Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Motivational Injury?

...and, we're back!

I have come to the stark realization that not all injuries that can knock you off of your running game are necessarily physical.

I had a great 2013 for running. I called it "The Year of the 50." I turned 50, ran my first 50k ultra, and ran my first 50 mile ultra. By the end, I even overshot my RunThisYear goal of 2,013 running miles by 400 miles. Wheeee!

The Descent Begins
2014 started strong. But when summer hit, I got knocked off my game. We moved across town and my schedule got shot. Add personal stresses to the mix, and my head was clearly no longer attached properly. But, I had some big runs on my calendar, including my first 12-hour ultramarathon (the Hamster Endurance Run in Bellingham, Washington, where I had gone to college) and my first 100k.  As I approached the Hamster, I ran almost nothing. I did a couple warm-up runs to stretch out the legs on the days approaching the event. (Basically, train Thursday and Friday for a Saturday event. Good plan! Not!) That I was able to eke out 44 miles and not come away injured, was nothing short of a miracle. Then, there was the 100k (3 weeks later)! I was so dead on my feet that I actually took a nap 3/4 of the way through (see the race report on that one if you are interested). I never really hit stride as I finished out the year. I kept registering for races (2 more marathons and 2 more ultras) in the hopes that they would motivate my training and pull my head back up where it was supposed to be, but it never quite happened. I suppose that if there is a positive lesson in this, it is that I have gotten pretty good at listening to what my body tells me about when I should ease up in a race (once I mute the part where it is screaming at me, "you're an idiot"). I completed each of the events with plenty of walking, and, thankfully, no injuries. So here is the summary log for 2014. Just look at August! Less than 100 miles and nearly half of those were on a single day. At least I made the RunThisYear goal of 2,014 miles. (Overshot by a mere 0.27 miles! Whew!)

2015, I thought I would re-focus. "I know," I said to myself, "I'll do an IronMan!" Yeah, good luck with that! By the end of the year, I had trudged a pitiful 692 miles with my monthly totals ranging from 14 to 84! If I WAS running the year, it meant that I was living at the time of the Arab-Byzantine War and reign of King Ine of Wessex (who?). Oh, well. Unlike them, at least I have access to electricity (and modern plumbing). While I knew I was in a funk, I kept trying to jump-start my running by signing up for races, completing 6 marathons and one 50k with a training plan that could only be described as something between "little" and "none." As the year wore on and I mostly sat on my butt, my weight climbed and running was a chore. 50 pounds later, we entered 2016.

Climbing Out of my Hole in the Running-Ground
My employer offers health screening (and a $100 incentive) to encourage us to monitor our physical well-being and cut down on health care costs. So, in January, 2016, my wife and I both went and got measured, weighed and otherwise calibrated. then we got some encouraging words, and met with a nutritionist. Together, we paid attention to making a lifestyle shift (not a diet!) that incorporates better food choices and more movement. I got back to the running, and even though it was harder with my re-found 50 pounds, my head was back in the game. As I spoke with a colleague at the gym and mentioned that I was getting back into a running routine, his response was, "oh, were you injured?" That's when it hit me. I had suffered a Motivational Injury.

So, now, I have shed most of the excess weight (and my wife looks even more fantastic). I have completed 3 marathons and 5 ultras so far this year, and am heading toward the hopeful completion of my first 100-mile ultramarathon in November. I started light in January so as not to invite injury and ran my first marathon of the year in early February. While I knew I was not physically prepared, mentally, I knew I needed it. And it was wonderful! The Hayes Arboretum Trail Marathon in Richmond, Indiana, was just what the doctor ordered.

Upright and Moving Forward
There is an ebb and flow to life. The challenges are there to strengthen us -- and to humble us. When somebody asks me what my goal is for a particular race, I simply say, "to remain upright and moving forward until the finish." So it is in life: remain upright (upstanding, looking to God, doing good), and moving forward (learn from the past, but don't live in it) until the finish (and the prayer that I would be met with, "well done, good and faithful servant").

So, speaking of moving forward, I'm going to attempt to re-engage with this blog thing . . . again. I'm continuing to learn things and even went back to RunWoodstock for another 100k (...or more).

Happy Running!