Tuesday, August 30, 2011

taking a break

the 'burlington 2012 marathon exploratory committee' has finally run it's course.  the findings?

1. provided my colleagues Todd and Joel, who inspired the launch of this committee in the first place, are toeing the line, i will be toeing the line in May as well
2. in arriving at the comfort level i required to make the decision above, i had to run a lot; too much as it turns out.  yes, i'm convinced i can do it.  but, my body has suffered and i'm injured and i need a significant break from running.

i've been complaining about a calf injury for a long time.  that injury is not only worse right now, but has caused a few other parts of the left leg to 'go bad' in succession.  from what i can tell, the calf injury is what is described in this very helpful article, called a calf heart attack.  i've been dealing with it for a while, but now i can hardly walk, much less run, with the calf pain, shin pain, knee pain and other lower leg pain that has resulting from running too much.

the first step in this was to see how bad it really was/is.  to do this, i stopped running for 7 days.  this past sunday, i resumed with a casually paced 3.5m run.  ouch.  not good.

secondly, i've taken advice from my fellow bloggers here, running websites all over and ultra-running legend Geoff Roes.  Geoff's writings hardly apply to me, as i'm not an elite runner by any stretch of the imagination.  but if i can take his words and boil them down to how they apply to me, i find them to be quite helpful.  in his blog post on consistency, Geoff writes about his feelings on how to achieve the healthy running fitness you need to continue to achieve your running goals over the long term.  he writes
How do we best do this? By not focusing too much on short term consistency and just taking individual days as they come and letting our bodies dictate when and how much we run. 
for me, much easier said than done.  my MIND wants me to be out there right now... and despite the lingering injury, i've BEEN out there running like crazy.  now, i quite simply cannot, so, no matter what my mind says, it's time to let my body dictate when and how much i run; at this point, not at all.

training for a marathon will push my weekly mileage into territory it has never consistently been.  in order to do so, i need to be completely healthy.  if i want to be ready for the race in may, my thought is that i'd have to start a pretty serious program about mid-november.  that means i need to be healed AND i need to build my base-level fitness back up to about where it is right now (which isn't all that bad, actually).  first and foremost i will need to take some extended time off.  how long will be dictated to how well my calf heals.

next step will be to make it a slow re-entry...  not trying to launch back to where i am now, but rather easing into higher mileages.

further to that, i need to fine tune the method of training such that i'm not getting myself into another injured state during the process (for example, i read one website that indicated people with left leg injuries, like mine, tend to run counter-clockwise too much; that the way roads are typically sloped will lead to injury if this is done too much.  whether i believe that or not, i don't know, but i hope to at least have a theory before i'm back on the saddle).

and that's pretty much it!!

onward, then!!


  1. A lot of websites suggest that I should be running 30-50 miles/week to train for a 50k. I've been running more in the neighborhood of 10-20 miles/week.

    Am I going to finish toward the front of the pack? No. But I am going to race. And I am going to finish.

    If you want to finish "fast" you may indeed need a serious program. But you also increase the risk of not finishing at all.

    On the other hand, if you just want to make sure you can run, then I say, don't overdo it.

  2. I hear you. I've already run a marathon though. The kind where you drink the beer college kids are offering instead of water, didn't train, didn't time myself, muscled my way through and was sore as heck for 2 weeks following.

    I want marathon-level fitness more than a marathon. Not necessarily a fast time, but just to have brought my abilities up to that level comfortably. I want to enjoy the race, and continue to run that kind of distance afterward.

    But you're just a freak of nature. I really couldn't just decide to run 18 mile runs consistently and do it, as you have. I think you'll do fine in the race... Even better than fine!

  3. Can't say that I just decided to do 18-mile runs. I gradually worked my way up to it, each month adding a mile or two to my longest run. I'm at the point where I am only sore for a day or two after a 20+ mile run.

    Anyhow, we all have different reasons for running - but we want you there, if you can make it, so don't overdo it!

  4. Wow - a "Calf heart attack!" What a crazy sounding injury. Sorry to hear the problem is more intense than you suspected at first. At least you know what the issue is now and can deal with it accordingly.

    Have you considered talking to a physical therapist? It might not help in this case, but you never know - perhaps they have some exercises or activities that can help you.

    As for the marathon, I'm still in. It's proving harder to up my mileage then I expected - I still haven't been able to break the 10 mile mark, alhough i'm going to make another attempt this weekend - but that's why we choose a race so far out, correct? To give us time to adequately prepare.

    Having said that, I agree with what Joel said - i'm really just looking to finish, not to set a specific time. But I also want a level of fitness that will enable me to finish and not be crippled for weeks afterward, so that's why i'm focusing on general fitness - a general increase of mileage combined with regular yoga and weight lifting.

    Good luck with the recovery program!