Sunday, January 9, 2011

I am a runner

Although I have been running off and on (mostly on) for almost 25 years, I have not always thought of myself as a runner. I ran, but I wasn't a "real" runner. In fact, it wasn't until I was training for my first marathon a few years ago that I finally started to think of myself as a real runner.

After the San Francisco Nike marathon, October 2008

Running used to be a very solitary experience for me. I always ran alone, and joked that it was my only "alone time". I cherished being alone with my thoughts for the long periods of time, and would frequently get an idea, or figure out a solution to some problem I had been pondering.

That changed last spring. During an early morning track workout I was approached by a man, Hollis, who began asking me lots of question. "What distances did I run?" "What was my pace?" "What kinds of workouts did I do?" I must have passed the interview, because he invited me join their running group on some runs. I was pretty nervous, but showed up one morning. I have been running with the group since. Not every run, but most of them. I have grown to really love running with a group! I have met a really wonderful group of people. I have become so much stronger and faster as a runner. We are a varied group- one guy has been running in Almaden for over 30 years and knows every street and trail like it's his backyard. One guy does Ultra trail races, recently doing a 50 mile one. One women does LOTS of marathons, and has even done 3 marathons, 3 days in a row in Tahoe. A pretty inspiring group!

After the San Jose Rock-n-Roll half marathon, October 2009

I had been inspired to try another marathon. (Click here for the summary of my first and only marathon). I am signed up for the Huntington Beach marathon on February 6th. Training was going great, and I was really enjoying it this time around. The group has been so supportive, especially on the long runs. What a difference this time around! For my first 20 mile run one guy ran the first 10 with me, then a group met up with me to run the second 10. I was on pace to even do around 4 hours, a 30 minute improvement over my first run.

After the Quicksilver 25K Trail Run, May 2010

Then I got injured. A nagging hip soreness which quickly escalated. I took a week off, then had to get back on track again. It hurt, but was tolerable. After trying an 11 mile run though, it was excruciating. In fact, as soon as I stopped running I could not walk. Long story short I have a beginning stress fracture in my hip. The marathon is out. I can start running again in a month if I am pain free, but I doubt I will be at that point. It has already been a couple of weeks and it still hurts to walk. To say I am frustrated is an understatement. Looking back on my training schedule I can not see what I could have done differently. I had a solid base. I increased my miles slowly. I kept my overall weekly miles low-ish. How will I prevent this from happening again? I wonder if I had immediately stopped at the first sign of pain if it would have resolved quickly. I just don't know how to differentiate between OK pain and bad pain. When you run long distances there are going to be aches and pains. I just can't seem to figure out when it is OK to run through it and when to stop. Will I ever be able to run another marathon? I don't know. I know in the grand scheme of life's difficulties this is minor, and for that I am grateful.

So for now I am a runner who can't run. I feel lost. I don't know what to do with myself. I am getting crabby. I watch others running and am jealous. I look at upcoming marathons and wonder if I can be ready in time for this one or that.

If I can't run, then what am I?


Katie said...

So sorry to hear you're injured! Being injured is simply awful. It sounds like you did everything right from a training perspective. Maybe you have to look into other possible injury causes. About 1.5 years ago I realized I couldn't run more than 30 miles a week without getting injured and even then it was just a matter of time. Yet, I was able to average 47 miles a week throughout most of last year. I wound up realizing my stride was too long. It took about a month of extremely awkward running to correct my stride, but it has helped immensely.

It sucks right now, and it might be hard to figure out how to run injury free, but you'll figure it out. Because you're a runner....

Oh just so you know, I am extremely jealous whenever I see other people running when I can't. It's infuriating!

Michelle said...

Thanks Katie. How did you figure out how to change your stride? Did you have it analyzed somewhere? My husband actually mentioned that it may be something about my gait, but we aren't sure what to do about it.

Suzanne said...

I always wondered how you found your running group. Now I know.

Your hip problems and running pains make me so sad. Because of my bout with ITBS, I can identify with all the "what if" questions and the emotions around seeing others run. I cried at the sidelines of the marathon I didn't get to run. I truly understand how running extinguishes crabbiness in ways that other exercise just doesn't.

I hope you are able to run again soon. Doing a marathon with you remains on my bucket list. It's going to happen even if we both walk. xo

Katie said...

It all started when I read "Born to Run." He writes about how running gaits vary quite a bit depending on the shoes people wear. When people run barefoot they almost always strike with their forefoot, but the more cushioning a shoe has the more likely you are to strike with the heal. I didn't have my gait analyzed, but after reading that book I continued to research running gait. It was through that research that I figured out what I was doing wrong. It would probably be easier to have your gait analyzed. I wonder if your coach could help you?