I have to try again. It’s a question of life or death.
A few hours after my 4 mile run my right heal started to hurt. I was limping for two days. A week later it still hurts. Now this was just 4 miles not like I went for a long 10 mile run. I have gained five and a half pounds in the last couple months because I can’t sustain a normal running training program. I am going back to cycling for good. But I will never forget the magic of running and some of the amazing runs I have gone on.
I am completely injury and pain free. I have found shoes that seem to complement my running style very well. I have a running schedule that I think I can sustain without re injuring myself.
June was my first running only month in a very very long time. I logged 90 miles of running in June.
I’m feeling really good about this and I’m finally starting to feel like I’m getting my running legs back. (I know I said I was done running but I can’t help it.)
Below is my monthly training schedule starting with June. W stands for weight training.
click on calendar then full size top right corner to enlarge
68 mile month
43 mile month
95 mile month
84 mile month
97 miles and
4 mile race
108 miles and
115 miles and
3rd in my age group in 5K race.
109 miles and
1st place in my age group in 5K race.
126 miles and
3rd place finish in my age group in my first running race and five K in a year.
104 miles in July
So far so good.
89 miles in June
My last post was April 13 2014, one year and seven months ago. At that time I still was clinging to a hope that I could sustain once more a regular running program that would allow me to be competitive once again. After a year of training then having to stop because of pain, then starting again and then stopping again many times over; after a year of trying every kind of training program and shoe that I could think of without success, I finally admitted once and for all that being a runner was no longer sustainable for me. I knew that I had to try and replace the void that running was going to leave in my life. But there is nothing like running. You don’t here of a bikers high, or a swimmers high, or any other kind of sports high. This is something that is unique to running. I personally think it has to do with the rhythm of running for an extended period of time that kind of puts you in a sort of trance. Still I needed to find something. Cycling would seem to be the obvious choice since I was a very serious road racer when I was younger. But the thought of it didn’t inspire me, plus it is very hard to maintain during the New York winters, unlike running that can be done all year. Going back to mountain biking also didn’t really inspire me. Although winter training is more doable with mountain biking, once the snow settles on the ground it becomes near impossible. Then I discovered a new kind of mountain bike; a mountain bike with no suspension but very large tires that sort of roll over obstacles but most of all allow you to ride in the snow. I was very intrigued but thought the bike would be sluggish under normal conditions. I finally test road one and immediately loved it. It was very responsive and quick and I loved that it could do it’s thing without suspension, and most of all I would be able to potentially train on it all year round. I bought it and started training. I have started racing and have gotten three podium finishes. But most of all I have found a sport that satisfies my need to push myself and that I can sustain without over use injuries like running. Nothing can replace running, I will always miss it, but this comes in a close second.
I have started doing some running again along with the mountain biking. Lets see where this goes.
Below is a record of my training for 2016.
This world has rules. The biggest one of them being; We are all born with engineered obsolescence. We all have, a shelf life, an expiration date. We are all born to die, to come to an end. We are all meant to wear out and break after a certain time, rather it be by violence, or accident, or disease, or just the wear and tear of time on our bodies and mind. None of us know how much time we have, but at its very best, it’s not much time at all. Find what you love, do what you love. Tomorrow is a day not promised. So you better figure out today, and leave tomorrow for when it happens. For now we are stuck here, so make the best of it. Just make the best of it.
I just want to run, and I want to ride with the wind. Lets see how far I get.
I can honestly say at this point, without any reserve, that I have had my fill of the white, and the cold. I’m good, I have celebrated the winter now let’s move on.
It has occurred to me, that for me at least, tomorrow is the most important part of today. Perhaps that explains why something about Buddhism always felt off to me. Here I am trying to embrace the moment, to live for today, in the present and not worry about tomorrow. The problem is that for me the present is never as good as what I hope tomorrow will be. Even more so, I would say that it is the hope of a better tomorrow that gets me through today, a better future that helps me get through the present. That’s not to say I don’t have great moments where I’m fully committed and completely enjoying myself in that moment. But when that moment is over, I once more look forward to the next. When I do well I celebrate, but I would be remiss if I thought I couldn’t do better next time. If I reach a point where I think it can’t get any better, then I need to find something new. It’s not being satisfied, all the while thinking that there is something better around the corner, that makes me want to keep on living. In the end isn’t that what Nirvana is? Isn’t that the concept of heaven; the thought that there is something more to all this, what ever this might be? If you take hope away, take away the drive for excellence, The hope of getting close to perfection, what you are left with, is a “poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more, having told a tale full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” So it is without shame or embarrassment that I say, I will not live for today. I will live for tomorrow and God help me if I ever get there. Fortunately tomorrow is always a day away and just out of reach, tempting me forevermore to keep going. Tomorrow will always be there for me to race after with all I have. I will never stop chasing it, it is everything I want. Without a better tomorrow, today makes no sense.
