Fast Guy Problems: 1 step back, 2 steps forward

I know, I got it backwards from the standard iteration. It basically sums up where I am right now in regards to my running. I ended up straining my calf bad enough to follow the advice of some of my more experienced friends and take a little time off. As I understand it, when I pulled my right calf at the Y2K Half, I may not have taken enough time off to heal, making the next few months of training for Boston a bigger trial than it should have been and causing that 26.2 mile runners Mecca a much more painful experience than it should have been. I followed that up with a short break, trying to return to racing quickly after and am paying for it after I strained my left calf recently at the Youngberg Hill Half.

In an obvious nod to my stubbornness, it was not until recently that I actually recognized the injury for what it was (bowing to pressure from several friends and family members), and booked an appointment with a doctor at NW Spine and Sports in my hometown of McMinnville. I haven’t run fast since Boston and was being forced to shorten my runs or cancel them altogether due to a feeling of tightness in my calf. I took a week off, ran a 5K with my daughter, then an easy 3 miles two days after, irritating it again. I’m currently in the midst of a 10 day break, hoping to be back on the road in a few days.

Though I am not totally sure what the initial issue was, talking with the doctor has made me reconsider my regular routine and potentially bad habits, which I had already been thinking about revising in my journey to attempt the next level of competition. I know running easy is a point of contention between myself and my mentors. I prefer to run fast pretty much every time I lace up and head out. It does seem to work well for me, but I need to be more cognizant of my legs and start my runs at a more relaxed pace to allow myself to loosen up before getting into my normal low 6 minute pace. The other factor I have to consider is stretching. My routine can be a bit cursory, and knowing my calf and hamstring issue requires that I spend a little more time getting limber after my runs to prevent this from being a recurrent issue.

I’m not a fan of massages but I can’t deny that the pain felt at that table has directly affected my limberness. The stretches I do with the doctor are painful as well, but after a short 15 minute session my legs feel better than they have in months. It makes me excited to get back into racing form and beat those new personal bests I set last fall.

The trick to living is to never stop learning, even if you do consider yourself a veteran. Even after twenty years of running and racing, this incident has caused me to step back and assess my habits. I was directly hindering my own success and was not aware of it. Not a good idea to couple with my goals. As of right now, I don’t have any benchmark races because I am not sure at what pace I will be returning to the road. My long term goal is to get as close to 2:30 as possible at the Eugene Marathon next year, but I am hoping to see my 15:33 (5K) and 1:12:33 (half) records drop before the year ends. It’s going to take a little more focus and a lot more stretching, but I train with the knowledge that if you doubt your capabilities your body will likely obey.

The trick is to train hard and never stop believing in yourself.

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