Man, I haven’t posted a thing since I moved to the new site. Said migration coincided with a series of unfortunate events, which isn’t to say I couldn’t have sat on the couch and written something brilliant, or at least moderately amusing, but it really put me in a bad mood for weeks on end and I didn’t want to smear that attitude all over the interwebs. Aaaand… now I’ve got Attitude stuck in my head. Damn it.
Not Suitable for Most Workplaces
(And yeah, that’s actually the closest thing to a listenable copy up on YouTube. Somebody should fix that.)
February started off so grand. I had been reading (Jack) Daniels’ Running Formula and building myself a short “pre-season” based on his methods and best practices to lead up to an attempt at a 5k PR this month. To give a super-simplified overview, Daniels splits his training plans/seasons in to four parts, the first of which is all base building and injury prevention. In short, nothing but easy running, focusing on form, base miles, and figuring out where your fitness is at. After my late 2011 marathonarama1 I tacked on Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll in January2 I was all gung ho for an awesome year.
So I built this short season to transition off of a few weeks of recovery miles in to the easy phase, with a brilliant plan to time my “step back” week with the first week of Phase 2: the week starting February 20. Quality speed workouts, but less overall miles. Brilliant, right? It was looking pretty good on paper; maybe not enough training to make a significant impact on my speed, but enough to get a feel for how Daniels’ methods and theories worked for me.
But as luck would have it, during that last week of injury prevention focused base building, I managed to injure myself. It went from an “awareness” of some discomfort in my right ankle to periodic severe pain in said ankle. One day I slowed my pace. The next I cut my run short and walked a bunch. Then I3 did some research – and a bit of prodding at my person – to come to the conclusion that I most likely had EDL (Extensor Digitrorum Longus) Tendinitis.
Which is not only a whole lot of Not Fun, but is also – in most people – completely avoidable. Just like the only other injury I’ve sustained that could be attributed to running. In January 2008, in between my July 2007 discovery of running as Something I Enjoy and my February 2008 debut marathon, I messed with Texas, and waaaay out on the unpopulated side of Town Lake4 and pulled my IT band, resulting in a very feeble hobble back to where my wife could drive to in a car.
The root cause of both injuries? Say it with me now, kids. NOT STRETCHING.
Damn it. Stretch. After every run. And don’t just stand there with one leg slightly bent pretending like you’re holding up that tree. Real stretches. Of the real muscles that you overexert while running. Not just the ones that hurt, or were recently injured, but the ones that don’t hurt. So they don’t get injured. Seriously.
After I pulled my IT band I was religious about stretching. For about six months. Maybe seven. Then it sort of tapered off to occasional stretching and eventually the mindset that taking the three steps up in to the house and then getting in the shower before sitting on my butt at work all day somehow covered all my bases. Guess I was lucky for the past four years, but now it’s got me again. Bastard karma.
So, I spent most of February hobbling around, walking as much as I could, fixing up my bike and riding a bit more than I had, but not nearly as much as I’d like, and generally scowling as I got to the “Dealing with Injuries” chapter of Daniels’ Running Formula.
Fast forward to the first weekend in March, where my wife and I had a backcountry permit for two nights at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We hiked in via the South Kaibab Trail on Friday, hit about 13 miles of the Clear Creek and North Kaibab Trails on Saturday, then hiked out via the Bright Angel Trail on Sunday. I wore an ankle brace for the first few miles on Friday, but whipped it off as soon as it was warm enough to stop and take my shoe off. The brace hurt more than the tendinitis.
There is truly nothing like hiking up and down relatively steep trails with 45 pounds on your back for three days to really stretch out an injured tendon. By the time we got back to civilization I had all but forgotten that I’d ever injured myself. The NPS should run a physical therapy program for idiot runners who don’t stretch.
Over the following week I ran just a couple of days, gently picking up the mileage and never straying far from home. And what else? I stretched (not just my EDL) after every run. The second week of March I had to travel to Reston, VA for work. Fortunately, my hotel was right on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail, so every morning I was able to run on nice flat trails before walking to the office. And I stretched after every run. Feel free to pat me on the head like a puppy who learned how to fetch your slippers. Go me!
Oh, right, but I managed to find myself some influenza in Virginia. Not only did that make for a miserable flight home, but a gross and rainy St. Patrick’s Day had us bail on our 10k and parade plans and hang out in closed quarters so I could get my wife sick too.
I’m all for running through illness, but when it comes right after an injury, there are few things more disheartening. Another five or so days off my feet before inching those miles up again in the final days of March.
Only now, this week, the first week of April, do I feel like I’ve gotten close to where I was in that last week before injury set in. And a whole week to go before that 5k. So much for “training.”
The important thing is that running is fun again. I’m able to get up in the morning (at least for a couple of days now) and even make stupid decisions to go way further than my body is ready for at this time. I guess we put a few days of speedwork on the calendar and see how things go, then dig in to the final third of Daniels’ Running Formula and start building up a solid marathon plan for November.
There really wasn’t any insult, save for some dirty looks from the coots and ducks in the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve where we’re staying. But it just seemed appropriate to add insult to injury5, albeit with some illness in between.
That is all. You may carry on now. Don’t forget to stretch. And take your vitamins. Lest we forget…
- Layton, Mesquite “Tri-States”, Valley of Fire, and Las Vegas R’n’R ↩
- Taking advantage of their “sorry for the mess we made of Vegas, will you still love us for $50” coupon and earning the “Desert Double” bonus medal ↩
- After the appropriate stoic voice of reason from my wife reminded me not to be a jackass, of course ↩
- Or Lake Austin, or Lady Bird Lake, or whatever the hip kids are calling it these days. ↩
- Rimshot! ↩