No pain, a gain, again

It was a wonderful, warm pre-dawn today, with a big waning moon and a beautiful morning star. And my run was virtually pain-free for the first time in a couple of months, even on a some gentle hills.

My trainer Liz had moved me over from mostly strength and general flexibility to a specific set of stretches that I find challenging but that seem to have worked really well, along with a sort of massage move—it uses a door hinge!—suggested to me by H’s PT Kristie that hits the inside of my achilles. I won’t be ready to try running even moderately fast for a good while yet, but just shuffling along getting a little of that good rhythm going is a treat. The fact is, I’m a pretty happy guy when I’m fit to run, and a pretty miserable one when I’m not.

Many years ago, someone who knew me very well enlightened me about myself when I was undergoing the tortures of English grad school. “Look, you’re smart. But you’re not an intellectual. You’re basically a physical guy.” Which saved my sanity by exploding me out of the grim seminars that had already seemed to suck all the life out of literature and were beginning to do the same to me.

I went to work at McDonalds. Then in a textile factory. Then as a gardener and general dogsbody on a rich family’s estate. I wasn’t happy at McDonalds, but I rather enjoyed the rest.

At the same time, I started running again, training with an ultra-marathoner whose races were 50-milers and 100Ks. (He’d go 10 or 12 on a short day, I’d go 6 on a long.) And as I gradually rediscovered my sport, I also learned from the other guys out there that my shins no longer had to scream. I learned about “running podiatrists,” who could prescribe and fashion these things called “orthotics” to put in your training flats. And better yet, someone had invented good training flats!

It turned out my problem wasn’t anterior compartment syndrome, requiring surgeries I’d declined to have, but simply a mechanical imbalance now easily corrected. I was in clover. Somewhat underemployed, but happy as a clam.

And now I could run pain-free. I’d also learned a lot more about training. So I ran long/strong lactate-threshold workouts every day and easy-go longer runs on Sunday. High-mileage weeks. And I raced only during short periods when I’d sharpened to a peak. The pure Lydiard. Results weren’t big-time or profoundly impressive, but as I’ve written somewhere else, I would have kicked my own ass in what was supposed to have been my prime. Which made me happy. And this morning has made me hope happily for the old-guy version.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.