging through the area in question and a “good luck” on my next race. Did I see him rolling his eyes too?

I’m like a car that starts to belch black smoke from beneath its hood at the tail end of a drive through Death Valley in July. As long as I can make it to Sacramento on December 6 with my radiator, suspension and transmission intact, I’ll be happy.

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