Saturday, May 20, 2017

Blessings In Disguise

No one taught me how to run. I don't think there's anyone who needs to be taught, but I could be wrong. Once you start walking as a toddler or like I did at 7 months old(according to my mom), you develop the uncontrolled forward fall with your legs moving fast and awkwardly trying to keep you upright. Try to imagine the pure joy you had when you were that age of learning how to walk or "fall" forward. For the parents out there, try and remember your child's face as they would do that toothless giggle as they trotted forward. That's running. No one taught us how to do it, we just get up and fall forward.

Once I rediscovered running, I had people help guide me along on "proper" form and coach me, helping improve my endurance. I've done some research on my own, watching and studying people, athletes, runners. In doing so, I've developed my own style that works for me. Every single person I've ran with or trained with has told me "stretch." Coach Frank would give me the disappointed look if he knew how little I stretch, but the truth is, I barely do. He would say "listen to your body." He would preach taking care of your body in recovery to help prevent injuries. Basically, look at the big picture. When I show up for a run, I don't think I leave myself with any time to stretch before or after. Excuses.

Up until recently, I've been gambling when I run both before and after the run because of how little I stretch. I would go run long and hard, take a shower, drink some water and go to work. Not too long ago, maybe a few weeks, I went for a run like I normally do. I took a new(ish) route and PR'd on the way back to the trailhead. My legs felt sore, but nothing to worry about. I thought it was your normal post run soreness, but I was wrong. The following day, I went out for a run. I set out, limping, for about 100 yards before I stopped and turned around. One thing I've always heard and practiced was, as long as nothing mechanical is going wrong, I can continue to push through the pain. This pain that caused my limping felt as if my hip was popped out of socket and the bone was trying to get back in, rubbing on my pelvis. It sucked. I wasn't able to walk right and my heart sank knowing I wasn't going to be able to run that day or perhaps the next few either. Looking back at the run that perhaps caused it, I don't recall stepping wrong or twisting anything. In fact, I remember finishing the run thinking to myself how great that felt. The following days were painful.

Sleeping wasn't easy because of the pulsing pain my hip/groin area was experiencing, and being on my feet all day at work wasn't helping. My "injury" made normal activities difficult. Two days passed and I couldn't take NOT running anymore, so I went and tried to push through the pain. The run started out difficult, but eventually it all but went away. It was a weird feeling. It's almost as if my leg got warm and the lactic acid built up was breaking away with the constant mashing of my feet on the ground. The lateral movements were helping break up the "lump" or whatever. I finished my run, went to work and felt fine. My leg was never injured! Nope, I was wrong. The next day, my leg hurt even worse. It got to a point where I was going to make a doctors appointment. Anyone who knows me knows how severe that is if I have to make an appointment.

I believe in self healing for the most part. I believe that for the pain I was experiencing, there was a natural way to heal. The most obvious would be staying off my feet. So I decided not running was the best most logical way to start this process. Being on my feet for 10 hours a day at work wasn't going to help. So I started taking Ibuprofen which is terrible for your kidneys just to help ease the pain. I truly don't like relying on any medication to make things better, I wanted to be done with the pain and heal up fast.

Not running sucks. My mood and patience starts to dwindle. I was in such a great spot with running that pausing was such a buzzkill. I was tired of starting over and I didn't want to loose my run fitness. I was getting stronger, faster. I was able to run further, sustaining a more consistent pace. Taking time off from running was stressing me out because I have a race in a few weeks. This rapid drop in my mood was killing me. But I remained positive maintaining my philosophy of "everything happens for a reason."

I believe god puts in situations to learn. There was a reason I was not being allowed to run for an extended period of time. "Why is this happening?" The answer or answers were very clear. First, the obvious one was that I don't stretch. I need to take care of my body in hopes to keep running for a long long long time. Stretching is so easy and feels so good, why don't I do it more? I need to. 5 minutes before and after and before I go to bed and be mindful of my body talking to me. The second reason I was not allowed to run was a little more clouded, but once I understood "why" it became very clear. For a while there, I got caught up with analyzing my stats on Strava. I wanted to be faster on segments than everyone running the loops I was running. I was running to be faster than everyone and though I enjoyed running, I wasn't appreciating it which in turn made it less enjoyable. Basically, I stopped running because of my love running. Instead I was running because I felt I had to.

Running is humbling, wonderful, hard and painful. I love every second of it. I don't run for anyone, but myself. It's a tool that allows me to be the man I am today and gives me the ability to be the man I want to be. I love running early in the morning, on trails I've never been on, in the middle of the day in the summer here in Arizona. I love running to the top of a mountain and sitting there thinking or staring aimlessly out among the valley bellow. I feel healthy, spiritually sound, content, and free. I stopped smiling while I was running for a bit there, not anymore. To recap my seemingly endless rant, I need to stretch A LOT more. But I truly believe the most important thing that'll help keep me running for years to come is that I need to appreciate running and the ability to do so.

In closing, I've been humbled and I am grateful for the learning experience that this nagging injury put me through. Namaste.