Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Injuries, recovery, and the circle of life

Ok, yesterday I had a SCHEDULED rest day, so I wasn’t just sitting on my ass.  This week was planned to be a light week after my 20 mile week last week.  There is no set schedule per se, but the expectation is somewhere in the 5 to 10 mile range with distances building toward Saturday and Sunday.  Most of the week will be short 1 or 2 mile runs with speed torture.  In fact, tonight will feature just such a torturous path if I am pain free.

 

Yes, I said it was a light week.  There’s a reason for that.

 

Next week I intend to up the mileage again to 30 miles, with no fewer than 3 intermediate runs of no less than 6 miles and maybe even an 8 or 10 mile ramble thrown in there just for fun.


Which brings me to the reason WHY I planned for this week to be a light week (my training weeks are Monday – Sunday, by the way, it works better for me that way since the Marathon is on a Sunday).

 

I scheduled a 20 mile week last week for 2 reasons, with a third reason deep in the background.  The first two were simple—get the miles in, and see if I could stick to a training schedule.  I mostly stuck to the schedule, with some bonus miles to make up for the runs that were missed for one reason or another, and got my miles in.  I’m pretty satisfied with those wins.

 

The third reason was to create the conditions under which the inevitable would happen.  Something of my “Judas” theory.

 

You all know Judas—he was the apostolic betrayer.  Some of the Gnostic traditions suggest that he wasn’t actually betraying Jesus, but actually attempting to bring about the conditions under which the spirit Jesus would be freed from the mortal form and thus perfected, ushering in the Kingdom (total Cliff’s notes version, but that’s the gist).

 

My experience tells me that when I go from zero to marathon training, I encounter the blistering, debilitating pain known as shin splints right around the neighborhood of 30 to 50 miles.

Looking back at 2004, there’s this post:  http://screamingatthewind.blogspot.com/2004/11/pain-aaarrrggghhhh.html

In it I discuss a “funny twinge in my left shin” that became an “ow kind of pain”.  That was about 20 or 30 miles into training after riding a MS150 a few weeks before.

In 2005, there’s the following 2 posts:  http://screamingatthewind.blogspot.com/2005/09/hmm-thats-odd.html

And http://screamingatthewind.blogspot.com/2005/09/pain-bit-annoying.html

These describe pain in my lower legs, not directly in front, but in the area right between the calf muscle and the shin—the 12-3 area on the left leg and 9-12 area on the right (as well as some pretty good excuses I’ve used for not running).  This pain was in the 30 or 40 mile zone.

 

With both of these incidents, stretching, resting, waiting, and finally running made the pain go away and never come back for the remainder of the season.

 

My 20 mile week was intended to get me into this zone and create the conditions under which the inevitable pain in my shins would come, get healed away, and go away forever.  Or at least until the next time I decide to go from zero to marathon.

 

So, then, the question becomes what’s better:  treat the pain and get back out there as soon as possible, or heal the injury and take as much time as you need so that the pain simply goes away.

 

I, obviously, fall into the “heal the injury” camp.  I want to be able to just roll out of bed and run.  Not roll out of bed, munch some drugs, slather on some cream, and then run.  I also want to be able to take in a run, then come home and either nap or get on with my day, not have to take an ice bath, or hot bath, or icy-hot bath, or look like a mummy walking into the office.  If I can’t just grip it and rip it, so to speak, what’s the point?

 

Of course, I can be talked out of that mindset, I suppose, if I could find one person who lived with persistent pain and merely treated that pain and was able to never utter the phrase “I quit because the pain got too bad”.  Why would you put yourself through such punishment and torture?

 

So, today I feel pretty much pain free.  I’ll go out and run tonight and work in some sprints to the run.  Maybe I’ll even go to one of the local schools and use their track for quarter mile sprints.  That’s something the Spanish Inquisition should know about!!  I should probably get a watch if I’m going to do sprints.  Hm…

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