Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blog<Running> Week 12

The past 4 weeks have been frustrating as far as running goes. Here's a sample of the latest setbacks.

Our Yellow Sun is Destroying Me
Which kinda makes me the exact opposite of Superman. After coming to this revelation, I'm giving serious consideration to a low-carb, high-kryptonite diet (it's basically Atkins, so it's probably safe).

The temperature for the past month has been a consistent 100 degrees. On a few days, it's gotten up to 106. Since I can't do all 3 of my weekly runs on Sunday morning, I've been running on week nights after work. It's either that or endure the sauna that is Dallas between 10AM and 8PM.

The problem with running at night is that it's not any fun. It's dark. It's still 96 degrees despite the fact that the sun is down and it's after 9 PM. Everyone is running their sprinklers (okay fine, running through sprinklers is still as fun as it was at age 6.) Running shirtless is not getting me any tanner. It's way passed the time that I want to do anything strenuous. And the biggest problem is that it's hard to keep track of my form when I'm trying to avoid tree-branches or stumbling over curbs. I find myself stomping whenever I'm unsure of my footing.

Success Breeds Overconfidence
About 3 weeks ago, I had the kind of breakthrough that I was talking about in my previous post. I was running in my VFFs after dark, and I just kind of slipped into a relaxed gait. Next thing I knew, I had run 1.8 miles. So on my next run, I did the same thing. After about half a mile, I got in "the zone" and everything just felt right.

The next day, my shin splints pain was back. I had to skip my weekend run to avoid aggravating it further. The next Tuesday, I felt fine again, so I ran about the same distance. This time I got some minor blistering on the balls of my feet, along with some slight shin pain. I ran on Thursday and only made it about a mile before the shin splints pain made me stop. And I had to skip my weekend run again to let it heal.

A Few Steps Back
This past week I took a hard look at my running form. I tried to make it as smooth as possible. I exaggerated my knee bend, and minimized my up-down motion. As a result, I slowed way down and didn't run as far (about a mile), but my first run on Tuesday felt pretty good. No shin pain and no blisters. My run on Thursday didn't feel quite as smooth, but my shin splints didn't come back.

So this morning, for the first time since I've started running, I completed my 3rd run in a single week. And to top it all off, it was a successful barefoot run. I managed to go 0.7 miles without any blisters (after a .4 mile barefoot walk).

Now, the careful reader probably noticed that my 3 runs this week at 1, 1, and .7 miles is not as much as my 2 runs at 1.8 miles each from a few weeks ago, but I think the fact that I've been injury-free for 3 straight runs outweighs the decrease in distance. Of course there's also a good chance that my injury rate is related to distance.

Some Self-Evaluation
Looking back on the past 12 weeks, the first question that pops into my head is: "why the eff is this so hard?" I see other people running 5 miles at a time. I see C25Kers running 3 miles after training for 10 weeks. Surely a part of it is getting used to the barefoot running style, but there's got to be something else as well. Maybe my body just isn't made of the same stuff everyone else's is

I feel a bit like a fish out of water. Put me in a pool, or a lake, or the ocean, and I can swim circles around almost anyone. Put me on land, where our mammalian ancestors have evolved for millions of years, and I flounder like a beached whale. Maybe it's just going to take a long time. Or maybe I'll never be able to run more than 3 miles at a time.

In the end it doesn't really matter. Despite the setbacks, I still feel like I'm making progress, and throwing in the towel isn't really my style. I'm stubbornly determined to see it through to whatever end is waiting for me.

1 comment:

  1. Kyle, one of the great things about you is your fierce focus. Many would have given up by now, but 2.7 miles in one week pain-free is huge progress from where you started. Pain and injury free is the key. Have you consulted a sports medicine doc for support?

    I love reading your blog, because it gives me hope. And more than a few giggles : ) (I too would like some kryptonite at times.) And I can see you dodging tree branches and running through sprinklers. Kind of hard to maintain focus with all those distractions!

    I just know that a year from now you will look back on these early entries and feel the effort has paid off.