Written by Ashley Dier | Academy of Lions Media Team | Toronto

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon was to be my first marathon. I was selected to be a Digital Champion, someone who represents the race and shares their training story. Someone who represents those fundraising for the race, in my case I chose Lupus Ontario. The following is a blog I wrote for the Canadian Running Series website.

This is not the blog I planned on writing. I had a few ideas, tackling your first marathon, overcoming peak week or maybe a piece on staying confident on race day. Instead I'm staring down at an air cast with a bad case of the runners blues and a bit of denial over the fact that I won't be running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon at all.

Potential stress fracture, the words every runner dreads hearing. Looking back over the past four months, the signs were there, but I was in denial. "Maybe it's the shoes" I thought, convincing myself that the growing pain in my foot was a normal "running ache". Then came the long run of 24kms, the run that became this training cycles "breaking point". Months of running on an injury caused gait changes which lead to compensation injuries elsewhere. Everything surfaced during those 24kms.

The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon was to be a stepping stone for me. In the spring of 2017 I am planning a fundraising run in memory if my Grandfather who lost his battle with cancer last year. In an effort to give back to those who made him more comfortable in his last week's with us, I will run 80km in his memory and raise money for the amazing organization, Saint Elizabeth. It's easy to see how this air cast has thrown a small hiccup in these plans.

Being told you cannot do something you love, in this case running, is difficult to hear...mentally and physically. We condition our lugs and our muscles to physically be able to run long distances, but we also condition ourselves mentally. That mental strength is what I find myself relying on lately. But it’s not all bad, focusing on the negatives doesn’t help anything or anyone so let’s discuss a few positives, shall we?

Nutrition - Lack of running allowed for me (read forced me) to look at how I’m eating and how I can improve my diet. Eating more nutrient rich, bone healing foods and learning more about how certain foods help our bodies recover from injury has been very helpful.

Activity - Staying active has been super important for my mental health. This meant trying new things like swimming more and biking (I'll confess, biking isn't the easiest with a boot).

PMA - Positive mental attitude! Perhaps the most important factor for me as been staying positive. From the beginning I tried to not focus on the negatives, to accept the diagnosis, and to work on recovering.

I’ve never seen more runners on a daily basis than the past weeks of no running.This may not be the way I thought my first marathon would play out, but I'm okay with it. There are lessons in everything, I'm sure there's one somewhere in my injury for me to discover. For now it's support duty - cheering on fellow runners is something my crew takes very seriously. #crewlove Watching everyone training with Academy run crew on Sunday mornings take on their long runs head on has been nothing short of inspiring. Some tackling distances for the first time while others chasing pb’s, all getting it done together. #inthis2gether

There will be other races, I will run a marathon one day and I will run 80k in the spring. For today and tomorrow and the day after that, it's all about staying positive. I am grateful for the ability to run and move and for my health. I am grateful for my friends and family and for those I don't know sending me healing vibes. This is all just a small chapter in my running story.

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