A Runner’s Worst Nightmare

David Garrick as Richard III
Image via Wikipedia

What is a runner’s worst nightmare?

A: Thinking that they might be injured (again).

Most runners who have been injured and not been able to run for a while, especially during the first stages of their comebacks, have a heightened awareness of any little pain that doesn’t go away immediately.

We want so badly to get out there running again, but at the same time we are scared to death, that something is going to happen to make us stop and not be able to continue running.

If we do get injured, during our comeback, what is the biggest reason?
A: Doing too much or being stupid.

No we so want to run like we used to before getting injured. Dependent upon the injury and how long away from running you have been, should really decide where you start your recovery running program again.

Not how far or fast you ran before your injury.

If it has been more than 3 months without any running, dontcha think that you really need to start from pretty much step one or two, instead of step seven. Yes you know how to run and all the theory behind how to recover from an injury, but more importantly – how well do you listen to what your body is telling you.

When you first get out there and experience some success in your comeback, you know – you are feeling really great, making some really nice progress, you tend to lose track that you are still in recovery mode, not running mode yet. You want to do more than you should and your mind tricks you into thinking that you can do more than is smart or wise.

You feel so great you think can skip a couple of steps to get to where you want to be more quickly. This is the dangerous time of your recovery, you can either ignore the warning signs you body is giving you and become re-injured (our worst nightmare) or you back-off and continue your recovery.

That describes me

I had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee in May 2011 after injuring it in February 2010 playing racquetball. The ornery old fart in me wanted to get back to running as soon as possible and I began running within a month of the surgery. I did 1-2 miles of running for about a month and the knee started to ache a bit too much and I backed off to let it heal more.When I started back up again in September, I went really slowly building up to 10 miles a week and no back-to-back running day, until mid-October.

Then I started to get involved with the online running community, reading all these great posts about people running this distance or that race, that I forgot that I was still very much in recovery mode. By the end of October I started running more and ignoring the well-thought out recovery process I had put together and had done so well with.By mid-November, I really went full-in and began quickly increasing my mileage and distance very rapidly, including a 21 day running streak and several 5 and 6 mile runs over the past few weeks.

Too much too quickly

My body is now telling me I am attempting to come back too rapidly! I think that I started to realize this when I wrote about my thoughts on streaking in this post .Unfortunately, I am starting to get some pain in my right knee and lower back, which might be related to my attempts to change my running form, while at the same time increasing my mileage/pace too rapidly. Today I went back and looked at my running logs and saw how quickly I increased both my speed and my distance, while working on a new running form – seeing what I did with 20/20 hindsight, it was simply too much too quickly.So I am going to slow back down.
Take tomorrow and maybe Sunday off to rest, to see how my body feels after resting. I am going to focus even more on the form change (which I believe in the long run will be much more beneficial to my running), while reducing my mileage and pace, until I am running pain-free again (or as pain-free as a runner can run at my age). Another thing I am planning to do is shorten my longer runs to no more than 3.0 miles for a while.I need to get back to my recovery phase training, keep to it and not get caught up in running more or faster than my body can do right now.

The reality is

Right now like all runners I just want to run and run mostly pain-free, so that means slowing myself down and training smarter, instead of trying to leap tall building with a single bound, thinking I am more powerful than a locomotive or faster than a speeding bullet, well you get the picture none of us are Superman or Superwoman. No it is time to be smart listen to my body, instead of being stubborn and worrying so much about getting a certain amount of miles a week or a faster pace.

  • How about you when you come back from an injury are you hyper-aware of all the aches and pains that are caused by running and slow down?
  • Do you change what you are doing or do you just keep on running?
  • If you are coming back from an injury and starting to get some aches and pains, when was the last time you looked back at your training log to see what you actually have done.
For me, I think it is time to be a smart runnah instead of a stubborn runner. I am just starting to really enjoy running again and I don’t want to experience the nightmare of injuring myself, just because I was being stubborn or stupid.

Winds of Change – 12/16/11

This is really, really a weird year, when I ran today it was 45F and I wore shorts on December 16th to go running. Really, I am not complaining, just saying, I have lived in Maine for just a while and as long as I can remember running in shorts this late in the year. I have a feeling that all this good/warm weather is gonna drop like a rock all too soon.

No today the winds are coming along with the good weather and I have a sneaking suspicion these might be the vaunted winds of change, that precede the change of the seasons. We shall see, but it would be nice for my heating bill to have a few more weeks of this warm weather.

The run was primarily to focus on form. Last night I watched some of the PRS Training Videos after taking part in their Thursday night U-Stream (going back to Tuesday nights soon). I like a lot of what I saw, because that is the direction that I want to take my running form. Not saying that I did a great job of it, but worked at some of the things suggested and the tried a couple of the drills.

After watching the video, I also think that am trying to do too much to quickly and focus more on changing one thing at a time versus everything.

I have noticed my right knee is a little more sore lately, but it seems to be more under the knee cap than in the joint. I have a feeling it is the starting of some “Runner’s Knee” (chondromalicia patellae). Probably because I increased my mileage too rapidly and ran to damn many days in a row when I was streaking. So next week I plan to reduce my long runs to 3.0 miles and ensure that  I take Sunday off this week and see how it feels after that.

It hasn’t swollen up or anything, just sore while running. So I will be conservative and dial it back a couple of notches.

Quality of Run: Good
Weight: 173
Time of Day:  11:30 A.M.
Temp: 45F
Weather: Sunshine and wind speeds averaging 20-25 with gusts up to 40 mph.