From this point on I will only post photos from runs or rides that are significant.
A few days ago I did an experiment. I video taped myself on the treadmill; see above picture. I first ran with my best chi running/pose running/barefoot running gate in my Vibrame five fingers and then I ran with my worst just let it all hang out heel strike if you want gate. I then repeated this with more normal, albeit minimalist running shoes. First I was shocked to find there was very little difference between my chi running gate and my let it all hang out gate and very little difference between how I ran in the Vibrames and in the regular running shoes. In all cases I just couldn’t stop my legs from extending out in front of me and sometimes even locking out straight, before landing. This was a shock because it really felt like I wasn’t doing that when in my barefoot running gate. I also noticed that my running mechanics are horrible. Not only are my legs extending out in front of me, but my left foot does tend to land more at an angle and towards the back of my foot, confirming the wear on the outside of the heel of my left shoe being much greater than my right shoe. Also my feet are landing toes out instead of in a straight line. These are all things that I have tried to correct and thought I had done. It is plainly obvious at this point that my body wants to run a certain way and to hell with what I might think. At this point what I would say to Christopher McDougall is if we are all born to run, we are not all born to run as fast or as far as everyone else. It’s possible that I have taken my running as far as I can given my natural running style which I see now is not so good. Maybe I’ll not be able to run another marathon, but at least I did one and in well under 4 hours with a time of 3:45. So I accomplished my goal and I’m proud of that. I am no longer going to try and change the way my body wants to run. I will let it run like it wants and the best that I can do will be the best that I do, what ever that ends up being. At least I know I can run some, and I’ll take it.
Tuesday May 21 2013
After starting out on a 10K run that turned into a 2K run because the pain in my ankles made it quite apparent that running as I have known it was not in my future, I put into motion plan B.
I went back to road Runners gave them back the Nike stability shoes and bought these Vibrame 5 Fingers. Now it’s back to school. If this doesn’t work I’m done. This is my Hail Mary pass, my last attempt at trying to save my running.
Wednesday May 22 2013 Weight training
Thursday May 23 2013 2K run. First run in 5 fingers. This is definitely different. For sure no going to heel strike in these shoes. It really is like running barefoot. Your landing very much on your forefoot. Basically running on the balls of your feet. No pain today but I’ll have to see if it stays that way once I get my distance back up towards the 10K mark. I felt very light on my feet and it felt easy to run at a fairly quick pace. Time will tell.
Saturday May 25 2013 4K run 9:40 M/M/P plus weight training. Boy you really run different in these shoes that’s for sure. The run felt good today, no pain anywhere. Still that was a very short run so it’s still to early to tell. Baby steps, baby steps. But for now still no ankle pain or knee pain.
Sunday May 26 2013 Weight training.
Monday May 27 2013 2K run.
Wednesday May 29 2013 4K run 9:10 M/M/P
Thursday May 30 2013 Weight training.
Friday May 31 2013 Today was going to be a 6K,but I had to stop running almost as soon as I started this morning, due to sharp pain in my left ankle. This is probably the end. I have an appointment with my doctor on Thursday to see if there is a fix; but honestly I am already starting to come up with a plan for my reconversion into cycling. At any rate that’s what I’ll be doing at least for the next week. I did do a short 5.6 klm bike ride.
Saturday June 31 2013 90 degrees and humid, 6K run 8:40 M/M/P hard up the hills. What can I say I’m a stubborn bastard. I just had a feeling my ankle would be pain free today, it wasn’t bothering me so I figured I would try, and sure enough I ran pain free.? Will try to do another 4K tomorrow. Still going to the doctors though on Thursday.
Sunday June 2 2013 The 6K I ran yesterday has re-inflamed my left plantar fasciitis. So that’s it. I’m done. But what was it I said? For every curtain that falls another one opens. Time to get back in the saddle I guess. I suppose I’ll have to find my running nirvana in another life.
New shoes, new start. After months of pain management and nearly bringing my running to a stop. I have decided to give it one more attempt at a comeback. The plantar fasciitis is gone and the ankle and knee pain is nearly completely absent. I will limit my runs to three a week. 10K runs on Tuesday and Thursday and then a longer run on Sunday slowly progressing my long run from 12K to 20K adding 2Ks a week. Sat will be my day off and M-W-F weight lifting. I have added knee and ankle strengthening exercise to my weight training as well as arch strengthening exercise for my feet. I have switched from a neutral shoe to a stability shoe. This time I don’t stop until the pain keeps me from running. How long? It could be a week, a year, I don’t know. We’ll see. This will my last attempt. If it fails, I’ll hang up my running shoes for good.
