Monday, March 26, 2012

Getting back in stride

When I started running a little more than two decades ago, it wasn't in a slow and programmed manner.

Two packs-a-day smoker me got bit by the bug, decided to run, went out into the street early the next morning, and went off. I walked after about 500 meters, turned around, and started running again back to where I started. The rest as they say was history, which I wouldn't go into in detail, because that is not the point in this post.

This one is about getting back in stride. It's about starting to run again after being sidelined by an injury, the first -and hopefully the only serious one that ever happens- in my far from illustrious running career.

A stress fracture of a metatarsal bone is definitely not something a runner would welcome. Mine had me sidelined since January 31, and put my right foot in a cast for almost a month. The cast came off March 17, I gave my right foot another week of rest, and then came this morning. I started my journey back to running fitness.

I woke up at 5 a.m., got off the bed, and went through my usual pre-run rituals. There wasn't going to be a run for me though. I was scheduled for a walk, and I decided my trusty old friend, Dog (that's how I call my dog; every single dog I've ever had in fact), should join me.

The walk took Dog and me all of 45 minutes and covered just a little less than 3 kilometers. My right foot wasn't really painful, at least not in that specific spot where it did when I limped my way back home without really finishing my interval session that morning of January 31. I take that as a good sign. My forefoot though, the area just where the toes connected to the foot, felt a bit stressed. Perhaps it is because my right foot has been immobile for quite a time. I wore that cast close to four weeks. Even my ankle was complaining a bit. I wasn't though. It felt good to be out there again.

It was unlike the day I started running, this first day in my quest to get back my stride. This day is part of a more programmed approach, one that starts with walking and, over a month or more, gradually builds up to running again. I felt the urge to try a short jog, but I held back. Better just be patient, stick to the plan, and be better rewarded for it.

I didn't savor my injury, or the days I was sidelined. Not a bit. But I wouldn't say I didn't learn anything from it all. Relaxing more and giving my ageing body a longer time to recover, strengthening my feet more as I stress them less, I learned those things. But more that those perhaps, I learned that I wouldn't go crazy like I thought I would when my doctor told me I had to have my foot in a cast for 4 weeks. I really had no choice, yes, but it still wasn't easy.

A couple of running books and a bunch of running movies helped get me through the boredom of inactivity. So did my running friends on the web. The biggest help of course is having a loving wife who was the one who really insisted I see a doctor, and still persistently keeps me from doing crazy things, and a son who doesn't fail to put joy and laughter into my life. I'm glad there's Dog, too, to keep me company as I start off in getting back my stride.

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