Last-Minute Marathon Prep

Yesterday I busted my big toe. I was trying to fold a table, and then BAM, I slammed it shut with all my force into my toe. The Baltimore Marathon happens in 5 days and I am registered to run. And I will inshaAllah.

I am hoping that my toe will heal and taking steps to make this wish come true. Right after the accident, I smothered the area with Vaseline and attempted to numb the pain and halt the inflammation with ice. Afterwards I cleaned the wound, applied an antibacterial cream, and bandaged it up. Today, I skipped my morning run, and if this limp lingers, I may cancel tomorrow’s run, too. I need to do everything I can do let my toe rest and rebuild in time for Saturday’s marathon.

Running may not promote healing. So how will I prepare for the marathon? During the taper week, I only run a few miles a day anyway, to focus on mental training, not physical training. The purpose of running in the days before a big race is to get excited for the race, and maintain a runner’s routine so that running will feel natural on race day. The runner’s routine also ensures that I eat and sleep well. After a run, I crave real food and that is what I eat. The run also wakes me up early in the morning, gives me energy for the day, and tires me by late evening so that I sleep well at night.


If I cannot run this week, mental training for this weekend’s marathon will be more difficult than usual. Nevertheless, since the point of taper runs is mental, perhaps I could accomplish the goals without the act of running. This is what I need to do:

  • SLEEP. The converse of to sleep is to wake-up. I need to wake up at the same time as I would if I were running to ensure continued good sleep at night.
  • EAT. I need to prioritize breakfast just like I would after a run, and dinner each day, too. No junk food.
  • DRINK. I may not be thirsty like I am on running days, so I need to remember to drink water.
  • FAST. Today is the second day of Dhull-Hijjah, the month of Hajj and the final month of the Islamic calendar. During the first 10 days of this month, fasting is highly encouraged, plus fasting mimics exercise so it would be a perfect pre-marathon activity.

Busting my toe was an accident. But perhaps it is a blessing in disguise. It has forced me to deliberately take care of myself, rather than rely on the magic of running, to prepare for the 26.2 miles up ahead.

A million things could go wrong before a marathon and in comparison a busted toe is nothing. I am grateful and learning. In the Holy Qur’an (2:216), God says:

Perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.”