Sunday, January 1, 2012

Limping Into 2012

If could go back in time and have a conversation with myself from 4 days ago, it would go something like this:

Brian from the past: "Hey man."

Brian from the present: "What's up?"

"Things are going great! Just got back from Asheville, going for a run at the track at UNC."

"Of course you are... you sure you need to be doing track work right now... didn't you run 10 yesterday up and down the side of a mountain?"

"Yup. I've never felt better. Not sore at all."

"And before Asheville?"

"Let's see... Monday did 9 back in Salisbury around all of my old stomping grounds..."

"And you hammered the last few miles didn't you?"

"Yeah, I was feeling strong, wanted to see how fast I could do that last loop around the neighborhood."

"Brilliant... you didn't need to do that, did you? ... and before that?"

"Jog around my parent's neighborhood on Christmas Day because I needed to get out of the house... 12 the day before... really felt good at the end of that one, finished on the track with a great last mile, 16 at Uwharrie the day before that..."

"Whoa, hold on. So you're pushing 60 miles this week? And almost every run was either ridiculously hilly or a tempo run at the end?"


"And when was the last time you were close to 60 miles in a week?"

"Um... college, maybe... and that was probably just once."

"College... that was a different you... no injuries, sleeping until the afternoon, no hangovers... you were practically indestructible then. By the way, I just want to point out your mileage the week before was just over 40 a week..."

"I see where you're going with this..."


About 8 miles into my long run on Friday, I had a sense something wasn't quite right. I was out with my friend Bob and we had just come off our water stop on Kerley Road a few miles off Duke West. My left foot hit the asphalt and I felt a tinge of pain shoot through the bottom outside, just near the base of the little toe. I immediately ran off to the side of the road onto the mud, but continued running, dismissing the feeling and hoping it would just go away. It felt a little better on the soft surface, but not great. We were at the furthest point away from our starting point, Bob's house in Trinity Park, so I didn't even think about stopping, but just to keep going and make it back at a reasonable pace.

I stayed on the grass and the next few miles were on dirt trail through Duke Forest. The pain was more of a dull ache at this point, and it wasn't getting any worse, until we stopped for water again at 12. I told Bob something didn't feel quite right... and sure enough going up the steep grade up to the Washington Duke I felt like someone was stabbing me in the bottom of my foot with a knife every time my left foot hit the ground. I walked up the hill, we crossed 751, and I tried to run again... and it was a no go. I could barely walk now. This wasn't good.
Above: where it hurts (view from bottom)
Not exactly Renoir, but better than an actual picture of my foot

Alternate angle, if looking at in mirror

I sent Bob ahead and he graciously said he would get his car and pick me up. I limped over to campus, having something like the conversation above in my head, and immediately thought of all the races I signed up for and all the awful cross training I'll be doing through the winter now when the NC weather is perfect for long runs (it was over 60 yesterday and sunny). The winter is what we get as reward for suffering through July and August, and it seemed now as if I'd be missing a good bit of the few months of the year where running weather is reasonable.

I sat down in the grass and stretched in front of Cameron waiting for Bob to come pick me up, watching the throngs of cars with New Jersey license plates pass by on Towerview Drive, clearly parents taking their high school aged kids on a tour of campus (seriously, over half the cars that drove by were from New Jersey, it's no wonder Duke has the reputation of being the University of NJ - Durham). Ultimately, I was thankful I was running with a friend. I could have been out on my own on Shut In Ridge or a remote part of Umstead. If it was going to happen on a run, I was lucky it was this one and I didn't have to hobble all the way home.

Hindsight is always 20/20. Ramping up mileage and intensity at the same time is never a good idea, even when you have the time and energy to do it. I planned to ramp up from 40 to 50 mpw over my vacation time, but I blew right through 50 all the way up to 60. But I've known this for a while now: the rule of thumb is no more than a 10% increase in mileage per week. Never break that rule, no matter how great you are feeling...

My plan is to give it a week, if it still hurts when I walk, make an appointment to see an orthopedist or PT. I'm pretty sure this is tendinitis (peroneal tendinitis is my diagnosis based on what I've read), but honestly I'm not sure what seeing a specialist will tell me other than rest/ice... I don't need to drop close to $1000 on an MRI to tell me whether it is a stress fracture or tendinitis. No matter what, my guess based on prior similar injuries is I'll be out for at least 3 weeks from running, and then I'll need to ease back slowly. In the meantime, I'll be finding some new ways to spend my weekend mornings.

New hobby for winter: beer tasting? Drowning my sorrows?

The root cause of the problem: A few months ago, I thought it would be cool to set [an arbitrary and pointless] goal for the year of 1500 miles. Last year when I went back and looked, I hit 1499. Back in October, I needed over 40 miles per week to get up to 1500. I didn't have any significant races between late November and early February, so I could have taken a break. Instead, I pushed December and was going to hit 1500 during this long run. My mileage for the year when I started limping up the hill at Wash Duke? 1499. Karma is a bitch.

Spinning this all into a positive...

I've been here before -- late in '09 I had a fascia strain and was out for a month. I spent a great deal of time on stationary bikes that December keeping my fitness up, and I came back that spring stronger than ever before. Taking a real break actually works out better in the long run. I ran a few road and trail races in the fall, but never took that necessary 'week off' from running between seasons. Again, in hindsight, this was overzealous.

I was planning to buy a bike this spring anyway, after all of my races. Looks like I'll be doing this sooner than expected... and I'm not ready to take up golf quite yet.

With running, you just have to expect these things. Injuries happen. In the end, I feel lucky enough to have good friends, good people to run with, a wife that supports me through all this craziness (and keeps me in check), a job that provides me the opportunity to take up these hobbies. Running is a privilege. Not being able to run is a "first world problem." Of course I don't like it, but my overall health is more important, and a little foot pain that flares up when I run isn't the end of the world... Uwharrie and a March marathon might not happen, but some spring racing is still in the cards.

Still looking forward to 2012.

Happy New Year!

A Slash look-a-like crashed the New Years Party and hit on Megan

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