I’ve been reading a lot of books on running and the personal stories of various runners. They have been written by various levels of runners, although they are all faster
and perhaps more serious than I am. From the instructional 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald and Endure by Alex Hutchinson to the historic Born to Run and Natural Born Heros by Christopher McDougall to the inspirational North by Scott Jurek, and Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor, and the combination of inspiration and instruction of Run Forever by Amby Burfoot. Then my personal favorite, the humorous and inspirational The Incomplete Book of Running by the host of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Peter Sagal.
All these books have had some great advice and given me things to think about on my own running journey. While I’ll never be going for an FKT on the Appalachian Trail, or any other trail for that matter, or competing for a chance to podium on an international race. I’m still extremely surprised when I get a podium in local 5ks and that is usually because they are small races. It has made me realize that every runner, regardless of level, has a story. Whether it is a health scare, overcoming addiction, therapy, or any other host of reasons, we all have something that got us started.
But, for all the host of reasons that we get started we all seem to have one thing in common, other than running of course. The year that no matter what we did we were plagued by injury. Sometimes it’s not a whole year, sometimes it’s longer. For some of us it signals an end to running, some come back even stronger. Almost all of us realize what running means to us and reflect on what running has brought us, especially those who have been doing it for a long time. I mean what else do we have to do but think about running while we aren’t able to.
All my life I’ve battled things that, according to most, should have stopped me from running. Inflamed growth plates in my heals, the flattest feet known to man, knee problems, a list of injuries three pages long. I was told during my junior year of high school track by a doctor that I should stop running forever due to a back problem. And last but not least, asthma. And not just the mild variety. As a kid I was as bad as they get. I could only play outside for a couple hours a day at one point because I couldn’t be out in the pollen for longer than that without my lungs seizing up.
I actually think that the asthma and back issues are what have driven me to continue running for as long as I have. And even with all the of injuries, most of which came through my own stupidity and lack of self-preservation, I’ve always recovered and carried on. They have never strung themselves together in any way that would keep me down for more than 3 weeks.
Unfortunately, I’m not as young and able to heal as I once was. I talked in my last post about having plantar fasciitis for the second time in my right foot. That stopped me from running completely for 3 weeks and then, at the advice of my physical therapist Charlie, a very slow return. I’m very happy to report that my right foot feels amazing. It’s not completely recovered as I still feel a little fatigue toward the end of 3 mile efforts, but it is less each time out. I have been using a walk run method again suggested by Charlie of 2 min on and 2 min off. This has been extremely effective and I’m maintaining an average around 11 minutes per mile. Given that I walk for a good portion of the run is pretty good. It’s also further pointed out that I have no sense of pace. Some of the runs are well under 8 min/mile and some are around 9:30. And it’s not that the first run cycles are really fast and then they slow down. They seem to be random.
About a week ago I went to Tortoise and Hare for the monthly donut run. I was having a really good run. I was even gaining on one of the faster runners when it felt like someone stabbed me in the calf. Luckily, it was at the end of a run cycle, so I stopped and tried to stretch it on the curb, then walk it off. However, at the next run cycle it was back within a few steps. Did I stop and head back? Hell NO! I adjusted my foot strike to land on my heel and that seemed to help. So, I soldiered on, albeit a little slower. It also felt super awkward. I finished my three miles with a noticeable limp. Later that day, I found myself in my in-law’s pool swimming laps with a 4 and 6-year-old taking turns riding on my back. Nothing like swimming with a moving 40 lbs weight on your back.
Over the next couple of days there was a dull nagging pain, so I decided that I should rest it and took 5 days off until the Thursday Arrowhead loop. Which come to think of it is where the plantar started. Hmmm…
Anyway, I was glad to be back running and Coach V even came with Molly in a carrier to walk while we all ran. I intended to take the 3-mile cut of the 4-mile loop, but during the first 2 min run something stabbed my calf again, but this time the pain was more intense. I walked the rest of that run cycle and the next trying to stretch as I was walking. I also decided to turn around at the mile mark and head back. A smarter person would have turned around right away, but I’m not too bright when it comes to injuries.
The new part is that I noticed some bruising around where the pain was. Since no good can come of that I called Charlie and will get it looked at tonight. I fear that he is going to tell me to lay off running for a few weeks again.
The issue is that it’s going to start getting difficult to be built back up for the Swiss Days race and the speed I would like to do that in if I can’t get back to training soon. In the meantime, I now have a carrier for my bike, so I can join the group for rides to try to keep\rebuild my fitness.
Coach V and I have been talking about addiction recently. This have been mostly due to helping a friend who realized that she had a problem and has decided to get some help. Meaning she must move across country. So, we helped her sort through, pack and load her stuff into a U-Haul for the move. We have also talked about the number of endurance runners who have had similar type problems in their lives and how running, in some cases extremely long distances, have helped them manage the addiction and overcome it. There was an interview once where Robert Downy Jr. claimed that he simply replaced one addiction, namely drugs, with another, going to the gym. He apparently will go workout 2 to 3 times a day, sometimes more. Maybe that’s what those runners are doing. Maybe that is kind of what I’m doing. I’ve had a couple of issues in the past. Poker being one of them. I nearly failed out of Purdue because I was playing so much. I never viewed it as an addiction because I was able to decide to quit playing one day. After a letter from Purdue stating that if I didn’t get my grades up they would kick me out and meeting a girl that told me she wouldn’t be interested in someone who failed out of school, I just stopped and didn’t play again for 3 years. And I’ve never played with the frequency or stakes that I used to.
A couple of other things developed after poker that I’m not quite ready to go into on a forum that is as public as this, but there were things that replaced poker. I never thought of them as an addiction, but they could be. I never got involved with any kind of drugs. Not for lack of opportunity, just never interested me. Coach V has suggested that perhaps running is an addiction I have. According to her I get irritable, moody, and jittery if I haven’t run in a few days. I don’t think that I’ve taken it to an unhealthy level, but it does explain some things.
It might be somewhat telling that I’m not scheduled in a road race until the end of July and its driving me a little nuts. I’m scheduled to do a Spartan Stadium Sprint at the Arizona Cardinals Stadium in a couple of weeks with my Chiropractor,
so maybe that will take the edge off a little.