Sunday May 5 2013 12K run Heritage Trail 9:00 M/M/P
Monday May 6 2013 Weights.
Tuesday May 7 2013 10K run hard up the hills. 9:20 M/M/P
Wednesday May 8 2013 Weights
Thursday May 9 2013 10K run hard up the hills. 9:00 M/M/P Slight pain in left ankle, at times, during the day.
Friday May 10 2013 Weights Still having some mild pain in my left ankle when I walk, at times.
Sunday May 12 2013 14K run Heritage Trail 8:35 M/M/P Slight pain, front of left knee and back of right knee at beginning of run disappeared after about 1.5 klm.
Monday May 13 2013 Weights Left ankle is complaining today more than normal.
Tuesday May 14 2013 10K run hard up hills 9:30 M/M/P didn’t sleep well hard run, very tired.
Sunday May 19 2013 16K run Heritage Trail 9:00 M/M/P
Monday May 20 2013 Weights. Some pain in left ankle.
Tuesday May 21 2013 2K run.? Started running and immediately felt pain in my ankles. With every foot strike I felt like my ankles and knees were getting pounded. After 1 klm I stopped, and just stood there wondering what to do. I turned around and went home. This was not going to work. There could be no more doubt that my running as I knew it was over.
One last plan left. One last hail marry. The stability shoes had not worked. Time to go to the other extreme. Time to take the barefoot challenge all the way. This will work or my running will come to a stop. To be continued in The Road Back Part II
On October 19th I did something I had not done in a long time with surprising results. It promted me to start a journal which you can read below.
Friday Oct 19 2012
Went out for my second attempt at running this morning since Sunday’s very painful 26.2 mile run. Tuesday was a failed attempt. After about 200 yards of running my right knee hurt too much to be able to run and I ended up walking for an hour. This morning I was feeling good and I was running well but after just over a mile and a half my left ankle suddenly started hurting again and I came to a sudden stop and walked a little further, then turned around. I felt it was best to take it easy and let the body heel. As I started walking back towards home I decided to try running again but at a much slower pace. As I started running a thought crossed my mind; what if I force myself to run with a heel strike like I used to three four years ago. That’s just what I did. Having worked very hard for several years to transform my gate from heel strike to mid foot strike I had to concentrate on each step and almost use an exaggerated heel strike. What happened surprised me. It felt almost like putting on a pair of comfortable old shoes. Almost like my body was saying ha yes here we go this feels like home. My pace quickly picked up and I ran all the way back home without a hint of pain anywhere.
Four years ago I was having health issues. I had constant bloating, gas, and heart burn. I couldn’t keep a regular exercise routine going. Every time a tried I would burn out or get injured and instead of getting in shape I was quickly putting on weight and my fitness was on a steep decline. At 46 years old this was disconcerting for me who at one point had been a very serious road bike racer and in very good shape. I saw numerous doctors, had numerous tests done and tried numerous medications, but saw no improvements. Finally on a recommendation I saw a doctor that steered me in the right direction. He addressed my diet and the way I train. I switched to a low glycemic diet and started using a heart rate monitor to make sure my heart rate did not go past my maximum aerobic heart rate. I was shocked at how out of shape I was. I could not even run at a very slow jog without my heart rate rising to high, so at first I just had to walk. Within a couple weeks I was able to start incorporating some slow running. As my fitness improved I was able eventually to run the whole time and not have to walk. At first I ran, not because I liked it, but just to get back in shape and because it was easier to fit into my schedule than cycling. However as my running improved I started to get a deep appreciation for it, even a love of it. I decided to find a running club and do just a few small races. At first it was very painful, but as my lungs started to adapt I got faster and by the end of the first year I had run my first half marathon.
