On the Road Again: Running After Injury

“Relax! Hands down, quick feet, back straight, eyes forward.” Last week, I returned to running for the first time since my visit to the orthopedic surgeon’s office 3-months ago. My stress fracture has healed, and I’m learning to deal with the lingering effects of my plantar fasciitis. But, man is it tough starting all over again!

Humility and Hope

Gone are the grace and speed I once possessed. Instead, I find myself lumbering along at a slower pace (1 minute or more) and with decidedly more effort. Running is really no fun at all until you get into decent shape. It’s a miracle anybody gets started.

However, even these pathetic runs have rewarded me with a feeling of accomplishment and hope for the future. I began with 2 miles, moved to 3 miles, and ended the week running 5-miles with Peyton, my sixth-grader. There’s even a slim possibility I may be able to train in time for Boston this April!

During this touch-and-go recovery phase, each run is followed by an unpleasant icing session. I drag in the red and white cooler, fill it with 4 inches of ice, add a few pitchers of water and silently curse for the next 15-20 minutes. But, it sure beats another week of sitting on the sidelines.

Inspiration

I am the designated coach of our running family. My wife, Tina, is a regular at local road races. My daughter, Abigail, is a freshman cross-country runner. And, my son Peyton is a middle school cross-country runner. He’s also competing in a half-marathon next weekend to raise money for wolf conservation.

When I want encouragement, or need inspiration, all I have to do is look around. I’m surrounded by runners. Last weekend, I attended the Derryfield Invitational in Manchester, NH.  It’s a big time meet with schools from all seven New England states.

Derryfield Invitational 2015

Derryfield Invitational 2015

Abigail climbed her way to the top of the same killer hill, and ran under the same tall shade trees, that I did 30 years ago. Her grandfather was quick to remind me that he ran there as well. His team, (Concord High School) recorded the only perfect score at the NH State Meet of Champions 52 years ago by finishing 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 overall. Go, Tide!

Enjoy the crisp fall weather and enjoy the miles!

Runners Embrace Discomfort to Make Gains

Life is suffering. This is Buddha’s first noble truth, and one that we understand well as runners. We try hard to avoid suffering by taking ice baths, gobbling Advil, and wearing compression gear. But, we should embrace our discomfort if we want to become stronger.

Training is simply forced adaptation. We stress our bodies by running. And, while we rest, our bodies adapt to the demands of our training by becoming stronger and fitter. We disrupt this process of adaptation when we put too much emphasis on recovery.

[bctt tweet=”Stress and adaptation lead to performance gains. It hurts sometimes. “]

A recent study by Australian researchers finds that ice baths interfere with strength and muscle mass gains in athletes. It seems that the ice baths may actually block signals that encourage growth and adaptation. A little discomfort may be required to jumpstart the growth process.

“The fatigue that you get from running – when your legs are sore – that’s a response to the stress you’ve just put it under. And that stress, that damage, is exactly what signals your body to get stronger…” – Alex Hutchinson

So, don’t worry too much about pampering yourself after your runs. Eat well, sleep well, and let nature take it’s course. The human body is an amazing machine, with the potential to adapt and get stronger when necessary.

nycponcho

Of course, there are times that you’ll want to give your body every recovery advantage possible. After a race, during a planned recovery week, or after an especially grueling workout, a little TLC will go a long way. After my last marathon, I don’t think I would have made it down the stairs the next morning if I hadn’t soaked my legs in ice water, worn my compression socks to bed, and hung on to the railing for dear life.

This article first appeared on Azumio.com