The Trail To Recovery
This is the first in a series of articles from Nathan athlete and world-class ultra runner Rob Krar, as he opens up about balancing his extremely competitive spirit with the physical demands that ultra running takes on the body. In this first submission, he details his difficult decision to sit out this past weekend's Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) race due to injury, and taking the first steps towards a full recovery.
"Far better a wise DNS than a messy DNF" was one of many responses I received from a social media post a couple weeks ago after making the decision not to travel to Chamonix and race the spectacular 106-mile Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB). Reading the comments and encouragement from so many inspired me to take you along on my journey over this bump in the road that so many of us experience.
Too often athletes are put on a pedestal and thought to be immune from injury, setbacks, and importantly, failure. Worse still is when an athlete's own hubris leads them to believe it to be true. I should know, as I was one of those athletes in my previous running lives before I found my peace on the trails. Pride, arrogance, and desperation six years ago left me broken and sure I'd never return. I didn't know it at the time, but leaving the sport was the corner piece and catalyst for eventually retuning to the sport.
This summer began with a vague discomfort in my lower back and gluteal muscle. Aches and pains are part of the game and it's always a fine line determining which of them warrant special attention and which will resolve with a few days of rest or magically disappear with a night of sleep as so many have. What was a mild nuisance came to a head earlier this month and the timing couldn't have been worse. Although racing well at the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run was my primary focus the first half of the year, UTMB was constantly in the back of my mind. I'd stepped out of my comfort zone in my training to arrive at the starting line in Chamonix as prepared as possible. Technical running has always been my Achilles heel on the trails and I was happy to see significant improvement in my speed and confidence on our most technical trails here in Flagstaff.
The decision to withdraw from UTMB didn't come lightly. However, I have too much respect for the race, the competitors, and most importantly my body to toe the line in less than ideal health. Above anything else, I never want to repeat my past mistakes and lose something that plays such an important roll in my happiness.
With my social media feed flooded with stunning photos of bluebird skies, intimidating mountains, and so much raw and visceral emotion from the runners, I can't help but begin daydreaming of finding my flow again on the trails.
As disappointing as the setback is, I'll make the most of my recovery and have no doubt it'll only pay dividends in the future and ensure the long and fruitful career in ultrarunning I've always planned for. Tune in next week for a glimpse into my rehab and the highs and lows that go along with it.