Being the type of person that I am, when I get really interested in something I feel I need to educate myself as much as I can about whatever it is I am into. So I started reading about running. For instance I wanted to make sure I had the best possible shoes for me. I read about over-pronation and supination and stability shoes and high and low arches and cushioning. So I went and got specially fitted inserts and ran on treadmills while being video tapped to see what kind of shoe was right. Mind you I had no problems or injuries to address but having read about the cornucopia of injuries that runners get I wanted to do whatever I needed to avoid those. Then I read about how the shoe industry had caused many of the running injuries in runners by over building running shoes thus allowing us to become heel strikers instead of having a natural barefoot stile of running where you land on your mid foot. So I studied Chi running and pose running and started to run in minimalist shoes and learned how to have shorter quicker steps that land underneath me and not in front and to land on my mid foot and not my heel. All the while I’m getting fitter and my runs are getting longer and three years into my running I ran my first marathon with a time of 3:45. Not bad, but then something else had started to happen. At this point I had already had a case of plantar fascitis and some knee pain. Precisely what I had been trying to avoid. By my fourth year, 2012, my running was regressing I had some kind of pain almost all the time and my race times were off. Just running twenty miles was a huge effort and I realized running another marathon was not going to happen, I just couldn’t run that long anymore. I canceled my plans to rerun the marathon I had run just a year earlier. Then I decided to just run a pre marathon run with some runners I knew. This wouldn’t be a race with the pressure of setting a certain pace or coming in at a certain time; I would just run easy and take breaks if I needed to. I did just that and ran it in 4:37, but the last 3 miles were incredibly painful. My fears had been answered. I just could not run that far anymore. Not being able to run at all two days later sealed the deal. For whatever reason my marathon running was over with only one marathon under my belt. Until this morning any way, I felt pretty sure that was the case, then I started to heel strike again and I wondered, what if?
Sun Oct 21 2012
Went for a one hour run today. My legs were still a bit sore from the squats I did yesterday during my weight lifting. I concentrated on making sure I continued to run with a heel toe type of running gate. At first I felt sluggish but the last couple miles felt good and my last full mile split was a sub 8. I ran 6.3 miles in all. It occurred to me that in a way I am going to have to learn to run all over again, sort of how I had to when I started to learn how not to heel strike. I think the learning curve this time will be less steep and go faster. I am also going to start using my heart rate monitor again for a while. Let myself get back up to speed nice and slow. It worked for me before so let’s get back to basics.
Sat Oct 27 2012
3 hours and 20 min of running this week including a 1 hour 10 min run today. Although pain that has been with me for a long time seems to have gone away, I’m not sure that it’s not getting replaced by new pain in other places. We’ll see.
Thru Nov 8 2012
Today was my first day of exercise in ten days. I had decided to take a week off completely from running to let my feet and ankles and knees heal. Then Monday night came Hurricane Sandy and on Tuesday we lost power at the house. Without power we have no water which means no showers or laundry so I decided that I would not do any exercises until the power came back. Just take a few days off, a week even. But the power did not come back on till yesterday, ten days latter. Not being active for that long was hard but I figured this would really give my body a rest and give me a chance to be pain free for sure. Well that didn’t happen. After ten days of no running I still feel pain in my knees, ankles, and feet. I just don’t know what to think. Do I feel pain just because I’m getting older or is it because of my running. Long runs do definitely make the pain worse so I have decided that marathons are not in my future. On the other hand I can’t stop running completely.
This morning I did weight lifting and rode my rollers and ran on the treadmill. It felt so good to run even if it was just on the treadmill. My new training program is this.
Monday through Friday my daily workout will be;
10 min rollers, one set of weights, 10 min on treadmill, one set of weights, 10 min rollers, one set of weights, 10 min treadmill, stretch.
Sat; 1 hour 40 min of running
Sun; 1 hour 40 min of riding road or mnt bike
Sun Nov 11 2012
Well went for my run Saturday and today went for mnt bike ride. The whole time I was on the bike I was wishing I was running instead. I can’t believe I ever liked mnt bike riding. Ya the racing was fun but what a pain in the ass just to go for a ride. Put the bike rack on the car, pump up the tires, don’t forget extra tubes and a tire pump and the helmet and gloves and shoes, strap the bike down drive to the where the trails are, then there’s rocks and ruts and mud and trees in the path some you can get over some you can’t and had to stop several time to pull branches out of my spokes, close to the end one got stuck in the derailleur so bad it bent it and the part of the frame it attaches to. It will never be the same. By the end of my ride I knew I didn’t want to ever ride my mnt bike again. But if I was cold on the mnt bike at higher speeds when going down a hill a road bike is out of the question in the winter. Plus my road bike is a very special 34 year old Stella. It needs new tires and I really don’t want to start putting a lot of miles on it and I really don’t want to buy a new road bike, I just want to run.
So new plan. No more rollers no bicycle.
Monday through Friday the ten minute intervals between the sets of weights will only be five minutes and will be running on the treadmill. This still gives me the same amount of time running as before, 20 minutes a day or 2 miles. On the weekends I’ll run my 1hr 40 min run either Sat or Sun and the other day will be a day off, which I should be taking any way. This will also give me a little bit more time to get my workouts in on week days. If things go well and I can be pain free I can always start adding time to my runs.
