The Hazards of Running

Runners are prone to injuries because of the constant pounding their legs, feet and knees are subject to.  Picture a grand piano dropped from a second story window, which then bounces upward as though tied to a bungee cord and is then dropped –  again  (I don’t know of any scientific studies which have actually tested this theory but then I don’t know how to play the piano either).

That’s what it’s like – or so I’ve heard. In the year and a half I’ve been at this game, I have never been injured (though I hesitate to admit that to both of my regular readers – my mother being one of them – because saying a certain has never happened to you is a guarantee that it will happen to you – except in the case of being named People Magazine’s Sexiest Woman Alive). Runners suffer injuries with names like: Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, iliotibical band syndrome, shin splints and bursitis.

common-running-injuries

I attribute my excellent running health to the fact that I have no idea where any of these body parts – or their associated injuries – are. When I’ve felt an ache or pain, I just attributed it to malaria, the bubonic plague or an enlarged prostate.

A friend of mine, who knows about such things, told me that since I didn’t start running until my mid-50s and my joints, tendons and knees are still intact, I may very well have 30 years of running ahead of me.

I just laughed. After all, I intend to qualify for the Boston Marathon one day. I figure that at my current pace, I’ll finally reach a qualifying time (which increases by age) by the time I’ve turned 106.  Which is actually some 40 years of running ahead of me.

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Last week I logged only 12 miles – an 8 and a 4 mile run – because of afternoon obligations and – call me crazy – an inability to rise at 5:00 a.m. before work 5:00 to go out in the 40 degree temperature to run. I did set my alarm but when it went off I pretended it was the starter’s gun and ran my half in my dreams.

Death and Couches

I thought I was gonna die - Rosanne Rosannadana

I’ve been a cerebral runner for 30+ years, meaning I’ve thought about it a lot and watched the Summer Olympics on tv. I would snack on a Costco-sized jar of Nutella with a ladle spoon -oh hell, it was a ladle – and if I felt particularly thoughtful, I’d add a dollop of peanut butter with a front loader. I enjoyed my career, but I wasn’t getting any product endorsements, at least not from any manufacturers whose products didn’t arrive in plain brown wrapping.

Then last year I learned about a little program called Couch to 5K. (Note: if you don’t own a couch, do not even THINK about using this program.  Go get your own damn running program). It’s a download from the App Store (listen to me, all Google-this and Google-that) and it takes you through an eight week regimen mixing walking and running. You plug your earbuds into your IPhone, turn off the Henry Mancini orchestra and off you go!

I had the choice of 3 or 4 voices to talk me through the program: a sweet American-accented woman named Heather, a drill sergeant, an Aussie rancher and Hedvig, a German hausfrau who did not suffer fools gladly (or so she told me). In the end I chose Heather, because we had the most in common and I figured I could sweet talk her into bathroom breaks.

On week 1 the program dictated 30 minutes of walk-run, starting with a 5 minute walk warm-up, followed by half a minute of running, one minute of walking, another half minute of running, rinse and repeat until the final 5 minute walk cool down. This was to be repeated 3x a week, with an least one day in between for carbo loading (see “Nutella” and “front loader” above). The next week – and in successive weeks – the walk time decreased and the run time (or the “agony,” as I like to call it) increased.

As the late, great political commentator Rosanne Rosannadana once said, “Ah thought Ah was gonna die.” And that was just bending over to lace up my running shoes.

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I logged 19.2 miles this week (Sunday through Saturday) which is fairly prolific for me. Not all runs are created equal, though, so I’ll describe each of this week’s runs below:

Monday – 3 mile negative run. This means that I ran each successive mile faster than the previous mile. This kind of run is supposed to be good for me, developing some skill or another, but I have no idea what.

Tuesday – 3 miles of “fartleks” (which means “speed play” in some Scandinavian language). You run at whatever speed you want then suddenly accelerate, decelerate and accelerate again in no particular order and for as long or as short as you want. Again, I have no idea why this type of run is a good idea, but apparently it is.

Thursday – 5 slow (are there any other kind in my world?) sweet miles, absolutely my favorite type of workout.

Friday- 5 slow

Saturday – 3 sorta, kinda, a little faster than normal miles on the local Catholic school track.  This type of run is also known as the “I’ve already run 15 this week but want to get closer to 20 because I like round numbers” run.