World marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe is facing up to the very real possibility she may never compete again because of ongoing complications with her foot injury.
The 39-year-old was forced to pull out of the 2012 Olympics shortly before the Games, despite having had specialist treatment in Germany in July.
Radcliffe underwent surgery in August when it emerged her foot problems were more serious than first thought and it was then she entertained a future without competition.
However, she still had hopes of participating in a 10 kilometre race, as well as the 2014 London Marathon, but now she knows she may never again compete.
Radcliffe told BBC Sport: "Targets have gone out of the window.
"I'm very much in that limbo where I know and accept that realistically it may not be possible.
"But at the same time I have a little window of hope and I would rather be able to finish my career in a race, rather than a race I can't actually get to the start line of."
"I would love to be able to run a couple more marathons before I finish, even if it's just another half marathon" - Paula Radcliffe
Radcliffe has endured severe pain and complications in her left foot for 18 years, but despite that she became world marathon champion in 2005 and twice won the world cross-country title.
Next month marks the 10th anniversary of her world record, a mark which still stands today, when she completed the London Marathon in two hours 15 minutes 25 seconds.
However, Olympic success has eluded Radcliffe, fourth in the 10,000m in Sydney in 2000 the closest she has come to a medal.
Following the heartbreaking decision to withdraw from London only days before the marathon, Radcliffe targeted the World Cross-Country Championships which took place in Poland last weekend.
In December, that was revised to a 10km race in the spring, but she admitted today she feared then she may never run again, even recreationally.
She said: "I've not even been able to run after the kids in the last few months, and you start to think about the first goal - to get back and be able to have a normal active life and then worry about if I can get back to competing.
"In all honesty with me, it was probably always going to be something going wrong with my body that would make my career start to wind down because I am always going to want to keep competing and keep getting out there.
"I would love to be able to run a couple more marathons before I finish, even if it's just another half marathon.
"At the same time I would still like to have a healthy foot in 20 years' time."
Radcliffe underwent a second operation to remove a screw holding her bone in place and things have looked up since.
She added: "It's now looking encouraging, and certainly there's a lot less pain walking around, and I'm able to develop foot strength with a view to getting back running in the next couple of weeks I hope.
"It certainly has been a long process and a lot longer than I thought it was going to be back in August.
"It is a case of letting everything settle down and get strong again before I start to stress it again running.
"When I do start running, I want it to be something that I can keep doing."