Nov 19 2012
Yesterday I ran 1hr 40 min, 11 miles exactly. Last night my right foot was hurting and I thought that might be the end. But this morning the pain was gone and I was able to do my 2 miles on the treadmill during my weight lifting. So we’ll see.
Sat Nov 24 2012
All men must die, but not all men ever really live. For me to really live is to run. I wont give up on that dream yet. I not only want to be a marathon runner but I want to be an ultra runner.
New game plan.
run 5 days then take a day off, then start again. 5 days on, one day off. I’ll start with one hour a day and SLOWLY build from there. I will also add strength training on those days when ever time permits. I will do this till I can walk no more, till it kills me.
Wed Dec 12 2012
Since that last post a lot has changed. The pain has persisted and I have practically stopped running. Every morning, none the less, I get up and I have pain in my feet. I have stopped running and I have lost my taste for life. I decided that I would never run an other marathon and when I did that I fell into a pit of depression that I can’t seam to climb out of. I always said I would continue to live as long as I could do what I wanted to do. Now I feel like my life depends on my being able to run. If I can’t run, the way I want which is to say, to run marathons then why would I continue to live. I can live with the pain, I can’t live without running. My thinking was, it is better to decide to stop running, than to keep running until I am forced to stop due to a really bad injury. Now it seams to me that I have to try. I don’t even care about my time any more. Even if it takes me more than 4 hours to run it, I want to be able to do the distance. It’s my only hope of reclaiming my peace of mind. It’s just that if I fail; I may lose it all…
OK the thought of trying again is the only thing that gives me hope in the future, even if the thought of the pain in my feet getting worse is a little scary. I will run as long as I can.
Here is my game plan; run three days in a row, then one day of weights, then another three days of running then one day of weights. I will start with 30 minute runs, at no particular pace just a comfortable running pace. Each time I start a new three day set I will add 2 minutes. I’ll keep doing this till I get to an hour and a half on week day runs and three hours on weekend runs, if I last that long. Once I get to that I will start to take on once more the marathon.
A new pair of shoes came for me today. The are light weight neutral shoes but are fairly stiff with a good deal of cushioning under the heel for such lightweight neutral shoes. Maybe they will be the ones, to help me get it back.
Dec 28 2012
“A letter to a friend”
Hey Ron. Thank you for the e-mail and article. First, yes we survived Sandy but had no power for 10 days. I’m not going
to complain, some people lost everything. No work for a week because there was no power there.
As for the article about running marathons aging you prematurely, I would take it with a grain of salt and say
every one is different and all thing don’t apply to every one. Also why did they single out running?
What about cycling at the Tour DE France level? We all have limitations
that we must discover and live with. I have been dealing with that a lot.
In 2011 I finished the year with about 2030 running miles under my belt. This however may have done more
harm than good.
My running has not been the same since then. I ran my first marathon in Oct of 2011 in 3:45. Now I cant run that far in
4:30 without being in serious pain. My feet, ankles, and knees just can’t take the pounding anymore. I’m down now to
10 to 15 miles a week. I have had to accept that marathons for me was a brief experience that I may not be able to have again. I currently am running only every third day. I have just recently taken up hiking to try and fill the void. I went
for a one hour hike this morning before work. I hiked up Bear Mountain overlooking the Hudson river. It was very nice, (see attached photo).
So run one day, then hike the next, then weight lifting the third, then start over. We’ll see how it goes, I’m still hoping
that by not running as often the pain will go away and I will be able to get back to being able to do long runs like before
but I don’t think so. As long as I can run some I’ll be able to live with it, and I’m looking foreword to doing more hiking
like going back to Mount Katadin. I have come to think that the source of my problems with pain comes from when I was
younger and badly sprang both ankles (almost needed surgery). They have never been the same. Like I said we all
have our own limitations in life, we have to make the best of it.
Jan 21 2013
So I end a chapter in my life, at least for now.
Yesterday was my longest run in a long time. Six miles just under an hour.
A far cry from the 16 to 20 mile long runs I used to do. I don’t even enjoy the runs as much because all I think about is rather the pain is going to come back and when. After this run my right foot was hot with pain. Latter that day I felt pain in my right knee and my plantar. To think I can ever get back to marathon mileage is just silly.
So I will go back to my cycling. Just as I was once a bike racer, back to my bike I go. Hopefully I can be at peace with and close this chapter of my life as a runner and look ahead at a new chapter of my life. Perhaps truly a return to the start.