Monday, June 10, 2013

32

I ran a mile yesterday!

That would be somewhat laughable, given the fact that, less than two months ago, I turned in a time of 3:04 and change at the Boston Marathon.

On May 7, however, that all changed, when, during a training run, I tripped and tore two hamstring tendons.

For a month I accepted my fate. I walked my dogs, tended to my vegetable garden, trimmed trees and hedges, lifted weights frequently, attended physical therapy, and performed my stretching and isometric exercises religiously.

Late last week, as I was stretching my injured leg, I reached back and grasped the hamstring of my good leg. The muscle was firm. My heart nearly stopped, however, when I grabbed the injured hamstring to find that the muscle had all but disappeared! It had been reduced to jelly, and it had happened in a mere four weeks.

My whining, by now, had reached Jerry Seinfeld levels. Of course, my wife, Crissy, bore the brunt of my self-pity. The hamstring was healing, the pain now reduced to soreness. Physical therapy was helpful, but not very challenging. How could I bring the dead hamstring back to life?

Crissy, who is usually more cautious about my health than I, announced on Saturday evening, "Why don't you test out your leg tomorrow? Try running on it a little bit."

That was the endorsement I needed. So, on Sunday morning, 32 days after I experienced the most blinding pain of my entire life, I ran a mile.

A short quarter mile from my house is a vast expanse of forest-covered anthracite coal called Sharp Mountain. It is populated by deer, turkeys, squirrels, and an occasional bear. Four-wheelers utilize the wooded paths, and cyclists pedals up and down the steep slopes. A flat, open stretch of the road bisects the mountain. It is a smooth, hard-packed clay service. After a brisk walk, I arrived at the path, blessed myself, pointed upstairs to the Big Guy for guidance, and took off, at what could best be described as a slow trot.

There was no pain. Had there been, I would have shut it down immediately. Instead, I felt like a physical schizophrenic. My right side was fine, but my left, the injured side, from the waist down, took on the physical composition of one who had not run in years. It was extremely weak and I felt as though I was dragging it along in order to keep up with my "good" side.

I made it to the half mile mark in a time too slow to report. I then walked for a minute and completed another half mile, 10 seconds faster than the first. The workout was an initial 'baby step.'

Today, I ran 3/4 of a mile, faster than yesterday, walked for a minute, and ran the final quarter mile. I felt a little stronger, and slightly less weak.

Later in the afternoon I visited my physical therapist, who observed, "You're getting some tone back in your leg." For many reasons, I couldn't tell him why.

My recovery is going to be slow, but it IS going.
 I have set goals. That's what we do in this sport. It is all about redefining our goals. Sometimes, we ratchet them up, but often we have to simply take what our bodies will give us.

Right now, for me, that's not too much, but it IS a mile.

Now, for the commercial.

 I have a chapter in my book, www.runningshortsbook.com, entitled, 'Run 'til it Hurts.' It is all about injuries and their prevention. It is also about what to do when we get them. Check it out. I'm offering a free gift (while supplies last) if you buy the book on my site. It's a great gift for dad, and a great book to take to the beach.