the world renowned running race known as the boston marathon is about two weeks away. a race that is so famous that runners can simply refer to the race as “boston”. “i’m running boston”, “i qualified for boston”, “my coworker ran boston”… you get the idea. well, i once again qualified for “boston”. this is my fourth time qualifying, but have never actually run it. 2010 was the last time i qualified unfortunantly i came up short with a stress fracture, four months prior to the event. i never even got on the plane, i just stayed home and moped about how unfortunant i am. history seems to be repeating itself this year. i managed to get injured again, four months before the race. different injury. and, since we are all adults here, let’s not be around the bush… i am angry. angry at myself for not doing everything correctly, for not training right, for not eating right, for not reading the right books, for not protecting myself from myself, and for not being as strong as i was five months ago. in other words, i am deep into self loathing mode…. i am disgusting!
my current injury is the same injury that destroyed the greek god, achilles … i’m talking about plantar fasciitis (PF). i may have not gotten the highest grade in my greek mythology class, but hopefully my point is not lost. this injury is brutal and without mercy. the pain originates from the bottom of the foot an shoots up through the ankle and then to the calf pinching off all strength making it feel like your lower leg is weak and not connected to the rest of the leg. it’s similar to when you are walking bare foot and step on a pebble, the foot and leg instantly collapse slightly to absorb some of the impact. PF was like that with every step, but i have since become so accustom to the pain the i no longer collapse. however, i do feel myself compensating like crazy, my form probably looks a bit like quasimodo’s running form.
as i sit on the couch thinking back to how i got this… i can remember the exact moment of the exact run, on the exact day. i remember thinking, that i probably just bruised my heel, bruised my heel! it’s ok, i bruise my heel all the time, a little rest, a little massage, some wheat grass, and a bucket of ice and i’ll be good to go. i was very optimistic, even though i didn’t get around to taking care of the problem. after about mile 12 on my run the very next day, i realized that the pain was a little bit worst than the day before…. and that’s how things progressed. i know it was stupid to run just as hard the next day when i recognized a potential injury the day before…. well the weather was nice and in colorado, you shouldn’t pass a good weather day in the winter… that’s all i have to say about that.
i was on day six hundred and thirty something of my running streak when this first started happening. my running streak was not your ordinary hey-look-at-me-i-ran-a-million-days-in-a-row streak. i had a bunch of pseudo science to back up my theory. (which i still believe). i was running everyday to stay healthy. i believe that if i stopped running, even for one day, my body would start to get “rusty”… it would lock up and i wouldn’t be able to run and i would die…. literally. my wife says i like to exaggerate .. my only response is that i don’t “like” to exaggerate! in a nutshell, my theory is closely aligned with active recovery.
and so i ran… day 666 and my pain was not going away. i should have stopped that day, but i didn’t want the devil to win. i kept thinking, just a few more runs and all the adhesions and shit that were corrupting my foot would be flushed out and i would able to train for the greatest marathon of all time… the boston marathon. i had no such luck. the devil won…and on day 695 i had to stop running. the streak was over and i was finally getting desperate. no time to train, no time to cut off my legs and run with blades… and worst of all, no time to cancel my flight.
i have to run, i have to train, i have to PR … i have to figure this out….now! that was what i was thinking a couple months ago. now i’m much more content…and i am all over the phrase “it is what it is.” i’m preparing myself to get past by the oldest and most out of shape marathoners money can buy. and by money i mean my imagination. not that that makes any sense to anyone but me.
the weird part is; i know what’s wrong with me. i didn’t over train. i didn’t start anything new. i didn’t suddenly increase my miles. i didn’t get hit in the foot with a pipe by jeff gillooly (see nancy kerrigan 1994). even my back to back runs should have not been an issue, i was doing that all the tiem. the problem was and still is, that i am tired, angry, sad, overwhelmed, stressed… you name it. work, family, life and now recreation has tightened up on me so tight that my muscles can’t get enough oxygen to recover from the physical stresses of running. i feel like everyday something new and bad pops up adding to my list of shit that i need to take care of, ignore, or prove. if you take boston out of the equation, i have the same dismal list.
if you’ve ever read “healing back pain” by dr. john sarno, you will know what i’m talking about. running usually helps me keep my life in check, but ironically… because i put so much emphasis on the greatest marathon of all time, running is now as stressful as walking a slack line over the grand canyon..naked…surrounded by bees…and cameras.
i have to run with as much pain as i can tolerate… knowing very well that this is not how one should train for anything! my massage therapist tells me that it will be difficult to break anything, so just keep running but…BUT…. take care of your foot before and after. given that advice; i roll with foam rollers, step on racket balls, flatten with rolling pins, commit suicide with golf balls, shock myself with TENS, and breakup the adhesion parties with ultrasound.
my recovery plan is not working as fast as i like. i hardly ever have good fresh days, i run with as much pain as i can tolerate. when my foot feels good i push it. it hurts the next day. i rest the next day or run short and slowly with this pain, hoping that active recovery does its thing. the next morning it may feel okay, and so i run further again.. this is my day to day cycle. i can’t even remember what pain free running feels like….probably ranks up there with sex, but my memory is foggy.
another funning thing … or perhaps this is the only funny thing in this post, but i recognized that i was putting way too much importance on this race. prior to this sentence, i viewed boston as my olympics, my running-magnum opus, the culmination of all my years of running… the reason i am who i am today!!! of course these are all exaggerations, but, in my head, i’m not exaggerating by much (this is exactly why some humans are so fucked up). i needed a way to think about this world famous race that goes by the name of “the boston marathon”, in a different light. i thought, what if, i created a diversion? what if i gave myself something else to worry about? something bigger, tougher, stupider? later this year i will be 50 years young and still carrying around some pretty big chips on my shoulder that i need to prove some things ..to someone…for some reason. so….i decided to run a 50 mile trail run. BOOM! diversion created.
my goals for the greatest marathon on the face of the earth are quite modest at this point. i hope i can stand at the starting line with running clothes having all intentions to finish. i hope i can finish without worrying about time, or who passes me. after all this will be my first long training run for my up coming 50 miler :)