Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Go for broke, but prepare to be broken"

In the past couple of weeks, I've talked to quite a few doctors: PTs, OSes, chiros, you name it. Most of them seem to agree that pulled hip flexor led to compensation which led to torn posterior tibialis tendon. So knowing the cause, we then start to talk recovery. And during that conversation, one piece of advice always seems to come up: "I'd highly suggest that when you can get back to running, you cut back on your mileage and take a day off every week." I know that sometimes there's certain medical advice that you really have to listen to, and obviously I trust these doctors or I wouldn't have gone to them in the first place, but isn't that particular piece of advice more my coach's realm? None of the doctors know my training history, and while a few of them are athletic, I'd be rather surprised if they've put a similar level of effort into their training (with the exception of the one OS who, incidentally, did not tell me to cut back my training). I know a lot of people think this is a pointless venture since I'm not a professional athlete nor am I fast enough to ever become one. But I do this for me. I love this sport. And I want to run as fast as my body will let me run...something that doesn't happen without putting in the work.

I am not really an injury prone runner. I've run for eleven years, including four in a three season, race-all-the-time college program, and have had maybe two injuries that kept me out for more than a month, with everything else being minor enough to go away in a couple days of ultrasound and cross-training. The last time I was actually hurt was almost three years ago, and that was after I tried an ultramarathon on a whim, while not even really training. Duh on my part. Since recovering from that, I've consistently put in 85-100 mile weeks while staying healthy. And I hurt my hip flexor by increasing the length of my speedworkouts, and while I cut back on recovery mileage and my overall volume decreased, workouts like 10x1600 at tempo pace and 5x(800, 600, 200) at 5K/5K/mile pace tend to take it out of you (for the record, those were both 16 mile quality days).

When you're training, really training, it's not really a matter of if you'll get hurt, it's when. It happens, and it sucks, but it's part of the sport. To quote Dr. George Sheehan, "Go for broke, but prepare to be broken." If her blog and Facebook page are any indication, my friend Molly really likes that quote, though the first time I heard it was in a "Rules of Running" email chain letter (though I probably would have forgotten about it if Molly didn't use it, so I guess I stole it from her). Training is about managing that fine line between quality training and overtraining/injury, and when you're pushing yourself, it's almost inevitable that you sometimes mess up that balance. I'm sure that if I really wanted, I could half-ass my training and almost never get hurt, but I don't get anything out of that and I don't even enjoy it. I'd rather go balls to the wall, pushing my limits and seeing what I'm capable of achieving, even if it means an increased risk of crashing and burning. I spent a couple of months right after college running but not training. It's not the same. I missed it.

I know that eventually my body won't be able to take that kind of training anymore. That eventually the ride ends and it's time to get off the roller coaster. I just hope to God that time hasn't come. I'm 25...I'm supposed to still be able to bounce back from anything! At the same time, denial is a powerful thing.


  1. Hang in there and I hope you get better!

  2. I think sometimes people get into this mindset where no injury is ever worth it. I disagree. Sometimes you get hurt and yes sometimes it is worth the risk, and then you have to deal with the consequences. It sounds to me like it is worth it for you to get hurt once in awhile in order to be able to run high mileage. You'll recover! :)


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