Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My First Run of 2016

Today, I went for a run.  It was my first run of the year.  I only ran a few miles.  I ran slowly and cautiously; I wore a compression wrap; and I ran on the treadmill.  I could have run outside, but there are a few icy patches.  I didn’t want to risk slipping on ice when my right leg is still fragile.

I’m roughly three weeks into my long overdue recovery from a groin strain.  For the first week, I didn’t run at all.  Then I started doing short cautious runs like the one I did today.  Then I had a setback.

Last Thursday, I did weight training.  That’s the only form of cross-training I haven’t abandoned.  My upper body exercises went OK.  Then I did my leg extensions.  On the last couple of reps, I felt some discomfort in my right leg.  It didn’t feel that bad at the time, but I noticed it more during the night.  Often while I’m in bed, I’ll notice things I don’t notice during the day.  I’m most apt to have discomfort in my leg when I roll over in bed or absent-mindedly stretch out and flex the muscles when I wake up.

On Friday, I felt discomfort almost every time I moved my legs.  It wasn’t severe, but it was there.  Friday was New Year’s Day.  I was hoping to start the new year with a short run, but the only prudent thing to do was take a day off.  I also rested on Saturday and Sunday.  By Monday, my leg was feeling much better, but I took one more rest day to be on the safe side.

Since my last race, I’ve been noticing improvement in my leg, but it’s been gradual.  I don’t always notice a difference from day to day, but I can see improvement from week to week.  My workout last Thursday probably set me back between two and three weeks.  I can’t afford to have any more setbacks like that.  I couldn’t afford this one.

The reason is can’t afford a setback is because I’m signed up for two races in February.  The first one is the Los Angeles Marathon on February 14.  The second is the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon on February 28.  I signed up for both of these races last spring, when I was healthy.

Neither of these races is part of any long-term goal.  I signed up for the Los Angeles Marathon, because it’s being held in conjunction with the Olympic Trials.  Of the large marathons, this is one of the few I’ve never done.  I’ve never spent any time in L.A., and this seemed like the best time.  As for Rock ‘n’ New Orleans, I signed up right after last year’s race, when they were offering a significant discount on the entry fee.  It’s a race I always enjoy.

I have no illusions of being in shape for these races.  I’d be content to do some combination of running and walking that gets me to the finish within the time limits.  My only concern is being healthy.  I don’t want to race if it causes me to aggravate an existing injury.  I’ve been doing that for far too long.  I’m serious about wanting to get healthy before doing any more racing.

I booked flights for both of these trips using frequent flier miles.  If I cancel my flights at least 72 hours in advance, my miles will be redeposited in my account.  I can also cancel my hotel and rental car reservations.  My only out-of-pocket expenses are the entry fees.

Hotels in LA are expensive.  To save money, I was planning to share a room with my friend Aaron.  That’s my biggest concern.  I don’t want him to be stuck if I have to cancel.  I could still fly out and watch the trials, but it’s hard to justify the expense if I’m not also running.  Hotels in Santa Monica aren’t cheap.

Over the past several months, I’ve had to accept a lot of limitations.  I’ve given up several activities that were keeping my leg from healing.  Although I was still racing until mid-December, I gave up on most other running.  I gave up on most forms of cross-training, including cycling.  I gave up on physical therapy, when I regressed to the point where I needed to do more healing first.  I gave up on a set of core exercises that I’ve been doing consistently for 35 years.  It looks like I also have to give up my weight training.

I could still do my upper body exercises, but I need to give up the leg extensions and possibly the leg curls.  The leg extensions were the only thing I was doing to maintain strength in my quads.  Now I have to wonder how much strength and muscle mass I’m going to lose before I’m able to resume strenuous workouts.

By waiting until today to do my first run of the year, I’ve all but given up on another goal.  I don’t run every day, but I have some long streaks for weekly and month mileage.  I’ve run at least 100 miles per month for 137 consecutive months.  I’ve run at least 10 miles per week for 554 consecutive weeks.  Both of those streaks go back more than 10 years, so I hate to give them up.  I had doubts about running 100 miles in December, but I finished the month with 100.4 miles.  That’s only because I ran two marathons earlier in the month.  Without any races this month, getting to 100 is doubtful.  The 10 miles per week streak probably isn’t in danger.

A friend posted this online recently.  My comment was, “The rest muscle is located between your ears.  It’s difficult to train this muscle.”  Mine seems to be particularly resistant to training.  If I want my leg to get better, I need to be smarter and less stubborn.  I'm getting there.

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