Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Are You Mental? (Part 2)

Last year, at about this time, I injured my left foot in the most bizarre way and was forced to hang up my shoes and defer out of the Boston Marathon. Then last week, I was jumping out of the shower after a decent training run, slipped and kicked the side of the tub. Within a half an hour after that most graceful of stumbles I felt the pain and discomfort that I felt a year ago – same spot, same persistent pain – and started to panic. At that point I wasn’t sure if it was just a stinger or if this was the exact injury that knocked me out of Boston last year. With a race to run on Sunday, a day or so later, I decided to ice and rest on Saturday and really just try and figure it out a bit.

Saturday afternoon and evening were unnerving, because whenever my foot wasn’t wrapped it was ungodly sore and made it really difficult to walk, let alone run. I became increasingly agitated, irritable and unpleasant as I was working myself up to a full-blown panic attack. Eventually I managed to mellow out enough to get some rest and still consider the 20k Boston Build-up in Southport, CT.

Race Day AM, I went through my usual routine, got on the train and wrapped my foot just like I usually do. Everything seemed to be pretty much in order and I started getting a little excited, because it was finally warm enough to wear shorts for a race. The course was challenging and fun and I really went out and tried to test myself, my foot and get a fair assessment of where the hell I was physically. As it turns out, I was doing pretty well. I finished in 1:22:42 (6:39 pace), which was good enough for 29th overall in the 170+ field.

After the race, I went home and finally took off the wrap and that is when I knew that I needed to take some time off to be safe. As soon as the wrap released and my foot was free from its bonds I was sore. I stretched, iced and rested for the remainder of the evening and while I was enjoying English Premier League Review Show that night I made the decision to keep the foot wrapped and shelf running for the majority of the week … something that is much easier said than done. For me, this was a “practice what you preach” moment, listening to my body and being patient with an injury that could potentially set me back quite a bit.

I really struggled reading the emails, tweets and messages from other runners and triathletes about their training, doing the things they love, and then not going out and joining in myself. Throughout the week I had to remind myself that I have a goal to achieve at the end of all of this and that going out before I have nipped this injury would jeopardize my ability to reach my goal. It was incredibly humbling, and at times more painful than the injury itself, to break from the tightly regimented routine that I had developed over the proceeding couple of months. In an effort to pacify my urges I started doing two-a-day core workouts so that, in my mind, I would still be building and working towards my goal even if I wasn’t running.

The days went by painfully slow, but then it was TGIF and it was time to lace’em up and get back out in the park and check on the status of my foot. As soon as the clock struck 6 p.m. I flew out of work and was jogging back to the park, all the while my mind hyper-focused on my left foot, honing in on any discomfort or pain with ridiculous sensitivity, but there was none. It felt just like I had before I had gone ahead and kicked the tub.

About half-way through the run I realized how good I felt, like I was gliding, strong and effortless, for about 5-miles. It was exactly what I needed and all the tension, irritability and unpleasantness that had festered throughout the week just sweated free from my body, it was perfect. I felt better than I have in a while, probably due to overtraining, but we live and learn.

I followed this run up with another on Sunday with Coach Adam, Javier, Javier's dog Simba and Bill Risch up in Rockefeller Park. It was a nice 14-miles or so and, as per usual, Adam threw a couple curves in there by having us do hill repeats at one point, then he decided we needed to do as many hills as we could find along the park’s trails. How sweet of him! It was a great trail run and I was incredibly relieved to complete it pain free!!

You may be asking why I have included this video clip of a not-so-pleasant injury to this entry and my reasoning is this: the Arsenal FC player featured, Eduardo da Silva, was told that he may never play the game again due to the severity of the injury and the amount of rehab that he would require. Well, this past Monday Eduardo returned to the pitch for the first time in nearly a year and not only scored, but inked the score sheet twice. He looked lively, comfortable and so unbelievably happy to be doing what he loved that I felt like I had to share. The amount of patience and mental toughness it must have taken to go through his recovery period and then to set foot on the field again, all the while worrying about getting hurt again, is remarkable.

1 comment:

HolisticGuru said...

Awesome post. It is so great to be able to listen to your body. I wish I could do that when it comes to running...