Training Sprains

Running Injury

In Chasing Another Ultra I talked about being  on the path to another 50K. Immediately after that post I started off strong. I wasn’t getting great times on my runs, and I didn’t expect to. But I was getting good time on feet, and good consistency, which are far more important. That lasted about two weeks.

Everyone complains about Kansas City roads, but Kansas City sidewalks are just as bad. I was humming along engrossed in an audiobook. I failed to notice that up ahead the sidewalk was not in its natural state of flat, but had become an obstacle course meant to ensnare my unsuspecting toe.

My toe screamed into the sidewalk with great fury and was promptly punished for the indiscretion. I was reminded of the cost of not paying attention as I limped home for the next 2.5 miles. And for 2.5 weeks after that.

I’ve had numerous injuries throughout my life as a result of sports (mainly running) and toe injuries are among the worst. I’ve actually dislocated both of my big toes before, making them susceptible to re-injury. They are painful as fuck, and take forever to heal when it is impossible to completely stay off your feet.

I try to use everything as an opportunity to learn and grow, and injuries are no exception. I am a fairly high energy person, and running is a soothing activity to me. So as I sat with my foot in an ice bath I tried to figure out what the lesson was, other than “pay attention and be less clumsy.” Which anyone that knows me would tell you is not likely to ever be learned.

Then I remembered a passage while reading Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman:

“Look, what happens if you have a sore ankle one day?”

“I work some other area.”

“It’s the same with your three centers. If one area isn’t going well, it’s still an opportunity to train the others. On some of your weakest physical days you can learn the most about your mind.”

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I turned my injury into a transformative experience. But it did give me the opportunity to focus on a few areas of training that I tend to ignore: breathing, stretching and core work. And since I wanted to keep making forward progress, I decided these would be the areas I would focus on.

And the results showed when I finally got back to running. My breathing felt more natural, and my muscles weren’t as sore and stiff when I got back to the actual practice of running. I haven’t gotten faster yet, but I feel more like a whole runner than I had before I got injured.

I am grateful for the lesson about shifting focus when one area is weaker, in an effort to become stronger as a whole and plan on applying it to all areas of my life.

I just hope that next time I need the reminder, it comes more gently than a sprained toe.

Chasing Another Ultra

Pause My Garmin

I don’t spend all my time reading and watching and listening to shit. I actually do other things. And one of those things is running.  Back in 2006, after ten years of smoking, I gave up the habit (I’ll admit I occasionally indulge) and laced up my running shoes. Now I had been captain of the cross country team in high school, I was sure I this had running thing down. I mean, it’s running. Who forgets how to run? I was excited as I laced up my shows and ran out my front door. I made it one block (if I’m being generous) before my lungs produced picket signs in protest. Then I walked for 30 minutes, realizing the road to health was going to be long in between gasps for air.

But I stuck with it and soon enough I was up to three miles a day. Then five. Soon I was running 25 miles a week. Eventually I wanted more, and I decided to train for the inaugural Rock the Parkway half-marathon. I remember the sense of accomplishment after I finished my first double digit training run. Which I soon learned was nothing compared to the exhilaration of crossing the finish line. The race was rainy and my arms were numb from the cold. I immediately went home and signed up to conquer Hospital Hill.

Then came my first marathon, and it was around that time that I got introduced to the trail running community and it would change my life.

Trail runners are a hard bunch to describe. Fun loving, hard training, beer drinking and tough as nails. All those things to be sure. But if I only had one word, it would be camaraderie. The depths of support and encouragement are impossible to describe if you’re not a part of it. It doesn’t matter how fast you are, or if you’re training for a 5K, 50K or you’re a 100 Mile veteran. When you’re one of us you’re one of us. We support and cheer each other because we are all the same in spirit. Some of my closest friendships are a result of being a member in this community. And I’ve been fortunate to be able to cheer them on through some amazing races. I wouldn’t give them up for all the whiskey in Ireland, although I would gladly drink it with them.

Then the bastards convinced me to train for a 50K. I may never forgive them for that 🙂

I did my first ultramarathon (any distance over a marathon, 26.2 miles) a couple years back. Trail Nerd friends of mine live in Pensacola and I joined them there for the Blackwater 50K, and once again there was no feeling like crossing that finish line. It feels a lot like hunger, and soreness.

Two months later, I did a second one in Little Rock and had a great road trip with friends. Due to injuries, time and budget constraints, I haven’t added a medal to my collection since then. It’s time to change that.

I’m training for the Run Toto Run 50K early next year. It was my first trail race ever (10 Mile) and the summer version was my first 20 miler. It will be good to get back on solid ground by running on familiar terrain.