Last week, I told my running partner of three years, Leslie that I never thought that I would get back to running like this again. She asked, like what? I said I didn’t feel any pain today. I ran 10 glorious miles without any pain. She looked at me and said that’s how it’s supposed to be, without pain.
You see, I’ve been running for the past two years with issues with my hips, to the point, I described the pain as my hips coming unhinged. The tight hip thingy, and the unhinging of the hips, for the most part, was my fault. Suddenly switching from a mostly sedentary lifestyle to full mobility 4-days per week rolling around the trail, the streets, and the track were too much too fast without the proper foundation. I mean, I was thinking I was still in my glory days as a young supple college track athlete racing folk on the trail. I’d roll out, then, roll home post up on the couch gorging on protein, ice cream and wine. And we won’t speak of my night stealth running to my nocturnal music imagining I was in a different space where no one could see me.
Before ish hit the fan, running felt good, and I wanted more of it. I was a running feign feigning for those endorphins, tapping into strength, and controlling my innards. It didn’t take long before I soon realized that at 43, I discovered that my invisible nonexistent foundation would work against me.
The mornings came with gingerly movements. My mind would wake first accompanied by my thoughts tentatively peeking under the sheets to see how my toes, ankles, and knees were doing. Every morning, that was the ritual, out of bed, and measuring every step to the bathroom hearing things popping and cracking. My husband felt that I was running myself into the ground. I tried to hide how I really wanted to walk, like an 84-year old man who had been riding horses all his life. I didn’t want to hear his mouth. But, he was right, I was running myself into the ground, and those miles caught me like the bear catches a novice 400-meter sprinter on that last curve.
Thangs began to slow down. My body wasn’t as resilient. And I paid for it. My entire race season, although I was able to complete it, 9 races in all, was a huge disappointment. Key races where I expected to PR, I did poorly. The last race of the season, which was the Austin Half Marathon, after mile 7, I found myself walking and talking to other runners. I was humbled, and decided to make the best of it. Matter of fact, I met a dude from Arkansas, he was running his first half marathon, I decided to help him out. Told him to get on my hip, and we were going to kick it in together. He beat me across the finish line about 400 meters out. I felt a certain way about that. No matter the situation, and no matter how I try to suppress it, it never goes away, the tightness in the throat and that twinge in the gut when I get beat.
That was my situation last running season. I completed races, but didn’t reach any of my running goals because I didn’t gift myself the proper foundation to sustain me through the miles. Ultimately, at the end of the race season, my hips, buttocks, and knees felt shredded. Though I tried, I couldn’t run, it was way too painful, and my body just wouldn’t go.
I decided to go see an Orthopedic Surgeon who in turn sent me to a Physical Therapist who decided to make it her personal mission to take me as close to total muscle failure as possible. She had me working on the weakest part of my body, stabilizing, balancing, strength, etc… To fill my empty space of running, I took up swimming and rolling out on a stationary bike. I enjoyed swimming, but hated the bike. Needless to say, it was a few months of physical therapy, swimming, and biking before I was allowed to run again.
When that day came, I felt like a thirsty kid getting a blue icy on a hot summer day. Running 2-miles in circles on the dirt was yummy, and I relished it. From that point, I did most everything my physical therapist told me, I minded my self-care the best that I could and all the extra stuff that is required to keep a runner running. The thing that has resonated with me most about long distance running at my age, if I want to run late into my 70’s, I can’t bust out of the gate like Flo Jo. It’s a slow build, and now, I am rolling out at about 22-miles per week pain-free with a smile on my face and gratefulness in my heart.