What do I have to lose?

med symbolI had lunch with an old friend last week.  It had been years since we’d gotten together.

His son is a budding runner, so we spent a fair amount of time talking about his progress, and the challenges of parenting an athlete.  Eventually, the talked turned to our own pursuits.

Marc has been running more, mainly as a result of his son’s success.  It’s time he gets to spend with him, and he’s getting in better shape while doing it.  He’s run some decent 5K times, and has come a long way for someone who was a non-runner for a looooong time.

Eventually, he asked me what’s keeping me from running.  After explaining the road I’ve traveled, and the list of injuries over the last few years, he asked me a very pointed one…

“For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been a runner.  You love to run.  If injuries are keeping you from running, and there’s a surgery that might get you back on the road, why wouldn’t you do it?”

That’s a great question – one I’ve been avoiding for quite some time.  While it seems like the eventual answer to this Achilles issue is to go under the knife, I’m still very reluctant to even consider it.

The thought has been on my radar for years.  Despite the fact that I haven’t been able to run on a regular basis since 2013, I’ve clung to the belief that if I just persevere, do stretches (which I haven’t been nearly vigilant in doing), and strengthen my calves and hammies, that everything will work out.

Well, it hasn’t.  Part of the problem, I’m sure, is that I need to stretch and strengthen more.  I know I haven’t been as vigilant about following through on it, and I think that’s part of what keeps me from committing to the surgery – the thought that maybe I’m not doing enough to fix it on my own.

Time to fix that, one way or the other.

 

Return to fitness: a process

 

fence 66
Sunrise over I-66, before gridlock builds.  The streets I’m on are mostly empty.  I’ts strangely peaceful!

After months of fits and starts, I’ve decided that, for the time being, I’m going to have to eliminate running from my fitness regimen.  This has been a painful and difficult decision to come to, but I think I need an extended period off to strengthen my legs and give them a break from running’s impact, and just allow them to heal.

(But bear with me – it’s not all bad!!!)

It’s four years since I’ve been able to run for more than a couple of months at a time.  Just when I feel I’m starting to get back to normal, something happens, whether it’s my Achilles, my calf, or my hamstrings.

The final straw was April’s Parkway Classic.  I was concerned coming into the race, with my longest run only hitting six miles, but I took it slow, never going faster than a 9:15 mile.  By the fourth mile, I was tiring, which was expected, but then my right calf started giving me trouble.  By the fifth mile, it felt as if the calf was splitting in half vertically.

By the sixth mile, I was resigned to walking the rest of the way.  I tried a couple of times to start up again and maintain a slow shuffle, and only made it worse.  I wasn’t able to walk normally for three days.

About three weeks later, I tried to run a half mile at a 10:00 pace.  I didn’t make it a quarter mile before the calf reacted badly.

End result:  rock bottom reached.

At this point, I recognize the need to strengthen, but without the impact that running brings.

work route
The way out is nice.  The way back…not so much!

Fortunately, I started a new job this week, and have a trail available to me that allows me to get to work without being killed by texting drivers.  It’s about 20 miles one way, is fairly hilly, and will certainly give me my cardio and calf/hammy work.

I’ve got to add core work.  I’ve never been big on weights, but I’m getting older and have to acknowledge the need.  I’ve spent so much time on the shelf over the past few years that I can no longer deny the toll atrophy has taken.

I’m not sure how I’m going to feed my need to compete, but am considering aquabike races.  Of course, that’s going to require me to head back to the pool at least a couple of times a week, but I can make that happen!

I’m going to spend this week developing a workable routine to return to fitness.  The end result may or may not include the distances of running that I used to cover, but it will result with me getting back to the level of fitness I’m accustomed to.