Monday, December 16, 2013

"Just a Tissue of Niggles" ~ A Runner's Biggest Fear

“Today is bad, and day by day it will get worse – until at last the worst of all arrives” ~Some philosopher dude who has a long beard and grey disposition. 

After my New York City marathon, the 4th one I trained for in a matter of 2 years, I took nearly 3 weeks off. I have returned to running but it has been slow, with low mileage, low intensity, and mixed with cross-training. I have been running 2x a week, and on the spin bike 2x a week. (this weekend 2 hours of sledding took the place of the spin bike, but it was great on the quads)

My goal is to take away the injuries, get stronger, and let some mojo and speed flow back into my legs. By not training for anything, and not monitoring my dailymiles, I’ll enter 2014 refreshed. Right!?

And then I read the following snippet in a fascinating book called “Running With the Pack." Here's a sample:

"Many people do not understand decline; they are unfamiliar with its anatomy physiology. Injuries play the role of the waves of time. An injury washes over you, and you never quite come back as strong as you were before. Perhaps you won’t notice this initially. Maybe you feel fine. But there’s a weakness that has set up home in your muscle or joint – no amount of rehab  will change that – and sooner or later its time will come again. First there’s a little niggle, then another, then there are more. There are days when you are not quite a hundred per cent, but you go out running anyways. And that’s fine: that’s what you have to do – because these days will become more and more frequent. Before you know it, you are never quite a hundred per cent. First you are running at 95 per cent, then it’s 90; and then in a heartbeat you are down to 75 percent. Your distances are going down just as your times are going up. And you do not know how it happened. You think, If I can just stay injury-free for a while, clear up these niggles, if I can just get a good run at it, then I can get back to what I was doing before: get back to the distance and times I was doing before this run of bad luck started. But this misses the point entirely. Decline is a run of bad luck just this sort. You will never get a good run at it again. The niggles, the aches, the weaknesses build up; and in the end you are just a tissue of niggles, aches and weaknesses woven together. No amount of rest will change this."

Ahhh!!! No! Say it ain’t so, Josie, say it ain’t so!  Sure, I will slow, but… I can’t fully buy this premise. I have had countless injuries and came back refreshed. I’ve had a nasty IT  band injury that had me limping in the last 4 miles of a Detroit Free Press marathon, following by physical therapy. The injury has since never returned. I’ve had a bone spur in my foot that felt like a razor was in my skin.  Time off couldn’t fix it but a big huge needle of a cortisone shot did. This hasn’t returned either, and both of these preceded my Boston Qualifier. I’ve had plenty of other injuries that I came back stronger from.

Nope, I reject that this happens (well, sort of. *gulp*)  to the degree and quickness as described here. At some point, the decline becomes more than a decline, injuries become common, things surely will slow and distances will shrink, but the passage doesn’t reflect that it can be staved off if I just work a little harder and smarter.   Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 

Don’t bury me, I’m not dead yet. 


John M. said...

I have felt the same way after completing a half marathon last September. Is this a mental thing or a physical thing that slows me down?
This is what I am working on this winter.

protometal @ said...

I think there are plenty of injuries that can fully heal. Yes, some will linger and age may take its toll, but we still have some improvong to do.

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