Sunday, December 4, 2011

Boo hoo for me. Or, why I want to either quit or run myself into the ground.

Well, there have been several times this week when I have seriously considered throwing in the towel on running.  After an amazing year of running experiences, I feel ready to say I am done with this fine sport.  It's been fun.  Better luck next time.  You see, I think I am too stupid to continue running.  No, really.  I think I lack the brains it takes to figure out how to make running a lifelong, working commitment for myself.  Why so harsh?  Well, it appears I am injured - again.  And, although I know this happens to everyone every once in a while, this would be about the fourth time it has happened to me this year alone.  I am finally coming across even to myself as someone who is in serious need of intervention, like a drug addict in rehab once again.  I seem incapable of helping myself.

It all started about five weeks ago when I went for an eight-mile run without compression socks on. (I only mention the compression socks because since training for the marathon, which I ran on October 2, I had gotten used to using them for long runs.)  While the run itself felt great, I noticed right after that something wasn't right with my left shin.  A point along the shin bone - about where my patellar tendon would connect - was really sore to the touch.  I didn't think too much about it; I iced and stretched and it went away.  A half marathon the following week (with compression socks) didn't exacerbate the problem. In fact, if it bothered me at all in the next week, it did so without much fanfare; I barely noticed it.  Six days after the half marathon, though, I ran a seven-miler faster than I am used to without walk breaks, and five days after that another 6.5-miler also faster than normal.  It was after that last run that I really started noticing the shin.  In fact, it's been bothering me for the two and a half weeks since.  Oh, it's not every day, and it is not while I run.  No, that would be too easy.  My problem is that the running is more or less fine.  If anything, my calves are a little tight.  However, later on the day of the run and the next day or so, it really bugs me - to the point that I cannot kneel on the floor with my kids.  It feels inflamed and irritated.  So, I stretch and I ice and I use the foam roller.  By the time the next scheduled run rolls around, though, it generally feels better, so I am lulled into thinking running again wouldn't be so bad.  And then the whole cycle starts over.

Now, what's so irritating about this situation is that whenever I talk to anyone who has had true running injuries, they always say that whatever hurt them hurt really badly WHILE THEY WERE RUNNING.  That doesn't happen to me.  It's always afterward.  How am I supposed to interpret that?  When I had my hip injury earlier this year (the one that sent me to PT for almost two months), it wasn't because it was bothering me while running, it was because it was tightening up to such an extent when I wasn't running that it became excruciating.  My physical therapist at the time actually told me that if I weren't athletic (such as it is), I probably wouldn't have this problem.  Sedentary people don't have to deal with such things.  (Of course there would be other problems to deal with, to be sure.)

So, where does that leave me - besides frustrated?  I am not sure.  Unfortunately, I am not a very organized individual.  If the devil is in the details, then I must be fairly pious-minded, because things for me tend to be black and white, all or nothing, there are no gradients.  For me, the clear solution is to either scrap running altogether in complete and utter disgust or to keep running despite the pain and discomfort until I eventually injure myself to the point of needing professional help.  In the past, I have been known to do one or the other of those.  This time around is different.  I don't really want to play to the extremes.  So, I guess all that means is that I need to collect myself somewhere in the middle and figure out - methodically - how to solve this problem.

That's where the "too stupid to" part comes in.  I don't think I have the wits or the patience to work this out - seriously.  So, let the waffling ensue, ... and... to be continued, I guess,.... once I figure it out.

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