The Outside Blog


Not Injured, but Not Fast

When you're coming back from injury there is a moment when you are finally healthy, everything is fine, and you're badly out of shape.

Nate Jenkins, whom I've written about in the past, and whose struggle to become a very good marathoner I find endlessly compelling, appears to be at that place now, five years after first getting injured and four years after finishing seventh at the Olympic marathon trials. On Sunday, Jenkins was second at a half marathon in New Bedford, Massachusetts. From his blog:

First the good. the leg held. It felt a little off from about 4.5 to 6 miles but never cost me a second and actually felt best in the last 3 miles... This is huge. Not out of the woods yet but the nerves are ever so slowly coming back. I really think my dream of a fall marathon could be becoming a reality. Now for the bad. 1:07:05.

Jenkins isn't being modest: 1:07 is three minutes slower than his PR and just isn't very good for a professional runner. (It is, also, substantially faster than I am likely to run, ever.)

Psychologically, this is one of the hardest places to be as a runner. Better than being injured and unable to run, certainly, but much worse than being fit. Running well is plenty hard even when nothing is broken, and injuries, as awful as they are, do offer a bit of insulation from disappointment. They're failures of body, not will or talent.

Jenkins has a huge amount of work to do now, which he outlines excitedly at the end of this week's post. The good news is that the hard work is the fun part.

—Peter Vigneron


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