Running a Half Marathon After Injury
“Hey Rich you want to do a half marathon with me?”
I heard those words as I was upstairs sitting comfortably at my desk working on my computer. “Sure,” I said almost haphazardly. I mean I was in pretty decent shape, so I thought, playing tennis three days a week and working out two days. It shouldn’t be a problem. So that’s how I got myself involved with the adventure of training for a half marathon, while at the same time working full time, playing tennis three times a week, working out with weights twice a week, taking care of my six year old daughter, and trying to pay enough attention to my wife so she didn’t divorce me.
One of the many things that my wife and I joke about is an imaginary anatomical chart that gets filled in any time I have suffered an injury, and there have been many, during my athletic endeavors. I have had back, leg, calf, and shoulder injuries just to name a few. As my training progressed, many body parts were to be added to the proverbial chart.
When I first began my training it was the beginning of Feb., and it was cold. I started out running three miles at a slow pace, maybe 10 min. miles. I was doing well, dealing with the elements and slowly increasing my mileage to about five miles a clip. I found an app on my cell phone called map my run, and to my surprise I discovered I was burning about 600 calories in a five mile run, that took me about 45 min to complete. I remember joking with my wife, who was also training for the half marathon, saying “I don’t see how any one can run five miles a day and be overweight for long.”
Things were looking good, but I was about to experience my first set back. It was a cold afternoon, as I was climbing a steep hill just finishing a five mile training run, when I felt a pulling sensation in my right calf. Hmmm, what’s this I said to myself? You’re not supposed to get injured at the end of your run when you’re totally warmed up, so because I was less than a quarter of a mile away forming my house, I kept going. When I got home I stretched, sat down to nourish myself, and much to my dismay felt a sharp pain in my calf when I attempted to start walking again.
In the past, I’ve dealt with a few calf injuries, so I knew I would recover with some rehab in about three weeks. So for the next few weeks I used the exercise bike and got myself back into running condition, only to reinjure the same muscle a week later during an ambitious seven mile run. Needless to say I was getting frustrated and at the same time a bit concerned. However, with some creative tweaking to my rehab regiment, I beat the calf injury and was back to pounding the pavement.
Winter slowly turned into spring, and with the advent of warmer temperatures, I started to increase my mileage. I was up to about 8 miles, when I became all too familiar with a guy named Morton. I developed a pain in between the toes that felt like a dull annoying pressure whenever I took a few steps. Apparently, if you discover an ailment that hasn’t been previously recognized, you’ll have the dubious distinction of having an illness named after you…. hence Morton’s Neuroma.
Fast forward to one week before the race. I keep telling myself that I have to put in a ten mile run, and then I’ll be confident that I can go the whole 13 miles. People in the know have told me not increase your mileage by more than ten percent weekly, if you want to avoid injuries. I start my ten mile practice route feeling good, but about eight miles in I stat to feel discomfort on the side of my leg near my knee. Despite the pain, I push on and finish the race, only later that night to discover that I have developed ilio tibial band syndrome. This is very common in runners and is caused by inflammation of the distal portion of the iliotibial band as crosses over the anatomy at the outer part of the knee. Treatment… rest. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to rest with the race less than a week away.
Finally, race day is upon us, and I seem to have my Injuries, for the most part, in check. My goal is to cross the finish line running a ten minute mile with my body and dignity in tact. The race is going fine, and as I make my way to the turn around point I see a few runners all ready heading back. It’s a bit humbling to think that these guys could have stopped along the way to eat a burrito and still finish before me, but I persevere.
At around the eight mile mark, I begin to notice, once again, that the pain in my outer leg near my knee is returning. I know that I only have five miles to go, so I push through. As I make my way down the wooded path, I can see the finish line, and I know that I will achieve my goal. I cross the line, and I am awarded with a medal and the satisfaction of knowing that I ran my first half marathon.
Upon reflection, I realized that my knowledge in sports rehab, as a chiropractor, played a large role in my ability to overcome various injuries and continue to train. I am still running today and enjoying the runners high and all of the challenges that are associated with training. Oh. And by the way… that anatomical chart is almost completely colored in.