Former 2:24 marathoner, now in my late 40s and hoping to maximally flatten the curve of my slide into senescence and mediocrity • Magazine writer, book editor and author, and commentator on the sport of distance running since 1999 • Adviser and confidant of other perambulators • Paradoxical hater of exercise fanatics • Chihuahua whisperer Sentence-fragment impresario

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Banged up

In the past couple of days, I've gotten banged up.

On Sunday afternoon, the landlord was doing some minor landscaping work in the back yard, wanting to get this done before he leaves for Southeast Asia for a spell. Normally his son comes over and helps with that, but his son was unavailable, so I was recruited to assist. I had to move a few decent-sized slabs of rock, and thought I had escaped this without incident until a few hours later, when merely sitting up in bed was enough to case something sudden and  unpleasant to happen on the right side of my lower back.

It wasn't agonizing, and I slept fine, but getting out of bed the next morning was unexpectedly rough. I quickly learned that sitting for any length of time make walking quite difficult for the first 20 to 30 seconds. Yet I didn't notice the slightest thing wrong after I'd been walking walking around for a few minutes. Two full days later, I've concluded that it's some kind of minor muscle strain that seems to be abating for the most part. I ran about five easy miles last night with no issues...

Except for the other issue. I was running with Rosie, who uses a Gentle Leader (although four and generally well trained when I got her last month, she's not so great on a leash yet). This keeps her in check, but she has a habit of stopping very suddenly when she spots something especially interesting-looking on the sidewalk. She did this last night when we were maybe a minute from home, and because she can stop much more quickly than I can at any speed, I tripped right over her and went down on my right knee -- the knee that kept me out for five weeks last summer (a slight meniscus tear, in all likelihood). I was highly agitated and bloodied, but it turned out to be 90 percent abrasion and 10 percent contusion, so other than mild cosmetic damage, it seems okay now.

In any case, when I woke up at 6:45 this morning in some discomfort, I had a valid excuse to not go to the team track session this morning. After all, I ran another disappointing race on Saturday and wasn't feeling especially motivated (although I sneaked in a 30-minute easy run on Saturday night and ran on Sunday as planned, so there was that). But these are not only productive sessions, but fun ones as well, especially now that Rosie comes. And insidiously difficult at times.

After the usual two-mile warm-up and a few easy drills, we did eight "diagonals" across the infield of the track, then ran a 5K-to-tempo-ish-pace road mile (5:55 for my group) before splitting up to the individual sessions Kathy had assigned. Mine was 2 x 800 with a lap jog at 5K pace. I didn't come close to 5K pace, running a 2:35 and then slowing by design to a 2:43, both alone. Then it was eight more "diagonals" with some others before the cool-down of two miles.

This is an example of one of the many sneaky ways Kathy squeezes at least four miles of fast running into a workout, when it really presents as something far more tame (in this case, "a couple 800s with other stuff").

I was glad that I went, and my aches and pains weren't an issue while I was running, but I'm still a little banged up. My next race is a ways off anyway.

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