Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Emerging from taking it easy

Ok, so I'm not good at listening to doctors.  Especially when it comes to running, or exercise, or any kind of strenuous activity.  I know they're doctors and all, and have all that education and training, and blah blah blah...  But they've never run a mile in my shoes.  They've never taken my bike out on the roads.  Only one doctor I've ever seen has ever run in a marathon--and he tried to fit me with orthopedic inserts.

I don't think so.

Pain is our body's way of saying something is out of whack.  An orthopedic device artificially puts that thing back in whack and trains our muscles to accommodate the crutch.  I'd rather have my mechanics correct themselves naturally and go without the crutch, thank you very much.  That way the weak points get stronger and injuries are avoided.

Having been a runner, he should have known that.

Having been told that I prefer to go without inserts, he should have known that.

But he didn't.  "Running is bad for you, it breaks down blah blah blah".  Yea, where's the exit again?

So, anyway, I trust my doctor for the regular tinkering and knocks and pings that naturally occur in a human body.  But I don't trust my doctor for sports medicine advice.  Here's how the conversations usually go at the annual checkups:

Me:  Doc, I'm going to start training for the MS150.  I'm just checking in to make sure I'm still fit enough that it's a good idea.
Doc:  What's that?
Me:  A 200 mile bike ride across Texas.  It's totally fun.
Doc:  Motorcycle?
Me:  No, bike.
Doc: ...
Me:  Why are you looking at me like that?
Doc:  You're healthy enough, physically.  But that's not a good idea.  Do you need a referral to a psychiatrist?

I know, I need a new doctor.

But the larger truth is that eventually I end up listening, at least a little bit.  Like with my foot injury.  I twisted my ankle back in July last year about 3/4 of a mile into a speed workout.  I finished the first mile, then ran a couple of miles worth of quarter mile sprints.  

It sounded like a good idea at the time.

Ok, that's a lie.  That never sounds like a good idea.

It should go without saying that I couldn't really walk well the next day.  Or the day after.  But after 3 days the swelling had nearly gone away and after 2 weeks my ankle looked like new.  But there was a new pain, right in the back of my heel where the Achilles meets the foot.  It would go away during the day, and come back in the morning.  When I ran it would go away, then come back with a fiery, hateful vengeance, hang around for a couple of days, then go away.  Come back in the morning, go away during the day, I'd run, it would come back with a fiery, hateful vengeance, hang around for a couple of days, then go away.  This pattern repeated itself again and again and eventually sent me to the doctor (who I mostly ignored).  He said orthodics and rest.  I said thanks, I have to go now.

The thing is, for the weak points to get stronger and the mechanics to correct themselves, you have to rest.  Which I did, to an extent.  I took two weeks off, and downgraded my training to run the half marathon instead of the full.  I thought that would be enough.  But after the half, I couldn't walk for a day or two.  The pain was back.  It was excruciating.

I've since taken 4 solid months off from running and my heel feels nearly perfect.  I've also gained about 10 pounds during the layoff, eradicating the weight loss experienced when training.  I've gotten a lot done.  I've done some walking.  I did some minor repairs around the house.  I planted an orchard and failed to grow a garden.  I bought a house and landed a couple of clients.  Just no running.  I was taking it easy.

But now it's time to be finished taking it easy.  Now it's time to dust off the old 2 wheeler and get riding again.  Now it's time to give back those 10 pounds, and maybe a few more.  Now it's time to get back into running shape...  without running.

Now it's time.  Time to start looking towards a 2 hour half marathon and a 4 hour full marathon before I turn 40.  Now it's time to start thinking seriously about that 18 minute 5k and 45 minute 10k.  Now it's time to start doing something about that double century bike ride I've been talking about for 10 years.

Now it's time to silence the doubt and banish the demons.  Now it's time to claim the mental clarity that comes with a fit and clean body and the physical confidence that comes with a fit and clean mind.

Now it's time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Recovery hiatus... ending

Ok, so there was this hiatus thing.  Deal with it.
Back in July of 2011 I twisted my ankle and my foot didn't quite heal.  I even went to a doctor.

That didn't fix it.

I got new shoes.

That didn't fix it.

I got new shoes again.

That didn't fix it.

So instead of running the full marathon in January 2012, and another one a week later, and another one a month after that, I decided to scale back A LOT and only ran the half marathon in January.

Big mistake.

The pain didn't go away.  In fact, it got worse.

It was a peculiar kind of pain.  The kind that went away when I started running, but would come back when I stopped.  Then get worse in the morning, but by afternoon was nearly gone.  It was mainly around the back of my heel where the Achilles tendon met the retrocalcaneal bone.  (I'll wait while you google that...  back now?  Good.)  But now we're 4 months past the half marathon (2:35, by the way), and the pain is now almost entirely gone almost all the time.  I'm getting the bug to run again, but that's probably not a very good idea.  However, I do have a bike...  now, that's a pretty good idea.

So, I'm considering maybe getting back in the saddle and gearing up for a crack at a MS150 ride.  Maybe the San Antonio ride in October.  That would be a good excuse to drop 10 or 20 pounds and get back into running shape.  There's a marathon on January 1 that could be fun.  And a series of bridge runs (culminating in a half marathon) that could be a fun challenge...  ah, but I need to not push the injury.

Anyway, we'll see how this goes.