The Long Road Back
by Antonio Vega on September 27, 2011
Coming back from running injuries, is often a very long, difficult road. For the past year, I have been dealing with a series of injuries. Finally, I felt fit enough to target the New Haven 20-K on September 1 as my first real test. Unfortunately, my training was a little behind schedule and I ultimately decided to postpone my first competitive race back.
As I wrote in my previous blog, I am splitting time between Des Moines where my wife is in medical school and my home town of St. Paul. I have currently been in Minnesota for the last two weeks getting in some good training with my fellow teammates on Team USA Minnesota.
Just the other day on my afternoon run I found myself running past my old high school. Just for old time sake, I ran around the track a couple of times and then continued on my way. It reminded me of how far I’ve come since high school.
Unlike most top runners, my first choice for sports was not running. In fact, it wasn’t even my second choice. Running was just something I did.
As a senior, I played soccer and was the place kicker on our football team. In what little spare time I had, I ran cross-country which made for a hectic schedule as all three are fall sports. When I ran, it was usually with my father at night after I got home from school and practice.
Eventually, running became my sport. I loved seeing how hard I could push myself and it was so rewarding to get faster with each race. At the University of Minnesota, I concentrated on track and cross-country and achieved some level of success.
And now as a professional who travels around the country competing against some of the best runners in the world, I still love it. But sometimes I still feel a lot like the 17-year-old high school senior who would go for a run with his dad just for the simple joy of running.
Now, as I continue my training for the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston in January, it’s time for me to forget about how important this race is and just what’s on the line. Instead, it’s time for me to just have fun and enjoy the experience. It’s time to be more like that high school senior who would just go out the door every night, not knowing what to expect and run for the sheer joy of it.