I am full of neuroses. I spend much of my time terrified. All this fear is probably why I’m writing darker stories these days (more about that here).
My current fear is getting injured again. I have spent so much time recovering from this last running injury. It took over a year just to get a correct diagnosis, and I’ve taken enough rest days to drive an old man insane. I’m finally getting somewhere, but I really fear I’m going to rip something apart and have to start all over again.
After a recent vacation in Boulder where I ran pretty hard, I set myself back a bit. But how bad was it? Five days off and a ten miler showed that it wasn’t as bad as I feared. I can breathe again. Not being able to run for long periods of time is something I consider a threat to my sobriety, my humanity, and the well-being of the planet in general.
So, I am treading lightly, with injury prevention as the key. Low mileage. Slow pace.
Should be easy. Injury prevention. We all know how to avoid it. Don’t up your miles too fast, don’t do too much speedwork. Take days off and recovery time, nutrition, change your shoes, stretch, (my current obsession is Loose Hips), work on form. Listen to those niggles that, instead of feeling better as you warm up, get worse.
Yadda yadda yadda. I’ve known all this for years, so maybe it’s all a bunch of bullshit.
Okay, maybe not bullshit, since all of it and much more is true. But, the real cause of injury is something much deeper. It is the tiny nuances of my personality, unique as my thumbprint, that stop me from following this knowledge. Here’s a list to explain what the hell I am talking about.
Top Twelve Causes of Injuries
Maybe the biggest thing is my ego. The part of me who wants to feel fast, who needs to run a certain pace, who wants to fight the aging process and pretend it doesn’t exist. They have age groups for a reason. I am doing my best to leave all time goals in the port-a-potty on race morning before I cross the starting line. Closely related to this is….2. PAST RACE RESULTS
Damn you Athlinks. If I didn’t know how much I was slowing, I wouldn’t care. If I had no concept of time, I would feel like I’m running just as fast, but 8 minute miles feel like what 7 minute miles used to feel like, and 9 minute miles are trying to claim me as their comfort zone. Closely related to this is…3. SOCIAL MEDIA
My pace and weekly mileage will be publicly posted on dailymile. I am going to blog my damn marathon time. It's like going to school in your underwear.
I know, who cares. Nobody pays attention or thinks twice about my time. But, that little voice in my head whispers…. “They’re all gonna laugh at you.” I wrote a book claiming to know something about marathoning how the hell can I be so slow. I want to be able to tweet how I just ran a 2 hour and 90 minute marathon. All of this makes me train harder than I should and risk injury.
Damn you, Boston. If I never thought of qualifying, there would be less of an urge to run fast. If I hadn’t grabbed a BQ back when I was once a runner, I would be perpetually injured still chasing the golden unicorn.5. RAGE
Or sadness, or general anger, or any kind of malaise. When I am trying to run off and detox from an emotion, I am no longer training for anything, I am coping with life, and all the molecules in my body need to spin fast and hard. A slow pace run will not do, and I need to surge. A great way to rip apart a calf muscle.6. BEING A DAMN JUNKIE
There’s a certain high you get from running faster miles. There are sensations to be had on the edge of sanity and anaerobic threshold that you don’t’ get anywhere else. A spiritual infusion of energy awaits between miles 10 and 20 that is not there between miles 3 and 5. Needing that is dangerous,7. BEING STUPID
My guess is every injured runner can point back to a pivotal moment or a span of runs they took where they realize they were being stupid. That they should have known better. My recent stupid is as stupid does is the year when I decided that, in order to keep my endurance up between a May and November marathon, I would do Six 20 Milers to prepare for NYCM. But on the flip side of stupid, we find….
8. GENERAL MACHISMO
Pain? Hurt? Denying that hurt and pain is what has helped me to do better. I am too studly to cower when I feel hurt. I will not shrivel in fear from the pain, I’ll embrace it, blast right through and make my body adapt. It’s allowed me to hit higher training thresholds and make me feel more alive. Well, how’s it working for you now?9. CHOCOLATE MILK
Huh? Chocolate Milk gets me injured? Yep. Say I Just finished a nice long run. Muscles are warm and loose and gooey like a jelly fish. Perfect time to stretch some, but, after I just guzzled 12 ounces of Chocolate Milk, who can stretch after that? Not me and not the Nestle Rabbit.
Try listening to “I Love It” by Icona Pop and not run faster. We all have that power song that puts a jump to our step and makes us take off in faster strides. What a perfect way to rip a quadriceps muscle. And don’t get me starter on the dangers of turning up the volume of Eminem while running down 8 mile11. VACATION
Vacation runs are the best runs of the year. Your legs automatically feel refreshed breathing the air of a different region. I try and run long miles to see the place I have traveled to. Tomorrow I start a 6 day vacation in the rolling hills of northern Michigan, where injury monsters are sure to leap from the brush like a rabid bear and take chunk out of my leg.
In summary, being a junky runner with an ego and pretty stupid is what causes me to get injured, not high mileage or too much speedwork or not stretching.
In the meantime, check out my Runwell page. I’m running the Disney Marathon to raise funds for Runwell, and I’m accepting donations from $1 dollar up to $100k (no higher, please). But just $25 and you get a gift and a blog post. (more on that here)
12. Wait a second, Runwell. Perhaps you are the cause of my injury? I think so. Since becoming an advocate, I am now more inspired to run a marathon in order to help other addicts get treatment for their addiction. It only seems right for me to try and spread the natural highs of running to others who seek an out of body experience. I shall certainly be running my hardest for this purpose. Please consider donating to my cause and help me get injured.