2010 has been largely about running injuries so far. I strained my left calf the first week in January, and dealt with that for the next 3 months leading up to my first marathon. Since the marathon I’ve been dealing with IT Band and tendonitis issues in my right knee. The calf issue stuck around so long it eventually became white noise, and was just part of the training. The knee appears to be on the mend, and hopefully will continue to fade into the background as well. One thing these injuries have done is make every run, particularly the start of every run, a little daily lottery for me.
I can remember as a much younger runner that I would throw on shorts, a t-shirt, and some shoes, head outside, and just start running. Usually also had my bright yellow Sports Walkman in my hand – many of you probably had one of these beauties as well – with some sort of mix tape to keep me entertained. There was very little ‘think’ or worry, mostly just the ‘do’ of running. That was the beauty of jogging and what kept me engaged, no drive to the gym, no crowds to work through, and limited planning-ahead involved. Just open the door and go ….. and then come back.
Once my calf got injured, and now with my knee giving me the business, the first step of every run holds a certain excitement/dread as I never quite know what I’m going to get. With my calf, some days the first step would just feel tight, and I could get to a normal stride pretty quickly and feel confident that the run would be fairly uneventful. Some days it would be tight and sore, and I’d end up limping through the first mile or so, eventually getting to a normal stride, and knowing that regardless of how much ice, or The Stick, or massage followed the run, my leg would be angry for a few days to come. Fortunately I only once took that first step and realized that would be the last step for the day because the pain was just too much to risk completely blowing my shot at the race. Regardless, every time that first step was a mystery waiting to unfold.
The reason I bring this up today is that since getting my therapist’s blessing last Wednesday to slowly return to the world of the running I’ve run on Thursday (2.3 mi), Saturday (3.1 mi), and this morning (2.5 mi). Since it has become part of the subconscious routine, and since I’m overly dialed-in to every nuance of how my knee feels, the first step is once again filled with dread and anticipation. Put on my assorted gear this morning, walked a bit for a warmup while my Garmin searched the heavens for satellites, fired up some Train on the iPod, took the first step and ….. nothing. No pain, no tightness, no soreness, no limp, nothing from my calf, nothing from my knee …. just the feeling of foot hitting pavement and insoles doing their thing. This held up for about the first .5 mile, at which point I started feeling some tightness in my knee, but for a brief period of time I was reminded of what it all should feel like. My knee is still a work in progress, and I’m still hitting it with ice, stretching, strengthening, rolling, etc., but that collection of strides gave me a brief glimpse into what I hope running will be like again in the future, and made me that much more motivated to keep after the rehab as religiously as possible.
Still not a fan of Mondays, but the Running Gods got this one off to a pretty good start.