Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Longest Run

So when I literally ran into my first major injury of my running career I had to deal with a serious question: "What if I don't ever run again?" This question was difficult, unexpected, ill-timed, and above all one that I had no answer for in any way, shape, or form....

In 1999 as I entered my freshman year of college as a D-1 runner for the first time in my life, I started experiencing excruciating pain in my knee after 8-10 minutes of running. I successfully finished the first 5 mile run with the team and the next day hobbled in with an injury that would persist for the next 9 months, only to be relieved with surgery. Water running, stationary biking, massage therapy, stretching, chiropractics, total rest, rolling pins, tears, more water running, more massage, more stretching, more of anything you can think... were all of my attempts to solve the problem. Nothing. Surgery awaited me in the Spring.

A major part of this story is my becoming a Christian in December that same year. I say this because I do not think that personally I would have found an acceptable answer to my question had it not been for some major changes in my perspectives on things. After a life changing commitment to Christ my perspective on running began to shift. What had once been the center - the everything, was now just a gift that had been given to me to use. What if it never came back?

I remember vividly sitting with a Christian teammate and telling her that I was "Ok" with the fact that running might not be a part of my life anymore. After she yelled at me for a few minutes I explained to her that running had been too much in my life. It doesn't take a life altering spiritual event for most of us to realize that running, or some other hobby, has taken more of a prominent role in our lives than is appropriate. It might take that much to make you let go of it, but not for the understanding.

Running is great - I love to run. There are few things I love but the things I love I really really love. I'm grateful that I am able to once again run somewhat pain free, but I know that every day brings me closer to my last run. Will it mean the end of me? No - just a transition into a new me - and who knows, I might enjoy it more. For me the longest and most memorable run was the time I spent in between runs from August to June so long ago. When I finished that run I was never to be the same, in some ways that are still not clear. My running, when it came back, was forever changed, as I too will never be the same. When your last run comes, will it mean the end of you, or just the end of your running?

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Thousand Bostonians

Brett posting today:

It's interesting that the Boston marathon, and other races like it, set apart a certain group of runners from the rest. You have to qualify by time to run the race and therefore feel a special status has been granted based on your merit. In qualifying you have joined a special club of runners that not everyone can join. Not that you are an elitist or exclusive by nature, but maybe it feels good to know that you have accomplished something you can be proud of that not everyone and their brother can do.

The amazing part to me that I realized as I prepared, ran, and then discussed the Boston afterward is that the size of the special group you have joined is enormous! Not only that, there are many folks who have run the Boston marathon numerous times (6-9 times seems to be what I've heard from a few guys)! Man, talk about putting things into perspective. Don't get me wrong - I feel special, I really do. However, it is sobering as a runner to realize just how many talented runners there are out there running mile after mile. I was amazed most by the high number of Memphis runners who ran Boston just this year. I can think of around twenty people right now that ran, and some of those folks I just heard about the last few days so I am sure I'm missing a few.

I guess the point of this post is that it's pretty funny when runners try to get all cocky. Some runners have done amazing things but in the end we are all out there running miles. Recently I have found more inspiration in watching the difficult lifestyle changes that newcomers to running are making. The runner who has inspired me most recently is actually my father. With the opening of his new business, 50 and Fit, my father also started a new life not only in the fitness world as an owner, but he joined the running world too. He has not broken any world records, at least of which I'm aware, but he has lost 70 plus pounds and has changed his life style habits completely. Call him up and ask him about it - it's a great story! (I wanted to post some pics of him running - I'll try to find some and get them on here)

We all run, miles are miles - let's enjoy it. We can keep it competitive but fun at the same time. Let's all relax and "pound the pavement" (in the words of Bryan).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Not Running Can Be Your Best Training Tool

All the time people come into the store and talk about how their running has plateaued and they just feel flat and tired. We talk through their training and I quickly realize that these people have been running for years at a time with no real break from their training. Most coaches and experts would agree that our bodies need rest between training cycles. I'm all for pushing the body's limits and running through pain, but breaks are essential for getting your body fresh so you can rebuild for the next racing season.

I plan about 4 weeks off from running each year whether I need it or not. I take 2 weeks off between training cycles and try to get about 2 cycles in on a calendar year. Then when I do start back I build up gradually, never increasing my intensity and my volume the same week. Sometimes if you take a step back like that you can step up when the time comes. It's just smart training and it keeps you fresh mentally because you're not always pushing for that PR. You have several months of easy running as you're getting back into the cycle. That's where I am right meow....fresh off the break and building up slowly.

Of course every runner is different and there are as many training regiments out there as there are to each their own...I'm just tellin you what has been working for this BaddRunner.